Page 12 - WTP Vol. VII #1
P. 12

 Kio Joyful was the name claimed by the imaginary creature who haunted Yoshikane Araki’s dreams during his Gila River camp years, 1942 to 1945. Kane was six-years-old and unconscious when Joyful’s name first emerged from his lips. The cries began
as whispers, Joyful, Kio Joyful, Kio Joyful, and then intensified into howls. Kane sobbed and his clothes darkened with sweat. Then Kane twisted himself partially awake, Joyful, Kio Joyful, his throat inflamed, and the name fell agonizingly like burning sand past his mouth.
Kashi and Yoshi Araki had no remedy for their son’s misfortunes. Shaking him out of the trance did not lessen the frequency of Kane’s dreams. Tinctures, tonics, cold compresses, massages and acupuncture provided no discernible impact. The Arakis asked the interned Reverend Kenichi Toguri to perform religious healing and cleansing of their Butte Camp barracks. Toguri spent three days and three nights on his knees, humming, praying, gesturing, spread- ing his anointing oils, igniting his safflower incense, but Kio Joyful relented for neither man nor God. Kio Joyful, Kio Joyful. The words lived like a set of black wings roosting in the planks and rafters of the Araki family barrack.
Kio was a dwarfish man, perhaps six inches taller than Kane. He was immaculately dressed in a dark blue tunic and trousers, a flattop cap and horsehide ankle- boots. But the spotlessness and formality of his attire only worked to contrast the most monstrous face Kane ever had witnessed. Kio Joyful had the yellow-or- ange complexion of a marigold. His face was broad, his ears pointed, his nose flattened. His most gruesome features sprung from his mouth. Kio had both a set
Kane’s dreams of Kio Joyful began in a stifling train car on the Araki family’s four-day journey from Tulare Assembly Center to Gila River. With no opportunity for bathing, passengers filled their dress socks, blouses, dress coats, kerchiefs and pork pie hats with their daily sweat. An earthy musk, a scent like sour flow- ers thickened the air. In cars that held children and infirmed were the acrid smells of urine and infection. The passengers who succeeded in falling into a shal- low, troubled sleep managed just a few hours. Like
“I’ve seen your face before,” Kane said. “I’ve seen it on the walls of the pharmacy. I’ve seen it at the butcher’s shop.”
a shrewd mosquito, Kio appeared the moment Kane nodded off in the heat and exhaustion.
Though Kane was certain he had seen Kio Joyful’s face before—certain he had heard and given voice to the name before—in that moment, an icy, sweaty amnesia swept over him—and he could not retrieve the name.
At the beginning of all his Kio Joyful dreams, Kane walked through his family’s avocado orchard on the Central Coast of California. The day was uncomfort- ably bright, damp, airless. Kane’s shirt gripped his skin the way a darkened peel of fruit clings to its too-ripe flesh. In the distance, standing before a green-black copse of trees, Kane saw a uniformed man waving him over. The man was holding a small object that glinted blindingly as it struck sunlight. A pocket watch? A mirror? A ring of keys? By the time Kane ap- proached close enough to make the object out, it was
“I don’t know how to grant wishes,” Kane said.
“I need to talk with them,” he said. “I need to tell them how bad and forgetful and disrespectful you have
The Thief’s Body
too late for him to turn and flee. Kio Joyful held out a needlepoint knife.
of buckteeth and a pronounced set of upper canines that resembled fangs. Kio’s teeth were so large that he was unable to shut his mouth entirely, and a streak of drool ran down his chin. When he spoke, his lips and mouth hardly moved, and the voice that manifested was low, clear and eerily calm.
“You have come home early, Kane,” he said. “A sweet little boy shouldn’t be without supervision. A boy needs to be watched at all times so that he won’t be tempted to dip into any naughty or tricky behavior. And so that the naughty and tricky behavior of this world won’t be tempted to come down upon his sweet little head.”
“I am very famous,” he said. “If you can recall my name, I will grant you a wish. But if you cannot re- member, then you must grant me a wish.”
“Oh no,” Kio Joyful said. “That is bad luck. I believe that means I will just have to take my wish whether you like it or not. Where are your parents, Kane?”
“I’m not sure,” Kane said. “Why do you need to see my parents?”
KiiK araKi-Kawaguchi

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