Her art was death.
Ani Hitaki managed to make it from Kyoto, Japan, in 1948, and I met her at the end of ’49 when she was working in Boston Towne. My Japanese is rough, as is anyone who isn’t born to it, but it was tolerable enough for her and me to converse. She expressed her displeasure with her current employment, and on the spur of the moment, I offered her a place to stay.
In exchange for room and board, and whatever spending money she might need, she would come and keep my books for me. Aside from my journals, there’s a great deal of unnecessary paperwork for a farm, and I had better things to do than filling out tax forms and other such nonsense.
When Ani wasn’t working, she was carving. I kept her in a good supply of bones, and she carved them down into Netsuke – miniature figures of men and women, houses and animals. Just about whatever caught her fancy.
She kept up a steady correspondence with people all over the world. It didn’t matter who. In the course of this letter writing, some of them learned she was a carver, and they asked for samples of her work.
Ani happily mailed them out, and soon, the correspondence from the recipients of the Netsuke ceased writing.
And with good reason.
Ani had poisoned them.
She poured all her anger and hatred into those carvings. The pent-up rage of seeing her country destroyed by itself and others around it.
Ani and I lived together for 62 years, but we never knew each other in the biblical sense of the term. We were friends, good friends at the end, and I was saddened when she passed.
Eventually, some bright detectives around the world linked the Netsuke together. They found Ani’s signature on them and then slowly traced them back to the United States, then to Massachusetts, and finally, to Cross.
I had to pretend to be my own grandson, as I’ve done in the past. I told them that I remembered her as a sweet old woman who lived close by. I explained, too, that none of Ani’s carvings or tools remain.
But that was a lie.
I’ve a few of her carvings here, in the Child’s house. They’re beautiful pieces, and I can feel Ani’s hate emanating from them.
It’s a good feeling.