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

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