Month: September 2011

A Pretty Good Day

1 May 1967

My Dearest Darling,

Will write you again today to tell you I love you and miss you so much that it hurts. I hope this finds you alright. As for me I am doing ok.

I went on MEDCAP this morning. That is where doctors go into a village and treat the sick. I went along as guard. I really enjoyed it. The kids are all hustlers. They either want to shine your shoes or sell you something. They had some real pretty things for women and I am going to get you some of these things before I come home. I would get them now, but, darling you don’t know the trouble it is to send things home over here. You have to wait in line for so long that it is awful.

I am going to send you the $100.00 the 5th of this month. I will send it by money order. Pat, may have your allotment increased by $100.00 for it is a bitch to get a money order every month. I will let you know more about it if I decide to do it.

How is your father and mother and the kids doing? Tell them I said hello and I wish I could see all of them.

Pat, I am writing this letter with a towel spread across the paper where my hand lays for it is so hot that I am sitting here with sweat dropping off of me. If I didn’t use the towel, the paper would be soaking wet. I never seen anything like this country and its weather.

Well, Darling every time a new month comes in that means we are getting close to being together. I can hardly wait till that day.

How is my Lobo doing? Give him a little loving for me and don’t be too rough on him for he is a pretty good dog.

Has it begun to get warm there yet? I wish I was there so we could grill hamburgers and steaks like we used to do. Someday we will do these things again.

Baby, I swear every time I start writing I can’t think of anything to write. It happens every time.

In the village this morning, I just had one shoe on and I got it shined twice. I also bought me a switch-blade knife for three dollars. It is a fairly good knife. This one little boy came up to me and shined my boot and then he sat down by me and said, “I like you. You’re my friend.” He put his arm around me and just kept sitting by me. Course I was watching for Charlie for today was a big communist holiday and they expected us to get sniper fire but we didn’t. This one kid that I said I was his friend was nine years old and Pat, I swear his size was about that of a four or five year old in the states. This one little boy that I bought my knife from he was sure enough a hustler for whatever you wanted he could get it for you in about ten minutes. He was a sharp operator. After I bought the knife from him he brought me a Coca-Cola. I would enjoy it over here a lot more if we went into more often and try to help the people for if you could see them you would say they sure needed help.

Well, Darling I am going to close for I have run out of things to say; like I said before it is so hot I can’t concentrate on anything. Remember I love you and miss you so much. I will always love you and I am just living for the day that I get home to you and my son. Bye for now and I love you very, very much. I love you.

Love you always,

Your husband,
Jim

James Wayne Chambers
December 26, 1942 – September 17, 1967
Casualty Country: South Vietnam
Casualty Province: Binh Duong


Ten Years

As dawn surrendered to full luminous morning, I dreamed I saw photographs of my father’s body taken after a rifle-propelled grenade found him and a nineteen-year-old private first class in the Ho Bo Woods near Cu Chi, Vietnam. The images, even in the ethereal setting of a dream, rattled me. But I didn’t look away; I wanted to see them.

When I finally rolled out of bed and stumbled into my hallway, I wondered: why this dream; why now? Then I remembered the date.

Ten years ago today, I learned who I would call first when the world ends.

I made another call to friends visiting from France to suggest they stay inside. I wasn’t sure how some people would react to heavy accents that day.

At work, I watched everything unfold and collapse online and on a conference room television while a dear friend lay in a coma, her hospital room television likely on and looping the same scenes.

Ten years ago today, the smoke and smell didn’t make it to my sky, blue and empty and so quiet with no distraction from the endless news chatter and whisper-wind of nearly three thousand souls departed.

For almost ten years I’ve not watched the footage of that day. I’ve turned away from the images. I’ve changed the channel from documentaries. On anniversaries, I haven’t watched the videos posted in news stories.

Today, a decade later, on the anniversary of the personal apocalypses of mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, friends and lovers who had to say or pray goodbye to someone suddenly, I was delivered a reminder that sometimes we must look squarely and steadily at the consequences of the human capacity for hate and brutality. We must never look away completely from the images of war, death and destruction that have for so long, too long, stained the thread of human existence. We must keep our eyes open to the pain and loss that are everyday truths for so many in this world, that became a sudden reality for nearly three thousand souls on an early autumn day ten years ago.

When we look away, we forget. When we forget, nothing changes.

“It is my conviction that there is no way to peace – peace is the way.”
— Thich Nhat Hanh

It’s Almost September 2nd and Where Is Your Fracas?

“There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.”
— Leonard Cohen

Sometimes an episode doesn’t wrap with closure and the perfect song poignantly playing out the scene. There’s always a soundtrack, but sometimes the music is dissonant and the beauty of a moment is woven deep into the fabric of the smoke-stained jackets and tattered dresses of characters who walk, sleep, eat and drink beyond the clean streets of mainstream suburbia. Often, through the honesty and perspective of such souls living on the periphery of society, we learn the most about ourselves and our world.

The contributing authors of Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction walk these same streets beside the struggling, lost, disenfranchised and tormented in stories that explore the dark, often to stumble upon a sliver of light.

As the official release date for this anthology comes to a close, take a walk over to Amazon.com and check out Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction. Share it with your friends; add it to your collection. Read some really great stories by some very talented new writers.

“It has to be pretty. Everything should be pretty.”
— Lee Geum-ja in Park Chan-Wook’s Lady Vengeance