Masami Ko Japanese Bounty Huntress

Submitted into Contest #191 in response to: Make Japan (or Japanese culture) an element of your story.... view prompt

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Adventure Romance Teens & Young Adult

Settlement in the early American West was not without its’ challenges. An extraordinary expanse of habitable land lay waiting for the taking.

Therein lay the rub, the taking.  The Western Promise was fraught with surmountable yet daunting threats.

Water wasn’t easily accessible, wild animals roamed to one’s detriment, highwaymen ravaged the unsuspecting, and Native Americans refused to consent to their white usurpers. The rule of law was dependent upon the presence of a few.

Character before conduct was virtually nonexistent to the unruly horde of prospectors of a western future and homesteaders bent on making their niche.

At times the law was instituted by no more than a mob mentality. Absent a lawman or judge, horse thieves were summarily hung from the nearest waiting tree. Disputes were generally decided either through fisticuffs or by who was the best shot. The fastest draw was not a guaranteed winner in these disputes.  Numerous bystanders succumbed to many a wild shot. Dead was dead.

With too few Peacemakers, the unnecessary loss of life further contributed to a mindset to survive at any cost. Life in the early West necessitated the ownership of as many weapons as one could afford.

The Earp brothers and Marshall Wyatt Earp were prominent among the western law enforcement officers. There was Pat Garrett, who killed Billy the Kid; Doc Holliday, the dentist; Wild Bill Hitchcock, Bat Masterson, and of course, the legendary Bass Reeves. Unfortunately, the supply of these Peacekeepers was not inexhaustible. Justice lacked proper representation.

To augment the flow of justice in the Wild West, Bounty Hunters found their proverbial footing. For a bounty fee, hardened men and women rode out in pursuit of wanted criminals. Many never returned to collect their bounties. 

This no-holds-barred engagement became a test for dominance in this limited field. Although the law was intended for the lawbreakers, there weren’t enough lawmen for the lawbreakers.

Although publically despised as a profession, Bounty Hunters notified the Desperados that law was coming westward and fast.

Arriving in San Francisco in late 1860, many immigrants from Europe and Asia sought a golden opportunity in America. The lure of a better life was secondary to adapting and making one’s way.

One of the newcomers was young Masami Ko from Japan. A ticket was purchased to finance her trip using money secured from the Missionary Jonathan Stone. Having no extra money for food, Masami was consigned to the ship’s bowels shoveling coal into the furnace. 

Hard work was never a problem for her as she worked steadily at home with her parents for the upkeep of their small allotment of land. 

Working in the furnace room tested her stamina to endure the unpleasantness of being alone. Working alongside the many men who also worked in the furnace room gained her their respect. They often made sure that she was afforded all accommodations.

After work, Masami would retire to her stateroom, indulging in long baths and cups of tea. Once she finished her bath, she would dress and go on deck to watch the many people aboard the ship.

Her observations assured her that she was considered less than others. The scrutiny came from the same-paying peers who quartered with her on her section of the ship. Noses were turned up as she entered and exited her room. None chose to speak with her. Gossip persisted as to how she could afford a stateroom. 

Unaccustomed to such a regular display of ignorance, it was easy for her to write off their disdain for her. She did wish, however, for the trip to end.

Arriving in San Franciso, Masami began to survey her surroundings. She discovered that work for hire generally favored Chinese immigrants, so she explored her limited options. At first, she was hired as an indentured servant but was later released from bondage.

Masami joined a wagon train leaving for Missouri to defray another day of hunger. She had no idea where Missouri lay, but at least it was a job. At least she would not starve of hunger.

Clutching her small wooden box that held her few personal belongings, Masami headed East.

Eight months later, an experienced road traveler of Japanese descent arrived in Missouri. The next day after her arrival, Masami was no longer employed.

Destiny chose to favor the vagabond. A female wagon train member offered Masami the washing clothes for her family. 

Within the week, the family and Masami set out for Jefferson City, Missouri.  

Just before arriving in Jefferson City, three bandits attacked the wagon. As a projectile got Masami’s attention, she sprung into action.

Quickly dispatching two assailants with her Shuriken throwing start, the remaining bandit chose to live and surrendered.

The bandit, tied to his horse, was delivered to the local Sherriff, where Masami collected a hefty bounty. Masami Ko was no longer unemployed.

THE PICNIC

Bread, cheese, and wine do not a picnic make!  As mentioned earlier, the treats are props to be included in the staging area.  The staging area is that sublime spot under the shade tree alongside the bubbling brook, that azure stream of gurgling water that flows effortlessly along its banks.

The production is incomplete, as the scenery needs to include two more crucial elements; two consenting hearts.  This entanglement of the hearts that register on the quantum physic level must be in sync.  Without this entanglement, there isn’t sufficient chemistry to consider a working relationship.

Regardless of the thread of the cloth of the blanket hastily thrown on the grass, camouflage that obscures small scurrying creatures, the set is incomplete.  The intended ambiance is thwarted, and those delicate words of affection will never arise.

Friend and love are two words that are intricately entwined, for the word friend has its etymology in the word love.  Friend denotes the person who both loves and is loved.  Friendship is the precursor to love; love will not blossom without it.  Love will not take root, and the faux-love will be a pretender to the throne.  Sooner or later, the ruse will reveal itself, and another heart will be dashed against the shores of deception.  Recovery at this point will further erode future relationships.  No, friendship must precede love as friendship establishes an unconditionality inherent in love’s success.

The crucial elements needed to move the scene along find our two intrepid picnickers arriving via the buckboard provided by the stable owner.  They come, and Texas Ranger Captain Bradford Millhouse assists Masami Ko in stepping down from the conveyance.  He watches as she looks around and decides the best place for their engagement would be the large tree next to the brook.  Looking back at the Ranger, the Captain says she needs the blanket and basket to make house.  He approaches her, hands her the basket, unfurls the blanket, and flaps it onto a spot nearest the tree.

Masami does not watch the Captain but stares into the brook.  The water flowing over the rocks and debris offers a lapping noise that appears to soothe one’s disposition.  The sound is welcome as it mixes pretty well with the fierceness of a wind that has recently made its presence known.  The wind whips through the trees as a few leaves fall upon the blanket.  Another gust of wind and Miami’s long, black flowing hair is blown about her face.  She wipes the hair away from her face and prepares to sit on the blanket.

Strong arms assist her in the endeavor.  As she becomes anchored to the ground, she leans back against the tree and closes her eyes.  The wind revisits her, and several strands of her hair remain attached to the tree bark.  The strong arms that assisted her in seating gently pulled the locks away and smoothed them back into place.  The  Captain touches her skin and feels her warmth as he catches his breath.

He mustn’t falter now.  He must steady himself in the face of the enemy.

The silence of the serenity is broken.  “Would you care for a glass of wine?  You look like you could use a pick-up.”

“My tongue seems to be sticking to the roof of my mouth.  Please pour me some if you would.”

No sooner said than done, Maam, anything you say.  Your wish is my command.

Captain Millhouse takes out the two tin cups from the basket.  He peers into one of the cups and observes a flake from the cup’s coating lying in the bottom.  The Captain blows the chip out and sets the two cups on the basket as the wine is poured.  He hands the first cup to the waiting hands of Masami and lifts his mug.

“What are we gonna drink to Miss?”

“Why don’t we drink to your chivalry?’

“Then chivalry it is.  Never let it be said that Captain Bradford Millhouse was unchivalrous if there is such a word.” He laughs as Masami calls out, “To Captain Millhouse!”

As the Captain raises his mug to his lips, he knows the toast she made has been to and for him, not chivalry.  Four of the five voices in his head tell him that he might be on a roll.  He pours another snort for Masami and tops off his cup.

He sits beside her and notices that she has left a portion of the tree for him to rest his back.

Five of the five voices in his head agree that he is on a roll.

Masami turns her head toward him and watches as he takes another draught.  Her mind begins to trail from the present to the past to another time and place.  The trail drifts back to Japan to another picnic with Haku Haru.

Haku was fifteen, Masami was twelve, and she was fascinated with Haku.  She said yes when he asked her to join him for lunch that afternoon.  The only thing was that lunch wasn’t lunch but a subtle attempt to deflower the maiden.  What saved Masami was a backhand blow to the ridge of Haku’s nose.  She never saw him again, and her first attempt at love left her feeling hurt and confused.

Whether or not this first brazen encounter would color her actions in the future was yet a gamble that she was willing to take.

The energy that could have been directed elsewhere was consumed in her new line of work; to catch the bad guys and get paid.  Masami had worked hard to sustain herself in America and not depend upon anyone.  That philosophy was changing.  It started changing when she realized that strangers had thought enough of her to protect her from harm.

Her consideration of Americans was now neutral, minus the desperados who needed corralling.  She really didn’t care one way or the other for Americans.  And then there was Captain Bradford Millhouse.

The Captain had explained to Masami that he had taken a leave of absence from the Rangers to find her.  He also told her he couldn’t shake the thought of missing out on something without her.  This information was shared with his face turning beet red.  The confession impressed Masami.  It impressed her enough to say yes to a picnic.

The trail of thought returned her to her current setting, where the Captain admired those beautiful tempting lips.  Again, the five voices.  Temptation was about to get the Captain, who could not shake loose.  No, he would not shake the thought.

Captain Bradford Millhouse moved to connect with that inviting portal of pleasure.  There was touchdown.  Their lips fused together and remained so for a few seconds.  During the arrival of his lips upon her, Masami had not closed her eyes.  Those eyes needed to continue to capture the image of this impressive man before her.  A man who had done what no other man could or would do.  The Captain had captured her heart.

There were the voices again.  Tell her now!

The Captain ignores the voices as he realizes you can’t talk in the palaces of kisses.  No, all that talk would have to wait.  His mission, his assignment at the moment, was to fulfill a desire that had been burning within him. 

March 24, 2023 18:23

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2 comments

David Sweet
13:39 Apr 01, 2023

Impressive. I see you have written a whole book about Masami Ko. This narrative really piqued my interest in finding out more about her. Thanks for sharing her story and letting us find out more about her!

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Eugene Barnes
12:50 Apr 04, 2023

David, I greatly appreciate your interest in my most recent endeavor to reignite passion around the old west with a twist. I grew up watching Western movies and I failed to see women warriors sufficiently represented. I, like you, have finally been able to spend time writing, and Masami Ko is my fifth book. Thank you.

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