Uncle Stanley would grow to become big, proud, and hilarious, feeding me fresh caught tuna poke and handmade cabbage kimchi in his kitchen, his ten year-old son by his third wife keeping his glass filled with Suntory whiskey, as he, by then a leathery mass of tanned, shirtless fat, his eyes puffed to slits, recites stories to me about the scars on his body.
As young men they worked the cane fields, then went spear-fishing and hunting for pheasant and wild pig for the family’s dinner. Violence was their medium, and to hear Stanley tell it, David was an artist at it, a virtuoso, and the only man he ever feared.
Violence was their medium, and to hear Stanley tell it, David was an artist at it, a virtuoso, and the only man he ever feared.
Violence spilled throughout their lives – they would fight anyone over anything: a lingering look, a joke at their expense, a car honking at them as they pulled in for gas. They fought each other and for each other, and to be raised by them was to experience it: your name called in anger could make you piss yourself, for they were the kind of men who thought they were doing you a favor if they didn’t hit you too much.
They were also loving, in their own way – generous, quick to laugh, with an intuitive irony about the way life works, and they were the best storytellers I ever heard.
To Stanley I would never be anything more than his kid brother’s youngest son, but that was all right by me – I loved his scars, and hearing how he got them, and I am proud to share his name, and their blood. When I meet up with them later I’ll tell them I understand a little more now, and after they are done laughing at me, I’ll ask Stanley for another helping of poke and some fresh cooked rice to go with his kimchi, which I have missed for so long, and so very much.