The Corridor

corridor

© Dale Rogerson

Ken Watanabe wasn’t shown the entrance off the courtyard when he took over Santa Fe’s historic Museum. The ex-Curator gave him the keys. The door had been locked since 1943. No one knew why. There was no eastern door inside, but it was apparent on the outer wall.

Hesitantly, he used his key, opened the door, and saw a lit, multi-arched corridor. Then he heard a voice at the other end. “Glad those Japs were locked up after what they pulled at Pearl Harbor.”

His father was interned here 74 years ago on Ken’s first birthday. He never opened the door again.

There’s a larger story being told but it’s hard to compress into 100 words or less.

The photo reminded me somewhat of Southwestern architecture, which is why I placed my tale in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I wanted to do a “corridor through time” story, but I needed a date where the other end of the tunnel linked. I looked up Santa Fe at Wikipedia and discovered that during World War Two, it had a Japanese Internment Camp. Beginning in June 1942, 826 Japanese-American men were arrested and imprisoned.

I remember actor George Takei saying that when he was a small child, he and his family were similarly interned because of their Japanese heritage. Thus my tale was born.

I wrote this as part of the Friday Fictioneers challenge hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. The goal is to write a short story of 100 words or less based on the photo prompt you see above (and as I mentioned, I just made it at exactly 100 words).

To read more stories based on this week’s prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

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24 thoughts on “The Corridor

    • There’s always injustice somewhere in the world, Iain. Our job is to remain aware of the past so we recognize that injustice in the present. My wife is Jewish, so as you can imagine, the memory of the Holocaust is what guides us in how Jews and the Jewish state are being considered today.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. This is a bit fuzzy to me. Whose voice did he hear? His father’s? Was his father locked away in there? It’s hard to fit the whole tale in 100 words.
    Internments happened here in Canada, too, sad to say. Fear and suspicion breed over-caution that spills into cruelty. As you say, it’s the history of humanity.

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    • Sorry for the confusion, Christine.

      He heard a generic voice, a patron at the museum in 1943 commenting on his approval of Japanese men being interned.

      The museum was a museum back in 1943 (in my imagination, I established it in the 1920s), so the Japanese men in question, including Ken’s Dad, were actually imprisoned in a different location.

      If Ken had walked down the corridor and reached the other end, he would actually have traveled back in time and probably would have been interned himself.

      Instead, hearing that one sentence and realizing where and when it came from resulted in his walking back outside, locking the door, and never opening it up again.

      Of course Ken is in his 70s and accepted the position as curator of the small art museum as something to do in his retirement years. When he retires as curator or passes away (he is old), someone will replace him and then they will have the keys.

      The question is, if that person opens the door, will it still lead to 1943, or to wherever and whenever represents his or her darkest moment?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ahhhh. As to that voice, if only people would/could see how much selfishness there is in finding and punishing scapegoats. As I wrote in a recent story, people with Eastern European accents or names were refused relief in some places during the Dirty Thirties, “They should just go home!” At the same time in the southern US blacks were fired or even shot so a white man could have their job. But if we’re honest, how much different would we act today if we—or our income—appeared threatened by some group or nation?

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      • I don’t know if we do act all that differently. In the world today, various people groups are treated as less equal than others, scorned, persecuted, in some countries, imprisoned or even killed. We like to think of ourselves as enlightened, but the veneer of civilization is quickly stripped off when we feel threatened.

        In the early-mid 1940s, people in this country felt threatened by Japanese-Americans and Japanese immigrants. Given the social and historical context, were they justified? They probably thought so. Only the perspective of time tells us the truth about ourselves.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear James,

    I was a little thrown off by the curator’s name. Ken Watanabe is a Japanese actor but he’s not American. At any rate, the internment camps are a blot on the landscape of American history. Good job on your story.
    As an aside, you might be interested in my friend’s book. The Red Kimono https://www.amazon.com/Red-Kimono-Novel-Jan-Morrill/dp/1557289948, is a wonderful book about a young girl, Sachi who is sent to a camp with her family. The author based the story on her mother’s childhood. A worthy read as was your story.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

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    • Darn. Did I use a real person’s name? Actually, Ken Watanabe is also the name of one of my brother-in-law’s college roommates back in the early 1980s.

      Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll have a look.

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