The tomb and the tuk tuk driver

She's a bıt strange.
She can drive our tuk-tuk.

Istanbul, 1976

Dearest Zissy,

I cannot begin to tell you how happy I was when I learned of your learning to drive. Edmund has repainted our tuk-tuk in preparation of your visit. I hope you like orange, for there is plenty of orange to be found on the seats, windows, lights, and tires of the vehicle, as well as a dab or two on the main body panels of the vehicle, which could very easily be attributed to Edmund’s blindness. Also, should the subject of the car’s color ever arise, please say that it is a very pleasant shade of blue.

Edmund has begun construction on a tomb for himself because he has decided that he wishes to be remembered, and the project has already consumed most of our small garden. Each day after breakfast, he plays the same mournful Chopan recording and dresses in a black suit. A local man brings him the bricks, which Edmund stacks himself.

The structure is impressive by virtue of the fact that it is sound and stable in spite of Edmund’s age and physical condition. It is a testament to the commitment and care that Edmund has given to the project. It already serves some of its purpose, as Edmund goes and sits in the tomb whenever I practice my singing. Yesterday I threatened to install a tape recorder that would play a sample of my voice directly into his ear on a neverending loop in the event of his demise, and he became so sullen and heartsick that I had to recant.

This tomb business has become dismal and divisive. I hired someone, and tomorrow I am planning to bulldoze the thing and plant some petunias where it stands. That should cheer Edmund up.

I look forward to your visit, dear Zissy, and I sincerly look forward to seeing how well you can manoeuvre a tuk tuk in Istanbul’s traffic.


J. Ozawa

A curious condition


Istanbul, 1970

Dearest Zissy,

I awoke this morning in a most curious condition: by the Kadikoy seaside with boiled oats, cold hard hardened spread intentionally all over me, my clothing in a neat pile nearby with a handwritten note, in Turkish, in a sealed envelope. Seagulls swarmed around me, which gave me a start, and a crowd that had gathered both shielded their eyes and looked on in curiosity while I swatted and screamed to protect myself from those filthy birds, which had begun pinching and poking at my skin in a way that drew blood.

With screaching birds and onlookers screaming and laughing, I bounded over the rocky shore and submerged myself in the Bosphorus chased by children with sticks and street dogs.

The oatmeal mostly off of me, I begged and pleaded for my clothing, which had already been stolen, and at that exact moment of realization, utterances of ‘Polis geldi’ began to circulate through the quickly dispersing crowd.

Soon, I found myself being escorted by two reproachful policemen to a waiting car, still nude, oatmeal still in my hair. It was in the car where the letter was first opened. The police officers laughing and talking with each other and me not understanding a single word of it.

The men drove me approximately 50 meters and ordered me out of their car. They kept the letter. I heard them laughing still as their car rounded a corner and disappeared.

Thus, dear Zissy, with my time in Seattle having come to an end, I am quite sad to report that life has returned to normal since my return to Istanbul.


J. Ozawa

Writing Ass. #4: Jenny’s Shirt


In her poem, “Jenny’s Shirt”, Maggie Estep gives us a very short, sexy, story – just a few paragraphs – as if to answer the question, “How did Jenny get that shirt?”

Your assignment is to create a story to answer a simple, common question about a common object like, “Why was the door left open?” or “Whose shoes are these?”

Include the object in the title of the composition, and write around it in order to answer the question.

In the very last sentence, start with the phrase, “And that’s how…”.