The Widow Lowery would occasionally sleep with Mr. Oshiro.
It was, in small-town parlance, a well-kept secret. Certainly, nothing in Mr. Oshiro’s nature tempted him to tell anyone.
He’d lived in this pit-stop borough off the interstate for more than ten years. In all that time, he struggled with his adopted language. One who understood him, though, was the youthful postmaster and aspiring city councilman, Mr. Garrity, with whom Mr. Oshiro had regular business.
Every week, Mr. Oshiro, who made a living doing odd jobs, would seek the postmaster’s assistance with some kind of package. They all went to the same village in Hokkaido, the northern-most island of Japan.
The recipients of his faithful largesse were his parents, both nonagenarians. They led a demanding life of raising milk cows that both sustained them and wore them down.
It was at the post office, where he received his mail, that Mr. Oshiro opened the letter from his sister. She explained she and her two teenage children had returned to their parents’ home to help out. Their mother had been ill for quite some time and simply couldn’t go on. She had been her husband’s strength and reason for living. With her gone, his heart gave out. They died within a week of each other.
Mr. Oshiro sat on a bench outside the post office with letter in hand. Tears pooled. He hadn’t noticed the Widow Lowery until her hand touched his shoulder like a snowflake.
She laced an arm under his and walked him to her car. He didn’t protest or resist. They knew of each other, small Midwestern towns being what they are, but hadn’t spoken.
She brought him chicken soup at her dining-room table. He didn’t raise the spoon to his lips. He barely raised his head under the weight of his sadness.
For several hours, Mr. Oshiro and the Widow Lowery sat on the steps to her back porch. From time to time, she would gently stroke his shoulder. As the sun was setting, she went inside to brew fresh tea. When she re-emerged with the steaming mug, he was gone.
He came to her door with flowers three days later. He uttered something she couldn’t quite make out, but in the midst of the cacophony came the distinctive word “kindness.”
The Widow Lowery asked out of politeness if he wanted to come in. Mr. Oshiro replied with what might have been a smile, but as he bowed, the Widow Lowery lost sight of his face. When he straightened, his countenance was unreadable.
He walked slowly back to his small pickup truck. She noticed then that it had been running the entire time.
Of late, Mr. Oshiro was, for all intents and purposes, a delivery man. He hired himself out to local retailers as a go-between with their customers. Businessmen found him perfectly suitable for the job. He was efficient, reliable, and most importantly, performed his duties at a price far below the standard asking rate.
His language skills, or lack thereof, prevented him from engaging in idle chit-chat. He nonetheless became known to just about everybody in town. His pickup was a familiar sight slowly navigating neighborhood streets in search of an address. It was his practice to always hand the package to the customer. If no one were home, he would come back later.
Mr. Oshiro considered every parcel to be as precious as the ones he sent his parents. Leaving an item discreetly behind a shrub to be found later by the homeowner was simply unthinkable.
A few months after receiving word of his parents’ death, Mr. Oshiro was called upon to deliver a package to the Widow Lowery. She came to her door in a terrycloth wrap, having just finished a bath. Her hair was mostly clasped to the top of her head. A few strands, however, fell tantalizingly down her long neck, still moist with bath oil.
She felt herself blush a little as she recognized the flash of concupiscence pass through Mr. Oshiro’s eyes. It had been so long since she thought of herself as desirous. As he extended the package to her, she reached not for the box but for his sinuous bare forearm. She did not let go and, as in that previous time together, he did not resist.
He was a generous lover, dutifully following her every cue. She saw in his gentle passion the care that he gave to his parcels. Each was treated as a unique gift and thus handled with abundant delicacy, as was the Widow Lowery in his arms. It was a physical experience she’d not known. There were two lovers before her late husband, but with all three she’d felt a single-mindedness in their caresses.
She made it a practice to request a delivery every few weeks. Mr. Oshiro would be asked to place the package over here or over there. That was always followed by an offer of some refreshment, which he would accept but never took more than a sip or two before they moved into each other’s arms.
There were many sensuous sounds but never any words between them. He would dress quietly and half-bow in his customary way before leaving her bedroom. She would linger under a single sheet contemplating a welcome exhaustion.
This pattern continued for more than a year and a half. She was expecting a delivery on a crisp autumn morning when the doorbell rang. Mr. Oshiro didn’t use the doorbell, which he considered clamorous and jarring. In his place was Mr. Garrity.
“Mr. Oshiro not working today?” asked the Widow Lowery, trying to mask her disappointment.
“He returned abruptly to Japan,” Mr. Garrity said. “Something about his sister being in dire need of his assistance. Hope he’s going to be okay. He’s a good man.”
“Yes,” said the Widow Lowery. “Yes, he is a good man.” Her words tapered off into a sigh.
Share this post with your friends.