Why are we in Vietnam?


“Willy,” Mona breathed into Jimmy’s ear, tugged his shirt from his pants in the car at the Whiskeytown Lake overlook.

Jimmy the Rake had checked Mona’s driver’s license while she was on the phone to make sure she was 18. Now he had got what she planned for. Her breasts gleamed, twin moons in the radiance of the twin moons of the sky and ruffled water. And yet.

— Are you brain-dead! bellowed his cock. Stuff the and yet and unzip your jeans.

“Mona,” moaned Jimmy, stifling her attack on his belt by hoisting her sweater, bunched around her neck, over her head, “Mona, I’m not Willy, really, you know that,” paused to gulp a breath, “aren’t you being unfaithful to somebody?”

“No,” she said, muffled in the sweater. Freed, she shook her titties. “Ooh that feels good.” Jimmy surrendered to happy doom. “No. I think it was God sent you to take away my suffering.”

“We agree I’m not Willy.”

— What are you talking about? screamed his dick. Lemme out!

“Yes and no, you know,” she said. “I mean if you’re not Willy, then Willy’s really dead and I’m not cheating on him, am I? And,” returning to the belt buckle problem, “then I’m being the most faithful I can be by making it with a guy who I think is him. Isn’t that loyalty?” The buckle popped, the zipper unpeeled itself, his cock peered over the elastic of his underpants.

— Free at last, motormouth.

Even on Henry Ford’s couch of a front seat, they banged an ear on the steering wheel, slapped both tits against the fallen-open glove compartment lid, and nearly rammed a doorknob up an ass. Mona’s supple negotiation of the car interior made Jimmy feel creaky with delight (Did there come a point when the female in question was half-way out the passenger side window into the hot June night, holding on backward with her hands to the window ledge, and filling the suicide seat with two great globes of ass and a V of kneeling sweat-sleek legs? Yes indeed, yes indeed! sang Ray Charles).

Indeed they were on drugs. In those days no one knew about endorphins.


Ah, right name. He sat with his spine to the driver’s window, she rested against him, bare feet out the passenger side.


“What’s it like being a hippie?”

“I’m not a hippie.”

“Doin this stuff.”

“What stuff?”

“Gettin Lake to Canada.”

“How’d you know that?”

“Well, what would white people like you and that guy from Portland be doing driving a Negro with a Army buzzcut up North else?”


“Push in the cigarette lighter for me, will you?” He reached for the pack he had tossed on the dashboard, pulled a cigarette out with his teeth. “What’s it like being pu-lit’i-kul, you mean?”

“If that’s what you call it. What’s it feel like?”

You’re political.”


“Sure you are.”

“Am not.”

“Ok. Do you think there’s a reason we’re in Vietnam?”

“I guess.”

“Or no reason?”

“A reason.”

“Why a reason?”

“Things have reasons.”

“What do you think it is? Anything.”


“That’s political.”

The lighter popped out. She held it backward toward him and he leaned the cigarette into it.

“So?” she said.

“You used a political word.”

“I know lots of political words. Democrat, Republican, LBJ. Doesn’t mean they mean anything.”

“What’s communism?”

“You’re kidding.”


“It’s some place. Vietnam, I guess. Russia. Where they take away your stuff.”


“An we have to stop it.”

“From what?”


“From doing what?”

“Being there. I don’t know. Coming here.”

He couldn’t help himself. He hefted her tits, rolled her nipples between forefinger and thumb.

“Oh Jesus, you ready again?”

“And that’s what Willy died for?” said Jimmy.

“You want an answer? Let go my titties. And what’s that sprouting against my back?”

“Sorry. What I say? What he die for.”

“He died cause he couldn’t get out of it. You know like those dreams where you’re in a house and you can’t find your way out and all the doors go to some hall. Then you open one and something with eight eyes kills you. It’s not fair. They shoulda told him. Told him something.”

Jimmy blew smoke toward the back seat.

“What’s it feel like not to be political?” he asked.


“Normal how?”

“Everything that happens, happens. You don’t get upset about it. You do whatever. You go to work and you go home.”

“And when something happens that’s unfair?”

“You’re cheating.”


“Cause you look like him. That makes me feel unfair. I didn’t feel unfair till you showed up. Things were just what they were, not fair or unfair, with those lables on them.”

“When I leave, you’ll feel normal again.”

“Except you’re out there, looking like him. Fuck, you even smell like him. Then that gives me the idea he didn’t have to die. He could be you.”

The photo looked out at him from the Rome Plow blade. He took deep breaths, flipped the cigarette behind him out the window.

“You’re political, Mona.” He kissed the perfectly flexible, inextensible, infinitely fine cord (catenary curve) of her neck. “Do you think if you turned around this way you could sort of lower yourself on me?”


Great word, Oooo. Not at all political.