Zelda's Inferno exercise: my father's Vietnam story

Posted on: Sun, 06/27/2010 - 20:26 By: Tom Swiss

Zelda's Inferno exercise: write about things you've learned about other people's actions, that affected you deeply.

my father doesn't talk much
about his time in Vietnam
(he always just says "overseas",
almost never names the place)

for him I think it was
mostly boredom
an AP, he mostly kept drunk airmen in line and
walked patrol around the perimeter of the base

but on his 60th birthday he told me a story I'd never heard before

on his way home, in transit but still in country
waiting for a connecting flight, he and a buddy having a few beers
stepping outside
just as the base came under mortar attack

both of them
full of stories of men who bought it on their way home

nearby, one sandbag bunker
only big enough to hold one of them.

they took turns.

and I can only imagine that moment
knowing his turn was up
and stepping out into the danger

how could I ever see him the same way again?