© 2016 Miguel Zulueta
rights reserved and any reproduction of and/or copying from this book
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is strictly prohibited. However part(s) of this book may be
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E D I C A T I O N
book is dedicated to you,
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.
is a work of pure fiction.
the guise of “Artistic License,” I admit to having taken massive
poetic liberties instead of relying upon hard empirical versions of
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.
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.
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.
Orley Allen Tate
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
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.
author of Fault
Closer to the Flame
a moth to flame I am drawn inexorably closer
it is irresistibly bright.
want to play with fire and not get burned
one more pass directly above and my wings are singed.
spiral earthward and lying there wounded by the plummeting fall
and flounder on the mantle
the while staring in wonderment at the orange light floating
my waxen wings have melted to a crisp.
has claimed me once again.
walk on tortured legs.
I will mend and tomorrow
elusive flame and I shall dance again.
DREAM OF THE VICTIM
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.”
Don Jose & Don Miguel Ruiz
I – The Dream of the Victim
1 – Gone Fishing
Pacific Ocean: The Marianas Trench, Federated States of
Micronesia (FSM), 11" 21' North latitude and 142" 12' East
1, 1986; 15:09 Hrs.
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
frantically tugs at Gunther’s sleeve, Jong’s tugging on the
pilots sleeve sets the helicopter wobbling like a top on its axis.
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.
inverted “V” could be made out from beneath the chop, rising and
falling with the ocean swells.
climbed to 4000 feet and Gunther is stunned that he failed to notice
the incremental creep into altitude.
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.
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.
Jong! Stop grabbing my arm like that, hey! We’ll crash, yah?”
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!”
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
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.
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
scare ‘way fish,’ Jong hisses through clenched nicotine-stained
arrests the emergency dive downwind from the school of fish at 200
feet above the white-capped waves.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
presses ‘Talk’ to transmit. “Captain, we’re running low on
immediate response: “Stay with fish. We see you on range only
Gunther does a quick calculation of the slow trawling speed at
which The One Dream trawls.
Captain, I can’t sit on the sea and wait. The waves are too big. I
must return now. Copy?”
no, no. You wait,” the impatient static crackles back.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
back ship now.”
pulls up and peels away from hover at full throttle.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
mind racing over the possibilities of landing a catch huge enough to
turn about and head for port, he begins to silently chant.
God, please listen to my plea! Nam-Myoho-Rhenge-Kyoh,
Captain Haam begins the 24-minute chant to himself.
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
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.
ship struggles up an oncoming wave. It hangs at the crest for
a moment. Then slides down.
bottoms out in the cusp, waddling there a moment before rising on the
Jung Haam’s vacuous eyes focus on a trickle of salt water
zig-zagging down the windscreen.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
flies alongside to match her sailing speed, then slides in sideways,
keeping the tail rotor well ahead of the tower.
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.
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.
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
flies alone now. His task-- herd the fish away from the noose opening
as it closes shut around them.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
then is Gunther's work done. The waves abate as the sun goes
down. Deck landing lights on, Gunther lands without further ado.
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.
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.
market prices in Tsukiji, Japan, it is rumored $1,000,000 was paid
for the first Bluefin of the season, which weighed 500 pounds.
$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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
sebum nida nim.”
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.
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.
One Dream sitting low in the water like an overfed slug, headed to
port to cash-in her full belly.
I – The Dream of the Victim
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.
dieted on US $4 billion a year of tuna and overnight fortunes were
made on catches of Skipjack and Yellowfin tuna.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
was South Pacific fisherman that Japan and the rest of the world
turned to, to satisfy its craving for tuna.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
the asset could net a fishing operation millions more for as long as
their boat could stay afloat and the helicopter airborne.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.’
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.
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.
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.
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
It would be good to get out of the city,
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.
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.
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.
on the open door to announce himself, a genteel, well-dressed Captain
Kim stands at doorway waiting to be let in.
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?”
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.
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.
What is this regarding?”
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.
here to purchase one unit of your BO Mariner,” Haam announces.
and his father exchange startled looks. Captain Haam lives for that
kind of response. Beneath his navy blue blazer his chest swells with
you see I own two purse seiner boats, and we’ve just refitted one
with a helipad to accommodate your unit.”
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
you tell me please how much is the price-ah?”
scratches the 5 o’clock white stubble on his chin. This
bazi, loveable crook, is either a crack-pot, a con artist or both.
where?” He shoots back.
Please. Can?” Captain cocks his head inquisitively. “How much?”
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?”
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.
shipping costs, don’t know, maybe… will look it up. Add man hours
for reassembly of main rotor components...,” Rudolf continued.
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! “
already know how to do this because you already did here in Manila.
You come do for me in Guam, please?” Captain Haam asks.
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.”
are you able to do for me?” Haam pressed.
next year. Maybe January or February next year.”
Haam shakes his head and clucks his tongue. “Aya berry late. How
much time to ship and assemble ready for to fly?”
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.”
selling price includes all?”
we bill you actual man hours required. Maybe another 20,000 Deutsche
Haam clears his throat noisily, pausing briefly to wipe a bead of
perspiration collecting on his shiny receding hairline.
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...”
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
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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
father shoots eyes full of venom at him.
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.
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
slumps into a chair and remains lost in thought till his father
dismisses Captain Haam in the rudest way.
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.”
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.
out of earshot Gunther exhales, “Da! That’s not nickel change
he’s offering! He’s offering a way out of this... this...
The elder man shoots back. “Oh, is that was this is then-
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 …”
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
up with Haam on the sidewalk trying to hail a cab, he catches his
breath then speaks.
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?”
that’s, well, can’t you can see it from here, just steps away?”
yes, I know I can walk, but I’m not going to hotel. Going
massage-ey and dinner.”
his opportunity to reel in the big fish, Haam continued,
alone, not know Manila. You know. Yes. You come? Show
me please-ah? I buy dinner, all drinks. Maybe some female company
I – The Dream of the Victim
3 – Ah… Houston We Have a Problem….
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.
what that is again, now!”
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
decided to fly for Haam.”
His face reddens and a vein bulges in his neck. “That’s verboten
for us military. I have told you! “
going to resign my post with the Army.”
pall lingers over the table for a spell, like a storm gathering
force. It hits with such a thunderclap that the whole house shakes.
bangs his fists on the table, rattling everything on it.
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??”
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.
not only money. It makes me free to do what I want.”
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?!”
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
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.
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.
money was never the motive for her son. So she is confounded as to
why the sudden change of heart.
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.
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.
watches his father throw the amber liquid down his throat, pour
himself another, right the fallen chair, and sit.
me, boy. Tell me,” he says, breathing hard.
goes over the earnings as outlined by Captain Haam, tallying up two
fishing seasons on the South Pacific.
sits dumbstruck, hearing the amount involved. It is just shy of a
quarter million German Marks.
why do you want so much money? What for?” she asks in a pinched
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.”
feels the vacuous ache in her chest again. Involuntarily, she
clutches her hands to her breast. Her heart is bursting from her
this was the way it would find expression.
Tears well up and spill as she listens to her son speak.
wipes her face with the back of her palm.
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.”
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
planes. You know about...”
cuts him off.
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.
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.”
understands. She has seen him that way at the piano. Rudolf is
reminded of Herr Hoff’s words.
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.
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
am,” he says nodding.
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.”
it. STOP IT! What talk of crashing?!” Mathilde turns paler
than her china on the soiled tablecloth. “You can be hurt!”
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, 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.
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.”
levels a trembling finger at his son. “No. I cannot allow this.”
He gulps down another belt of whisky.
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
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
wearily gets up from the table, leaving the plates untouched.
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
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.
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.
should clean up, father. Are you finished with your drink?”
shakes his head and continues in a more reserved tone.
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
being sucked by your beloved whore? “ “I didn’t know I was
being followed,” Gunther snaps back.
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.”
the uncomfortable silence ensues, neither speaking as Rudolf finishes
off his third double for the night.
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. “
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?”
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.”
father looks more tired than ever, hunched over his empty glass.
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.
is the man I was afraid of all my life?
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
silences are growing more uncomfortable.
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.
just where do you suggest I do that?”
mulls the question in his mind, as if deciding whether to answer it
or not. He nods to himself once and says,
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
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.”
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.
evening. May I help you?”
please dial The Bell Textron Factory, Houston, Texas.”
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…?”
Bell Textron is in Fort Worth, not Houston.”
sorry. Okay, please dial.”
to connect with?”
in Helicopter Sales department.”
shall I say is calling? “
Gunther Kaufmann. Captain Gunther Kaufmann. German Army.”
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.
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.
watch reads 00:37 Hours. Without hesitation, he dials the Traders
Hotel. The receptionist answers crisply,
hotel. May I help you?”
evening. Is Mr. Kim Jung Haam in his room now?”
but there is a no disturb instruction. Sorry.”
checking out when?”
has a wake-up call for 4:30 AM. Perhaps he is catching an early
thanks.” Gunther rings off.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
some nerve. Explain yourself. At ease.”
remains standing, at parade rest, his hands clasped behind his back,
and addresses his commanding officer formally.
I wish to resign from my post in the German Army Aviation Corps
If I say no?”
will submit my resignation directly to the Fatherland Offices, sir.”
if they likewise refuse? Will you accept a dishonorable discharge?”
sir? I’ve not deserted. This is not war time. I’ve
broken no rules, sir.”
made up your mind? This money-grubbing tuna mission is what’s in
you’ve told your mother?”
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.”
out of my sight, you insolent…!” Gripping his chair, Rudolf
restrains himself, all of a sudden aware of his official
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.”
snaps to attention, salutes, turns on his heel, and walks out of the
auditorium. Rudolf watches him in the corner of his eye, feigning
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.
I – The Dream of the Victim
4– Sweet Dreams Are Made of These
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.
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.
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.
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
inches above the Plexiglas canopy, five blades become a whirling
disk, the first rays of sun sparkling off the rotor blur.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 &
I get out of my contract early. Yah. Get my bonus and cash out.
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
hesitation Gunther tugs upwards on the collective and the skids break
free from the ships slippery deck into a hover.
boat is sailing at seven knots, so an immediate forward input on the
controls is required to match the forward trawling speed. Any
backward movement would bring the tail rotors into contact with a
mess of cables hanging from the net crane tower, causing catastrophic
tail-boom separation. A total disintegration of the airframe would
follow in a matter of seconds with severe injury to pilot and
passenger a certainty.
the hover for a half-a-second to synch all limbs to the flight
surfaces, Gunther poises like a marionette held by a mechanical
puppeteer. For the briefest of moments, it is as though the flying
machine is moving Gunther’s limbs, like the tail wagging the dog.
the helideck, the sun was barely kissing the horizon. But in the air,
the orange ball springs into full view. He’s seen it a hundred
times but he takes it all in again like it’s his first. It never
ceases to enthrall. In a minute or so it will be impossibly painful
to look at it, even with sunglasses on.
Kim Song Jong sitting in the right seat adjusts the Polaroid filters
on the binoculars and, fixing them on the horizon, begins his ocular