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A Serial: Episode 9
K.’s sleep was even more rhythmici than usual - Frieda was reading aloud from the files, but whether this was during K’s dreaming or waking cycle was unclear. It remained dark, in any case; but perhaps Frieda could see more at night, like the cats she resembled.
“‘G.I. Jo’ Stafford earned her nickname performing stateside for US troops bound for Asia during World War II. Her music became a favorite throughout the Pacific Theater, especially in military hospitals among the wounded. Aware of this association, Japanese troops took to playing her records on portable turntables in the field, to weaken the resolve of those Americans within earshot. However, many Japanese soldiers soon became enamored of her music as well; ultimately the records softened both sides of the battlefield, likely saving many from unnecessary combat and cruelty.
“There were numerous unofficial reports during the war of Japanese and American soldiers surrendering to one another after such joint listening sessions in the jungle. One incident proved of special concern to the military commands of both sides, following a coordinated laying down of arms in the midst of naval action off Mindanao in the Philippines. How Jo Stafford’s music had been broadcast simultaneously to the enemy ships at sea has remained a mystery to this day - classified files opened after the war revealed that investigations by each side concluded the other must have been responsible.”
Frieda was deep in K.’s unconscious now, whether he was awake or dreaming mattered little. The file on Jo Stafford was one of several investigations K. had started in response to the music he only recently became aware of at the storage facility. But this one connected to a series of files he had begun to gather long ago, after discovering a trove of documents about pacifism in the files of what he assumed to be a Quaker. These files were so voluminous, yet so interesting, K. had decided to leave them in the unit where he found them, taking only those sections he incorporated into his own research back to the office. The Pacifist Bureau – a label pasted onto one of the filing cabinets, which K. had adopted as a name for the entire collection – therefore remained locked, unlike the other units K. opened, since he never emptied it of more than those files that caught his particular attention.
“I believe Barnabas must have been Japanese,” K. suddenly blurted out.