Mặt trăng bé
(C) James J Alonzo
Even in war there is down time for the soldiers, so when this down time became available we would secure a vehicle and drive to Saigon. Saigon had the best bars, and brothels, and beautiful women. (At that time in Viet Nam the economy was such that $50 could cover a G I for the whole month. $300 was a good years salary to Vietnamese people)
John Brubaker (from Altoona, Pennsylvania), and I did just that, and when we got to TU DO street, we parked the truck and started to window shop so to speak.
It wasn't long before we were surrounded by the begging kids, and street hustlers, ranging from 7-10 years old, all shouting in broken English! American G I's are known to the Vietnamese as having a generous nature, a desire to help, so are easy victims to scams.
"Hey G I , I shine your boots, 100 P!" (Piestas) said one kid. Another offered dope for sale.
Another young kid offered,
"Hey G I! You want short time girl 300 P!" (equal to $3)
Another just tried to steal your watch by snatching at it, or your wallet. Or another kid would try to reach in a pocket while others were distracting you.
"Hey G I, you number one! You give me money!" shouted one kid while another tried to stick his hand in one of my pockets. Snatching his hand, and twisting his wrist, I spun him around and gave him a boot against his butt, shoving him away.
"Get away from me! Di Di Mau!" I said in Vietnamese.
"Hey G I, you number ten!" said the kid that was discouraged from stealing my money.
Once the kids realize that we were no one to play with, they ran away shouting more insults at us! Laughing we continued sauntering down TU DO street looking at the open shops, girls walking by wearing long dresses called AO DAI (ow yi, Vietnamese)
While trying to decide if we were going to drink at one of the bars, or go to one of the brothels, a young girl about 16 years old, with a devastated expression on her face, approached us carrying a "package" all wrapped up in a blue cloth, trying to hand it to us.
"You take! You Take!", she shouted at us, continuously thrusting the package at us. "you give me American money, you take!"
As she drew the cloth back, it was like a slap to our face, the smell of death hit us as we started to look at the package to see what she was selling. I jumped back after I saw what looked like a baby. Only this baby had a huge head the size of a basketball, and looked like an alien from space! But what was worse was the baby was dead, and decomposing.
"Jesus!", Brubaker exhaled, "What the "&@$/! happened?"
"I don't know!, I responded frustrated, "just give her some money, and let's get the (&$!/! out of here!"
I couldn't then, and never did get that image that dead baby out of my mind.
After Brubaker gave her some money, we quickly entered a bar nearby, and looking out at the girl with the dead baby, we started to tell a couple of other soldiers what we saw.
They too had run into the same girl. As we watched the girl, she handed over the "package" to another Vietnamese lady, and the new lady took up the same procedure as the first girl walked away.
When we got back to base camp we mentioned it to the soldiers in our platoon, and some had seen the same thing. The tragedy of the story was that the baby died, and these women were using it to get money.
Years Later, I realize I may have seen my first Agent Orange baby, but at the same time I always wondered about the real mother and if the baby was ever properly buried.
© Copyright 2012 James J Alonzo All rights reserved.
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