Freed from a life of addiction, sin, and crime by an encounter with the Blessed Mother
That explains why the Japanese wanted us out of their country — dead or alive, it didn’t matter to them which — and they wanted us out fast. Years of bad behavior by U.S. servicemen had made the government especially sensitive to any criminal activity that could be connected with the U.S. military.
When the Japanese officers rushed in, it felt like the entire train station suddenly converged on me, like I had become the center of a black hole. Within seconds, a mass of humanity was on top of me, almost taking my breath away. Some guys in my position might have panicked, but I retained my composure and focused on what I needed to do to escape. Luckily for me, the police underestimated my ability to weasel out of tight situations and didn’t coordinate their efforts. Instead of sending two men in to tackle me — leaving the rest to form a perimeter — all six men immediately piled on, per- haps assuming that the sheer weight of their bodies would be enough to keep me down. But I was as slippery as butter and began to finagle my way out of the pile.
Tommy wasn’t nearly as elusive. When the police jumped him, they quickly managed to pin both of his arms and legs to the floor. “Dude, run!” I heard him yell as I squirmed free. As I was getting up, I noticed someone out of the corner of my eye that I hadn’t seen earlier — my dad. He didn’t make a move towards me. He was quietly watching the whole scene unfold at a distance.
As soon as I busted through the station doors, I ran right into traffic, figuring the officers wouldn’t be willing to risk their lives chasing a seemingly suicidal teenager down the middle of a crowded street, where they’d have to negotiate a mix of onrushing cars, bikes, and mopeds. Ironically, I was more concerned about being hit by a moped or bicycle than I was by a car. In Yokohama, the streets are so congested — even at mid-morning — that mopeds or bicycles will often be traveling faster than cars, since they can weave in and out of traffic. And since the traffic laws in Japan are loosely enforced and only loosely observed, no one seemed compelled to yield. It was my responsibility to stay out of harm’s way.
As soon as I got to the other side of this main thoroughfare, I started running along the sidewalk, stores flashing by as I dodged pedestrians. To my surprise, the cops remained hot on my tail. When I realized I might not be able to escape, I unzipped my pants pockets and began discretely dropping wads of cash on the ground. I figured if I was going to get busted, it would be best if I didn’t have to explain how I managed to get my hands on several million Yen. I also hoped that bystanders would scramble to pick up the money, creating another obstacle for my pursuers to negotiate. Handful after handful of money I threw to the ground. I have no idea what happened to any of it, but I’m sure a few people came away feeling like they had just won the lottery.
Meanwhile, I made my way towards an open-air market — one filled with outdoor clothing and shoe stores. At this point, I was really breathing hard and beginning to wheeze audibly, like an asthmatic suffering a bad asthma attack. My pace got slower and slower, and then suddenly I felt someone grab hold of my hair, getting enough of a handful to use it to drag me to the ground. I heard the man say, “We caught you, you little punk!” For the first time, I noticed that American military policemen (MPs) had also been chasing me.
Immediately, I tried to get up off the ground and even took a half-hearted swing at the MP who caught me. But he was so big — about six-foot-three, no neck, with arms thicker than my thighs — that he could easily hold me at arm’s length. The other American MPs began calling me names and telling me how I was going to be locked up. One of them screamed at me, “Do you know what you’ve done? Do you know what you’ve done?” I spit at him and told him off.