Figment of Reality

This existential short story, this “muddle of memory and metaphor,” has been in process for at least 12 years. Finishing it is kind of a 50-year celebration. I ended my in-country tour in Vietnam on July 17th, 1970, my 20th birthday. My comrades and I celebrated with a bottle of Johnny Walker Red in a hydraulic-fluid-spewing C2-A on our flight back to Japan.

Although this story is informed by reality, including a reference to the death of a Viet Cong sapper under the wings of one of VQ-1’s EA-3B Super Constellations, keep in mind that this story is more poetry than fact.

The photo, by an anonymous VQ-1 airman, shows flares, Cobra gunships, and assorted noise looking west from the barracks next to mine at Da Nang Air Base. It was nights like these that inspired this story. There were many of these in late April and early May of 1970.

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Path of the Painter

I’ve been writing a lot of memoirs. They seem to require an economy of writing that doesn’t interfere with the story. As a mild rebellion, I wanted to let loose with description. The result is this short fiction about the contradictory soup of friendship, love, and the imperative of ambition among and within those who must create art. Image from photo by Katarzyna Gonsior on

“Astrid seemed too pretty, too gentle, too in touch with her feelings to be the paramour of the Painter. I knew that part of me and saw this immediately. But oh, how I was smitten by this precious gift. I promised the Painter that I would not become lost in a trackless wilderness. This time.”

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