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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 6, Number 3, September 2012

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Steven Carter
Tucson, Arizona, USA


Visitors

You always knew who they were. Except for car salesmen and tourists, few wear aloha shirts in Hawaii. Two other things gave them away as soldiers on R and R from Viet Nam: the haunted expression in their eyes and their government-issue pencil-thin mustaches.

This is the Honolulu zoo in early 1969. Tet went down a year before, and Khe Sanh is still to come. Where have these two been—they looked to be twenty or twenty-one—and what had they seen? Yes, the answer is in their eyes. They flick them like bullwhips in a 180 degree arc, as if expecting Viet Cong behind every tree and bush. And they gaze at other zoo visitors and kids with a half-resentful, half-puzzled look, like astronauts finding themselves on an alien world.

As I walk to the exit, I overhear one of them say, “I can’t wait for the evac,” slang for the plane back to Nam.

cages
contentedly sleeping
two lions

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