Words Are Flowing


Max awoke. Well, he wasn’t sure what was awake and what was aslep anymore, but he knew he wasn’t dreaming. “Sweet dreams” was irrelevant now. Now all he could hope for was to not envision himself, battle after battle, killing people he didn’t know who seemed to flicker like dying candles before they fell.

When he was awake, it seemed like someone was being visited by either relatives or priests.

Today, it was his turn to have visitors. Lucy was there (it must have been Tuesday), but she wasn’t alone. Max’s eyes darted from the man on Lucy’s left to the woman on her right, knowing they were people he once knew, but hadn’t seen for years.

“Max? Can you see us?” The woman spoke with a voice Max instantly recognized, but couldn’t place.

“Yeah,” his voice drew the word out as he tried to remember where he had seen these people before.

The man, whose dark hair was so familiar, sat at the foot of Max’s bed. “You did something great out there, son.”

Son? Was this man saying he produced Max, small distressed Max who really only wanted his shots and to fall into dreamless sleep? How was that possible?

“What do you mean?” Max didn’t mean for the words to sound as cold as they did.

“You did what millions of little boys wanted to do, Max. You did what LBJ wants of his young men.”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about.” Max rolled over in his bed, telling this man who claimed to be his father to go away and never come back.


Slowly, sleep drifted its way to Max. His nightmare was different this time. This time, the Vietnamese he was told to kill did more than just flicker. As he shot at them, they transformed to people he had known, but hadn’t thought about for years. His old Geometry teacher. His dad’s boss. This milkman. All gone.

After what seemed an eternity, he finally stood in a pond in which these acquaintances floated, all scraps of life torn from their bodies. Victorious, one of his comrades patted him on his back. Max turned to see the man behind him.

It was his father, smiling proudly at him.