A soldier from Viet Nam talks to a bartender, reflecting on his first kill in battle
Ilost my sense of judgment yesterday. I killed someone. Who? I don’t know, we’ve never met. You think you have to know someone to kill them. After all, it’s just you and him, and it’s a very important part of both of your lives. But I’m still here. Where? In the land of Buddha- and banyan trees, and Cao Dai temples and South China seas. Hey, papasan, I’ll have another peppermint schnapps, please. Gee, isn’t Saigon beautiful?! I feel like fm in Paris. This is an outdoor cafe. Those are boulevards, statues, taxicabs, and barbed wire. I lost my sense of judgment yesterday, I traded two cartons of Salem cigarettes for something I should have traded one for. Now the guys are laughing at me. But it’s good pot, though. And that little mamasan’s face, so brown, so sincere. “You buy from me, I give you number-one com sai.” Her? No, she’s not humping rockets for the VC. Hey, do you think I killed her baby? I lost my sense of judgment yesterday. You see, I sat down in my bunker and I wrote a letter to my girlfriend and I said, “Julie, I don’t think that I love you anymore.” She hasn’t written me back since. Since I only told the truth. And the truth is … I don’t know. I want to wake up now, I would like to go home now. You see, we live in bunkers here and we carry M-16s. She’s nineteen, too. She goes to college. She doesn’t even know what a mortar round sounds like. A couple of weeks ago I got a letter from her. She wants my opinion on a wedding dress. I lost my sense of judgment yesterday, and Brooklyn seems like a world away.