sidelines where he was removing his shoes, Hugo called out, "Make sure he
understands it's a mixed bout."
When they met in
the center of the mat they shook hands. Mr. Judo was still full of obsequious
noises and nods—Mr. Table Tennis had removed his glasses and his bulging
eyeballs were enjoying their freedom. The 18 monster paratroopers had formed a
semicircle around the mat and waited. Lieut. Murphy, acting as referee, was
placing Hugo's hands on his opponent's blouse in what appeared to be some kind
of ceremonial preparation. ("More red tape," said Hugo.) There they
stood, Hugo and the runt, as seemingly mismatched as David and Goliath. It
suddenly dawned on me that this affable little fellow was actually going to
kill Hugo! And that I didn't want. That would realty cause red tape. "Be
careful, Hugo." I said. "And keep your elbow down."
They were to
begin on three. "One," snapped the lieutenant. Hugo braced himself; the
little man grinned. "Two." Hugo got that wild look in his eyes; the
little fellow nodded. "Three!"
It was fantastic.
Something so startling occurred, so fast, so ridiculous in its outcome, that no
one at first, not even Hugo, comprehended it. At the count of three Hugo had
released his hands from the shrimp's vest and, in one mad furious motion, had
rushed him, thrown both arms around him in a crushing bear hug, flipped him to
the mat like a bag of resin and placed a knee on his Adam's apple. He obviously
could have crushed him instantaneously like a gnat.
In the conference
that followed it became clear that the little man had not understood Hugo's
intention of fighting a mixed bout. He thought Hugo wanted merely to try his
hand at judo, where only the clothing is touched. But with the realization of
his error he became again all grins and nods. "Ah so," he said. "Ah
so. Now I see, now see. If Merican gentreman rearry wish fight...that very
diffirent mattah...diffirent mattah. Judo man then use jujitsu." And he
proceeded to explain that he was there to instruct, not to harm. He would lose
his job. "Howevah," he continued, "mixed fight very, very easy to
fix...easy to fix. I can do, but not with me. With pupir." And so saying,
with a mere motion of a mere finger, he summoned from that semicircle, to
Hugo's horror, Gargantua.
I was proud of
Hugo. Despite the strange color that bleached his face, he battled that monster
to a dead draw while all the time he kept gasping, "But this isn't what I
meant. I wanted to see what would happen with the pipsqueak."
I'm getting the
first plane to the States I can get!" Hugo said the next day.
Hugo," I argued, "now that we've finished the tour, why not see a bit
of Japan? We'll go to Kyoto. It's the ancient capital."
Kyoto! I'm going home! With a little luck I can still make the Friday night
tournament at the Club."
was bound to return with Hugo. I had acquired several hundred pounds of
souvenirs and needed Hugo's excess-baggage allowance as well as my own.
Unfortunately, the "first plane to the States" was scheduled to
terminate in Hawaii. But Hugo was determined.