Archive for the ‘Stories of War’ Tag

When Dark Closes In – Historical Fiction

When Dark Closes In – Historical Fiction

This is a historical fiction story taking place during the sixties and seventies time period era when the Vietnam War drafted and pulled in thousands of U.S. troops to help South Vietnam in their fight against the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong. The war was over by 1975 when the North Vietnamese advanced on Saigon, claiming it and all of the south. With a casualty count of 58,000 American lives lost and thousands more missing, it became one the longest and deadliest wars in U.S. history. There were thousands more troops (MIAs – Missing in Action) whose bodies or remains were not found or recovered years later, and still some declared missing to this day.  This story is about the lives of men and women who lived and fought during that time when the darkness and shadows of a hated war drew them into the throes of turmoil and despair. It is in the pages of history where names and faces may never be remembered by one generation, and never known by the next, unless we tell their story. This story is fiction, as are the names, and the faces I see, the images of characters created, but their stories could be real. They could be ours.  And, it is because of history that those coming after us can learn and know what happened then, and appreciate what history has taught us all.

I started writing this story back in the eighties and had several chapters written when I attended a writers’ conference in Colorado Springs, Co., my home town. It was held by the Christian Writers’ Guild. I received training, instruction and mentoring through the guild’s instructors, and completed my course work in 2004 with certification for the Journeyman status. To me, that was a big step and plus in my writing achievement for one who was never able to attend college and earn a degree in Creative Writing and Journalism which I had always desired, and dreamed of doing. But, through the Christian Writers’ Guild I received some of the very best instruction and training out there with their online and correspondence courses. While attending the conference I had the honor and privilege of having Jerry B. Jenkins, owner and director of the guild, and author of the best-selling series LEFT BEHIND  (in partnership with co-author Tim La Haye) critique the first chapter of my book manuscript. Jerry is one of my all time favorite Christian authors. It was a highlight for me during that whole writers’ conference. The future of this story depends on a few very important things:  (1) how it is received (in the way of interest) by those reading its first chapters, and (2) how much time I will have or can allow to get it finally finished without having other interruptions interfere.  But, as a writer of fiction it is not only the desire to write for ourselves, and to entertain the reader, but sometimes there is a story out there that will not rest until it is told and a completed final draft finished. It has to be written, and this is one of those kinds of stories. Maybe it is too that I and my husband were eighteen in 1965 like Jennifer, graduating high school, engaged to be married, and waiting the outcome of the draft board’s decision, knowing first hand what it was like to live through that time as young adults.

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Joyce E. Johnson

WHEN DARK CLOSES IN – Flashback, Chapter I, Part I

WHEN DARK CLOSES IN  

Flashback

Chapter I, Part I

Newspapers lay scattered across a table in the hotel room. The pages were opened to the stories running daily as one story followed another. On April 30th, 1975, headlines read, “Saigon Falls. U.S. Pulls Out,”  South Vietnamese Army and Marines Flee,  Helicopters Scramble to Lift off of Embassy Roof.”

Pictures covered the pages where print allowed space. People were hanging from the helicopter skids, trying to climb aboard the crowded aircraft. Desperate people, frightened for their lives and what was coming. Jennifer read it all. She couldn’t think of anything else when she did. Now, she tried to forget what she had read. She couldn’t. It would be an impossible feat to pretend to enjoy herself tonight. But she would try. She reminded herself she was happy.

It was May 20th, 1975. The war was over. No one had heard from him. No one.

She fluffed and sprayed her chestnut colored hair, applied the last of her makeup, lipstick, then scrutinized herself in the mirror. Looking hard at her reflection, she turned, checking for bulges, or creases in her dress.  She looked critically back at her young, five feet, four-inch frame. Twenty eight years old, she worked out daily to keep it fit.

She smoothed the clinging navy blue, silk dress that fell to mid calves. She hoped it would look right with the silver toned, high-heeled sandal shoes. The diamond necklace and earring set Marc had given her for Christmas completed the look. She touched the earrings gently. It reminded her of another night she would never forget, in 1966.

The moon cast a soft glow over the clear night sky looking like royal blue velvet, its stars winking on a still, glassy sea. They stood again on the pier at Puget Sound. Scott took out the envelope inside his shirt pocket.

“I got my orders from the Army.”

She was silent for a few moments.

“When?”

“Today. I report Monday at Fort Lewis. I’m sorry, Jen. I was hoping we could…make some plans for our future together.”

“We will someday. There will be time…later…when you’re back home. Everything will be alright. You’ll see.” Even as she said it, she didn’t believe it.

He placed his hands behind her head, pulling her closer, wiping the tears and streaks of eye makeup from her face. His thumbs brushed gently over the tiny star-shaped crystal earrings he’d given her a year earlier the weekend of the fourth of July.

“You’re not very convincing you know.”

The following Monday he told his parents and sister goodbye, and Jennifer drove him to the bus station. The mood was somber; the silence worse than a morgue. Just before he boarded the bus, he did an imitation from a line of his favorite actor, Humphrey Bogart in the movie, Casablanca, one they loved watching together, substituting the last word.

“Here’s looking at you, babe.” His kiss was slow, lingering as were her tears, then he pulled away and quickly hopped up onto the departing bus.

“Come back to us.” She whispered to the bus merging out into the flow of traffic, and out of sight. She ran, crying uncontrollably towards the car.

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To be continued…

Joyce E. Johnson

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