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June 06 , 2008

After the Carnival


As he began to dump his grandfather’s body in the channel off the coast of Uwajima, a dazzling white light seared the entire western horizon on an August morning, 1945, in southern Japan. Moments later, a rumbling wave of hot air rolled over Fuyuki. The lightning light and the rumbling hot wind foretold the fifteen-year-old fisherman that his miserable life was now going to become intolerable. Ten thousand miles away on the western side of the International Date Line, below the equator, in the port city of Valparaiso, Chile, a tall young man, Paul, was playing canasta with his grandfather, father, and brother at an old inn when the doors from the kitchen sprang open and his mother walked out and asked his grandfather, “What’s an atomic bomb, Dad?” On that same Monday evening, as Paul was playing cards at Zona del Pescar, 4,000 miles away, north of the equator on the island of Cuba, a pretty young lady, about twelve years old, asked her father, “What’s an ‘automatic’ bomb?” “Never heard of it. Why do you ask, Patricia?” “It was on the radio.” And so began a chain reaction that would culminate December 1963 for Patricia and Paul.

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