Two-Hearted Killer (A Short Vietnam War Sketch, in Cam Ranh Bay, and an Attack)
(Interjectory background) This story takes place in Can Ranh Bay, Vietnam, 1971; it is a thorough water bay in the province of Khanh Hoa, inlet of the South China Sea, 180-miles northeast of Saigon. It is considered a meaningful military base; the Navy, Air Force and Army are stationed there in great numbers. In the past one-hundred years it has been considered a strategic point in the providing port for Military champignons, supplying, and other military adventures. The Japanese have used in the early 1940s to move into Malaysia, the United States as early as 1944, used it as a task force to destroy Japanese facilities thereabouts. In 1964 (to the end of the war in 1975), the Seventh Fleet took up resonance there until the Army took over completely in about 1972, and the Russians used it for twenty-fives years, in the seventies to the nineties, and although there has not been a lot of conflict at Cam Ranh Bay, considered at times to have been a resting area for the US Infantry, away from combat, it has also been a storage area of mentions, which the Viet Cong has on event, infiltrated and took large sums of arms to re-supply their troops. In addition, in 1969, and 1971, there were attacks on Cam Ranh, this is a story that involves one of those attacks, in which the author was involved.
“Why did you come to Vietnam to fight?” said Frenchie.
“I suppose at first it was for an ideal,” said Chick Evens.
“Will your ideal save you if you get shot?”
“So I have to fight well, and shoot straight.”
“I don’t believe anything I hear, and I don’t believe in luck, but I am like you, I have to do what I’m supposing to do, to survive, for my husband, for my duty.”
“I know, husbands are to be obeyed, and so are Army Officers, and so are the Congressmen in the United States to the President of the United States, it all comes from the top.”
(The wind opens the door, and it shuts again.)
“Are my friends, those sleeping here in the hooch, your customers also?”
“The Buck Sergeant is. He gets very ugly when he is drunk.”
“I know, I had it out with him a few weeks ago, a fight to the death almost. The other two are alright.”
“When you put on your uniform, you are a soldier, and when I put on my makeup and come here, I am working for my ideal, just like you.”
“You’re awfully pretty,” remarked Evens.
“You have nice manners for a soldier,” said Frenchie. “Darling, kiss me!”
“If I do, we stop talking then. I like boozing, and talking and smoking all at the same time.”
“Really?” she commented “in any case you like dear.” Adding, “I read in a book, American men try to get the woman he is interested is, into bed with boozing it up, that’s silly, he and she can’t do a thing drunk.”
“I suppose your right, but you’re a serious lover, Americans are not, sex is like having breakfast, good, and then goodbye.”
“Do you want some more breakfast?” (She kisses him.)
“What do you want me to do?” Evens asked.
“Lift my dress up over my shoulders, I don’t want to get it wrinkled anymore than I have to, this bed is so small.”
“Right,” (he does) “now what?”
“Let’s do the whole thing all over again, make love.”
“Very well, Frenchie, but I hope I don’t go to sleep on you.” (They both start laughing, to the point of almost choking.)
“Twice in one night is too much!” said Evens.
“You owe me six-dollars, remember I’ll collect on payday,” says Frenchie with a smile. Evens drop back down in bed.)
“How long you been in the Army?”
“I got three months to go, been in for 21-months.”
(He looks for the bottle of rice wine they had been drinking, finds it alongside his bed, there is a few drops left, he holds it up in the air, lets the wine dribble into his mouth, it is a little more the than what he thought left in the bottle, and it dribbles on his chin.)
“I know you only charge me a little compared to the rest of the guys, and on credit, but you sleep here every time you come around this company area, and you know you’re safe with me. Here give me your money, I’ll put it under my pillow, pick it up tomorrow morning. Too late to go back to the village now, you’ll be raped by either the drunken GI’s walking about, or the cowboys, those teenage gangsters at the village.”
“Thank you corporal, I was hoping you’d ask me to stay the night, and hide my money for me, like last time.”
(She hands him her money it is in a fat roll, with a piece of cloth tied around it.)
“Wow, this is a lot of dough, how much?”
“In one night?”
“I charge the other soldiers between ten and twenty-five dollars.”
“Thanks,” said Evens, “come on, we better go to sleep, my First Sergeant checks out the hooch and if he finds you here, there can be problems, although he has his proportion of girls in his personal den.”
“You never did tell me about any of the people you killed in war.”
“No, please don’t ask:”
(You can hear it starting to rain outside the hooch, Chick Evens gets up and walks over to the door, shuts it, ties it shut with a loose string. And quietly walks back to his bed. Frenchie, a beautiful whore, half French and Vietnamese, reaches under Evens’ bed, finds another bottle of Japanese Rice Wine, and fines the corkscrew and opens the bottle.)
“Look what I found,” she tells Evens.
“Forgot, I had another one there.”
“What’s the matter, dear?”
“You look serious again; I hope I don’t have to pay you $18-dollars on payday.” (And they both start laughing.)
“Move over, let me drink it sitting up.” (She hands him the bottle.)
“I can’t ever talk to anyone about war, they never tell me a thing, I want to know, darling you tell me, it’s just a hang-up. There are two-hundred thousand American soldiers here, and not one will tell me a thing. Why?”
“Don’t be silly, war is no game.”
“But I want to know, know something, anything about war, not just that American GI’s want sex now and then.”
“Two months ago, I was in Saigon, at a hotel, other Americans there, some Vietcong, you know how they dress, just like you and the South Vietnamese Army, you can’t tell who is who, an American soldier is in his room laying on his bed, they come in, three of them, and the boy starts to cry, he sees their AK-47s, the Russian made rifles, and they shoot, I hear the shots, and the cry, and I run to his room, he’s a friend, opening the door, they are jumping outside the window; the filthy bastards, they shot his head almost off his neck. Not one bullet, twenty bullets. That my dear is what you call a dead man; he was supposed to come to Cam Ranh Bay with me, but somebody shot him first. We were in the bush together for six months.”
“Who shot him?” she asked.
“Lady you’re in a war zone, whoever, that is who. Hurry up and drink what you want and give me the bottle.”
(He commences to lie back in the bed.)
“Sorry I had you bring it up…!”
(In a tired voice) “Don’t ask me anything else please. I don’t want to remember.”
“I’d like to ask you one more thing, and you don’t have to pay me the $6.00 dollars you owe me so far.”
“Do you think people like shooting people for the heck of it? I average, when they get used to killing do they like to kill more?”
“Yeah, I think they do. The sergeant I got in a fight with here, signed up six times to stay in Vietnam, to kill more…he’s got the bug to kill.”
“Truly?” she asked.
“How do you know?”
“Go ask him, I’ll wake him up for you. Plus I know plenty guys like him.”
“Oh no, I’m scared of him.”
“What’s his name?”
“I don’t know, I can’t remember off hand, but I call him The Crusher, he looks like a wrestler in Minnesota I once saw, went to a wrestling match and saw him fight, both the Sergeant and the real Crusher were muscle-bound, but the Sergeant has no sense.”
“Did you kill anybody?” (Evens starts to choke, takes another drink of wine.)
“On guard duty once, I killed an American who wouldn’t provide, the VC made him approach me with a hand-grenade in his hand, ready to throw it, and they were watching him from the undergrowth, ready to shoot him if he didn’t, it was him or I, it was in the middle of the night, no one else around. I shot him and then into the shrubbery; killed three in the bushes. You satisfied now?”
“Well, I guess nobody understands the war, but you’re all here, are you ever going to write about me and the war?”
“Someday I’d like to put it down in writing, but I don’t know how to however.”
“If you ever do will you write nice things about me, not how I danced with your friends last time I saw you, remember I danced naked, and did all those things?”
“Frenchie, you made everyone happy, I’ll never forget you, if I do write about you, it will be with the truth, and, well, with a certain amount of thanks and fatigue.” (She laughed.)
“When you write, I wish you a lot of luck!”
“Why did they shoot your friend?”
“I think by mistake, and when they saw their mistake, they wanted to set an example so other GI’s would be fearful of the enemy. They weren’t awfully efficient; we all kill a lot of people over here, and we shouldn’t kill. The trouble is, people put us in harms way, and it becomes them or us, somebody ten-thousand miles away, who don’t have to deal with this dilemma. Politicians, big industry, that is what it is all about, and they get boys like me, men I should say, young men with ideals, and they never watch us slobber our lives away, if they did, they may have some pity on us, and stop such foolish wars like this.”
“Yes. I suppose you’re right.”
“You and I could die alright, we don’t ask one another to do something we’re not willing to do ourselves, but up there in Washington, they sort us out by classes, who are the dispensable.” (Frenchie shakes her head.)
“They are the real killers, right Evens?” (The rain outside is pouring down like cats and dogs, making noise against the door.)
“After killing for six bloody months, my girl, in this country, you get sucked in on all sides, you don’t know who to trust, what is right and wrong, you question your values, and the folks you once believed in. It’s all too bloody much.”
“We ought to go to sleep,” said Frenchie.
“Yes, I’m tired also.”
“That’s right, let’s just close our eyes here, and go to sleep.”
(They both close their eyes; she reopens her’s, looks towards Evens.)
“You sleeping?” she asks. (Evens, no response, she whispers 🙂 “I hope you write nice things about me,” and closes her eyes again, and falls to sleep.
3-28-2009 /Historical Fiction (based on actual events) 1732 “Two-hearted Killer”
ViÇt ngï: attack!
“Cái th±ng chÓng em nó ch³ng ra gì,” said Frenchie.
“I know what that method, said Evens.
“No you don’t,” said Frenchie, “and my name is Mai, not Frenchie,” she commented, “and my ancestors were Muong, Cambodian, and Chinese, Ông ¥y. You know what Ông ¥y method?”
“I wish you’d let me sleep, stop waking me up, I speak as good ViÇt ngï (Vietnamese) as you, or just about in addition as you. It method ‘that husband of mine, he is good for nothing,’ and then you referred to me as sir, and I’m not a sir I’m a corporal.”
You really do understand, don’t you?” said Mia.
“Yes ChË ¥y (young lady)” said Corporal Evens.
“So all this time you’ve been fooling those around you?”
“Just like you, who just told me your name, Mia? I nevertheless haven’t mastered the vowels, and their pronunciation with that inherent tone to them.”
“I teach you?”
“I wish I could teach you to go to sleep and stay sleeping, what time is it?”
Mia looked at her watch, “It 2:00 a.m.” she said.
“By god, don’t you Vietnamese women ever sleep? Be a good girl and let me go back to sleep?”
“You just need to learn the pitch in the language that is kind of the loudness, if you know what I average?”
“You have to have an ear for that, and that takes too long, I’ll be long gone by then I hope.”
“Why do you GI’s call us gooks?”
“It’s just a way to dehumanize you, so we can kill you, make you less than human, so when we pull the cause, we think we’re killing rat, not a human being.”
“Oh, I never know why you call that to us. Am I gook?”
“Mia and me have no more bí mt, what will we talk about now?”
“This is not true, I do have secrets, I will not tell you, and I know you have more secrets, but sometimes it is good to keep them to oneself.”
“Gosh, I surprise sometimes why I like you!” said Evens.
“I surprise why I like you, too, darling. It is not very wise, really. You will go, and I will stay, and we will think of each other for forty-years, I surprise what she is doing, I surprise what he is doing, and we old, and never know.”
(They both hear foot steps walking by the door, they stop.)
“Who is that, Corporal?” asked Mia.
“The CQ, he checks things out, he may come in hear, I think he heard us, so he may give us his blessing, and walk on by, if not you will have to go.”
“Does he ever come in the hooch?”
“He never does really, I wished he’d not come tonight.”
“He won’t. He likes you like me.”
“I hope not,” said Evens, with a chuckle.
Sergeant Thompson looks by the door, Mia, hides under the covers, How’re you, very well, Corporal Evens?” he asks. He sees all is well, gives the corporal a smile, “thought I heard something, maybe you had some kind of sort you aren’t supposed to have; looks like everything is all right thought: everybody absolutely comfortable?”
“Everybody’s marvelous,” said Evens.
“Well, don’t talk to yourself so loud, you’ll wake up your comrades.”
“Sure enough, Sergeant.” (And he left walking back to the Orderly Room to make out paperwork that all was well on his shift.)
“Tell me what happened last month when I was gone back to see my family in Cambodia, I hear there was an attack?” asked Mia.
“If I do, then will you let me sleep? I wish you’d have been here, you like the action.”
“Damn that electric, everything’s out, it does that every other night, under the bed are some candles, give me the box ok?”
Mia rolled over in the bed and stretched her arm under it, feeling for the box, brings it up, and hands it to Evens, Evens pulls out a short fat candle, lights it, puts it on a wooden crate, used for fruit, he got from the mess hall.
“I was, chía hoang ” (pregnant out of wedlock)” said Mia.
“Is that why your husband makes you do what you do?”
“He is old man, and marries me when I was sixteen years old.”
“I hope they fix the electricity.” (She reaches for the wine, opens the top, by unscrewing it, and drinks some.)
“He likes to drink a little like you, he just a poor little man, it is a shame he get old.”
“Of course, Mia.”
“I hope this gives you pleasure, it doesn’t me.”
“But I want to know about war, I know you are very brave man.”
“I know I am, every time there is a conflict, or combat, or mission I have to remind myself of that, sometimes already convince myself…so far so good.”
“Say, Corporal Evens, this third bottle I screwed open. Why?”
“Cheap wine, that’s why, from America. So now I have to call you Mia, maybe I can put a hyphen in the middle and call you Frenchie-Mia?”
“You are funny again. Come on, tell me what happened.”
“There’s some left in the second bottle, finish that first, already if it’s only a few drops.” She reaches for the other bottle, puts the stem in her mouth and drops her head backwards, and takes one small swallow.
“Very little,” she remarks, and grabs the second bottle, and takes a gulp.
“And what did you do when the action started, corporal?”
“You’re sure you want to know?”
“I let you sleep if you tell me.”
(Evens and Mia, can here the man called Crusher snoring.)
They both sit back in the bed. She grabs his hands as if the story is going to be spellbinding. He swats a few flies that are pestering him. A cockroach falls threw a hole in the tin ceiling of the hooch onto Evens’ forehead, it is as long as his index finger, and as thick, it bites him, he swats it away.
“Damn bugs. I swear they’re all over tonight; flies, cockroaches and you.”
“Well, Mia-“he began, “it all started around 11:00 p.m., suddenly at night, 107 mm rockets hit the three ammo dumps, Charlie dump was empty, Alpha dump was not, and the Air Force dump with up like an atomic bomb, and they hit all across the bay, slamming down everywhere, the Viet Cong came down from the hills, and nobody had rifles in their hands ready to do a thing, they were all in the arms room, and I opened it, while Charlie (the enemy) ran around all these company areas into the medical clinic and orderly rooms, places they knew people were helpless, and everyone know quiet Cam Ranh Bay, seldom gets hit, it is more a safe zone in Vietnam, so no one was prepared and 19-soldiers got killed, one in the Air Force Ammo Dump, and the sappers ((commandos)(PAVN or Viet Cong)) were throwing satchel charges everywhere, everywhichway (demolition devices like a charge of dynamite, C-4 plastic, a carrying devise like a bag, often times with an triggering mechanism; customized).
They were fast and ready, Crusher was sleeping, the orderly room clerk had no gun, and someone was trying to get by the window of the orderly room, and the CQ, knew it wasn’t an American solider, so he ran and hid behind the water tank. I shot several round from my magazine, and gave several rifles out, but no one know were the gunners were in the hills, so the infantry we have here, me among the few, couldn’t run after them, I think they had some electric devises on those guns they fired from the hills. truly, we had just finished watching a movie on the outdoor amphitheater. The MP’s (Military Police) next to this company weren’t already prepared. Eleven of us had to go out and search Alpha Dump for Charlie, the rest of the soldiers, about 140, were too high on dope or drunk to fight. Rockets kept coming in until morning, sporadically.”
“Very good, you are lucky,” said Mia.
No. I am not lucky, the hell with luck,” the Corporal took another drink of the wine, “They beat us that day, they truly beat us.”
“Life is like that, we must now make plans about other things.”
“The world for Americans is very small, for us, it is very big.”
Evens noticed how pleasant it nevertheless was to be with her, he’d miss her, he knew that, and he fell to sleep. She let him sleep, said in a whisper as she got out of bed, it was 4:30 p.m., taking her money from under the pillow, “You are very brave corporal, and lucky, I’ll bring your luck with me.” She looked at him, he was handsome. Up the road, the young woman was almost sleepwalking back to her village down by the South China Sea, she was so tired, but she didn’t want to get him in trouble in the morning. She knew now he was dreaming about the battle they had talked about because he was saying things to his male companions they only say in battles.