Tuesday, June 02, 2009




The owner has transformed blocks
and blocks of empty lots into
parklands, a ritzy casino, a strip of
hotels and fancy restaurants from
around the world. Like a prince of old
Mr. Prince never leaves his land.
He’s taken the name Prince, for his
Principality. He spends as much time
hunting or fishing among the streams
and forests in the park as he does in
the glitter and pampered eyebrows
of the pretty. The Old Man is the
keeper of the bamboo and the Old
Woman is the keeper of the other
woods and plants.

Mr. Prince sends the Old Man a
message telling him that he will be
out hunting next Saturday. At 5
that evening he will stop by the
Eclipse Hotel. All the doors will be
unlocked and open all the way to
Takeyuki’s apartment and room. He
deserves to see every citizen of his
principality before he counts them

The Old Man apologizes to Takeyuki
but this time what he asks is real.
Mr. Prince is coming. The Old Man
and Old Woman owe the paradise
they brought the girl from the red
bamboo into, to Mr. Prince. They own
the Eclipse Hotel but he owns the
city-state it sits on.

Takeyuki knew her parents would
betray her.

“No. No! Yes. We apologize,” they

At precisely 5 o’clock that Saturday
Mr. Prince, the Prince of the
Principality dismounted his horse and
walked into the Eclipse Hotel, walked
up the five stories of open doors to
Takeyuki’s apartment Number 9. The
sight of her was a sudden punch in
the stomach. He didn’t see she was
with the twins from downstairs, Koko
and Pele.

“Marry me!” blurted out of his

“Because you own the ground I was
found on, I will marry you. Then I will

“Don’t fade!” he says. “Please, don’t
fade. I won’t marry you. Forget I
mentioned such a thing. Everyone,
forget! Forrrrrget! Everyone!”

“Believe me,” Koko says, and Pele
joins her, “it’s forgotten!”

“You are a funny man,” Takeyuki says
to Mr. Prince.

“I think…” Koko or Pele begins.

“They want to be alone?” the other

“Girls!” Takeyuki says.

“We have to make a fresh pot of

“Actually I’d prefer a cappuccino,”
Mr. Prince says.

“Two cappuccinos please,” Takeyuki


Mr. Prince became a regular visitor.
He and Takeyuki spent time on the
roof admiring and painting the view
of the mountain he used to own.
They looked from the roof down to
the tops of fir, cypress, spruce and
pine trees planted by the old woman
and wrote poems.

“Cypress bark makes good rope. It
doesn’t lose strength or rot no
matter how many times it gets wet,”
Mr. Prince says.

“If pine lasted forever like Cypress.”

“If cypress had the heart of pine.”

“I think it tries!” Mr. Prince

Laughter blurts out of her mouth
before she can cap it with her hand.

They watch the darkening of the sky
over the trees. The mountain
changes as it’s lit by the rise of the

“Your people have a story about the
Moon tying the wrists of lovers
together with a blood red cord,” Mr.
Prince said.

“The blood of the moon is moonlight,”
Takeyuki said.

She embroiders a Hokusai memory
of a yellow full moon shining on a
snow streaked top of the perfectly
shaped mountain Fujiyama rising out
of the mists of Japan on a starry
night. He sees it is the view of his
mountain from the rooftop of the
Eclipse Hotel. She gives the
embroidery to Mr. Prince, and tells
him the smoke between the top of
his mountain and the moon is yet to
be embroidered.

“It’s not important. I can’t wait to be
alone with this little bit of you.”

“You may take it only if you promise
to bring it back when I have the
proper thread.”

“Only if you promise to sew it in my

“Of course, I promise,” Takeyuki

“I promise,” Mr. Prince says.

The Old Man found Takeyuki crying.
“What is this? Mr. Prince and you

have both blossomed since you met.”
She told him her real father was

coming to take her home on the 15th
of August.
“Home?” the Old Man asked.
The Old Man wrote Mr. Prince.

Mr. Prince flexed his political muscle.
Tea City patrols the roads that
border Mr. Prince’s Principality. Mr.
Prince sends masons to build a wall
around the Eclipse Hotel grounds and
the expanded bamboo forest. The
national navy patrols the waters that
exit the streams and river into the

Not a fish, not a shrimp, not a clam
passes unnoticed.

Come the 15th of August.

The muscle power of Mr. Prince over
his principality are on the wall
around the Eclipse Hotel. A man of
his personal bodyguard is at every
window, on every floor, and eight
bodyguards on the roof garden of
the Eclipse Hotel.

During the day, the hot blue skies
are patrolled by predator hawks with
big eyes and speedy peregrine
falcons and owls with silent wings
and especially large eyes in the dark
of night. Nothing. Not a bird, not a

bat, not a mouse can slip into or drop
on the Eclipse Hotel by surprise.

Nothing does.

When the full moon rises, for the
night, there's no stopping the beam
off the Moon’s face that shines
down to the Eclipse Hotel.

Every window and all doors of the
Eclipse Hotel leading to Takeyuki’s
room flew open at the first touch of

Down the moonlight comes the
floating tread of ladies to their
Princess’s door. Takeyuki is
compelled to float out glowing into
the arms of the ladies come to
“bathe her, powder her, dress her
for her homecoming.”

“Her homecoming?” the Old Woman

“To the moon,” the ladies of the
Moon say.

“To the Moon!” the Old Woman
glowers at the Old Man.

“Come on! Look me in the eye and
tell me you didn’t know.”

“Oh, I knew.”

“Shut up!” the Moon gentles them
with coolth.

The Old Man and Old Woman can do
nothing but lower their heads and

The Moon tells the old man, “The
Princess was sent to earth as
punishment for some offense that’s
nobody’s business.”

“You made it our business,” the
weeping Old Man says. “You gave
your problem child to us. We loved

"But I provided for you all by
planting gold and jewels in the
bamboo for the Old Man to find.”

“Did you leave a toy, for her? A
note? ‘I love you, Dad?’”

“I gave her rubber boots.”

“Yes. You gave her rubber boots,”
the Old Man says.

“Prisoner’s boots,” the Old Woman

“You have no reason to complain," the
Moon says.

“We’re not complaining,” the Old Man
says. “But that doesn’t mean we don’t
have complaints, with and without

The moon ladies give their princess a
vial of the elixir of life. She takes
half and moves to give the rest to
the Old Man.

The Moon sees all and says, “No!”

“Might I give the Old Couple my
homecoming kimono as a keepsake?”


"Might I write to my friend Mr.
Prince?" she asks.

“Yes,” the Moon says.

What she wrote, no one knows. She
touched her lips to the letter and
slipped the vial of the elixir of life
into the letter.

“Might I ask you to deliver this to
Mr. Prince?” the Shining Princess of
the Moon asks.

The Old Man and the Old Woman
lower their eyes, and accept the
letter into their hands.

The Princess of the Moon says,
“Think of Takeyuki whenever you
look at the Moon.” She faces the old
couple and drifts up to the face of
the moon backwards.


Mr. Prince reads the letter and looks
at the vial of liquid.

If he drinks the elixir of life he can
have immortality. He can go to the
moon and live with the Princess
forever. But Mr. Prince is the soul
of his principality. If he leaves his
principality, before he fathers a son
to an age where his succession is
assured, the principality loses its
soul. Ceases to be. Yes, love is

He gives his bodyguard a secret
errand. “Old friend, a personal
errand. Take this letter and the
elixir of life to the very top of the
highest mountain in the land and
burn them.”

“The highest mountain in the land?”

“We used to live there. Remember?”

Mr. Prince’s bodyguard tells no one
who he is, what he has, where he's
going, or what he's going to do. He
talks to no one.

He walks three days to leave no
memories behind, to the highest
mountain in the country and climbs it
to the top for old times sake. He
sets a fire with the letter and twigs
from the trail.

Mr. Prince happens to set his eyes on
the embroidered silk made by
Takeyuki of the very top of Mt. Fuji
and the full moon, at the moment the
bodyguard empties the vial of the
elixir of life into the flames.

“Look, Baby Moon,” Mr. Prince says
to the shine who glows cool in a
rubber boot. “It is as Takeyuki says,
‘If one looks to the perfectly shaped
mountain, and the light is just right,
you can see a stitch of smoke write a
line from the top of the mountain, to
the moon.”