Today’s Lucky Yet Truly Morbid Fact!
August 6, 1945 started off pretty lucky for perhaps the most unlucky man of the twentieth century. Tsutomu Yamaguchi had stepped off his bus near Mitsubishi headquarters in Hiroshima when he realized he’d forgotten his inkan, the seal that Japanese salary men dip in red ink and use to stamp documents. The lapse annoyed him – he faced a long ride back to his boardinghouse – but nothing could really dampen his mood that day. He’d finished designing a five-thousand-ton tanker ship for Mitsubishi, and the company would finally, the next day, send him back home to his wife and infant son in southwest Japan. The war had disrupted his life, but on August 7 things would return to normal.
As Yamaguchi removed his shoes at his boardinghouse door, the elderly proprietors ambushed him and asked him to tea. He could hardly refuse these lonely folk, and the unexpected engagement further delayed him. Shod again, inkan in hand, he hurried off, caught a streetcar, disembarked near work, and was walking along near a potato field when he heard a gnat of an enemy bomber high above. He could just make out a speck descending from its belly. It was 8:15 a.m.
Many survivors remember the curious delay. Instead of a normal bomb’s simultaneous flash-bang, this bomb flashed and swelled silently, and got hotter and hotter silently. Yamaguchi was close enough to the epicenter that he didn’t wait long. Drilled in air-raid tactics, he dived to the ground, covered his eyes, and plugged his ears with his thumbs. After a half-second light bath came a roar, and with it came a shock wave. A moment later Yamaguchi felt a gale somehow beneath him, raking his stomach. He’d been tossed upward, and after a short flight he hit the ground, unconscious.
He awoke, perhaps seconds later, perhaps an hour, to a darkened city. The mushroom cloud had sucked up tons of dirt and ash, and small rings of fire smoked on wilted potato leaves nearby. His skin felt aflame, too. He’d rolled up his shirt sleeves after his cup of tea, and his forearms felt severely sunburned. He rose and staggered through the potato field, stopping every few feet to rest, shuffling past other burned and bleeding and torn-open victims. Strangely compelled, he reported to Mitsubishi. He found a pile of rubble speckled with small fires, and many dead coworkers – he’d been lucky to be late. He wandered onwards, hours slipped by. He drank water from broken pipes, and at an emergency aid station he nibbled a biscuit and vomited. He slept that night beneath an overturned boat on a beach. His left arm, fully exposed to the great white flash, had turned black.
(To be continued…)
Morbid Art Du Jour!
Christina Bothwell’s artist statement makes you expect her artwork to be hippy-dippy new agey stuff:
“Since I was very young, I have been fascinated with the concept of the Soul… the idea that the physical body represents only a small part of our beingness. I am always interested in trying to express the that we are more than just our bodies, and my ongoing spiritual interests and pursuits have run parallel to the narrative in my pieces.”
And some of it definitely is. But some of her work is delightfully creepy.
Thanks to David for the link.