The Man Who Could Speak Japanese


Let me know about Boobs. This is a real good deal and I can put you next to her roommate whose no dog either next time your in this neck of the woods. Brunette 37-24-30 and hot pants. A real athalete in the sack. You won’t regret it believe me.

Your old ∗∗∗∗∗∗∗ buddy,

Harold V. Dumas

Chief of Public Relations

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios

P.S. Dont write to me at the office as this is kind of personal. Just sent it to me care of General Delivery L.A. and it will get to me Okay.

I never replied, but I found the note strangely moving. Whitey had climbed the Parnassus of his calling, and evidently he had now slid back down all the way. He was pathetic on paper, and his assessment of the kind of material that interested Harper’s was unbelievable. (How on earth had he even seen the magazine?) He had entered the shadows; for all I know, he never emerged again. It is of course quite possible that he staged a stunning caper under another name—as G. Gordon Liddy, say—yet somehow I doubt it. His big sting with us had a one-shot air about it, like the flight of an exotic bird that dazzles for a single season and is never seen again. But on the Morton ’s fantail, and outside that POW stockade at KoIi Point, he had been magnificent. And to this day I feel a tingling at the base of my scalp when I think of that towheaded prisoner in his Portsmouth cell dreaming up what must have been the most imaginative con of the war, saying in that straightforward voice, “Guard, I want to speak to the C.O. ,” and then, “Sir, I know I deserve to be here, but my country is threatened and I want to do my share. I can really help in an unusual way, sir. You see, I speak Japanese.”