Deleted Scenes

Several scenes (as well as a couple of characters) were deleted along the way to publication. Some of those scenes are offered here as curiosities, along with reasons for their deletion. All text © Rory Marron, 2014.


1. 'Ota practising iai-jutsu' (swordsmanship).' (Deleted from 'Prologue')

2. 'Flame-shadow princess.' (Deleted from 'Book One')

3. (Pending) Ota and Kate in brothel (uncut, more graphic sex scene)

4. (Pending): First arrival of British officer at Tjandi camp (Deleted from 'Book Two').

1. 'Ota practising iai-jutsu.' (Deleted from 'Prologue')

Guesthouse Berg, Semarang, Java, November 1944

A torrential dawn downpour woke the young man. He lay quietly, enjoying the fresher, cooler air swirling through the open window. His alarm was set for five-thirty though it was rarely needed. He stretched on the bed, then ducked out from under the mosquito net and padded to the window. A glance at the clock told him he was in good time for his morning practice. He reached for his razor.

A few minutes later, dressed in dark, pleated hakama trousers and loose jacket, he entered the overgrown garden, making his way to an open-sided teak gazebo. At the slightly raised entrance he stepped out of his sandals and went barefoot on the bamboo mat floor. He knelt slowly, with practised precision, right hand between his knees, flicking the billowing trousers out to the left and right as he settled. With equal care he laid down the curved sword beside him. Eyes half-closed, his hands cupped at the base of his belly, he contemplated the sound of the rain.

As the patter on the roof lessened, he came out of his meditation. Slowly he rose up onto his knees, reaching formally and deliberately for the sword with both hands, guiding it through his wide, woven belt with a deft, almost unseeing motion until the leather-encased steel military scabbard balanced comfortably, if heavily, at his left waist. A quick motion of his thumb undid the retaining strap through the oval, pierced-brass guard. His gaze still distant, his left hand wrapped around the scabbard top, thumb and index finger resting apart on the edge of the guard.

He exhaled deeply. A calm alertness rippled through his body. Slowly he eased his right foot forward, shifting himself into iai-goshi—a half-kneel-half-squat—his right hand braced softly against his right knee, his fingers a hand’s-span from the weapon. 

His concentration was focussed on a frangipani bush. Untended for three years, it’s branches had begun to encroach upon the gazebo. As the rain petered out, tiny droplets started to pool on the ribbed, pointed leaves. He watched the drops trickle down the slender petals of one white-and-yellow flower and on to a leaf. Inexorably the pad began to bend under the growing weight of water. As a single bead began to roll the swordsman inhaled, his left thumb easing the sword guard forward, freeing the blade from its snug collar. At the same time his right hand began moved to the hilt.

At the leaf edge the droplet teetered, then fell. As his right hand closed around the hilt, his left drew the scabbard back and around his body. Simultaneously he rose on his left knee, his right foot sliding forward. In one fluid, expanding arc the steel was free, making a flashing, horizontal cut. For an instant sword, arm, torso and foot aligned. With quiet satisfaction, the swordsman saw the droplet splatter on the flat tip of the blade. Effortlessly he added a swift vertical cut against an ethereal foe, then returned the blade to its scabbard in a smooth, measured reversal of the draw. Exhaling slowly the swordsman sat back, his gaze returning to the leaf, ready to draw again…

[Reason for deletion: 'The Prologue' was getting too bloated and this piece did not introduce Ota in a satisfactory way. (At one time I consdered putting Ota's 'farewell' letter-writing scene in the Prologue.) Also, the iaijutsu/iaido (sword-drawing) techniques, terminology (such as iai-goshi) and hints to the Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu martial tradition were far too obscure for the general reader. As in the later kendo (fencing) and jukendo (bayonet fencing) scenes in Black Sun, Red Moon and Merdeka Rising, ‘brevity with accuracy’, became my mantra. It is not a simple task to write in an entertaining manner and remain respectful of the years of training necessary to effect martial techniques correctly. I have some limited experience of martial arts training in Japan but not Java, hence my caution and generalisation with the pencak silat descriptions. Here a picture (or a movie!) would really paint a thousand words—but not a Hollywood, laws-of-physics-defying, feather-light-alloy-sword-wielding fantasy… Explaining to the general reader that iaido is normally performed with a sword that is substantially longer than a gunto (army specification sword) and drawn from a light, wooden, lacquered scabbard without retaining straps or extraneous metalwork, tassels and so on would have rendered the passage heavy going, if not utterly boring. (It might suit as an off-beat topic for a sword forum). In earlier drafts I made attempts to depict friction between Ota (a non-metropolitan ‘clansman’ [from Chiba, hence the hint towards Katori Shinto Ryu rather than Shinkage or Itto] of farming stock, with regional, even local loyalties, trained in a number of martial weapons and unarmed combat as a family tradition) and Shirai (the product of a modern, elitist, metropolitan and jingoistic Japanese officer corps, interested only in form and efficiency [for example, the Toyama Ryu sword method] and not the centuries-old influences of bushido that Ota has absorbed. However, those passages proved unwieldy and were abandoned after relatively little work as the overall plot developed. BSRM/MR is not a martial arts romp but a story with martial arts sequences. Ota is, however, a pragmatist. He is training with the weapon he carries daily, adapting his technique to stay faithful to his heritage but also keeping 'sharp'. 


2. 'Flame-Shadow princess.' (Lengger dance scene. Deleted from 'Book One')

Kalisari Village (c. p. 149. Lamban has just joined Sarel's Black Buffalo group.)

After the meal, Lamban excused himself. The festivities were in full swing. For a few minutes he watched the finale of a shadow play but he was too excited to concentrate. Then a drum roll announced the start of a performance. He joined the throng moving towards the bonfire in the centre of the village square, where four flaming torches marked out a rectangular space around the blazing, ten-foot pyre. When someone mentioned it was lengger Lamban’s  interest quickened. Sadakan was too small to attract one of the itinerant dance troupes; not that Maralik would have permitted erotic dancing and bawdy jokes in his village.

Lamban, however, was curious. For the first time in days he felt relaxed and confident again. Enthusiastically he jostled himself a place in the front row. It was only after several seconds that he saw, half-hidden by flames, the solitary, motionless figure. From that moment he was aware of little else.

The girl looked almost part of the fire. He strained to see her clearly against the glare. Her head was lowered and her eyes were closed. Flickering flames revealed Moorish features; lustrous, golden-brown skin and full, pursed lips.

Four musicians sitting at bamboo xylophones began to play. Lamban stared as she began to sway slowly but precisely on the same spot. As the beat quickened she stepped with a lithe, sinuous grace around the edge of the dance area. Her movements were trance-like, in perfect synchronization with the music.

Lamban’s throat was suddenly dry, his senses numbed. He was barely aware of the press of bodies around him.

She was three, perhaps four years younger than he. His eyes raked her nubile form; her bare, glistening shoulders; the swell of her pert breasts which threatened to slip free of the tiny, two buttoned gold-coloured batik bodice. With an effort he forced his gaze back to her serene face. His newly discovered weakness embarrassed him. Maralik’s sermons had touched on temptation but nothing had prepared him for the raw emotions released by this one girl. It was as though she were communicating directly to him, the language from her body unmistakeable.

As the girl moved nearer he could see beads of perspiration flickering on her like sequins. There was a tension in her wispy waist that fed a fire deep within him. He stared at the slight bulge of her abdomen under the wide embroidered sash and on down to the curves of her hips beneath a casually hitched and knotted amber sarong. Tight pantaloons left her legs bare beneath her knee. The graceful curve of her calves emphasised by gold ankle chains that framed dainty feet. His gaze began to work back up her body to her gyrating hips. Despite his resolve he felt the first stirring of arousal.

Reflecting in the flames were the roundest, darkest eyes Lamban had ever seen. Yet those deep, black pools gave no recognition of his presence. He willed himself to hold her gaze, seeking an acknowledgement of his very existence. Her shadow passed over him, her darting, sensual hands and jewelled, spiralling fingers teasing like some Ramayana princess summoned to twilight life.

Rapidly beating drums and clashing symbols signalled a change in tempo and scene. Two male dancers appeared, first arm in arm, then separating and sweeping towards the girl as rival suitors, prancing and whirling to claim her attention. She moved coyly to one and then darted to the other, playing the innocent, her eyelids flickering, her head rolling coquettishly on her shoulder. It was clear that she was comparing, challenging, cajoling, ridiculing and then, abruptly, rejecting them.

Lamban had never felt jealousy before but he felt it now simply because the figures were physically close to the girl. He watched her spin away yet again as two more males joined in and the frenzied flirting began yet again. Perhaps, he wondered, this is what Maralik had meant about the wiles of women. He smiled in self-deprecation. The girl whirled among her suitors who drew daggers and began to slash and stab with heavy, stylized steps. As the four clashed, a gong boomed and they dropped to the ground, arm in arm once again, in a death embrace. Seemingly carefree and unaware that her beauty and teasing had turned friend against friend, the girl leapt over them still preening and smiling to take her final pose.

Applause and raucous cheering did not break the spell cast over Lamban, even as the dancers bowed and moved off. He was still entranced, watching the girl’s hips rise and fall as she picked her way nimbly through the seated spectators. Then she disappeared.

Lamban felt weak. He thought suddenly about his vow of celibacy made just minutes before. Could she be a siren sent to test him? In his heart he knew he had already failed. 

[Reason for deletion: 'The girl', called Sri, was to be a supporting character and Lamban's love interest, appearing in more scenes, some of which exist in expanded note form. Sri and her lengger dance troupe were also to be a mirror of how some Indonesian minorities suffered discrimination (and worse) during the revolution. In the end I decided the story risked becoming sluggish and that there were more than enough characters so, with some regret, Sri had to go.]


3. (Pending)

4. (Pending)

End of page