Summary: Chapter 14

Doc Hata says that he sometimes forgets who he is and why he does the things he does. Sometimes he gets up in the middle of the night, dresses, and walks to town, hoping to determine what his ordinary actions mean. When he returns home, he thinks he sees a vision of K, wrapped in a black flag. He wants to think it’s her ghost haunting him, but he believes that the apparition is “unquestionably real.”

On one of these nights, they conversed, and she asked him if they would leave soon to travel to the places he told her about. Doc Hata wondered aloud why everyone but him wants to leave his house. He imagined that the house was some kind of metaphysical trap that would prevent K’s soul from passing on.

In the morning, K was gone. Doc Hata drew a bath, and as he sat in the scalding water, he felt like his flesh was dissolving. He wanted to remain in the hot water and pretend he existed outside of time and space. He explains that he didn’t long for innocence so much as “an erasure reaching back, a pre-beginning.” Yet he knows that such an erasure still sounds like innocence and that a person should consider both the positive and negative experiences that have shaped them. Even so, Doc Hata imagines himself leaping off a precipice.

He recalls that when he awoke in the infirmary after his fight with Captain Ono, K was watching over him. She said that she had seen the whole incident, and that Ono had asked her if he should shoot Doc Hata. She told him not to, and Ono made her promise that she would give her life for Doc Hata’s. Doc Hata said he’d protect her, but both he and K knew that he couldn’t in his current state.

Doc Hata asked her about her pregnancy, and she said Ono had lied about that. He asked to examine her to be sure. She undressed, he began to kiss her, and they had sex. Doc Hata couldn’t control himself, and K neither embraced him nor pushed him away. Afterward, they sat in silence. Looking back, Doc Hata reflects that for K he must have been nothing more than a symbol of the violence of the war itself, just presented with a “boy-face.”

Captain Ono arrived in a bright mood and embraced K. K looked at Doc Hata and gestured with her eyes toward a cabinet of surgical tools. He saw a scalpel in the drawer and realized K meant for him to take it and kill Ono. He took the scalpel and turned to find Ono facing him. But before Ono could attack Doc Hata, K stabbed Ono in the neck with another scalpel.