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The Three Dreams


Copyright © 2016 Miguel Zulueta

All rights reserved and any reproduction of and/or copying from this book whether through mechanical or digital means for commercial purposes is strictly prohibited. However part(s) of this book may be reproduced/copied without written permission for articles, reviews, and/or further studies with special mention of the source.


This book is dedicated to you, dear reader, from whom inspiration was drawn to complete the work. May you have the tenacity to turn the pages, indulge in mythical flights of fancy, and, for a brief moment in time, be delightfully distracted from the temporal space we so bluntly occupy.



Caveat Emptor

This is a work of pure fiction.

Under the guise of “Artistic License,” I admit to having taken massive poetic liberties instead of relying upon hard empirical versions of the facts.

Apologies to all wooden sailboat enthusiasts, helicopter professionals, oceanographers, purse seiner operators, anthropologists, historians, religious group mentioned, and any and all persons who may take umbrage by the apparent lack of basis on scientific evidence of various circumstances incidental to the telling of the story.

The poetry and fabricated plots are meant to express heroic human saga and revel in the myth of true love. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are, wholly or in part, the products of the author’s vigorous imagination combined with true-to-life personal experiences. Any resemblance to actual events, actual persons –living, dead, or comatose – is probably coincidental but not altogether very far from the truth.

Miguel Albert Zulueta


So the poet, who wants to be something that he cannot be, and is a failure in plain life, makes up fictitious versions of his predicament that are interesting even to other persons because nobody is a perfect automobile salesman.

John Orley Allen Tate

The Three Dreams is an engaging, well-crafted adventure story with an important commentary of commercialism, globalization, and the need to find one’s way to passion, love, and inner peace in this fast-changing world.

Told from the perspective of a Filipino pilot, it’s a refreshing read that adds a distinctly Southeast Asian color to the literature of Bach and Pirsig.

                       Joel M. Toledo, author of Fault Setting



Miguel Albert Zulueta


All Rights Reserved



Flying Closer to the Flame

Like a moth to flame I am drawn inexorably closer

For it is irresistibly bright.

I want to play with fire and not get burned

But one more pass directly above and my wings are singed.

I spiral earthward and lying there wounded by the plummeting fall

Flap and flounder on the mantle

All the while staring in wonderment at the orange light floating

Tantalizingly above, beckoning.

I heave to,

To launch again

But my waxen wings have melted to a crisp.

Earth has claimed me once again.

I walk on tortured legs.

Tonight I will mend and tomorrow

That elusive flame and I shall dance again.




“…because we are victims of all the symbols we create, of all the voices in our head, of all the superstitions and distortions. Victimized by our entire way of thinking.”

The Fifth Agreement— Don Jose & Don Miguel Ruiz

The Three Dreams

Book I – The Dream of the Victim

Chapter 1 – Gone Fishing

South Pacific Ocean:  The Marianas Trench, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), 11" 21' North latitude and 142" 12' East longitude

July 1, 1986; 15:09 Hrs.

The dense formation of tuna – a shadowy spear growing to a clearly defined arrowhead – accelerates as it runs up the crests. A giant Bluefin, easily 300 pounds, leads the pack. The shadow runs along just beneath the surface for a few seconds, exploding through the top of a wave, parting it like a samurai Katana blade through a ripe watermelon.

Jong frantically tugs at Gunther’s sleeve, Jong’s tugging on the pilots sleeve sets the helicopter wobbling like a top on its axis.

He motions downward, mouthing for Gunther to turn on his intercom. Gunther gazes at the choppy whitecaps below and sees a dark shadow beneath the froth.

An inverted “V” could be made out from beneath the chop, rising and falling with the ocean swells.

They’ve climbed to 4000 feet and Gunther is stunned that he failed to notice the incremental creep into altitude.   

That’s one less ‘set’ to fill that damn hold. Just maybe, if we’re lucky, this one can even fill it. He muses, grateful for Jong’s diligence.

He toggles the radio transmitter/intercom on his headset to hear Jong excitedly transmitting GPS coordinates over the radio to Captain Haam on the deck of the MS One Dream.

“Hey, Jong!  Stop grabbing my arm like that, hey! We’ll crash, yah?”

“Then you stop off-ing radio like zat, you! “ Jong’s irritable voice crackles in the headset. “What for you off hearing?  You go, do us down 300 feet follow fish NOW!”

Gunther turns to look at Jong. His sunken, bloodshot eyes are clownishly bracketed by the imprints of binoculars pressed too hard and for too long into the flesh around them. Jong meets Gunther’s gaze defiantly.

Gunther throttles off, putting the machine into a steep emergency power-off spiraling descent. Jong grabs the door stirrup, dropping his binoculars on his lap, and leans into the away from the open door.

Gunther notices with glee Jong’s knuckles turning white as he grasps the stirrups in a death-grip. Clawing wind whips through the canopy's open doors, burbling in from the disturbed airflow in the roller coaster fall.

“Don’ scare ‘way fish,’ Jong hisses through clenched nicotine-stained teeth.

Gunther arrests the emergency dive downwind from the school of fish at 200 feet above the white-capped waves.

How Jong managed to spot this first catch in all this chop is testimony to his devotion as a spotter. He’s just earned ten times their monthly pay combined.

Bluefin tuna are made for speed. Built like torpedoes, their eyes set flush to the body with retractable fins permitting speeds up to 75 kilometers. Any prey has no chance of escape.  

The pack skims over the tops of the waves, their powerful tails cutting a swath in the ocean. Spotter Jong sticks his head out the open door to glimpse how far the wake of the swimmers extends. It is a fourth of a mile by his reckoning.  

To keep pace with the school, Gunther is forced to hold a slow forward hover. Tuna hunt by sight and have the sharpest vision of any bony fish. So he must keep the helicopter shadow well away from the pack so as not to spook and cause them to dive deep.

The leader crashes through wave after 12-foot wave, silver scales shining in the afternoon sun like some mystical, watery banshee, steering the school on a migratory track embedded in their DNA. Bluefin, being the largest variety, migrate across oceans following an instruction code millions of years old. There seems no rhyme nor reason for their direction.  

Many have tried to speculate as to the destination of these lucrative creatures and by so doing, uncover the mythical tuna resting ground. A breeding, living, spawning ground. A motherlode. To find and know The Fish Sanctuary, that is Jong’s dream. His eyes light up like glowing coals as he watches the majestic creature leading the chase.

Gunther presses ‘Talk’ to transmit. “Captain, we’re running low on fuel. Over.”  

The immediate response: “Stay with fish. We see you on range only 92-mile ‘way.”   

Ninety-two miles?  Gunther does a quick calculation of the slow trawling speed at which The One Dream trawls.

“Ah Captain, I can’t sit on the sea and wait. The waves are too big.  I must return now. Copy?”

“No, no, no. You wait,” the impatient static crackles back.

“I can’t land on the water, Captain. The waves are too high. Only enough fuel to get back if I go back now, over.” It’s a lie. Gunther knows he’s got at least a half hour to spare.

But that’s cutting it just way too close. No school is worth dying for. Or maybe it is. That way we can all go home.

In the momentary radio pause, Jong shifts restlessly, adjusting his shoulder harness. He doesn’t want to lose the catch but he’s in no mood for a water landing either. He’s seen how easy it is to capsize centrifugally top-heavy spinning rotors, in less than a dead-calm sea.

Captain Haam transmits. Jong replies in curt somber grunts. He argues in sing-song diphthongs, punctuating tongue clucking sentences. Taking his finger off the transmit button, Jong lets fly a string of expletives that only Gunther can hear on the closed intercom.  

“Captain say, if we lose fish, captain say, no beer ration whole crew. Two week.” Jong takes a deep breath, makes a last note of time, wind direction, and heading of the chevron of fish. He locks in Present Waypoint on the GPS.

“Go back ship now.”

Gunther pulls up and peels away from hover at full throttle.

Giving chase, Captain Haam is mindless of the 12-foot waves slamming into the port side of the bow of the M.S. One Dream. He cranks the lever ‘Full Ahead’ to the stops. The One Dream lurches forward over the swells. The GPS waypoint fed by Jong reflecting off the windscreen of the bridge is all that matters now.   

First Mate, Kyung Ta-he, a thick-necked, walking mountain of a man, tenses his jaw as he steadies the One Dream with large steering movements of the wheel.

Cresting each breaker, Kyung Ta-he gives firm left rudder, holding the wheel steady at the top of the wave. As the One Dream slides down the backside of the wave, he flicks the wheel spinning to the right to keep the bow into the wind.

The ship bottoms out in the troughs of each valley of waves, and harrumphs heavily into the sea, sending a wall of spray seven feet high onto the deck. Frothing sea water traverses the boat and hisses through the weep holes on the opposite starboard side.  

Captain Haam rides the swells effortlessly, with his hips swaying and rotating nimbly as a hula dancer's, keeping him centered in front of the streaked windscreen. His knees flex to absorb the shuddering thud of the hull as it bottoms into the troughs.

His mind racing over the possibilities of landing a catch huge enough to turn about and head for port, he begins to silently chant.  Nam-Myoho-Rhenge-Kyoh.

Oh God, please listen to my plea! Nam-Myoho-Rhenge-Kyoh, Captain Haam begins the 24-minute chant to himself. Nam-Myoho-Rhenge-Kyoh.

He retraces the events in his mind’s eye, relishing the astounded look he would inspire in the faces of his bankers when he arrives at their offices with enough cash to pre-pay the outstanding lien on the One Dream.   

Oh blessed be that day of reckoning. He breathes the elongated monosyllable diphthongs in rhythm with the rise and fall of the One Dream as she pounds through the breakers.

The ship struggles up an oncoming wave.   It hangs at the crest for a moment. Then slides down. She bottoms out in the cusp, waddling there a moment before rising on the next crest.

Captain Jung Haam’s vacuous eyes focus on a trickle of salt water zig-zagging down the windscreen.

At last, the overdue afternoon rain breaks through the overcast skies, drenching the man 70 feet above the pitching deck in the crow’s nest. As the rain begins to fall, the lookout finally spots their prey. An unmistakable flurry of fins just breaking the surface of the choppy sea.

He jabs at the watertight knob screwed onto the railing, ringing the buzzer. It is heard amidships, signaling all hands to ready stations. Captain Ham’s vacant eyes come alive. He glances at the clock beside the parkas hanging on the wall— 16:06 Hours.

The motley crew springs into concerted action. Language barriers fall away as each man becomes a catcher of fish, taking his place in the juggernaut of nets and lines and cables and buoys.   

Captain Haam cranks engines back to ‘Half Ahead.’ He nods to his first mate to maintain heading and grabbing a bright orange life jacket and megaphone, exits the dry comfort of the bridge.

He makes his way up the steep ladder to the exposed upper roof deck of the Forecastle beneath the crow’s nest. From that vantage point he surveys the readiness of the crew and boat from bow to stern.

Gunther approaches the One Dream with clammy hands and a dry mouth. The boat is pitching in high seas; the conning tower whipping about the rear of the helipad, a menace.

He flies alongside to match her sailing speed, then slides in sideways, keeping the tail rotor well ahead of the tower.

Without hesitation, he drops the bird down on its slippery roost, ready to pull up if the undercarriage doesn’t snag the restraining cargo mesh lashed on the deck for contact friction. With the brisk wind pushing the helicopter backward into the tower, it takes all his skill to keep the tail clear.   

Os is ready and waiting with the restraining hooks in hand. As soon as the helicopter skids snag the wet cargo netting, he lassoes skids, slipping the hooks through restraining anchor bolts 15 feet away. It is a clumsy maneuver to master. The lives of those in the helicopter and others in close proximity at risk, should it go wrong.

Gunther shuts down the helicopter and helps Os refuel a half-tank. He is back in the air by the time the purse nets are about to be dropped into the sea.

Gunther flies alone now. His task-- herd the fish away from the noose opening as it closes shut around them.

The deckhands stand by, ready to deploy the purse net into the sea. The 150-foot deep net is attached to metal cables running a full 10 kilometers through a string of buoys every 5 meters.

At the end of the entire net is another purse line which could be drawn up like an old-fashioned coin purse. The idea being to encircle a school of Bluefin then pull the purse tight from under them so they could not escape by diving into the deep.  

Each deckhand is well-rehearsed in the orchestrated ballet, performing their parts flawlessly. Even so, it takes considerable skill on the part of the captain to coordinate the whole crew so as to not lose the catch.

Mistakes are costly. Carelessness paid for with lives. The unspoken truth being— the loss of a bounty of fish an event secretly regarded as a fate worse than the death of a mate.

Aside from the helicopter, the other main piece in the fishing juggernaut is the skiff. The skiff is a flat, two-man boat with extra floatation chambers manned by a helmsman who steers the boat and a lineman who watches the unfurling net dragging behind the skiff. Two powerful Evinrude 150 HP motors drive the skiff.  

At the captain's command, the skiff is released. It slides down the incline of the One Dream’s stern bulwarks, dragging the cable which unfurls the net in a neat line. The lineman’s job is to tend to the smooth deployment of net and buoy.

It’s Gunther's job to vector the skiff into position. The power boat has to completely circle the school of fish and the airborne platform is the best vantage point to orchestrate the maneuver. From the air he can see the arc of the net described by bright yellow buoys, bobbing at the surface every five meters.

Twenty feet above the waves, Gunther can see the catch being encircled by the purse net. He sees the leader trying got escape the closing net and spooks him by flying the rotor-wash in his path.

The confused fish become a thrashing sheet of silver and gray, unable to dive—the purse strings drawn up from under them has omitted that avenue of escape. The school becomes one seething, churning cauldron, frothing at the surface as the closed purse string is pulled up alongside the One Dream.

Only then is Gunther's work done. The waves abate as the sun goes down. Deck landing lights on, Gunther lands without further ado.   

Deck lights illuminate topside. The entire crew works through dinner break. With much gusto they use a crane bucket to transfer the slithering bounty into the hold.

It’s past 22:00 Hours when the last of the tuna is shunted into the refrigerated hold and the hatches of the One Dream battened-down on a full 10-ton load of fish.

At market prices in Tsukiji, Japan, it is rumored $1,000,000 was paid for the first Bluefin of the season, which weighed 500 pounds.

That’s $2,000 a pound! Thinks Captain Hamm with glee. But that’s at final consumer level… Okay, say $100 a pound at wholesale on offload port.

Captain Haam estimates that the value of the 10 tons in the One Dream, ‘is roughly, oh, US $2.0 M give or take a few pounds.

That night Captain Haam breaks out a double ration of beer, which means each man gets four cans each. At $ 0.50 cents a can, that works out to $2.00 reward per crew.

An exhausted, albeit elated, crew sleeps soundly, knowing full well their rewards would not be so meager when the portside deal is done, each calculating his dividend based on his own individual investment. Even the helicopter crew would get a handsome bonus, although nowhere near that of the rest of the vested crew.  

“First Mate Kyung Ta-he, set course for Guam, 272 degrees,” Captain Haam orders. “Trawling speed till we reach port, Master Kyung. Don’t sink the ship, ey? Easy as she goes.”  

Al’ sebum nida nim.Aye aye, sir! Master Kyung has anted-up all his savings of $60,000, thrown the whole lot in together with his cousins investing heavily in this expedition, and is counting on a 40% return.

He references the full moon in the corner of the windscreen and settles in for his watch, softly humming, being mindful not to whistle the tune. Whistling is bad luck at sea. It attracts mermaids.  

The One Dream sitting low in the water like an overfed slug, headed to port to cash-in her full belly.

The Three Dreams

Book I – The Dream of the Victim

Chapter 2 –Sushinomics

Pork is easily farmed, but not in Japan where scarcity of land is reserved for human occupancy and use. A staggering ninety percent of all food is imported from neighboring countries with pork alone accounting for half a million tons per annum. But a kilo of pork would never fetch anything near what a kilo of deep sea tuna could in 1986.  

Japan dieted on US $4 billion a year of tuna and overnight fortunes were made on catches of Skipjack and Yellowfin tuna.

A sushi restaurant chain owner reportedly paid $37,500 for one 180 kilogram Bluefin tuna at the first tuna auction of the year at Tuskiji Fish Market-- “The Fish Wall Street of Tokyo.”

The demand for the world’s freshest catch by both exclusive and run-of-the mill restaurants was insatiable. By extrapolation, fish traders estimated that in a decade, prices could easily top out at $100,000 for that same fish.  

But no projection could ever foresee how strong future demand was to be, so that a mere decade after the turn of the century, the winning bid for a 222 kilogram Bluefin was a mind-boggling US $1.76 million.  

There simply was not enough Bluefin to go around. Thus, the Yellowfin and Skipjack variety quickly filled the gap, gaining acceptance and an ever-increasing market share. 

Compared to the Bluefin, the meat was less fatty, leaner, and more economical in every aspect from catching, hauling and transporting the Bluefin from the highly regulated Mediterranean to Japan.

It was South Pacific fisherman that Japan and the rest of the world turned to, to satisfy its craving for tuna.

The South Pacific Ocean is 68 million square miles. In 1985, there were only 302 registered tuna boats using the latest long-line technology fishing in the central and western Pacific. That meant there was only one boat per 230,000 square miles of ocean.

That miniscule number of tuna boats – purse seiners – were reaping a bonanza on the South Pacific, in and around the deepest undersea ravine in the oceanic world— the Marianas Trench, just east of Guam.

However, experienced fishermen specializing in this type of crewing were scarce in the Pacific and fewer still willing to dare the risks of the dreaded Intertropical Convergence Zone—the tempestuous sea where polar and tropical air masses collided in a weather cauldron.

Those that did were grossly unregulated in the open waters. They were impossible to police. There was just too much ocean and money changing hands. Ultimately, it was Mother Nature that meted out consequences for stupidity or carelessness.

Purse seiner cranes and nets were hastily retrofitted on aging fleets. But something else was needed. Something that would give their fishing ventures some “unfair advantage.” To capture the market literally meant to capture more fish.

To spot tuna, platforms raised above the water— Crow’s nests; could only stretch 70 feet high for structural and safety considerations. No boat should be too top-heavy in a buffeting ocean unless it was weighted down with ballast— payload best reserved for the priceless catch.

Some ship captains filled the empty holds with sea water to offset the 70-foot tower perch, and pumped them out as it filled with fish. It was cumbersome, requiring more fuel to run the bilge pumps, and could only be applied in holds that were sectionalized. Added to that, refrigerated holds used a lot of cooling hardware that were susceptible to salt water damage.

Enter the penultimate high-in-the-sky platform— the helicopter. With prices for tuna being what they were, pencil pushers estimated that a US $500,000 helicopter would pay for itself in just one season.

Thereafter, the asset could net a fishing operation millions more for as long as their boat could stay afloat and the helicopter airborne.

One such boat of Korean registry was the MS One Dream. Captain/Entrepreneur/Owner Kim Jung Haam, steeped in the Korean tradition of deep sea fishing, came to the same conclusion.

The Haam brothers were on their third fishing season and were just beginning to dig themselves out of the money pit they had gotten themselves into by purchasing a second boat to expand their fleet. Each boat was collateralized by its respective owner’s house, mortgaged to the hilt with the Marine Merchant Bank of Seoul.   

Only the criminally wealthy could afford in Gangnam, and Kim Haam was driven to carve a small piece of it for his clan. The billion Korean Won tuna pie would be his ticket to retire a very wealthy man before he was 50.   

Captain Haam’s plan was to retro fit a tiny flight deck consisting of metal sheets firmly welded onto a framework of light steel to the MS One Dream. Later, the second ship, the Blue Dream would receive an upgrade once the paper on the first boat was fully paid off. So the brothers needed to borrow 800 Million Won or US $500,000 to execute the plan.

However, the banks refused to finance the helicopter purchase. But a determined Haam was not to be denied his dream of being the first Korean purse seiner to field a helicopter to spot tuna and corner the market.

He had contacts with steady buyers for the tuna in Tsukiji markets and met with them in Tokyo. Having established himself as a reputable source for the fish, he was able to pre-sell his entire season’s catch for a fixed price.  

This was a two-way win. It gave Haam the wherewithal to go ahead with the purchase, and on the other hand, assured the buyer of incredibly underpriced fish. On the open market, the fish dealer would make a huge profit when the auction bell rang. However, in spite of the pre-selling deal, the brothers Haam were still short of capital.

Since both ships were fully collateralized by both family houses, Captain Haam had no alternative but to seek succor from unforgiving quarters for the balance. Having lived and prospered all his life in Seoul, he had connections with the underworld.

They would have to swim with sharks for the money. A bold albeit risky proposal which the brothers argued vehemently over. They had already been turned out of one family house for a lapsed mortgage. What Haam was proposing was reckless, argued his brother.

In the end, Captain Haam, having controlling share of the company, triumphed. Over a dozen miniature bottles of Soju rice wine, he convinced his headstrong step brother of his estimates. 

‘Just think, only two fishing seasons and we repay that helicopter debt. Thereafter, the sushi treasure chest would be full to overflowing. Our day of redemption is close at hand. All remaining debts would easily be repaid in full in just three, maybe four, seasons.’

While the boats were berthed, stocking-up and getting ready to set out for another haul, Captain Haam read in the Guam Pacific Daily News that the Philippine Navy was purchasing the shipborne version of the BO 105 Helicopter.

The article boasted that the German-made Maritime version of the Search & Surveillance BO 105 CBS 5, was uniquely applicable for flight in harsh maritime conditions.  

That very same day, Captain Haam purchased stand-by status tickets on an overbooked flight to Manila to meet his destiny. There, he met the Aryan father and son team and was convinced of their ability to deliver on the commercial application of helicopters on the open sea.

It is a few minutes before closing time when Captain Kim Jung Haam strides into the tiny Navy offices fronting the Manila Yacht Club assigned to the Kaufmanns. Rudolf is tidying up his desk, getting ready for a long weekend since Monday is yet another official government holiday for yet another national hero in Philippine history. It would be good to get out of the city, he thinks.

His wife, Mathilde, already planned, booked, and paid for a resort getaway only a three-hour drive from Manila. Yes, it would be good to spend time alone.

Mathilde stoically suffered the uprooting and relocation of the family and Rudolf loves and admires her all the more for it. Upon arrival in Manila, the first thing he did was go out and buy a second-hand piano for her. This long weekend would be to give her what there is precious little of—time together alone.

Gunther has other ideas. He offers to remain behind giving his father and mother time without him around. He’d stay the weekend alone at their Manila condominium fronting the Cultural Center of the Philippines, just walking distance from both the Navy office and infamous Mabini red light district.

Knocking on the open door to announce himself, a genteel, well-dressed Captain Kim stands at doorway waiting to be let in.

“Good day, sir Kaufmann.” He raises a calloused palm in greeting.  “I am Captain Kim Jung Haam. May I have a few words please with you?”

Rudolf studies the man in the doorway, looking him over him from head to toe, unmindful of the open rudeness of his scan. He notices the well-shined shoes peeking from beneath sharply creased khaki trouser cuffs. He scoffs at the double-knotted red and blue striped necktie adorned with a silver tie-clip fastened to a crisp, white, button-down collared shirt.

Rudolf is again reminded of his short stature. Captain Haam is taller than him, but this is usually the case with any man. A day never passes that he isn’t reminded of it in one way or another. A slight tinge of expensive men’s cologne capped his first impression of the tall, sunburnt Asian man.  

“Yes? What is this regarding?”

Rudolf shakes his hand perfunctorily, motioning for him to sit. Gunther, still wearing his flight suit, stands leaning on the book shelf filled with mechanical manuals. He is impatient to go and doesn’t want to spend another minute in the office.

“I’m here to purchase one unit of your BO Mariner,” Haam announces.

Gunther and his father exchange startled looks. Captain Haam lives for that kind of response. Beneath his navy blue blazer his chest swells with pride.

“Yes, you see I own two purse seiner boats, and we’ve just refitted one with a helipad to accommodate your unit.”

Father and son are listening intently now. Gunther zips and unzips his flight suit slowly, feeling each tooth in the zipper fasten and unfasten, his eyes riveted on the clean-shaven Korean speaking halting English.

“Can you tell me please how much is the price-ah?”

Rudolf scratches the 5 o’clock white stubble on his chin. This bazi, loveable crook, is either a crack-pot, a con artist or both.

“Delivered where?” He shoots back.

“Guam. Please. Can?” Captain cocks his head inquisitively. “How much?”

“I can’t say exactly now… but a good estimate would be Deutsche Mark 900,000 depending on the package you want... floatation devices on the skids? On board NAV systems... what?”

“Just basic. No need fancy-fancy. Will be used only near to ship, maybe maximum range fuel tanks installed,” replies the Captain with flourish, now quite pleased at having their rapt attention.

“Add shipping costs, don’t know, maybe… will look it up. Add man hours for reassembly of main rotor components...,” Rudolf continued.

Rudolf’s mind is a beehive as it goes through the logistics of getting a unit up and running in… where now? Guam? Unglaublich...incredible, simply incredible! The factory would be pleased with this sale! Perhaps a good Christmas bonus for us to go back to Germany for the holidays! “

“You already know how to do this because you already did here in Manila. You come do for me in Guam, please?” Captain Haam asks.

“Well, that may pose a problem. I cannot leave our post with the Philippine Navy till the local pilots and mechanics have been properly trained. But possible I can commission another team of engineers to assemble and train your crew in Guam.”

“When are you able to do for me?” Haam pressed.

“After next year. Maybe January or February next year.”

Captain Haam shakes his head and clucks his tongue. “Aya berry late. How much time to ship and assemble ready for to fly?”

“About 6 to 8 weeks. The main frame will come intact and the only thing that cannot fit in the shipping container are the rotor blades. They will be knocked down and re-fixed in Guam. Then flight testing another three days to balance the gyro and make small adjustments.”

“The selling price includes all?”

“No, we bill you actual man hours required. Maybe another 20,000 Deutsche Marks.”

Captain Haam clears his throat noisily, pausing briefly to wipe a bead of perspiration collecting on his shiny receding hairline.

“What I am proposing to you, please listen - I want you and a mechanic of your choosing to operate the flying part of the fishing expedition. We fish. You fly. I pay you flight time and all mechanical parts repairs to maintain. I pay you bonuses...”

Rudolf cuts him off. “Impossible. No sorry. We are not for hire. We are military personnel. Impossible. We would have to resign first and get honorable discharge from service. We cannot. Sorry. Can sell and assemble and train, very well ya, but when done, our time with you is also done.”

“Ah understand.” Hamm nods, continuing. “But let me tell you something maybe interesting for your consideration. Total package fixed guarantee pay to you for 8-month season fishing US $ 120,000 after fish sell in Japan. Maybe bonus another US $60,000 if Japan market good to better.”

Gunther’s mind cartwheels. His salary is roughly 19,000 DM per annum and his father’s as Chief Flight Instructor is double that. With yearly bonuses factored in, their total salary combined is about 80,000 DM or US $30,000 as army fliers. What this Korean Captain is offering is six times their annual combined salaries as flight personnel for the German Aviation Corps.

He knows no amount of money could way-lay his father from his illustrious military career. But for me, myself, and only me alone, I could break free.

His mind races, conjecturing that in two fishing seasons, he could buy a small country house in the mountains and do whatever he wanted after that. He has no clear idea what “whatever” is, but the desire to make his own way, be his own man, taking no orders and growing his hair as long as he wanted, is overpowering.

Unable to control himself Gunther blurts out, “Excuse me, sorry to interrupt, just supposing a pilot was also the mechanic? You can see the benefit of this, yes? What would such a person be um, capable of earning?”

His father shoots eyes full of venom at him.

Unperturbed, Captain Haam answers flatly, “Yes, such a man would be a great asset to seaboard operations.” He cocks his shiny head to one side, calculating the savings of an additional mechanic pay, board and lodging, visas, flight tickets.

He continues, “Yes, such a man could earn US $10,000 fixed per month and double bonus to complete the season, maybe $20,000, a signing up bonus of $5,000, and selling bonuses once fish market opens maybe…?” He throws his hands in the air, “Oh another $20,000, maybe more... grand total eight months at sea, good pay, net after all taxes $150,000 to that one man. But impossible to do all operations alone, will need another assistant mechanic, so minus from him $60,000 for mechanic.”

Gunther slumps into a chair and remains lost in thought till his father dismisses Captain Haam in the rudest way.

“As I said. Not possible for military to do civilian labor. Sorry.” Rudolf gets up from his chair. “I’m leaving now and sorry can’t be late, so if you would like to purchase, here is the phone number of the Stuttgart offices. The person to call is Herr Himlich. Henrich Heimlich. Henry will call me after to discuss the logistics for re-assembly. Good bye now. Sorry I must go. Late, you see.”

Gunther snaps to attention as Haam stands.  Across his desk, Captain Haam takes the number on the scratch paper with a curt nod, not making eye contact. Without a word, he saunters out.

Once out of earshot Gunther exhales, “Da! That’s not nickel change he’s offering! He’s offering a way out of this... this... perpetual servitude.”

“What? The elder man shoots back. “Oh, is that was this is then- Servitude?!” Have you no pride? Look where this so-called servitude has taken us! We travel the world. We’re clothed, sheltered, respected by all military officers. We’ve a name and reputation, pension, medical …”  

Gunther knows this all by heart. He’s heard it since he was old enough to understand the language. He turns on his heel and bolts after the Captain.

Catching up with Haam on the sidewalk trying to hail a cab, he catches his breath then speaks.

“Sir?” Captain Haam peered over his wide-rimmed sunglasses at Gunther. “You’ll never get a taxi at this time. Its rush hour and a holiday tomorrow. Which hotel are you staying at, sir?”


“But that’s, well, can’t you can see it from here, just steps away?”

“Yes, yes, I know I can walk, but I’m not going to hotel. Going massage-ey and dinner.”  

Recognizing his opportunity to reel in the big fish, Haam continued,

“I’m alone, not know Manila.  You know. Yes. You come?  Show me please-ah? I buy dinner, all drinks. Maybe some female company afterwards…”

The Three Dreams

Book I – The Dream of the Victim

Chapter 3 – Ah… Houston We Have a Problem….

What?!” Rudolf drops his spoon and fork clattering on the plate, swallowing his mouthful of food without chewing. He glares back at Gunther who keeps his eyes averted.  

“Say what that is again, now!”  

Schatzi, hear him out... Let the boy speak his mind for once, bitte…” His wife coos across the dinner table, laying a moist palm on her husband’s arm. He recoils at the touch and she folds her hands on her lap.

“I’ve decided to fly for Haam.”

“WHAT?!” His face reddens and a vein bulges in his neck. “That’s verboten for us military. I have told you! “

“I’m going to resign my post with the Army.”

A pall lingers over the table for a spell, like a storm gathering force. It hits with such a thunderclap that the whole house shakes.

Rudolf bangs his fists on the table, rattling everything on it.

Gottverdammt! Nein unmoglich, impossible! God damn it! Do you know how hard I worked to make you what you are today?! Top of your class Rittmeister Captain Gunther?! Do you know how many fliers you passed over to get this position now? And why throw it all away to… to... to work for a Kori fisherman? Verboten, I tell you! NO! You will disgrace our family name this way for... for what? Money??”

Rudolf again pounds his fists on the table and thrusts his chair away. It tumbles on the floor behind him as he glowers down at Gunther.

“It’s not only money.  It makes me free to do what I want.”

“What you want?  What YOU want??” Rudolf hovers over the table, spittle bristling on his upper lip. “Ho ok, ya, you tell me now what is it that you want, doing this to ME? What is it you want?!”

Mathilde sits in a daze, utterly confused. She has surrendered the dream of the music conservatory for Gunther. It seems like such a distant memory although it has been only three years since Gunther stopped playing.

She recalls now how he’d shut his eyes and let the music take him. It was as though he left his body when he played. She never mentioned this observation to anyone for fear they’d think her crazy or worse. Not even in Gunther himself did she confide.

But whenever Gunther would sit adrift on the keys with eyes closed, an ache in her heart told her some other power was playing through her son. Not a safe thing to confide in anyone, least of all her husband. Nothing on earth... nothing could ever put that down. It would find expression, she convinced herself. When the time was right, it would find its way out.  

But money was never the motive for her son. So she is confounded as to why the sudden change of heart.  

“May I tell you, da? Can you listen a moment to what I want?” Gunther asks timidly, sitting as still as he could, not daring to cast a defiant pose, lest thunder and lightning burst upon him anew.

“Please shatzie, just let him speak... we’ve always let you decide what’s best for us after all.” Mathilde urges him to sit down. She fetches a bottle of half-finished Slyrs Whiskey reserved for special occasions and pours a stiff double on ice.

Gunther watches his father throw the amber liquid down his throat, pour himself another, right the fallen chair, and sit.

“Tell me, boy.  Tell me,” he says, breathing hard.

Gunther goes over the earnings as outlined by Captain Haam, tallying up two fishing seasons on the South Pacific.

 Mathilde sits dumbstruck, hearing the amount involved. It is just shy of a quarter million German Marks.  

“But why do you want so much money? What for?” she asks in a pinched voice.

“I want to open our own music studio back home. Where people can come to mother for lessons, so she does not have to go out in the snow to their houses. I want to learn at the conservatory and not care that I am good enough to earn a living from playing piano.”

Mathilde feels the vacuous ache in her chest again. Involuntarily, she clutches her hands to her breast. Her heart is bursting from her chest. So this was the way it would find expression. Tears well up and spill as she listens to her son speak.

“Look at her.”

She wipes her face with the back of her palm.

“She’s miserable. She’s gotten so old since we left home. No friends, no life, no joy. And as for me, I never wanted to be a Captain in the German Army. Why? Because it would do you proud with your comrades? To be honest da, I’m scared of flying. Each time I fly, I’m not sure it will all be just routine.”

Rudolf interrupts him.

“But don’t you see, son, that’s why you’re such a good pilot! It’s perfectly normal to be afraid— it livens up the spirit in you. Makes you sharper. Alert. You know how pilot reactions should be on a gyrocopter. Instant! You don’t have the luxury of extended glide like in beschissen shitty aero planes. You know about...”

Gunther cuts him off.

“Father, let me finish, please.” Rudolf sits back with a third double shot. “I must tell you something I’ve never said.” He pauses briefly and nods, as if reassuring himself.

“I sometimes forget I am at the controls. My mind goes blank. I have to awaken myself. I... I don’t know how to explain it exactly father... I’m afraid for I’m not in full control.”

Mathilde understands. She has seen him that way at the piano. Rudolf is reminded of Herr Hoff’s words.

“And yet you’re willing to endure two years flying, living out on the open ocean. So how can I believe my son is afraid?” Rudolf files Herr Hoff’s words in the farthest recesses of his mind.

“I don’t believe you’re afraid. How? If you’re not afraid of the open sea.” He gulps down the whisky, burning the back of his throat.

“I am,” he says nodding.

“But if there’s a crash, it’s only the ocean. No one need get hurt, and the rewards in this case are worth the fear I feel. When I fly now, it’s out of servitude. I fly when I’m told, for how long, where to land, what to do when I get there. What time to return. Everything like a robot. When I fly for tuna, I fly for me. I fly for mutti.

“Stop it.  STOP IT! What talk of crashing?!” Mathilde turns paler than her china on the soiled tablecloth. “You can be hurt!”

“Yes, mother, but it’s only two years. And all the money can be sent home, so you can already begin making preparations for our studio. I can pick up where I left off. One never forgets how to play.”

“No, no, no, I cannot accept this for you, for us, no, Gunther. Your father is right. Abandon this idea, please. Tell him, Rudolf! Two years away, Gunther, so far away, so much can go wrong, my love.  No...” She is whining, wringing her hands in her lap.

Gunther continues.

Teaching is where the money is. And just because you have a degree doesn't mean you can teach. Teaching is not a science. It’s an art. You, mother, have this artistry. Look how you taught me! There are lots of teachers out there with a Masters in Music, or even a Doctorate, who have no clue how to teach! They are amazing musicians but they can't teach. It takes a very special person to become a very good teacher. That, mother, is you.”

Rudolf levels a trembling finger at his son. “No. I cannot allow this.” He gulps down another belt of whisky.

“I will do everything in my power to scuttle the sale. First thing tomorrow, I will tell this Captain Haam there is no deal. I will call Henry to ignore this bazi Kori.

“We are too wrapped up here anyway for the next seven months, and after that I’m told, we’re off to Moscow! Exciting life we lead, ya? Yes. Teach them Ruskies how to fly their oil pipeline, checking for oil leaks in the blazing snow! Exciting, yes? No sale, Gunther. No sale.”

Mathilde wearily gets up from the table, leaving the plates untouched.

“You men wash up for a change.  I’ve had enough of this for the night.” She clutches her hands at her breast, feeling her heart race.

An unfamiliar silence ensues with neither speaking. Across the table, a suddenly wizened old man stares at his son, seeing him as if for the very first time. There is a faint glimmer in his eye as he looks down at his son’s long fingers on the mantle.

A vision of his eight-year-old hands nimbly playing Bach’s ‘Gavotte in D’ comes to mind. Recalling the melody just then, the memory of it crystal clear. Gunther follows his father’s gaze to the table, but not seeing his own hands, instead surveys the mess.

“I should clean up, father. Are you finished with your drink?”  

Rudolf shakes his head and continues in a more reserved tone.

“You think I don’t know where you go almost every night. Oh, I know. What is her name now? Anna, is it? Yes? Good helmet polisher, ya? Tell me, Gunther, how will you live for two whole years without your schwanz being sucked by your beloved whore? ““I didn’t know I was being followed,” Gunther snaps back.

“Stupid boy! I had you followed for your own safety, stupid boy. What the hell do you think you’re doing out there all alone?  Those spots you frequent are dens of thieves! You’re inviting nothing but trouble, so I protected you.”

Again the uncomfortable silence ensues, neither speaking as Rudolf finishes off his third double for the night.  

Finally Gunther speaks.

“Da, I’m sick of how it makes me feel. It’s something I have to get out of my life. And this tuna mission will force the issue on that. Out of sight, out of mind. “

“Oh really, sailor boy?  And you think now, with all the men sleeping in close quarters at sea, there won’t be some homosexuelle just dying to suck you off under the sheets, hmmm, sailor boy?”

“Never been with a man, doesn’t interest me, I never will. I’ll be fine. What I know now is I can’t go on doing what I’m doing. I’m going mad.  Pretending to be Captain Marvelous. Mother will see, she’ll love people coming to her for lessons. It’s her very reason for living, da.”

His father looks more tired than ever, hunched over his empty glass.

For the first time Gunther sees the old man. Not the harsh disciplinarian; the only side his father ever displayed. Tonight, his sagging jowls, his reddened eyes, and mouth drooping at the corners betray him. If it weren’t for his sunburned cheeks, he guesses his face would be pale and gaunt.

This is the man I was afraid of all my life?

Rudolf looks up from his glass and says, “No son, you’re wrong. Her reason for living is not to teach piano. Her very reason for living is you.

The silences are growing more uncomfortable.

“But so sorry, “Rudolf says, with finality in his voice, “I’m not going to help you in anyway. Get yourself another helicopter.” He pushes his chair away from the table.

“And just where do you suggest I do that?”

Rudolf mulls the question in his mind, as if deciding whether to answer it or not. He nods to himself once and says,

“This is the last I’ll ever say anything insofar as this damned sea mission is concerned. Bell Textron in Houston Texas makes the McDonald Douglas MD 500 T-tail. Same easy on/off throttle. No need to baby cold start-ups, hot shut downs. Zero maintenance. Powerful, reliable, economical.  Best of all, it’s a single engine.

“You don’t need a twin engine for that kind of thing— what, fishing sardines? It’s not a rescue mission where two engines are needed for the extra margin of safety. It’s overkill. The fuel for two engines alone will kill you. Twin engines is double up on spares, double up on everything. Everything times two. Who does this Haam think he is? The Philippine Navy?  Dumkoff. Do the math, stupid Kori.”

It is 22:30 Hours as Gunther dials Captain Haam’s room. It rings till it went busy. He is not in his room.  Gunther then dials the Philippine Long Distance operator.   

“Good evening.  May I help you?”

“Yes, please dial The Bell Textron Factory, Houston, Texas.”  

“One moment, please.” He could hear the operator turning the Yellow Pages directory in the background. Drumming his fingers impatiently he asks, “What’s taking so long, miss…?”

“Sir, Bell Textron is in Fort Worth, not Houston.”

“So sorry. Okay, please dial.”

“Party to connect with?”

“Anyone in Helicopter Sales department.”

“Who shall I say is calling? “

“Kaufmann. Gunther Kaufmann. Captain Gunther Kaufmann. German Army.”

Gunther is on the line with the Bell factory representative for well over an hour, getting all the specifications and information on how to purchase the MD 500 and ship the parts to Guam.

Putting the receiver down, he glances over his scribbled notes, reorganizing them in logical progression till he is satisfied he could answer any of Captain Haam’s questions.

His watch reads 00:37 Hours. Without hesitation, he dials the Traders Hotel. The receptionist answers crisply,

“Traders hotel. May I help you?”

“Good evening. Is Mr. Kim Jung Haam in his room now?”

“Yes, but there is a no disturb instruction. Sorry.”

“He’s checking out when?”

“He has a wake-up call for 4:30 AM. Perhaps he is catching an early flight?”

“Okay, thanks.” Gunther rings off.

He would have to speak with Haam in person, he thinks. Yes. Perhaps if I met him for breakfast at his hotel, he could explain the plan in correct detail.

Gunther lies on the sofa for a spell and falls into a black, dreamless sleep. Had he not set the travel alarm clock, he would never have come out of the dark pit he is in.

At 04:30 Hours the alarm rings. Gunther jumps and dials the Traders Hotel. Jung Haam takes the call and agrees to meet for coffee at 05:00 but not later. His flight departs at 10:40 Hours. Gunther doesn’t bother to shower or change. He goes in his slept-in clothes and doesn’t even think to wash his face or brush his teeth.

Gunther is waiting for Captain Haam at the lobby breakfast buffet. Not eating but with four cups of coffee on an empty stomach, Gunther outlines the plan he has for the tuna mission. By the time Captain Haam is to depart, it is all agreed. The MD 500 is the helicopter of choice.

It costs only half of what the BO 135 twin engine would have, and operates at a fraction of the BO. Since Guam is a protectorate of the USA, availability of parts in Guam is much easier than importations from Germany. Serviceability is therefore assured. Down-time minimized.

To seal the agreement, Gunther is to go to the Bell Textron Factory for two weeks. He is to train under factory mechanics, fly the actual unit, and see to the details of knocking it down for trans-shipment to Guam. Since Gunther would be shown how to take it apart in disassembling the unit for shipment, reassembly would be facilitated too.

All expenses are to be shouldered by Captain Haam. However, it is decided that Gunther would need a mechanic to assist him, but the mechanics pay would be deducted from Gunther’s bonuses. Gunther is authorized to hire a mechanic endorsed by the Bell factory— his ceiling offer for the mechanic, US $5,600 a month fixed, plus bonuses.

That way, Gunther has an “active” participatory interest in the helicopter operations. It is Haam’s way with his men, he explains to Gunther. All on his ship has some kind of vested interest in the expedition— a personal stake.  

“I am leaving you $8,000 cash for your ticket and expenses while in Texas. You fax me all payment details for the MD 500, and after you verify all parts already going to ship, you go Guam where you shall be met at airport to come to our land-based offices. Congratulations, Gunther! I know you and I shall both be greatly rewarded by this.”  

When Gunther arrives back at his parent’s apartment at 08:50 Hours, his father has already left. His mother is surprised to see him unkempt, unshaven, still wearing the civilian clothes he wore the night before. She is frantic.

“Where have you been?! Your father’s message is for you to report directly to the Navy Office. Have you forgotten today is graduation for the six cadets you’ve trained?  Hurry now.”

Oh no, there’s going to be hell to pay, thinks Gunther, showering and getting into uniform. As quick as he could, he makes his way to the Navy yard and joins the ceremony that is already underway. He saunters up to his father and stands just off his left and to the rear of him.  

Rudolf smells the fresh soap and turns to see his son’s profile standing a full head taller than himself. Without a word of acknowledgment, they witness the proceedings and go through all the perfunctory congratulatory remarks and hand-shaking. The small crowd thins out of the briefing hall. Rudolf sits and levels piercing eyes at Gunther.

“You’ve some nerve. Explain yourself. At ease.”

Gunther remains standing, at parade rest, his hands clasped behind his back, and addresses his commanding officer formally.

“Sir, I wish to resign from my post in the German Army Aviation Corps effective immediately.”

“And If I say no?”

“I will submit my resignation directly to the Fatherland Offices, sir.”

“And if they likewise refuse? Will you accept a dishonorable discharge?”

“Why, sir?  I’ve not deserted. This is not war time. I’ve broken no rules, sir.”

“You’ve made up your mind? This money-grubbing tuna mission is what’s in store?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And you’ve told your mother?”

“I will, sir, later today. I leave for the USA by this Saturday. It’s all been pre-arranged. We’re purchasing the MD 500 as per your good advice, sir. I’m to conduct ocular and undergo pilot operations training at Fort Worth, Texas. Sir.”

“Get out of my sight, you insolent…!” Gripping his chair, Rudolf restrains himself, all of a sudden aware of his official surroundings.

“You’re dismissed. Get out of the apartment today. I won’t coddle you under my wing for another moment. Any belongings you leave behind will be thrown out with the rest of you. Don’t be there when I get back by 18:00 Hours. Dismissed.”

Gunther snaps to attention, salutes, turns on his heel, and walks out of the auditorium. Rudolf watches him in the corner of his eye, feigning disinterest.

Though he knows it not, it would be the last time Gunther would ever set sight on his father again as he walks out the door into a world of his own design.

The Three Dreams

Book I – The Dream of the Victim

Chapter 4– Sweet Dreams Are Made of These

Gunther adjusts his polarized Seafarer on his unburned, peeling nose, kicks the rudder pedals left, right, and thumbs the START red button on the collective lever of the MD 500 five bladed helicopter.

Although it is a cool 24 degrees centigrade in the early morn with the doors off to permit full vision and airflow into the cockpit, a bead of perspiration makes it way down Gunther's shortly cropped blond scalp to his nape.

In the cold confines of the powerful 420 HP engine, ten thousand volts of electricity shoot across a tungsten fork, a blue electric bolt half-an-inch long uniting both prongs. In the pilot’s seat the tick-tick-tick-tick of the electric charge can be heard as it surges across the tiny gap superheating the heart of the engine.
The red turbine gas temperature needle on the instrument panel swings up into the yellow zone and he flicks the throttle grip full ON. Jet fuel sprays into the superheated combustion chamber, igniting it in a contained explosion of gases. A resounding low-throated thrum fills the cockpit, reverberating as it crescendos to a steady whine of power.

Eighteen inches above the Plexiglas canopy, five blades become a whirling disk, the first rays of sun sparkling off the rotor blur.

A quick scan of the instruments shows his mechanic's work is still amiss. He notes oil pressure is in the normal range, but the fuel gauge still reads half-empty in spite of it being filled to overflowing.

Gunther is like all helicopter pilots—a pessimistic lot so it’s never half- full— more practical to reckon on half-empty. Too many things can go wrong with the mechanical beast out in the middle of the ocean, and often times they do at the worst possible moment.

Gunther shakes his head and rubs his eyes, readjusting his mirrored sunglasses. He waves his Goofy-gloved hand, exposed at the fingertips, out the open door, motioning for Os to have a look.

The mechanic leans in and taps the glass of the instrument. He merely shrugs his broad shoulders, a mop of chestnut, shoulder-length hair whipping about in the rotor wash. This daily ritual has been going on for weeks now. It ends with Gunther flipping Os the dirty finger.

But today, Gunther’s in good spirits, so he and Os merely exchange sheepish looks and grin. And why not?  The hold of the ‘One Dream’ is half-full of tuna. Everyone on board is optimistic about filling the hold with maybe two more ‘sets’ and make it back to port to disgorge a full hold.  

After 16 grueling weeks at sea, Gunther likes to think the hold is half-full, so he can get off this floating tin can for some R & R.  Maybe I get out of my contract early. Yah. Get my bonus and cash out.

A minute elapses on the makeshift digital timer duct-taped haphazardly above the compass on the panel. The oil temp confirms the beast is good to go. Os releases the tethers from the skids and flashes ‘thumbs up’.

Without hesitation Gunther tugs upwards on the collective and the skids break free from the ships slippery deck into a hover.

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