Rudi was under the full canopy of a big park tree for a
summer’s afternoon, joined by another Yankee in Kensington

It was West London on a weekday, with a select crowd setting
across the lawns; not part of the workforce, not today.

Both men were keen to talk about the Vietnam conflict: their
military units, the battle for Hue or Danang, R-an-R in Saigon
and injuries they reported, the luck they shared.

No one came by, as they continued recalling their campaigns in
SE Asia; known to them like an education, a prelude, an alumni…

“Three tours of duty, as career officer”, said Rudi.

“Two tours — as wayward youth, restless but invincible, innocent
and curious — mostly young and stupid”.

Still no one notices/heeds the two corbies, facing each other, over
remains of the day…

“So how d’you find ole London town, okay, alright”?

“Good, yeah — got a job, with a gal and she got a job too”.

“I’m a teacher in schools. Been here three years now” –

“We want to go home; but she lives in New York and I’m from California”!

Their tree was central to the park greenery, in line with lawns, flower-
beds and pathways. The best of all possible worlds, like Voltaire said…

“Well, it’s like fishing, they say”!


“Love an’ romance is like fishing the rivers, the sea, or in the creeks”.


“As a lament for the one that got away, the road not taken, missed op-
portunities, regrets like a burr under the saddle”…

“You teach English-lit, correct”?

“Not even a nick or a scratch, over there in ‘Nam’, eh”!
“Just a bit of crotch-rot, that’s all”.

“I lost a few pals, to gain some nightmares – but no edification”!

“I was given a citation to go home, but don’t know why”.
“No good asking anything in the services — just fall-in/drill on parade
and hide amongst the rank an’ file”.

It was a full grown ‘copper beach’ above, with masses of broad leaves
as if listening-in and good shade for two young men, newly acquainted…

“Yeah, we had a few laughs once in a while; then it’s follow the company
and cover your arse, eh”!

“I got another posting now, with a-go at the gals over here; room-an-
board, without the threats of discharge or friendly fire”.

They remained with each other much longer, enjoying some solace amid
the flora of a palace gardens; a new venture they shared, with a fresh start
for them.

Mostly they looked away, to one side or the other; because it was intimate
but foreign to Londoners, strange to non-combatants, still a bit abrogated
for women –

N.B. ‘Twa Corbies’, is an old (renown) Scottish ballad; about two crows,
finding a fallen knight upon the field of battle…

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