When far Japan and so many of her people were finally incinerated, the camp was finally cleared and dismantled. All the demolition crews left of it were the cemetery and the foundations of the barracks. The prison orphanage was dismantled like everything else. The orphanages in San Francisco and Los Angeles had been closed like everything else with a Japanese face, so the orphans were scattered across the state. The orphans and the orphanage workers cried out their farewells together, but Frankie cried alone. His tears slipped quietly down his cheeks as he watched the camp from a distance, standing in a sandy wash. He yearned to be with his fellow prisoners then, though some had been unkind, but he knew that he would be forced to part ways with them all in any case. The orphanage workers didn’t realize he was missing until it was too late. He had turned and set out for Whitney-san.
He’d made preparations. He’d pilfered and packed out several loads of supplies and secured them against the local coyotes and mice. When the day came, he began to move his supplies further west, until he’d brought it all to a flat by a little stream just above the water line, where all but the greatest streams vanish into their respective alluvial fans. As he explored upstream, he found places where fish could be trapped. After a while, he returned to Manzanar. The barracks were gone, but the apple, peach, and pear orchards remained. For a year, he cared for the abandoned orchards and crops, packing water to them from the nearby stream.
The day came when Frankie realized that he’d been noticed and was being observed, so he left the camp and avoided it for some time, and as time went on he spent more and more time in the mountains. The crops died. The orchards aged and dried out. Frankie got more and more of his food from the mountains, covering much ground to obtain a little fish here and a few berries or pine nuts there, and occasionally the meat of a marmot or a injured deer. In those days, there were plenty of quiet places on that part of the Range, and Frankie often traveled by night, so he was rarely seen.
In time, Frank grew less secretive, and he even began to go out of his way to greet travelers, and so he came to be familiar to frequent visitors. In some parts, the most frequent visitors were cowboys, so Frankie came to be known well among area cattlemen, particularly for his nocturnal skills and his knack for catching an occasional fish with his bare hands. He would love to hear the news from civilization, and he’d sometimes even learn something about his own neighborhood. He had been in the mountains for more than a decade before he first heard that the mountain he knew as Whitney-san was known to the world as Williamson. Sometimes, he’d get an occasional lesson in horseback riding or some other useful skill from a lonesome cowboy. One day, he would even be given a herd of his own.