I’m still running. I’m running from something. I’m not sure what. It’s time to stop running. I already said “Goodbye Vietnam.”
It could have been the reception I received at the San Francisco Airport on that cold and foggy day. I had worn the uniform for what seemed an eternity. I took a cab into the city, but it had started before then. First the baggage handler threw my duffle bag at me, and then the cabbie acted as though I was Typhoid Mary.
I’m confused. I only did what was expected of me, why this?
Dropped at the Greyhound Bus Depot, I was treated as a pariah. People glowered at me, most backed away. One woman spat on me after saying something about babies, a killer. I had never imagined a woman could do something like that.
The bar was the same. One drink and I walked away. I found myself standing in front of a Harley-Davidson dealer. I went in. Here it was different.
“Hi, welcome home, welcome to Dudley Perkins.”
The man treated me with dignity. Maybe that’s why I bought an Electra Glide in blue. I threw the uniform into a Dempsey dumpster. I didn’t go back for my duffle bag.
Now five days later, I’m in Utah stopped alongside a lonely highway. Leaning against the motorcycle, I stare at a stark rock formation in a long-dead seabed. The trees, those with foliage, display orange and yellow leaves that shift and drop as a cold wind passes through the lonely valley. I feel as cold and lonely as the scene in front of me as I say goodbye to a world that no longer cares.
This story is a work of fiction by George Cramer, who served for three years in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. He is working on three novels: two are crime fiction and the third is a romance set in 1890 New York. He served as the Editor in Chief of the 2015 Las Positas College Anthology, Impressions, and he was instrumental in helping to conceive of this website where LPC veterans could share their stories. Mr. Cramer has been accepted into the Master of Fine Arts – Creative Writing Program at the Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico.