I stood there, stunned. Too stunned to speak, too weak to stand.
I was in the corps and it had been two days since we returned home from Vietnam. We- me and many, the corps brothers. We lived in Arizona and had returned back after surviving 6 months of bloodshed in war ravaged Vietnam. “A relief to be back, isn’t it?” I sighed and gulped down my beer. “Yeah. A relief indeed,” replied Manny. We were sitting on our favorite spot, on the banks of Campbell blue creek, having beer, just the two of us. I noticed Manny. He had been staring blankly either at the small rescue shelter in the middle of the creek or something beyond that in that twilight. I couldn’t make out what.
“The shelter still looks damn scary!” I joked.
“Yeah, scary as ever.”
And he just kept on staring. His beer too was half finished while I was about to finish the second pint. I tried to make conversation.
“But this sky! Ah! This orange-pink sky is as beautiful as ever!”
“The pink sky? Yeah, yeah. Beautiful.” A startled Manny replied. It seemed as if he was lost.
“Hey Tom, I will head back home. Actually I am not feeling so well!”
“Yeah, sure. See you later.”
Manny got up and left. I sat there for a while wondering what exactly he was staring at but gave up eventually and left.
Later that night, my telephone rang. It was Mrs. Fernandez, Manny’s mother. I rushed to his place. And there he was. Hanging from the ceiling. Mrs. Fernandez handed me a note. It was addressed to me. It said- “Dear Tom, I no longer see orange or pink or the orange-pink. All I see is RED.”
And then something happened. I felt a sensation. I could see everyone. Every corps brother that I had lost and every victim of my bullets. And over them was a figure less entity. It smiled at me and whispered-
Search of skin,
Color no matter,
Brighter or darker,
And then it placed a finger on my lips and continued-
Tell no one,
I will take someone,
Everything vanished. I stood there, stunned. Too stunned to speak, too weak to stand.