THE BUCK ROGERS CAFE
"You got to have a break once in a while," said Moe to me
and we went out of the barge.
It was one day when the salmon run started to turn from
chums and kings to reds. There seemed to be no Cessnas
Because of the midnight sun of the arctic, the nights of
Bethel were bright even at 10 or 11 o'clock in the evening.
From kids to grown-ups, everyone was walking outside without
definite reasons. The day was funny to me like watching blue
skies of a movie scene. It seemed fake although it was not.
Kids at the age of three or four stared at Moe and me who
were walking down the line. They kept on talking to each
other: putting hands to their mouths; laughing.
"Hi,," said Moe to the kids. All of a sudden, the kids started
to talk to us, saying different things at the same time.
One kid who seemed older than the others asked, "Hey.
are you guys Chinese?"
"No way! Japanese," said Moe with his nostrils wide open.
"You do karate?" asked the same kid again. At the town
theatre then, they were showing Bruce Lee's Enter The Dragon.
Probably because the hero was not a white man, the movie
was having a great success.
"Haw!" screamed Moe like Bruce in the movie. After a
one-two karate straight, he made a fast front kick demon-
stration, which went pretty close to the kids.
The kids were startled. They stepped back, but in an
instance, they took their karate positions, ready to fight back.
Moe and I turned our backs and ran away, laughing. The
kids ran after us.
Moe and I didn't pay attention to the dog's barking. We
ran across a bridge and reached an old and dirty wooden house
where lots of young Eskimos were hanging around. The
entrance was at the end of stairs that had four or five steps.
We opened the door and took a look inside. The place was
pretty crowded. On the right hand were seats and tables filled
with Eskimos. On the left hand was a counter. There was a
juke box straight ahead in the far end corner.
Moe found a friend and sat beside him, so I did too. The
place seemed to be a cafeteria.
Moe smoked some cigarettes and spoke with his friends.
It was kind of weird for me not having anything to drink. In
the Japanese system, you had to order something even if not
asked. Anyway, they didn't have any alcohol.
A drunk Eskimo came close to Moe and me.
"Hey. You guys know what the white men did to us?"
asked the Eskimo all of a sudden. He was surely drunk.
Although Bethel was under a temperance law, he had had some
moonshine or something, probably.
"What did they do?"
I expected some depressing answer.
"They gave us everything," said the drunk Eskimo. "So,
we don't have to work now."
<This Eskimo must have radical opinions,> I thought.
Someone laughed at someone's joke.
"Let's go," said Moe to me.
The room was full of smoke. I thought there were some
scent of incense sticks among those of cigarettes.