Honey Ko, Chapter 20. Thailand

Tourist Boats. Pattaya Beach, Thailand. Photo Credit: Will Pennington Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue filled the foyer. I listened for a moment before knocking. The music stopped, then began again after a few seconds. I knocked again, harder. The door opened, and Sasi peeked around the edge of the door and smiled. “Thomas. Come in. How wonderful of you to come.” She didn’t appear surprised. I … Continue reading Honey Ko, Chapter 20. Thailand

Honey Ko, Chapter 19. Thailand

Along Walking Street, Pattaya, Thailand. 1983. Photo Credit: Will Pennington The crucial moment lay before us, quivering with anticipation, awaiting resolution. I was anxious. I had to see Sasi again, but kept putting it off. We spoke in the morning before I left for the airfield, exchanging little more than pleasantries, and again in the evening when I returned. I think she waited for my … Continue reading Honey Ko, Chapter 19. Thailand

Honey Ko, Chapter 18. Thailand

Sunset. Yokohama Beach. Makaha, Hawaii. Photo Credit: Will Pennington Sasi’s condo loomed tall before me. The sound of breakers crashing on the cliff face below and the fragrant sea breeze mingling with coconut oil by the swimming pool brought a déjà vu moment to mind. Similarities between the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki and Sasi’s place abounded. The only thing missing was Don Ho. I … Continue reading Honey Ko, Chapter 18. Thailand

Honey Ko, Chapter 17. Thailand

Seating the Wheel Bearing on the P-3 Orion Port Inboard Landing Gear Mainmount. Photo Credit: Will Pennington Exhausted after a heavy day of maintenance, we dropped our dirty coveralls in a bin and trudged to the van. A local woman would collect the work clothes and wash them. For a few dollars more, she would wash and press personal clothing, a bargain considering how much … Continue reading Honey Ko, Chapter 17. Thailand

Shooting from the Heart

Let your heart be the shutter Moxie Pond. The Forks, Maine. Photo Credit: Will Pennington If I ever see Michelangelo’s David or Pietà sculptures in person, I will, without shame, bawl my eyes out. Artistic beauty, those works created by the human hand, exert such a pull on my heart and mind that I cannot stop the flood of emotion that overwhelms me. This extends … Continue reading Shooting from the Heart

Honey Ko, Chapter 16. Thailand

Unloading Maintenance Equipment at U-Tapao Military Terminal. Photo Credit: Will Pennington Sasi. I dreamed about her. I shook the water out of my hair and stepped from the shower. Except for vague bits, I rarely recalled my dreams. Not that dreams had context. Did any dream make sense? Did dreams do anything more than increase the hurt? In the dream, Sasi was swimming in a … Continue reading Honey Ko, Chapter 16. Thailand

Time’s Up. Two Silver Coins for the Ferryman

I’d like to cross over here. Kennebec River. The Forks, Maine. Photo Credit: Will Pennington What if we knew when we would die? I guess that’s everything. Are you sure? You haven’t forgotten anything? Let’s run through the checklist again. No. I’ve treble-checked it. If I have forgotten something, I won’t need it where I’m going. What if you get lost? Get lost? I hardly … Continue reading Time’s Up. Two Silver Coins for the Ferryman

Present is Prologue, Let the Past Die

Photo Credit: Will Pennington I shape my memories after the fact to fit the narrative I desire Why waste time looking back at moments I’d rather forget when Present wears the face of Future I keep my Past in the dark unsuspecting of my intent The moment I exist is Present, but Past is its new reality, each moment pushing Past, which is but a … Continue reading Present is Prologue, Let the Past Die

Honey Ko, Chapter 15. Thailand

Middle Left — Ben’s Jewelry, Pattaya Beach, Thailand. 1983. Photo Credit: Will Pennington The following week passed in a blur that left me breathless. I rose early each morning to meet Sasi at the front desk for coffee. In the evenings, she showed me her favorite restaurants where we sipped sangria and watched the sunset from dockside tables. We strolled along the beach and back, … Continue reading Honey Ko, Chapter 15. Thailand

Father Time Comes Knocking (Don’t make Eye Contact)

Photo Credit: Will Pennington. Lake Moxie. The Forks, Maine. Inspired by a writer friend’s post about her 50’s being the cruelest decade – loss of old friends to sickness, Alzheimer’s, aging poorly, giving up, and to my own recent loss of two friends from my childhood church, one 12 years younger than I, one 12 years older. Time knows no Master. Time was, is, and … Continue reading Father Time Comes Knocking (Don’t make Eye Contact)

San Diego: Almost Home

Point Loma from NAS North Island, CA. 1986 Photo Credit: Will Pennington My business trip with the Navy to San Diego last week was like going home. The joy began when, while riding the bus to the rental car center, I spotted the USS Carl Vinson — my last ship — tied up at North Island. Ohh, the memories. USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70). Photo Credit: US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist … Continue reading San Diego: Almost Home

Honey Ko (Sweetheart), Book 3, Chapter 14, Part 2: Thailand

A uniformed doorman nodded and smiled to Sasi, but gave me the once-over and a frown as we passed. Revolving doors led to an expansive lobby buzzing with activity and the heady fragrance of incense. Another doorman took the groceries from me and gave them to yet another employee who disappeared who-knew-where with them. Plush, high-end sofas and chairs furnished sitting areas where visitors and … Continue reading Honey Ko (Sweetheart), Book 3, Chapter 14, Part 2: Thailand

Honey Ko (Sweetheart), Book 3, Chapter 14, Part 1

Pattaya Beach, Thailand. 1983. Photo Credit: Will Pennington Adrenaline pumped my system into a throbbing, vibrating engine burning on twenty-four cylinders. I rubbed my leg to make it stop tapping the foot rail. My mind churned with anxiety and uncertainty. Shooting up caffeine wouldn’t have given me a bigger buzz. I rested my elbow on the bar and chewed my thumbnail as I stared through … Continue reading Honey Ko (Sweetheart), Book 3, Chapter 14, Part 1

Honey Ko (Sweetheart), Book 3, Chapter 13, Part 2: Thailand

I replayed my encounter with Sasi as I crossed Beach Road and walked along the promenade. The crowds of locals and tourists, the traffic, the whistles of traffic police, and the bicycle bells gave the city a vibrant hum. The sun beat down without mercy, but a breeze blew in from the sea, refreshing the area between the water and business side of the street. … Continue reading Honey Ko (Sweetheart), Book 3, Chapter 13, Part 2: Thailand

Honey Ko (Sweetheart), Book 3, Chapter 13, Part 1: Tom. Thailand

The sun seared my skin as I walked down the C-130 cargo ramp. The U-Tapao terminal shimmered like an abstract watercolor in the heat waves emanating from the asphalt. I set my bags down and took in the familiar scenery. U-Tapao had been a U.S. Air Force base during the Vietnam War, and later a processing station for refugees. Sentry towers once manned by armed … Continue reading Honey Ko (Sweetheart), Book 3, Chapter 13, Part 1: Tom. Thailand

Honey Ko, Book 2, Chapter 12

I wasn’t going back to Vietnam! Neither was Sam. Chip and the Command Master Chief said we had been there long enough. Others who needed the time in-country would replace us. I hadn’t felt such relief in months. The news drained the tension from me like I was shedding a layer of skin. Sam and I walked through the hangar bay like changed men, calling … Continue reading Honey Ko, Book 2, Chapter 12

Honey Ko (Sweetheart), Book 2, Chapter 11, Part 1

Cigarette smoke assaulted my lungs as I made my way to the exit, already missing Marie’s fragrance. I had reached the door when I heard my name called above the screeching racket from the jukebox. I looked above the heads bobbing on the dance floor. Frank! Hey, Frank. Over here. Sam waved from the bar. I changed direction, but the door opened, forcing me to … Continue reading Honey Ko (Sweetheart), Book 2, Chapter 11, Part 1

Saying Goodbye to My Dying Parents, Part 2, Mom

Dad wasn’t an affectionate man, while I know Mom craved his touch and sweet words. Dad always signed off on phone calls and letters by saying “We love you.” Mom always signed off saying “I love you.” I should have mentioned this in Part 1, Dad’s story: His father was a cruel man not above humiliating his children in front of others. He once ridiculed … Continue reading Saying Goodbye to My Dying Parents, Part 2, Mom

Saying Goodbye to My Dying Parent, Part 1: Dad

We were three days sail out of Pearl Harbor in November 1994 when the Red Cross message clattered from the teletype: Mother of servicemember requests return home. Father in coma after heart attack. Not expected to survive. “Sixty-seven isn’t old. How can this be?” Were the USS Tripoli an aircraft carrier, they might have flown me off on the C-2 Greyhound. But the Tripoli was … Continue reading Saying Goodbye to My Dying Parent, Part 1: Dad

Honey Ko (Sweetheart), Book 2, Chapter 10: Marie Taneo

My pulse raced as Frank walked away. I wanted to call him back, tell him I wanted to know him too, but I couldn’t. I was too proud to be the weak one. Too independent to seem dependent. I had been wrong about one thing, though. He wasn’t unlike other Sailors. He was unlike any man I had ever known. He was confident, but not … Continue reading Honey Ko (Sweetheart), Book 2, Chapter 10: Marie Taneo

Honey Ko (Sweetheart), Book 2, Chapter 9: Frank

The silence pounded in my ears. I wanted to sit and think, but my knees were locked. All I could do was stare at the door that had both opened and closed a moment before. I had learned something about Chip and something about myself.  I had often noticed the purple heart ribbon among his many decorations but never asked for what action he earned … Continue reading Honey Ko (Sweetheart), Book 2, Chapter 9: Frank

The Fallen Spring Anew

Photo Credit: Pixabay Crisscrossing lines and frenzied edges web-faced leaves sap weak appendages fading glory amid crinkled sparkle cheeky gleam recalls the marvel of the sprouting when the seedling grew from dark moist soil nourished, renew anew another pass again among the rest and ring upon ring on ring ring on and on and the circle grew and grew and with the growth of bark … Continue reading The Fallen Spring Anew

Honey Ko (Sweetheart), Book 2, Chapter 8: Frank

Chip’s iron grip dug into my shoulder while his other hand crushed mine in a handshake. Hey, Frank. Great to see you, buddy. Come on in and join the party. I lingered for a moment as I considered returning to Marie, but Chip was having none of it. Come on, he said, tugging my arm. Don’t be shy. You know everyone here, don’t you? His … Continue reading Honey Ko (Sweetheart), Book 2, Chapter 8: Frank

Honey Ko, (Sweetheart), Book 2, Chapter 7: Frank Bailey. 1968

Approach to Cubi Point Naval Air Station, Olongapo, Philippines. The sun set on another blistering day in the Philippines as our C-130 touched down at Cubi Point Naval Air Station. The war in Vietnam was nine-hundred miles in the past. I could finally relax and put the horror of that last, bloody attack behind me. For the next week at least, I wouldn’t have to … Continue reading Honey Ko, (Sweetheart), Book 2, Chapter 7: Frank Bailey. 1968

Honey Ko (Sweetheart), Book 1, Chapter 6

Author’s Photo. The view from the apartment bedroom. I edged the gate open with a gentle push, but the squeal of the rusty hinges gave me away. I uttered a silent oath when Aida poked her head out the window. Oh, Tommy, she cried. You forget again the oil. I’ll bring the oil home tomorrow, Aida. I promise. Yoshi had run ahead, barking at the … Continue reading Honey Ko (Sweetheart), Book 1, Chapter 6

Honey Ko (Sweetheart), Book 1, Chapter 5, Part 2

Back in the apartment, I put away the picnic supplies while Aida unpacked and put away the clothes, a quantity of clothing since she had taken advantage of the laundromat at the cottage rather than wash them by hand at the cement sink in the courtyard. After we were settled on the sofa, she nestled against me and watched television while I read. Soon, her … Continue reading Honey Ko (Sweetheart), Book 1, Chapter 5, Part 2

Honey Ko (Sweetheart), Book 1, Chapter 5, Part 1

Romance and a sexual tension made the air surrounding us buzz with expectation and fulfillment of some deep-seated desire or need. Holding her suddenly seemed so much more than just an embrace between two people. I saw Aida now as a necessary part of me, an essential element in what made me who I was. At the time, I didn’t realize what had happened. Only … Continue reading Honey Ko (Sweetheart), Book 1, Chapter 5, Part 1

Honey Ko (Sweetheart), Book 1, Chapter 4, Part 2

The flicker of lights along the arc of the shoreline to Subic City snapped me from my reverie. The rising moon with the mountains in silhouette, the soft lapping of the waves, the warm night, all induced a languidness I didn’t want to disturb. Satisfaction with the moment, the weekend, the treasure hunt with Aida all combined to lift my spirit, and for a moment, … Continue reading Honey Ko (Sweetheart), Book 1, Chapter 4, Part 2

Honey Ko (Sweetheart), Book 1, Chapter 4, Part 1

***Author’s Photo. Ferry launch to Grande Island (No, not the big one!) Officer’s Landing, Subic Bay Naval Station, Olongapo, Philippines 1983. Aida, sweet and lovely like the opera, searched for treasure among the debris washed ashore by the latest storm of the monsoon. Her breasts filled her top as she leaned over to examine a bright and colorful smorgasbord of seashells, pebbles, smooth-worn glass, and … Continue reading Honey Ko (Sweetheart), Book 1, Chapter 4, Part 1

Honey Ko (Sweetheart), Book 1, Chapter 3

**(Photo provenance unknown) Shit River Bridge between Subic Bay Naval Station and Olongapo. The banca boats hold Shit River “Princesses” who entice coins from passing Sailors and Marines. The young boys dive in after the coins.** The sun rose blood-red through the ash drifting from Mount Pinatubo’s smoking crater. Enough moisture filled the air to quench a dying man’s thirst. The wind pushed the sun’s … Continue reading Honey Ko (Sweetheart), Book 1, Chapter 3

Honey Ko (Sweetheart), Book 1, Chapter 2

Photo by Dominik Simecek The balut man’s quavering voice penetrated my sleep-filled head, and I squinted at the clock. My brain read zero-dark-early, but six a.m. glowed bright and cheery in the dark. He called out again as he wobbled away, pushing his creaking handcart. Baluuut. Baluuut. Aida peeked at me from behind the edge of the bedsheet. She scratched the side of her nose and … Continue reading Honey Ko (Sweetheart), Book 1, Chapter 2

Honey Ko (Sweetheart), Book 1 , Chapter 1

Photo of “Aida” by the Author I’ve decided to serialize Honey Ko, my first novel, here over the next few months. I’m also serializing the novel on my page on Medium. If you write on Medium, let me know and I’ll follow you. Tom Nelson It’s funny how the heart aches the same way in grief and love. It’s as if the heart refuses to … Continue reading Honey Ko (Sweetheart), Book 1 , Chapter 1

Eruption

Photo by antonio filigno Concealed, earthy memberhidden ‘neath modest skinburied by bashful eyesbidden there in fear of sin,yet let a growing urge recall to mind the farmingof the seed without which,good lord, no mouths tofeed; but do not let the urge subside ‘neath somemoral ambiguity; take heart,take hand, maneuver ’tilit come and spill and fillthe well from which all pleasure spring Continue reading Eruption

How I Maximized My Productivity

When I was thirteen or so, Dad told me to get off my derrière and earn some money. Up to that point my responsibilities consisted of emptying the household trash and helping dad maintain our gargantuan lawn I called Sandspur Central. I was productive in a minimalist way. So, understanding Dad ruled the roost and would probably begin taxing me soon for room & board, … Continue reading How I Maximized My Productivity

Hurtful Words and a Father’s Pride

I don’t remember the last time my dad and I shared a father-son moment. I can’t recall a time after childhood when awkwardness, discomfort, and suspicion didn’t taint our relationship. The father-son times we shared before I entered my teens weren’t yet memories by the time I turned thirteen. I learned at various times as a teenager that I was no good, that I would … Continue reading Hurtful Words and a Father’s Pride