Thank you Esquire for continuing to include the occasional short fiction story in your magazine. Someday, I hope, my work will find its way into your pages.
Woodrell’s story is one that I hope does not come true; however, it seems all too possible for two psychologically damaged veterans to meet in this way. One has tried to put the Vietnam War behind him for good while the other is still struggling with his experiences in Iraq.
I have not been to war. I’ve not been a part of the military. I feel very lucky that others have heard the call. My father told me never to enlist. He wanted something different for his son. He did not want me to be flown over seas and have to experience the American War Machine. He felt that his time in Vietnam was enough for his family so that his children would not have to serve. Thank you Dad.
Pelham is a Vietnam veteran. He and his second wife, who does not remember the war expect as something that was on TV, were sleeping when a naked man woke them up with his growling. Pelham snaps and quickly dispatches the intruder as his wife runs into the next room. This is how the story opens. It immediately catches your attention and propels you through to the end.
Every thing that comes next in the story is painfully rendered in beautiful language: the discovery of who the intruder’s identity, the funeral, the articles in the local papers, the opinions of the neighbors, the reconciliation of two high school friends, and the return of Pelham’s Vietnam mania.
The story does not attempt to provide answers or alternatives to help those who have been to war. It only seeks to help provide insight into the minds of those who have returned less then whole.
The June 2008 issue of Esquire should still be on the stands. I suggest running out to get a copy before it is gone. You don’t want to miss this story.
Woodrell, Daniel. “Nightstand” Esquire. June 2008, vol 149, no 6. p. 145 – 149