Friday, March 5, 2010

"Kato" No More?!?


Creators' Note: The authors of this blog -- in other words, the real Simpson & Lynch team, not the "Skipster" and the "Foxster" -- wish to give a tremendous thanks to the lovely Shakira Choong, whose internet presence we only learned of recently. Her behind-the-scenes assistance in the preparation of today's post -- as well as those which will spring from elements of today's post -- has been immeasurable, and incredibly generous.

We recommend that you check out Shakira's uplifting blog, YOU ARE NEVER ALONE!

* * * * *

Scene One: The main lounge, downstairs at Kewl Beanz! It's mid-afternoon, the customary slow time for the business, and there is only one customer, Milo Fenderbender, who's sitting at the bar. Tara, somewhat bored, stands behind the bar.

Kato enters through the main doorway, carrying a hefty stack of unopened letters and one large envelope. Tara's eyes open wide, and she smiles broadly as she calls out his name.

Tara: Kato! (Tara rushes from behind the bar to greet Kato, hugging him tightly. He nearly drops the mail that's he's holding.) I thought you'd never come back, you little creep! How'd your little "mission" go?

Kato (handing the mail to Tara as she releases him from the bear-hug): Not well, I'm afraid... and I'll be glad to tell you about it later, but... (pause) How is Mr. Foxster?

Tara: About as well as can be expected. How much do you know?

Kato: Only what Carla told me, and... well...

Tara (laughing): Carla's... Carla. Yeah, I know. (brief pause) They're keeping David there for a few days. He's had absolutely no history of anything like this. In fact, the sickest I've ever seen him was when he had that silly little head-cold right before you left. (Kato nods as Tara flips through the mail.) Hm. Most of this stuff is for him, or the Skipster, or both...

Kato (cheerfully): I didn't read them, Tara, I'm just the delivery boy, so you got them all! (pause) Carla told me that Mr. Skipster and Gretchen are in Hawaii, but why haven't they returned?

Tara (still going through the mail): They don't know about his heart attack! We can't contact them!

Kato: Is... anything wrong?

Tara: No, nothing like that. But the Skipster didn't even take his cell phone, and we don't know where they're staying...

Tara's eyes widen as she notices the return address on the large envelope. She sits down at a nearby table.

Tara (whispering): Ohmigods...

Kato: Good news? Bad news?

Tara (evasively): You first, little brother! What was your mysterious journey to Boston all about?

Kato (wistfully): "Little brother?" Wow, Tara. You haven't called me that since before we hopped the bus for Pleasantview!

Tara: So? I still love you like a little brother!

Kato sits across from Tara, as an image flashes in her mind of how Kato looked on the day that they first met.


Kato (smiling): And you never would explain how it is that you think of me as a little brother, when I'm taller than you are, and older than you are...

Tara: Older? Says you, kiddo! As I've told you before... I'm older than I look.

Kato (nodding): Yes, you have said that. Often.

Tara: Anyway, what's the scoop on your family? (pause) I mean, if you want to tell me. After all, when we met...

Kato: Our agreement was not to discuss each other's pasts. But I think I can tell you now... finally... if I'm ever going to tell anyone.

Tara (gleefully): Ooh, goodie! Spill it, babycakes!

Before Kato can speak, Milo walks over to the table at which Tara and Kato are sitting.

Milo: Sorry to interrupt you folks, but I didn't want to leave without saying good-bye to you, Tara.

Tara: Oh, you're leaving? (to Kato) This is one of our bestest customers, Milo Fenderbender!

Milo (teasingly): Only "one of" your best customers? I thought I was the best!

Tara (standing): Okay, wise-guy, you're our best customer! (Tara points at Kato.) And this is one of my best friends...

Kato (interrupting Tara, as he stands and shakes hands with Milo): Call me... Luke.

Tara stares at Kato, open-mouthed, as he walks away from the table to get himself a cup of tea from the kitchen. Milo uses this opportunity to engage Tara in further conversation.

* * * * *

Scene Two: The kitchen of Kewl Beanz! Kato leans against a counter after having brewed himself a cup of tea, lost in his thoughts. What few kitchen personnel there are do their prep work for the evening rush, respectfully ignoring Kato, leaving him as "alone" as he can be under the circumstances. As they have so many times during the past two weeks or so, Kato's thoughts go back to...

Scene Three: The Boston, Massachusetts, living room of Kato's grandfather, Mr. Tian, eight -- maybe nine -- years in the past... when virtually all who knew "Kato" knew him by his true name of Xu-Ning Tian, nicknamed "Luke." Luke is approximately sixteen or seventeen years of age.

Mr. Tian and Luke sit close together, facing each other.


Mr. Tian: I apologize if this meeting of ours seems rather dramatic, grandson. But I do feel it has great importance.

Luke (good-naturedly): Hey, grandfather, if it's that important, you should have yanked me outta school today!

Mr. Tian (smiling): I know you are joking. Your studies are vital, of course, at all times, and should not be interrupted. However, what I wish to discuss does relate somewhat to your school itself. Or, rather, I should say that I wish to discuss some of your friends at school.

Luke: What about them?

Mr. Tian (after a long pause): Your father has not spoken with you about this, possibly because he feels you would not listen to him, or perhaps because he does not fully grasp the significance of...

Luke (interrupting): Grandfather, cut to the chase, huh?

Mr. Tian: And by that you mean...?

Luke: Get to the point! What's dear old Dad been saying behind my back?

Mr. Tian (obviously upset, but keeping his voice restrained): Very well. Your father has told me that the majority of the children with whom you associate are Japanese...

Luke: Ohhh, man! Are you serious? (pause) And besides, they're... we're... not "children!"

Mr. Tian: I did not mean to insult you, grandson. To one of my age, I cannot help but see those of your age as children. But these friends of yours are nothing better than hoodlums, according to your father, and... they are, I repeat, primarily of Japanese descent.

Luke: So, that's the real problem here, huh? (pause) Well, it could've been worse, I suppose. At least you didn't call them "Japs," or "Nips," or...

Mr. Tian: This is a serious concern of mine!

Luke (standing): Look, old man, maybe you never bothered to read the papers, but that war ended over fifty years ago! (pause) The Japanese lost, by the way. (Luke laughs. Mr. Tian does not.)


Mr. Tian: This is not a joke.

Luke: Dad doesn't feel that way about the Japanese! He even showed me all those old videotapes of the Green Hornet TV show when I was a little kid, and he didn't mind at all when I fell in love with the "Kato" character! And Kato was Japanese... although Bruce Lee, who played him, was Chinese, of course...

Mr. Tian: There is no need to acquaint me with what the Americans call "pop culture!" Since I brought your father here from China more than fifty years ago, I have done everything possible to assimilate us into American society! Never have I, or we, lived in what the Americans call a "plastic bubble."

Luke: Oh, here it comes, the Tian family history, in a frigging nutshell! Fine! So you're not Charlie Chan, or [expletive deleted] Fu Manchu! You're still a [expletive deleted] racist!

Luke glances into his grandfather's eyes, but ignores the hurt and outrage that he sees there.


* * * * *

Scene Four: The kitchen of Kewl Beanz! as Luke ("Kato") is jolted from his memories by the entrance of Tara.

Tara: Are you okay, Kato? (brief pause) Or should I say, "Luke?" (Tara tries to lighten the conversation when Luke does not respond.) Or should I call you, "The Artist Formerly Known As Kato?"

Luke looks at Tara, and he breaks down sobbing in a way she's only seen him crumble a handful of times in the past three or four years, since they'd met.

Tara (softly, as she hugs Luke tightly): Ssshhhh. Take it easy, little brother. (pause) Let's get you home, okay?

* * * * *

To Be Continued...

3 comments:

  1. First and foremost, thank you so much for inviting me to this amazing blog where CHARACTERS are ALIVE!

    I really did not do much and I am humbled for the shout out. Again, I really love that I could help. Chinese history is indeed very rich and I am very humbled that you are enriching it through LUKE.

    Luke sounds ABSOLUTELY Kato like!

    I truly enjoy this, hate reading stuffs that I cannot comprehend.

    I shall be back!

    The scenes with Luke and his grandfather are so well written, almost like the kind of conversation that we have in our homes, amongst chinese families. The history with the Chinese, Japanese , Koreans, etc are way deep.
    I still cannot and will not try to tell people that WW2 is over, for many, it is just the beginning or a start of something predicted long ago.

    I shall be back.

    Have a great weekend!

    hugs
    shakira

    ReplyDelete
  2. @Shakira: So sorry for not responding sooner, but the last few days have been extremely hectic for me.

    Your compliments on our accuracy have validated everything we strove to accomplish at the beginning of this serious sub-plot in our blog (and you have very modestly under-played your own contribution). Skip and I wanted to flesh out the character of "Kato" for our readers. If we've succeeded, we are deeply gratified.

    @Betsy: The next chapter of the Kato/Luke story should be posted sometime later today. And unfortunately for the characters involved, things go from bad to worse. Hope you stay with us.

    ReplyDelete