Howard was winded and could barely keep his feet moving forward. The road was dusty with desert sand and the sun was overwhelmingly cruel. It was cruelty he felt he deserved so he kept plodding along trying not to think about the water in his two canteens. Howard was just trying to get to Marie and tell her that he had always loved her and he was sorry that he left her by the side of the road all those years ago.
It wasn’t his fault. Not entirely. Howard told himself that he didn’t have a choice. If he had stayed with her she’d probably be dead along with any real future. Leaving Marie by that dusty Arizona road was the best thing for her. It’d been ten years since he left her there.
Howard had to end the blood feud with Hayato Katsu. Howard was part of the occupying forces in Japan after the war and was glad to do his duty. He was too young in 1941 to enter the service like his brothers, but by 1944 he was eligible. He was rushed through basic training only to be just shy of seeing any real combat. He was stationed in Japan as an MP. He had a real affinity for the Japanese. He saw that even in defeat there as some dignity. He’d made friends with a young man about his age named Hayato Katsu.
A disagreement started between he and Hayato and their battle scorched each other’s lives for decades. Howard was now 64 years old, trudging through the deserts of 1990’s Arizona; the feud was finally over and he could see Marie again before the cancer got him.
Howard stopped in the desert to take a cool drink from his canteen. This long desert road gave him time to think and clear his head of the past. Hayato and he came to America as friends in 1946 and were planning on starting a business together. But as things were back then it just didn’t work out. Plus, a woman became involved and that always messed things up.
Hayato had fallen in love with Marie, but she was in love with Howard. That’s when things started to go wrong. It was how the fight started in the greenhouse and how Howard got the long scar down his left arm and Hayato lost an eye. Hayato swore vengeance on Howard and over the course of the next two decades they fought on six different occasions, both were lucky to survive the encounters.
But then, ten years ago, Howard got word that Hayato was in town looking for him and Marie. It had only been 8 months since their last fight; Howard lost a finger in that one. He’d had enough. He couldn’t hurt Marie anymore with the constant threat of violence. His own drinking had gotten out of control and he was too paranoid to hold down a real job. So he left her at a gas station along the side of the road.
Now Hayato was dead, and Howard would soon join him. He only hoped his legs would hold out and get him to dear Marie one last time.