Works of fiction and poetry by friends of Bamboo Ridge Press.


Buried Quarter

Published by ERIC KIMURA | Tuesday, August 02, 2011 7:03 AM

This one is a BR 100 story entry under the theme “the lonely one” and has 490 words. The story, as originally told to me, caught my ear because of how a small, seemingly insignificant but symbolic act can tip the balance in a person's life. I also do believe, that there is something in this land that draws people back.

He was the first young man of his hometown that he knew of that was going off to Vietnam. He figured that he'd probably be the first to die there too. So he took a little longer reporting than allowed and reported Absent-without-leave (AWOL), two weeks late to the reception depot at Oakland. When asked by the Lieutenant-in-charge why he'd been AWOL, he spoke the truth, "I just wasn't ready to go and needed more time." After losing a stripe, but nothing else because of his honest answer, he boarded the airplane and took that long, lonely flight to Vietnam. The plane stopped in Hawaii to refuel and he got off to walk around the airport for an hour. Looking around, he spotted a palm tree and on an impulse, dug a hole and buried a quarter at the base of the tree. He promised himself, that if he made it back from Vietnam, he'd come back to Hawaii, and retrieve that quarter. It was like laying an anchor, a tie that he'd hoped would pull him back from the land where death was a daily visitor. When the plane finally landed in Vietnam, the night sky was lit with flares, rockets, tracer fire and death.

When he finished his tour, it was an age later and he had aged and yes, he had changed. His return flight took him directly to the great state of Washington. He was discharged at Fort Lewis and immediately bought civilian clothes to wear. Returning Vietnam veterans were not treated kindly by their fellow Americans back then. He drifted back home in the Midwest and tried to make a go of it as if nothing had changed. But he'd changed. He tried to take up drumming again but it wasn't the same. The girl back home who'd waited for him, just wasn't the same either. After a brief marriage, they broke up and he drifted again. He finished Dental Technician school on the GI Bill and looked around for some place to go. Home wasn't the same. But then he remembered the quarter he buried and that quarter drew him.

When he landed in Hawaii, again, the airport had changed and where that palm tree once was, was now a concrete slab. Progress had occurred even in the land of paradise. Somewhat disappointed, he stayed and worked at his new trade. He met a new woman, who worked at a bank, who fell in love with him and saved his life. They got married and moved off to the mainland. But you know, that quarter still called, because after a few years, they moved back and here they reside today. Oh, yes, they go off and travel on the mainland now and then, but they always come back. I think that that quarter is still buried out there, someplace, and it always seems to call him back to the land of life.


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