The Gift of the Red Pearls
By Martha Mendez
First Place Acrylic Painting
By Steve Rocha
First Place Computer Art
(Highlighted as our Cover Art)
By Allison Conry
First Place, Colored Pencil Drawing
May 2006, Volume J9
Glendale Community College
6000 West Olive Avenue
Saguaro by Rowena Wildin Dehanke 16
Nunna Dual Tsuny by Martine Cloud 14
...of Rea by Kimberly Bragg 55
The Closet by Rowena Wildin Dehanke 43
A Corpse Sits at the Dinner Table
by R.A. Matheson 9
Eyes of a Child by Danny A. Cooke 13
Another Soldier Dead by R.A. Matheson .42
The Gathering by Nancy Chamberlain .4
Nazdarovye E Proschay by Chris A. Clark 11...10
A Dios by Salvador E. Menjivar .26
I Cheated Death by Barbara Walsh .52
A Dream Denied by Barbara Walsh 18
The Last Full Measure by Chris A. Clark II..... 30
Mortar Man by Daniel Small 44
The Snowdrift Tea Ceremony
by Patrick Martin 34
Reclamation by Nancy Chamberlain 22
The Reading Club by Sydne Linggi 38
A Child of Conscience by Sydne Linggi .48
2 Traveler 2006
First Place, Acrylic:
The Gift of the Red Pearls
by Martha Mendez Inside Front Cover
Second Place, Acrylic:
A Day in Friendship Garden
by Racquel Royong .5
Third Place, Acrylic:
Midsummer Glow by Claudia Martinez 22
Honorable Mention, Acrylic:
Revolution: The Tree of Life and Its Ghost
Town by Yasmine Asadi 19
Honorable Mention, Watercolor:
Got Nuts? by Lisa Conry .24
Honorable Mention, Acrylic:
Sunflowers by T.J. Ahnlund 8
Shelby (Watercolor) by Daryle Gregory ..40
Rosson House (Watercolor)
by Nancy Searles Back Cover
The Never Ending Puzzle of Life (Acrylic)
by Florence Flynn 38
El Sueno del Quetzal (Acrylic)
by Claudia Martinez 49
Bathtime Fun by Ann Beauregard 51
Untitled #5 by Haran Phaneuf 31
XXXXXT by Joshua Mendoza 11
Arizona State Fair 2005 by Tessa Menken 23
Reflection on the Past by Julie Lodge 6
Just North of Here by Sarah Kinney 43
Blacklight Chess by Rita Hjelm .53
©2006 Glendale Community College
Reproductions of literary and artistic works may not be reproduced without
written consent of the authorlartist and the college.
First Place, Colored Pencil:
Untitled by Allison Conry l
Second Place, Graphite:
Touch by Veronica Aguilar 13
Third Place, Drawing:
Where are my grapes?
by Betsy Van Antwerp 42
Honorable Mention, Charcoal:
Beau by Shirley E. Bennett 47
Flamingo (Colored Pencil) by Allison Conry.. .21
Dream (Ink Drawing with Wash)
by Betsy Van Antwerp 46
Relaxed Lean (Charcoal)
by Jonathan Reichard 27
Gesture #2 (Pastel Drawing)
by John V. Aragon 37
Testing My Patience (Charcoal)
by Wesley Watson 45
First Place, Digital Photography:
Prom Queen by Steven Rocha Cover
Waterfall (Digital Photography)
by Vicki Joyner 34
Girls (Computer Art)
by Martine Cloud Inside Back Cover
Journey (Computer Art)
by Martine Cloud 15
Metamorphosis (Computer Art)
by Michelle Edwards .55
Black In White by Arti Goulatia .56
Infusion by Arti Goulatia 56
Raku Vase by Martine Cloud 56
Orange Fall by Josh Marguia .56
Guardian by Betsy Van Antwerp 17
Credits & Colophon Back Inside Cover
Blo(k 'n White
by Arti Goulatia
First Place, Ceramic
The Gift of the Red Peorll
by Martha Mendez
First Place Painting
by Ann Beauregard
by Allison Conry
First Place, Drawing ~__
Prom Queen IT([)b.i~::v:...:-rI
by Steven Rocha
First Place, Digital Photography ' •••••••i
Glendale Community College 1
1 awoke without the alarm the next
morning and looked out the window at
a new blanket of gleaming white snow.
1 stepped outside for a few minutes to
enjoy the view, inhaling the fragrant frosty air and exhaling
puffs of vapor. 1 savored the damp muffled silence - the
calm before the storm.
.J;as at Mom's by mid-morning to set the table
with her autumn-themed gold tablecloth and leafpattern
dishes - autumn was long-past in upstate
New York, but it was tradition. The
old woven cornucopia, filled with
fruits and nuts carefully arranged
so they appeared to spill out, served
as the centerpiece. 1suppressed the
urge to ask Mom if 1 could have
it after she passed away. Not the
My younger sister Lucinda,
her husband Garry, and their two
sons Cody and Nathan, blew in
with a gust of bracing wind and a flurry of powdery snow.
The boys tumbled into the living room, tolerated a quick hug
from their Grammy and were off to explore. They were the
reason I'd spent the better part of yesterday morning childproofing
the house. Everything that wouldn't survive being
drop-kicked, passed, stomped, chucked, bowled, pitched,
lobbed, or Frisbee'd was taken upstairs out of harm's way.
That included the dog (after the unfortunate incident last
year with the skateboard) and the cat (who meowed in
vain to be rescued, until everyone had gone home and
she could make herself heard - she'd been stowed in the
sideboard). Garry went right to the TV in the family room
until 1 intercepted and ushered him into the den to watch
the game as loud as he wanted. We tried to catch up with
Lucinda in between her, "Cody Sweetie, we don't climb
Grandma's quilt ladder. It's just for show." "Nate Precious,
the organ is very old. It doesn't play. It's just to look at."
Finally 1 suggested brightly they go outside and build us
By Nancy Chamberlain
First Place, Non-Fiction
She grinned as I
brandished the knife at her.
"What's the grand
so far, on the night
She smiled at
"Oh, twenty or so."
"1 thought we were going to
keep it manageable this year!"
"It is manageable, Dearest-just keep chopping." She
grinned as 1 brandished the knife at her.
We were dreading and looking forward to the next day.
Our family is hilarious and maddening. The only thing we
knew for sure was we'd need someone with a striped shirt
and whistle to successfully navigate the festivities.
We'd prepared the basics - turkey, stuffing, some veggies,
mashed potatoes, a couple of pies. Those items were the
staples; the rest of the meal we'd assigned to the others as
"unknown" commodities. Unknown in that we: 1) didn't
know if those people were going to show up, and if they
did, would they be anything resembling sober, and if they
were, would they remember they were supposed to bring
the creamed corn? 2) would those components contributed
to our Thanksgiving gathering be edible and/ or presentable
or would they be the sorts of dishes that later we'd recall as
part of the entertainment?
7 e rhythm of chopping
celery was soothing and
inspirational. The aroma
of sage sausage browning in the Dutch oven was
seductive and irresistible, pulling me into a festive
mood. "Give that a stir before you add the onions,
would you?" my Mom called over her shoulder as she
went to answer the phone for the fourth time in less
than an hour.
"Sure 'nough." Her recipe for stuffing has been handed
down from who knows how many
She returned from her phone
conversation. "That's five more
4 Traveler 2006
a snowman. They were exceedingly disinclined until I got
out carrot noses and hats and scarves-Mom was loaded
for bear. They allowed themselves to be zipped into their
snowsuits and lumbered out back, where they regained
their zeal as the snowman was quickly forgotten and they
engaged in a ferocious snowball fight.
Elizabeth, my older sister, and her husband Travis
arrived next with their sullen sixteen-year-old daughter
Claire. Liz, her brow creased from yet another of her famed
headaches, looked around warily and was greatly relieved
to see the boys being annoying outside instead of next to
her. I pressed two Tylenol into her hand along with a glass
of wine and gave her a cool wet cloth for her forehead. Thus
pampered and indulged, she felt better instantly, and sat in
the recliner, close enough to us so she wouldn't miss out
on any juicy conversation. It was a well-known secret that
Travis was having a 'dalliance' with one of his sales reps,
who wasn't nearly as pretty as Elizabeth, but who was
ADoy in friendship Gorden
By Racquel Royong
Second Place, Acrylic Painting
said to be easygoing, funny, engaging-all the things Liz
was not. Of course I was conflicted at not telling her, but
when she was this whiny, self-absorbed, humorless thing, I
could almost sympathize with Travis. I'd talk to somebody
about it-another time. Claire sat down with a magazine,
but responded obligingly enough when Mom asked her to
arrange the relish tray. Mom coaxed a smile with a kiss on
the cheek and a stern admonition to "put everything in the
right section now."
My oldest brother "Spike" came in next. In high school he
decided "Stewart" was too fey; his intensity on the volleyball
team had earned him his nickname, which he still uses all
these years later. A long train ride from Pennsylvania had
made him irritable; he stomped on the welcome mat to
dislodge packed snow from his boots with the impatient
air of someone who's been greatly inconvenienced. He
unceremoniously dumped a grocery bag on the kitchen
counter, his implicit reproach at being asked to bring a
Glendale Community College 5
salad - he was a man after all. He gave Mom a dutiful peck
on the cheek, but then returned her embrace with a bear
hug, lifting her off her feet till she laughed helplessly and
threatened to wet her pants. He strode off to find Garry,
who he knew would be watching sports somewhere, and
we peered into his grocery bag. There was a head of iceberg
lettuce and bottle of Italian dressing. Momgave me a warning
look, signaling I was to keep my thoughts to myself, and
sighed something about the divorce, now going on fourteen
months and not even close to being settled. Well, cry me a
river - he should have thought of that before he married a
chippie from the gym.
Mom's neighbor Karen came with her three kids, ages six
and under, and her mom. This was Karen's first Thanksgiving
alone; her husband had been deployed to Afghanistan in
July. Her mom had rented out her home in Rochester to
move in with Karen and get everybody stabilized. Whatever
they were doing, it was working. Those little ones were a
delight-very well behaved and responsive. The baby was
sweetly spastic as he waved his chubby arms and cooed
and grinned. The middle girl, her hair carefully styled in
pigtails with butterfly elastic bands, was outgoing and fun,
tilting her little body and holding up three chubby fingers
to anyone who asked how old she was. The oldest boy was
Renection on the PQ~t
By Julie Lodge
6 Traveler 2006
"Just a sliver for me please."
cAs the days were short and the roads
would freeze early, by seven o'clock they
all started to bundle up and head home.
Tanya pulled me aside and gripped my arm, her eyebrows
raised as she issued a dire warning: "The next time you have
that Garry person over, don't bother inviting me. By far the
rudest person I've ever known."
After everyone had gone, Spike, who would stay the
weekend, gave his assessment of the occasion: "Hey, we got
everyone in and out and nobody got hurt. A good day." We
said goodnight and he retired to get caught up with some
work on his laptop.
The dishwasher was churning and the leftovers were
put away. I poured brandy and mom and I relaxed on the
couch and clinked our glasses together. She was quiet for
several minutes. "Next year, maybe I'll do a fresh ham... "
And ducked as I tossed a throw pillow at her head. *
big Buddha carved out of stone; so old no one knew when
it was made! She'd picked up a Norton Crystal piece that
cost $2,000! He had stopped at several ancient cities on the
tour and - the ace up his sleeve - one of them was Nagasaki,
where they'd visited a war memorial. She sputtered in defeat
and he puffed out his chest - the obvious winner. Game, Set,
Match. Once that was settled, the others fell into comfortable
conversation with those around them and munched with
Just before Cody and Nathan started their customary food
fight, we cleared away the dinner dishes and offered dessert.
Everyone groaned thickly - too full! But they managed to
haul themselves up out of their chairs and wander over to
the dessert table just to see what
they would be missing. Most
found something they couldn't
resist, with a generous dollop of
"Everybody has to try my
custard pie," I invited. "I got the
recipe from the Internet." They
"l••••••••••••••••••• watched as I cut into it and tried
to lift a slice with the pie server,
only to have it run off both sides and plop back into the pie
plate, the consistency of curdled milk. On cue, everyone
reserved and shy. Teenaged Claire coaxed him out of his
shell when they discovered they both had hamsters.
Mom's gentleman friend from church, Mr. Secor, got
there shortly after Karen's family. He was handsome and
dignified, and he smelled really good. He presented a vase
of pink roses with a flourish and bent over to kiss her hand
when she greeted him at the door. The three daughters all
exchanged wide-eyed looks as she winked at us before he
straightened up. He was an accomplished violinist; he'd
recently retired from the ew York City Chamber Ensemble.
They met when he took over as director of the church choir,
in which she sang alto.
Last to arrive-late as always-was my youngest
brother Thomas and his wife
Tanya. She had hair down to her
butt, which she swished around
with practiced vanity. Overbearing
and narcissistic, she
monopolized every conversation.
Her husband would bail while she
cornered some poor unsuspecting
soul and talk, talk, talk. She'd
had the most fascinating life and
the most amazing adventures - she was the most talented,
the smartest, the best at everything; she always won. Even
conversation. As her prey's eyes glazed over, he would see
someone wander by and desperately raise a hand as though
he were hailing a cab and say, "Oh there goes So-and so. I
need to talk to him about something... " Tanya, oblivious,
would then wander off in search of her next victim.
"Dinner is served!" I announced. We all gathered and
stood behind our chairs as Mom said the blessing, then lined
up to serve ourselves buffet-style. Controlled chaos ensued
as the parents plopped the right foods onto their kids' plates,
and everyone else reached, passed, served, speared, and
We'd put a lot of thought into arranging the place cards
to get the right mix of personalities. I ignored Spike's
dagger looks for putting him next to Talker Tanya, but he
needn't have worried. She was engaged in a fierce game
of one-upmanship with Garry. I felt badly we'd put them
at opposite ends of the table. We were like spectators at
Wimbledon. She had been to Ireland that summer and it
was the most incredible place on earth. Except Japan, where
he and Lucinda had vacationed in the spring. But she had
seen castles that were hundreds of years old! He was at a
Buddhist temple that was thousands of years old, with a
Glendale Community College 7
By T.). Ahnlund
Honorable Mention, Acrylic Painting
8 Traveler 2006
A corpse sits at the dinner table
By R.A. Matheson
He is frozen in the vinyl groove defect;
time skips like a broken record for him. His face,
frozen in a toothy smile; the gums pulled back, taut and brown.
They ceased being pink long ago. The
joke must have been hilarious; he just can/t conquer
his perma-grin. His suit; dusted with the years. His tie; red and white
striped, the white off-hue from aging.
Reality says it is actually more yellow than virginal.
He is polite. The hands rest, palms down on either side of his expensive
family heirloom plate; only the best china
for his kin. The molding nails, manicured, rest perfectly like plastic
on vinyl, the slightest depressions. Any other upholstery would have
at his touch by now. The flesh clings to his
frame; just an architecture of bone, painted over in a slimy
-dry curdled black brown red. His eyes have seen much, even from
sockets in which they rested years ago -
are long gone now. The thirty-thousand dollar Kiton suit, white
and black, dusted over with cobwebs and age decay-holes; look
closely and see
the same skin made vellum stretched across his
ribs. How long has he sat there? The head leans back, the neck
splits, and the worms emerge from the gaping death-hole; look down
and see his toothy grinned eyeless roasted skull smiling up at you.
Please have a seat.
Glendale Community College 9
J anuary 1987 found me
headed back to the USA
from the USSR. When
By Chris A. Clark"
Second Place, Non-Fiction
Nye worry though, Sergei
I wasn't sure I wanted to
the noise from our Soviet-made
Aeroflot jet diminished, I asked the steward to bring me a
glass of vodka. I wanted to toast a Cold War Moscow taxi
driver who had just befriended me at great personal risk.
While I waited I loosened my seat belt and mulled over that
Moscow, USSR... December 31, 1986
The jolt of the Tupelov aircraft landing on the glare
ice at Sherementevo airport announced our arrival
in Moscow. Sleepily I glanced at my Rolex. It read
4:00 p.m., Moscow time.
After debarking the plane, I scanned the area for my
Intourist Guide. Seeing none I dragged my bags to the end
of the shortest of those seemingly immobile lines that exist
everywhere in Russia. The last time I had to clear customs
by myself, the customs officials pretended not to understand
my Russian and charged me 400 Rubles in "penalties."
I had just resigned myself to the inevitable when up
strolled a stocky, grizzled man wearing a taxi driver's badge
on his shako, a Hero of the Soviet Union medal on his ragged
coat, and a pair of ill-fitting, cracked Russian shoes.
"Kak zhisn." He had a smile on his open, bearded face,
ruddy from the cold and too many years of vodka. "Sergei
Romanov zdyas....Shto problemye?"
"Da," I answered. "Nye Intourist provodnyik."
"Aha, Amerikanski," he picked up on my bad accent.
"Sergei speak good American. Learn from asshole buddy
GI's in great patriotic war. ..Stinking Intourist guide no
show up, da?"
"Da. Can you help?"
"You not need shitty Intourist. Sergei can handle."
"How much for customs and a ride to Hotel Metropole.
He gave me an even bigger grin, showing several metal
teeth, and said, "No got KGB Intourist bimbo, hotel no let
"Chyort! I forgot. Can you take me to the Intourist?"
"Da, but no good. Intourist close at 5:00 for New Years.
I 0 Traveler 2006
hear this. But it didn't appear
that I had much choice. "OK, I'm listening."
"Dumb-assed airport guards pyaniy from holiday
vodka ....We get out of airport easy if tell them and custom's
numb-nuts you spend New Years with Sergei's beautiful
daughter Darynka and family."
"And?" I was very suspicious. He could after all be KGB
trying to entrap me.
Sergei continued as though I hadn't spoken. "You buy
Vodka, meat and potatoes... give big-assed party. We raise
hell, get shit-faced. Then Sergei take to Intourist office when
ew Years over."
"Skol ka stoit - How much?" I said again. Iwas becoming
intrigued with the idea, in spite of myself. Russians weren't
supposed to fraternize with Americans.
"All cost $120 USD. 0 worry, Sergei make profit on
"Are you sure?" It was hard not to trust this likeable
"Abso-fuckin-Iutley, Buckwheat. Sergei have buddies.
We pay with dollars, get anything, any time."
I reached for my wallet before he changed his mind.
"Khorosho." He spit on his hand, grabbed mine, and
shook it violently. "Now we pay stinking customs thieves
and split. Da?"
Sergei was as good as his word, clearing customs in
record time. Very impressive, I thought, with a chuckle. He's
quite a hustler. In the States he would either be a millionaire
or in jail.
"Avtomobyl belong Sergei." He made an expansive
sweep of his arm toward a taxi, so beaten up that it only
faintly resembled a Lada, the Russian version of the Fiat.
It didn't have an un-dented spot on its whole body. When
some of my luggage didn't fit in the boot, he tried to put the
leftover pieces on the roof, continually dropping them on
what remained of his fenders. He finally hoisted the rest of
the luggage on top of his taxi and tied it securely. Then with
a whoop he jumped inside, yelled "Poyekhaty - we go!"
and the old Lada lurched out of the airport, wallowing and
belching fumes like a gaseous hippo.
Once we got onto the divided main highway to
downtown, Sergei took one hand off the wheel and turned
his head to talk, causing the car to weave from lane to lane.
"Sergei not know how to say in English. So excuse please."
Then he formally asked, "Kak mnye nas nazyvat."
"Myenya zavut Chris Clark," I responded, also formally,
"but you can call me Chris if I can call you Sergei."
"Ochen priyatna...done deal." Guiding the car with his
knee, he took both hands off the wheel and, unfazed by the
other cars honking at us, leaned over the front seat, to shake
my hand like Russians do at every opportunity.
Good thing there aren't many cars in Russia, I thought,
and fewer on the road on New Years Eve. I decided to risk
Sergei turning around again, by asking him about several
shabbily dressed old women who were sweeping the
"Babushka ladies," he said in a sad tone. "Keep streets
and subway clean with brooms they make from straw
and twigs. Everyone work in bullshit kommunist workers
paradise, but kammisars make all money." Then he got a
gleam in his eye. "You kapitalista salesman, da?"
"Well Chris, some things different in Russia. Here it OK,
for traveling salesman stay over night, but no can hump
beautiful daughter like dickhead in Americanski jokespayantno?"
I w1derstood all right, but apparently, my expression
showed that I wasn't sure how to take what he just said,
because he laughed uproariously all the way to the Gorky
Street hard currency kiosks.
Parking in front of what looked like a row of large
wooden outhouses, Sergei knocked on the window
of the end one, saying something about having an
Americanski with dollars. A young, well-dressed woman
opened the window, revealing several modern glass-door
refrigerators full of meat. We bought various cuts then
went to another kiosk where Sergei purchased 30 bottles
Stolichnaya vodka for under a dollar apiece.
Trying to be funny I asked, "Are you sure we have
plenty of everything?"
"Why you worry?" His tone was puzzled. "Vodka kiosk
open all night. We come back if not enough."
My eyes bugged out a little at that. Good thing I didn't
have any appointments for a few days. This was going to be
the mother of all parties.
We squeezed our goodies along with me into the back
seat of the taxi, and took off for Sergei's flat in Komsomolkiy
Prospekt. Parking the cab by a group of Stalin-era, ugly gray
cement buildings, Sergei ran inside, yelling in Russian at
the top of his lungs about the party a crazy Ameriikanski
friend of his was giving. Men and woman, poured out of
the building, kissing and hugging me. They picked up food,
vodka or a piece of my luggage and disappeared back inside,
just as Sergei reappeared.
He was accompanied by two heavy-set, very Slavic
looking women with braided hair rolled up on the sides of
their heads. They appeared to be about 40 and 60 years old
respectively. I assumed they were his wife and mother.
Just as I was about to ask where his daughter was, he
said, "Mama busy cooking like one leg man in ass kicking
contest. ..you meet soon." Then speaking Russian, he
By Joshua Mendoza
Glendale Community College I I
they seemed. Despite strict censorship and propaganda,
they were surprisingly well informed about world events.
Everyone I talked to approved of what Gorbachev was
doing and had high hopes for the future.
Finally when we could eat and drink no more, Sergei
shooed the stragglers out of his apartment saying it was
time to bed down for the night. Then he announced that I
would be sleeping with Darynka and turned out the lights.
Although confused after what he said in the taxi, I
could hear Darynka giggling
in the dark and I didn't want to
insult my hosts. So I stripped to
my skivvies, crawled under the
large goose-down comforter and
scooted toward the giggles. I was
reaching for the body next to
me when Sergei's voice boomed
in my ear. "Sleeping but no
humping," he said and slapped
my hand away.
In my alcoholic haze, I
had forgotten they only had one
bed, and of course he and his wife were sleeping between
Darynka and me. Most everyone else must have been in on
the joke because when I called Sergei the Russian equivalent
of an asshole, it carried through the paper-thin walls to the
nearest neighbors who exploded in laughter. Soon the whole
building was roaring.
Early Monday morning, I showered, shaved and
climbed into the clothes Darynka had thoughtfully cleaned
and pressed. After a full breakfast, and the obligatory kissing
and hugging of Sergei's family, he and I ran the gauntlet
down a stairway loaded with my new friends, lined up to
kiss me on both cheeks and wish me "dasvydanya." Others
were hanging out the windows waving goodbye as I got
into the Lada for the drive to the Intourist Bureau.
M y reverie was interrupted by the steward
slamming down a tray, spilling part of the drink
I had ordered. Russians were never noted for
their service I chuckled as I picked up the vodka. Wishing
Sergei and his family good health and fortune by saying
"Nazdarovye," I drained my drink in one swallow. Then I
wrapped the glass in a napkin, crushed it under my heel,
and whispered the sad farewell Russians use when they
know they will never see someone again. "Proschay may
droog. Poost zylemya tyebye pukhom." So long my friend.
May your grave be a bed offeathers. *
"I found Sergei and his
friends to be highly
educated and quite proud
ofthe 99% literacy rate in
their country. , ,
He told his wife and daughter
to go upstairs and help his mother
with the food, then pushed me inside the building, saying,
"Now Chris come inside, meet everyone. Catch up on
Once inside, the reason for the 30 bottles of Stolychnaya
became clear. Sergei had invited the whole building to the
party, including the block Commissar.
Sergei gestured toward the younger woman. "Now
Chris meet krasvaya doch Darynka."
"Zdrastye," Darynka said. She smiled shyly, showing a
missing front tooth.
"Zdrastye Darynka Roma-nova,"
I kissed the back of her
hand. It disconcerted her so badly
that she giggled, and continued to
giggle every time she saw me for
the rest of the evening.
As though he had read my
thoughts, Sergei commented wistfully,
"Darynka only 29, Natalya
45. Kammunist Russia hard on
indicated to the older of the two women and said, "Eta Moy
zhena, Natalya," introducing her as his wife.
Before I could say a word, she hugged me, kissed me on
both cheeks and shook my hand off with her rough chapped
The vodka was already opened and since there
weren't enough glasses to go around, was being
drunk straight from the bottle. Not that it mattered
much, since Russians don't drink their vodka with mixers
anyhow. Two or three families lived in each three-room
apartment of the five-story building, all of whom Sergei took
me to meet. Required to drink toasts with everyone, I soon
passed out on a couch where Sergei let me sleep until the
food was ready. We ate amid good-natured gibes about my
not being able to hold my vodka, then got back to partying
in earnest. None of them spoke much English but with my
,Amerikanski Russian' as Sergei called it, we were able to
conU11unicate just fine, and the more we drank the better we
We ate all the food, made two trips back to the vodka
kiosk, and partied for two days, discussing everything
including the so-called forbidden topics of politics, religion
and sex. I found Sergei and his friends to be highly educated
and quite proud of the 99% literacy rate in their country.
The more we discussed our differences, the less important
I 2 Traveler 2006
By Danny A. Cooke
A dog plays with a ball of red
Run, jump and hide
A little boy has fallen down
Tear drops in his eye
Frigid wind whips through the trees
Paintings in the sky
Swirling mist falls from the clouds
Sky turns white to gray
Yelling, cursing a cup flies by
Spinning red of angry eyes
A push, a shove, and tears of pain
Sleepless nights of anguish
A home once filled with happiness
Toy trucks in the foyer
Flowers crushed on wooden floors
Eyes of sightless scenes
Separate homes and separate rules
Try to rectify
Separate lies and separate lives
It's much too late to try
Deep gray eyes a lifeless gaze
The soul an empty shell
Sorrow in the morning air
A step beyond despair
Time repairs the lonely heart
The souls regenerated
Forgotten pain of yesteryear
A happier tomorrow
A dog plays with a ball of red
Run, jump and hide
A little boy has fallen down
And rises with resilience
Second Place, Graphite Drawing
Glendale Community College 13
NUNNA DAUL TSUNY
(The trail where they cried)
Second Place, Poetry
A babe cries from the hunger and the cold.
A once proud father struggles to take another step.
An old grandmother tells her tales one last time.
Who will weep for the babe, who cries no more?
And for the father whose feet are forever still?
Now who will tell the tales, Grandmother?
I will weep for the silent babe.
Father, I will walk the Earth for you.
I will tell your tales, Grandmother.
Lest it be forgotten, the people must be told.
For those who walked the long walk.
There's a trail of tears across my heart.
I, 4 Traveler 2006
By Martine Cloud
Glendale Community College I S
I' Traveler 2006
Rowena Wildin Dehanke
First Place, Poetry
a saguaro is enough.
Its prickly beauty commands
admiration from afar;
it does not beckon you into shade.
Its spiney ribs insist
that no one lean on it;
Its arms do not reach out but upward;
they disdain touch;
its independence must be maintained.
Its creamy flower petals
jealously guard their yellow centers;
they open under the cover of night and
close by day.
I once looked upon
as all I would ever need in a man
until the dust storm passed and
I found myself
under a clear, creosote-scented sky,
alone in the desert.
By Betsy Van Antwerp
Glendale Community College 11
Canada was not particularly warm, but
sun reached through the bubble canopy,
competing with my air conditioning. Sweat
oiled the rubber oxygen mask. I knew G
forces, assisted by perspiration, would try to slide the mask
down my face. Cinched tight, I could feel its microphone
brushing my lips. A hard shell gave form to the soft rubber,
imprinting a distinctive red line on my skin. Protruding
from the shell, a hose snaked down until it locked into the
harness. The serpentine shape allowed freedom of head
movement while it fed me a variable mixture of cockpit air
At this low altitude it was
all cockpit air, force-feeding
familiar odors. My Nomex
flight suit provided some
fire protection, the thick
webbing of the harness
wrapped my torso, a vital
link to the seat-mounted
parachute. Neither was
capable of containing the smell of sweat generated by a
combination of straining against Gs and life in a plastic
bubble. I was in Hog Heaven.
My eyes were darting; their primary task was to keep
metal from merging with rock. Look at the clock, look
through the windscreen, glance at the map, look through
the windscreen. Scan for enemy fighters, look through the
windscreen, confirm my wingman's position, look through
Three fingers and a thumb held the stick lightly. The
gentle grip let the jet talk, it let me listen. My index finger
pointed straight forward; it never wrapped around the stick
unless I wanted to apply pressure to the red trigger set just
above my middle finger. With other switches properly set,
squeezing the trigger would release three thousand pounds
of hydraulic pressure, a seven-barrel gatling gun would
rotate, the gun would fire. Absorbing seventeen thousand
pounds of recoil the jet would shake as smoke rolled over
the canopy and the smell of cordite mixed with the smell
of my sweat. I cradled the stick with three fingers and a
I was comfortable in the jet; I knew her habits. I knew
His laugh punctuated
· I1'mall ob- By Michael G. Bennett V j.~~~s were get- Non-Fiction
ting big fast;
the ground was too
close. I needed a square turn, needed
to defy the laws of physics. No aircraft
could possibly respond to my
demands. The abruptness of the fire
and impact jolted me awake. Familiar surroundings offered
reassurance. I was alive. It was a dream.
I thought of my mother, her eyes locked on a colunm of
black smoke risingfroma nearby runway. StilI clutching a wet
shirt, Mom walked from the clothesline r-------------------,
and remembered the morning. She told
Dad about her dream, told him his jet
would crash. His laugh punctuated
the memory. Sitting next to the phone
she waited for the ring, waited for
confirmation. Mom did not wait long.
Visualizing my Mother's dream,
I saw my father's reality. He was
struggling to get his broken body away from a burning
B-52; seconds earlier both had been whole. A mechanical
malfunction resulted in the destruction of the aircraft; the big
jet had just touched down when the landing gear collapsed.
Dad's leap from the flaming wreckage fractured his back
and crushed his heel. A fellow pilot pulled him to safety as
jet fuel hemorrhaged into the inferno.
My maternal grandmother had clairvoyant dreams; my
mother had her dream. Had I inherited some type of gift?
Did I have a vision? Closing my eyes, I replayed the dream,
searching for detail, searching for clues. The replay was as
vague as the dream - a generic fighter cockpit, flames and
an impact. The only clear detail was my face.
I stopped thinking about the dream. It happened years
ago, but it stilI had a home in the back of my mind.
As fighters go, the A-10 is slow. Officially called the
"Thunderbolt II," we referred to it as the "Warthog" or
"Hog." The name fit the aircraft's unique appearance. My
Hog was near 400 miles per hour, 100 feet above an eastern
Canadian forest that stretched forever. Every minute, six
more miles of New Brunswick were behind me. My target
I 8 Traveler 2006
Revolution: The Tree of life
and In Ghost Town
By Yasmine Asadi
full forward stick would move her nose, but she would
move reluctantly. She liked back stick. I knew she wanted a
gentle pull to start her nose up.
Through the large flat windscreen, I acquired the target
and felt the aircraft respond to my quick, easy nudge. My
grip tightened; it was time to force the controls. Selecting
full throttle minimized energy loss as I traded airspeed for
altitude. Before I could think about my next move, I was
floating, stick slammed full forward bringing the jet's gun
towards the target. My butt abruptly met the ejection seat
as I stabilized, recorded a simulated gunshot, and snapped
into sixty degrees of bank.
Tensing my lower body against my anti-G suit, I pulled
the nose up; I was three, maybe four hundred feet above the
ground. I snapped right again, the jet more upside down
than right side up, and continued to pull hard, dragging
the nose down, burying it below the horizon. Tones in my
headset were screaming; my wings were near high-speed
stall. Feeling no buffet in the stick, I held the backpressure. I
could no longer see blue; my canopy was full of green. It was
time to roll upright, time to return to level flight skimming
across the trees. Holding backpressure just short of buffet, I
Glendale Community College I 9
The dream had arrived. I believed I had but a few
seconds left on earth. My mind had been here before, I had
thought about this situation. Would my life flash before
my eyes? Would I think of those I
loved? I chose one word; I now refer
to it as the word I chose to sum up
my existence. I yelled "FUCK" at
the top of my lungs.
Through my helmet, over the
whine of the jet, I could hear the
stick as I tried to slam it through the
instrument panel. The effort slowed
my descent, but that movement
alone merely delayed the impact.
Holding the stick full forward, I
shoved it into the front left corner. The jet flipped upright. I
was back in my element, the jet liked back stick, it responded
quickly with positive Gs, recovering above the treetops.
I did not think about the dream until I was back on the
ground. Had I defeated my dream? Was it over? I do not
know. It returned to its place in my mind - and lingers. *
"Ignoring my cont~
inputs, the je egan to
shake and shudder. It did
not rol/; it began to fa1/.
threw the stick left and pushed left rudder, a combination of
inputs designed to throw my jet upright.
Eight years of flying jets, eight years of moving flight
controls for an expected response.
I was comfortable; I knew what she
I was no longer in my jet. I was
outside, floating. Floating in front
of the aircraft, looking through
the large clear pane designed to
protect me from windblast and
small arms fire. I could see my
eyes; I could see my body react.
The jet did not react. Inside, I was
fully aware of my surroundings,
my thought process continued uninterrupted. Another part
of me offered no help; it floated in space, a passive observer
waiting for resolution.
I was three to four hundred feet in the air, inverted with
the nose below the horizon. Ignoring my control inputs, the
jet began to shake and shudder. It did not roll; it began to
20 Traveler 2006
By Allison Conry
Colored Pencil Drawing
Glendale Community College 2 I
By Nancy Chamberlain
T Honorable Mention, Fiction he Annual Culinary Contest
was to the Festus County Fair
what freckles are to a blue tick
coonhound. The Second World War was
finally over, and the citizens of Eureka Springs, Arkansas
welcomed their war heroes home with colossal elation. The
returning soldiers arrived dull-eyed and shell-shocked,
moving through the days tentatively as though they were
unsure of the reality of this strange and wonderful new world
in which they found themselves. Gradually, they thrived
and healed under their women's fervent tender-loving care,
and the town began to regain its sense of normalcy. Now it
was time to get serious and decide who was the best cook in
The crisp fall air and brilliant hues of changing leaves
signaled to the townsfolk it was time to get their livestock,
small stock, artwork, stitchery, horticulture, and most
of all recipes primed for the Fair. Exhibitors from age
five to ancient were gearing up to show off their years of
experimentation and successes. No one didn't participate.
The competition was for the most part good natured - they
all rooted for each other, whether the prize awarded was
a blue ribbon or honorable mention.
Except for the Cook-Off - those cooks
were dead serious about their craft.
This year Lottie Allgood, after
much deliberation, decided to forego her usual baked goods
to gamble on her Grandma Winnie's Zucchini Relish and
Bread & Butter Pickles recipes. They'd been staples at family
meals for generations and, after years of persistent pestering,
Grandma finally knew Lottie was ready to learn her secret
methods. Lottie was one of the war wives who had gone
missing for a while as she and her soldier-boy holed up in
their little powder-blue house to recuperate from the war.
For many days, she and Abel had just touched and gazed
at each other, almost unwilling to blink for fear they would
open their eyes to find the homecoming had been just a
dream and they were still a world apart. But with each new
sun, they awoke to disentangle their limbs from each other's
like it was the first time all over again. She adored cooking
for him and watching him fill out as he appreciatively wolfed
down everything she put in front of him. He would grimace
and groan with pleasure and exclaim with his mouth full
how unbelievable, how delicious, how had she ever learned to
By Claudia Martinez
22 Traveler 2006
cook like this?
One morning she was looking at some nice gingham
fabric at the five and dime store when she was suddenly
aware of the overpowering scent of rose water. She turned
and was startled by Mrs. Althea Hudspeth, whose face was
inches from her own. Althea's chest was puffed out like one
of Mr. Duncan's prize Norwich pigeons. Lottie knew what
she was up to.
"Good morning, Missus Allgood," she enunciated
formally. "And how is Sgt. Allgood recovering these
"He's doing very well indeed, Mrs. Hudspeth, thank you.
He'll be grateful to know you asked after him." The younger
woman steadily met her gaze.
"And have you decided what you'll be bringing to the
Fair?" Althea wasted little time getting to the point. She was
married to the Honorable Judge of the Circuit Court Harland
Hudspeth, which made them the crowned heads of Festus
County. All that was missing was the tiara. She carried herself
like royalty; with her head tilted slightly back, she took on
the appearance of looking down her nose at people. More
than a little stout and always overdressed, she wore white
gloves even while running errands. Mrs. Hudspeth's Jewel
of the Ozarks Rhubarb Pie had won the Home Arts Rosette
two years in a row, after she switched over from her Mile
High Marble Layer Cake, which took the Blue Ribbon twice
before that. But Lottie gave her a run for her money last year
with Mom's Gold Standard Applesauce Bundt Cake, which
took the Red Ribbon after many long minutes of suspenseful
discussion by the jury. Besides, it was a well-known "secret"
that Mrs. Hudspeth cheated. All entries were supposed to
be anonymous, for obvious reasons, but Mrs. Hudspeth had
cut her signature leaf pattern into her piecrust, so all the
judges knew which was hers. Her pies were good, but were
they that good? Or was the panel subliminally coerced into
awarding the queen of Eureka Springs the coveted prize
year after year?
"Oh, I'm still mulling it over, Mrs. Hudspeth." Lottie
tried hard not to giggle at the daisy bobbing comically from
the matron's hat. Did that old biddie honestly think she was
going to show her hand this early in the game? Or was she
trying to get a psychological advantage? Well, two could
play at that: "My grandmother has been going through her
recipes - we've been discussing several very nice options."
Althea's carefully arranged expression fell only slightly,
as she did her best to look supremely confident.
"Why, that's a lovely idea," she trilled in a voice coming
from high up in her nose. ''I'll be happy to have some good
stiff competition this year."
"Oh you will!" Lottie just had to have the last word, so
she turned on her heel and waved breezily as she walked
away, without the fabric. "Good day, Mrs. Hudspeth!"
Arizona ~tate fair lOO~
By Tessa Menken
The Festus County Fair's attendance broke all records
that fall, and the number of exhibitors was twice what
it had been the year before. Several new categories
were added: Fine Arts now included oils and charcoal;
Home Arts had added separate categories for smocking and
stitchery. Spectators strolled through the exhibition halls,
admiring the photography entries featuring wonderfully
diverse subjects. There was a long shot of a breath-taking
Ozarks vista hanging next to a cute little girl dressed up in
a lady's frock, with many strands of pearls, in high heels,
admiring herself in the mirror.
The women gravitated to the sewing, smiling fondly and
cluck-clucking at the youngest en trants' primitive yet earnest
attempts at dish towels, and marveling at the veterans'
expert detailed quilts, representing years of practice and
hard work. The gentlemen liked to stop by the homemade
beers and wines tent. Here Lottie sipped a smooth Vermouth
Glendale Community College 21
Aperitif, while Abel sampled an American Pilsner, nodding
his approval. They waved at Velma and Walter Tutwiler,
who were coming from the Beekeeping Competition. Walter
proudly showed off the Blue Ribbon he'd won for his King
Tut Alfalfa Honey. Velma made the younger couple promise
they'd come by the house for biscuits and honey next week.
A happy group of high-school students ran past, carrying
aloft their grinning Mountain Man scarecrow, which they'd
dressed in overalls, a colorful flannel shirt, and a big straw
hat. He was losing stuffing as he was being jostled; he'd be
lucky to get to the hayride in one piece.
The "Largest Vegetables" exhibit always attracted a
crowd - and the biggest laughs. Fairgoers had to get there
in the first few days, though. By the end of the week, the
oversized pumpkins took on an uncanny resemblance to a
toothless old grampa.
As Lotttie and Abel wandered arm in arm, her heart
swelled as she watched him marvel at every little detail
she took for granted - the leaves crunching underfoot, the
promise of frost in the fragrant mountain air, the foot-tapping
rhythm of the Dulcet Tones, who'd come up from Little Rock
to perform. The couple was joined by Trudy Sumner, whose
husband, Arthur, hadn't come home from the war. He was
lost in the first offensive at Normandy. The town had folded
around her like a warm blanket, providing comfort, food,
words of kindness, tears, hugs, babysitting, clothing, home
repairs; they'd tried to anticipate her every want and need.
She wore a brave face, but had an exceptionally difficult
time as the war ended and the men returned. Tonight she
looked flushed and cheerful, however, as though she had
something new to think about and look forward to. Lottie
slipped her arm through Trudy's and kissed her cheek.
"Having a nice time tonight, Sweetie? How'd your little
brother do with his dairy goat?"
"Oh, he's beside himself-she took a Red her first time
out!" Trudy couldn't contain her secret any longer. "I've
entered the Cook-Off with my own recipe. I've been working
on it for months and it's perfect!"
A dark horse! "You're amazing! What is it?"
"1 call it my Celebration Blackberry Pie. The berries grow
wild ou t back against the fence - I've been feeding and
fertilizing'em; I do everything but sing'em to sleep at night!
They're the fattest, sweetest, juiciest in Arkansas."
They laughed together and said at the same time, "Althea
Lottie suddenly grew serious. "Is your pie good enough
to beat her rhubarb?"
"Her rhubarb pie is going to skulk home with its tail
between its legs."
They screamed and hopped and hugged. Abel looked on
and smiled broadly, as much for the sudden hilarious drama
as for the big piece of blackberry pie he was going to dive
into by the end of the night.
24 Traveler 2006
. - ---- '.
By Lisa Conry
Honorable Mention, Watercolor Painting
It was time. The crowd was murmuring with anticipation
as everyone gathered to hear the judges' decisions in the
Cook-Off. The products of all the talented cooks' months of
preparation were on spectacular display. The sheer variety
of vittles was staggering. Adele Waxhaw posed proudly
next to her candied figs, which had taken first place in the
Homemade Candies last year. The glistening jars of preserves
and jams and jellies stretched as far as the eye could see; the
deep red cherries, rich amber peaches, royal purple grapes
all conspired to make one drool shamefully. In the Novelties
category, Lamont Calhoun was grinning and explaining to a
small attentive crowd how he engineered his Edible House.
He modestly dismissed his expert workmanship with,
"Honest, it's just stuck together with gobs of icing!"
Sophie Momoe was a war bride; Gary had brought her
home from France. Lottie theorized that they'd started
kissing when the Americans chased the Nazis out of Paris
and they hadn't stopped yet. Sophie was charming and
irresistible as she struggled to learn the language and mores
of this mountain culture, much to everyone's amusement.
She ran unopposed in the International Division with her
light-as-air Crepes Suzettes la Parisienne and melt-in-yourmouth
buttery Continentale Croissants, But she didn't cut
corners just because she was the only contestant. She had a
reputation to uphold!
And on and on - the dried meats and fruits, canned
vegetables, decorated cakes, yeast and quick breads. Lottie
swallowed hard as she eyed the stiff competition in the
Pickles &Relishes Division. But her Grammy had taught her
well; she knew she had an edge.
The judges announced their decisions in each category,
with the accompanying exclamations of approval from the
"In the Pickles & Relishes category, Third Place goes toEunice
Hall, for her Crowning Glory Sweet Pickle Relish!
Good work, Eunice. The Second Place Red Ribbon- Verna
Webb's Secret Chili Sauce! Verna-c'mon tell us, what's
Verna could hardly speak, she was breathless with delight
and amusement: "Cigar ashes!" The assembly roared with
"And the Blue Ribbon goes to-" Lottie held her breath,
afraid tohope... "LottieAllgood's Winnie'sWinningZucchini
Relish!!" Lottie was jolted by the rush of happiness and the
congratulatory jostling from all around her. "Lottie, you
mass-produce that yummy relish, you'll be a millionaire!"
Abel thrust his arms up in the air in a triumphant gesture.
"And our last category of the evening, the Pies Division."
As the announcer dramatically paused, there was a sudden
expectant hush. Nobody made a sound.
"None of us on the jury can remember when we've had
a tougher time arriving at a decision." A ripple of murmur
Mrs. Harriet Scott was foreman of the judge's panel for
the eighth year in a row. She didn't waste time or increase
the tension with any more comments or niceties. This was
"The Third Place White Ribbon goes to Lucinda Winston
for her Family Crest Blueberry Pie." Boisterous applause,
and Lucinda smiled happily, knowing third place in such
towering company was nothing to sneeze at. This kind of
recognition could translate into dollars. She and Cal had
been working on a plan to produce a cookbook and sell it at
the local bookstore.
"Second Place," Mrs. Scott intoned soberly, then paused.
It almost seemed like she wanted to say something about
something, but she continued. "The Red Ribbon goes to
Trudy Sumner's Celebration Blackberry Pie." Shouts and
congratulatory pats all over Trudy's person, and she smiled
bigger than anyone had seen in a very long time.
"The Blue Ribbon and the Home Arts Rosette for the Best
of the Fair goes, for the third consecutive year-" and the
noise of the crowd would have drowned her out had she not
shouted"Althea Hudspeth!" Mrs. Hudspeth received a peck
on the cheek from her beaming husband and glided up to
the podium to receive her award, nodding to her subjects
first to her right, then to her left, then back again.
As the people began to disburse from the awards arena,
Lottie, Abel, and Trudy waited with the cluster of
people who crowded around Mrs. Hudspeth to
offer their congratulations.
"Excuse me, ladies?" A velvety deep voice came from
behind them. They turned around to see Zachary Johnson
bowing slightly with his hat in his hand. Zachary had also
returned from the war, but not to a loving waiting wife. Just
before he enlisted, he had married a high-spirited gal named
Lily from the next town over, and they moved to ew Jersey
where he'd been promised a job at her uncle's factory. ot
long after he shipped out, she grew tired of waiting for him
and became distracted by too many ways to have fun; he'd
received a Dear John letter while overseas-it broke his
heart in two. When he returned from the war, he came home
to the Ozarks, where his folks ran a diner. Et Yet? was very
popular with the locals, known for its outstanding countryfried
steak and fried okra, as well as the friendly waitresses
and Mr. & Mrs. Johnson's custom of fixing a generous plate
for people who came to the back door with no means to pay.
Zachary had rejoined his parents to heal and help out with
rum1ing the business.
He now introduced himself and explained his reason for
approaching them: "We're always looking for new products
to serve at the diner. Miz Sumner, my parents would like
to meet with you about purchasing your pies on a larger
scale. My mom knows pie, and she's quite taken with your
blackberry-the way you did your piecrust. She'd like to
feature it as Pie of the Week. And Miz Allgood, my dad is
especially fond of bread & better pickles. If you'd be able
to produce a sizable quantity, he had in mind serving them
as a garnish and even selling them by the jar if you could
manage it." He bowed again and backed away. "So, think
about it; talk it over with Mr. Allgood, Miz Allgood, and
we'd love to sit down and chat with you about it someday
soon." He shook hands with Abel and each of the ladies
and disappeared into the crowd. Trudy and Lottie looked
at each other with mirrored expressions of wide eyes and
slack jaws. Abel looked on and grinned, so completely in
love with his wife he couldn't see straight. And wondering
if he'd imagined that Zachary had held Trudy's gaze for an
extra second or two, heightening the color in her cheeks til
she had to look down.
They were suddenly standing in front of Mrs. Hudspeth,
who raised her eyebrows at them in triumph.
Trudy spoke first. "Congratulations, Mrs. Hudspeth."
"Thank you, my dear girl. You made a valiant effort."
She bowed her head in a show of gracious gratitude.
Trudy took a step closer and drew herself up her full
height, aIlS feet 2 inches of her. Her chin barely cleared Mrs.
Hudspeth's ample bosom. The Allgoods held their breath as
Trudy leaned closer still and lifted her chin. "Next
Mrs. Hudspeth narrowed her eyes and slowly nodded
up and down. "Next year." *
Glendale Community College 25
I t was another one of those chilly By Salvador E. Menjivar No way, I said to myself. It couldn't have
November nights; we were a Third Place Non-Fiction been them and if it was them, hopefully it
few thousand meters in a north- was nothing awful. I darted to the crude
westerly direction from the Town of gym the battalion had set up where I knew
Mahmudyah, Iraq. This town was just a few miles south of some of my friends were working out. I informed them of
Baghdad. Today was the fifth; it was my girlfriend's birth- the situation; they instantaneously put the weights down.
day and my platoon's turn to use the company's satellite We left there and positioned ourselves in close proximity to
phone. How cool I thought! I get to call and wish her a Hap- the front gate, awaiting their arrival.
py Birthday. Finally, the lights of the Hummers rapidly illuminated
Miller was talking on the satellite phone at the time; I the concertina wire that lined our forward operating base
was just there counting his minutes. Each man gets ten min- as they closed in. As the Hummers roared through the gate
utes to talk on the phone. He was ~---------------------, and passed us, I saw Manuel
at four minutes. Unexpectedly, I , , and Jesus standing in the tur-heard
multiple explosions from the rets of their trucks. What a relief!
east, followed by machine gun fire. He had a deep hole blown "They're okay," I thought. Seeing
I was fearful of another indirect fire into his left thigh, he had a them standing up, pulling secu-or
mortar attack, so I pulled out my rity with their hands tightly grip-
ICOM radio and called the guard gunshot wound in his neck, ping their machine guns ready to
towers to ask ifthey had "eyes on" portions ofhis left ear were fire at a seconds notice, gave me a
the point of origin. There was a mi- blown off, and his body was false sense of security.
nor delay when one of the towers We rushed behind the
replied, "Roger, this is tower four. peppered with shrapnel. , , Hummers to the casualty col-
We have tracers flying back and lection point. I cut through the
forth just east of the town; could building with the aid station. As I
just be a green on green skirmish." passed the aid station, I saw Man-
I acknowledged. Green on green meant non-enemy fight- uel assisting the First Sergeant who had come in for medical
ing. We were blue, the bad guys were red, and the non-anti- aid. His face and clothing were covered with blood that was
American combatants were green. oozing from the back of his ear. Manuel told me, "Hey man,
1 continued to monitor my watch because Miller was Jose's fucked up." Once again I was in denial; I couldn't pic-still
talking on the telephone. ture a severely injured Jose ... until I made it out of the build-
We were at six minutes now. A couple more passed ing. Then I didn't have to try to picture it.
and I heard a voice come over the radio. It was the Sergeant There he was, face illuminated by dim lamps and
Major. He called the front gate and informed them that Fifth moonlight, his body surrounded by onlooking soldiers and
Platoon Delta Company was ambushed and they had taken medics. His battle gear was still on. He was lying on his back
casualties. "Be ready for their entry and let the medics know gazing at the sky, looking through the senior medic who
as soon as they pass through the gates," he barked. hovered over him. The medic was trying to get his attention.
When I heard this, I got kind of worried; three of my He looked confused and alone, like he didn't even recognize
good friends were in Fifth Platoon, Manuel, Jose, and Jesus. that someone stood over him, or that we stood next to him. I
26 Traveler 2006
By Jonathan Reichard
Glendale Community College 21
Isaid goodbye to Jose and
Jo and finally headed home.
That was it. That was the
last time Isaw him alive.
ried to my Hummer, briefed my
team on what we had to do, and
rushed out to a pre-determined
landing zone. As we waited for
the helicopters to approach, I
wondered how his wife would
react and who would notify her
of what her beloved had just suf-
when the sun shines through your window on a Saturday
morning and you just pull the covers over your face so you
could keep sleeping. Maybe I was in denial.
A call on my radio brought
me to my senses. My squad and
my partner's squad received an
order to secure a landing zone for
medical helicopters coming in to
evacuate the casualties. I hur-fered.
I also reflected on that morning. I had awakened in
high spirits because my platoon didn't have any missions
that day (which rarely happened). I readied my laundry for
cleaning and myself for a shower. A shower was a morale
booster, especially after you have been out on a mission for
a couple of days and you come back in to take a nice shower
and change into a clean uniform; it transforms you into a
completely different person.
Well before we even had a chance to eat breakfast, we
had word that we had to escort the Explosive Ordinance
Disposal Guys, EOD. These are the guys who diffuse the
roadside bombs and explosive devices that the Iraqi insurgents
love to set out.
Needless to say, we were all disturbed by the decision
of our chain of command. We had barely gotten to eat breakfast
and now our work-free maintenance day had turned
into a working day. We set out with EOO, inspected the
bombs, and as we finished we got reports of more bombs.
We did this for about six hours. As we were coming home,
we were flagged down by the men from Fifth Platoon. They
had come across a cluster of anti-personnel landmines. I
was pretty irritated at this point. We were finally going to
make our way home, and once again we had to make just
one more stop. Jose and Jo (another friend) were walking
along the embankment that lined both sides of the freeway
we were on. I was on the road so I looked down to Jose and
asked, "What did you guys find? A bunch of toe poppers?"
"Toe poppers? More like knee poppers," he said jokingly.
We had a brief conversation about our eventful day while
the EOD guys did their thing. After a few minutes they dis-could
see the struggle on his face, as he though was in a tug
He was tugging against a power that many of us fear.
He was battling with the hostile
wounds that were steadily draining
his life away. He was fighting with a
dark shadow that surely stood closer
to him that night than the medic
who hovered over him did. He was
fighting with death for his life.
He didn't look as though he
was in much pain, but I was certain
he was - he had to be. He had a deep
hole blown into his left thigh, he had
a gunshot wound in his neck, por-tions
of his left ear were blown off,
and his body was peppered with
I stood looking down at him, watching the medic
strive to get his attention and neglecting that he had a hole
in his leg and a punctured neck. I called the attention of my
friend Casillas to Jose' left ear. It was not bleeding; it just had
I felt terrible for him. I knew his ear was not going to
grow back and he would have to live with parts of his ear
missing. I innocently concluded that his leg and neck would
heal. Maybe he would even get to go home and see his wife
and three kids while he restored his health. Death had yet
to cross my mind. We all stood in momentary amazement,
irresolution, and confusion.
Jose still looked lost; he had yet to distinguish any of
us standing there. I wondered what it was he was looking
at, if not at us. I realized he was fading and the medic was
just trying to keep him conscious, helping him with his clash
There wasn't much any of us could do but pray and
implore God for his life. Irrevocably his head dropped; the
medic's voice cracked, "Sgt. Rivera." He started to frantically
take his flack jacket off and took him away to the aid
I had just witnessed one of my good friends lose his
life; I didn't feel what I imagined I would have felt if I had
to witness something like this. I've heard many stories from
people who have lost a friend or a family member due to
gang violence and the war in EI Salvador - those stories
were depressing. I felt as though I had put a protective
shield around my heart or turned some sort of emotional
defense mechanism on to disregard the pain. Kind of like
28 Traveler 2006
posed of the mines, I said goodbye to Jose and Jo, and finally
headed home. That was it. That was the last time I saw him
Even to this day when I remember his face and how
he was always joking around, it makes me smile. He was always
confident and charismatic; he had superior leadership
qualities and style. You could give him a handful of hippies
and he'd get them to willingly accomplish a mission.
It didn't strike me at the time but if I would have known
what was going to happen that night, I would not have spent
the whole day annoyed that I had to work. I would not have
been frustrated when Jose's platoon made us make yet another
stop. Without that long day and that last stop, I never
would've been able to have that last conversation with Jose
and would never have been able to say goodbye, that last
goodbye that numerous others didn't have.
One thing that's peculiar to me is that we said goodbye
in Spanish which is "adios." If you separate the" a" from the
"dios" directly translated to English, it means "to God." As
in "vaya a Dios" or go to God. I say adios to people all the
time, never truly expecting them to do just that. *
Glendale Community College 29
By Chris A. Clark II
7 First Place, Fiction he writer heard a knock,
followed by footsteps disappearing
down the hall outside his
sparsely furnished apartment. Leaning on
his cane, he hobbled to the door and opened it as far as the
safety chain would allow. Through the crack he saw a brown,
paper-wrapped parcel sealed with masking tape. Wonder
where that came from? No one but my publisher even knows I'm
alive, ... or cares for that matter. Squinting his cataract-ridden
eyes, he tried to make out the name scrawled on the box-top.
Failing, he released the chain and shuffled outside, grimacing
with each step. "Damn military doctors," he grumbled aloud,
bending to read the almost illegible writing. It was addressed
to him. Then his bum knee buckled and he went sprawling.
The damaged muscles in the other leg were too weak to push
him erect, so he used his cane and the doorknob to work his
way back to a standing position. Fifty-two with the body of a
seventy-year old, he thought, wiping the sweat from a head
left hairless by the side effects of Agent Orange exposure.
Settling for sliding the parcel, he pushed it inside with
his cane, and relocked the door. After pausing momentarily
to regain his breath, he wrestled the box onto the scarred
desk in his writing cubbyhole where he spent most of his
pistol he had sold on the black market in Saigon
in 1968. Where had it come from?
Grabbing a pill from the bottle on his desk,
he placed it under his tongue and collapsed
in his chair. When the pain subsided enough to move, he
dumped the box onto his desk. There were two thunks, and
a silencer and loaded magazine fell out, followed by the rest
of the popcorn.
Even though he was a well-published author, eking out
an existence on his stories and military disability pension,
he had written little about Viet Nam, and then only under a
pen-name. He had repressed that dark period of his life, and
buried it deep in the recesses of his mind. But this pistol,
this vestige of his past, re-awakened the festering memories.
They roiled to the surface; a story crying out to be told.
He swiped the box and rest of the packing material aside
to make room for his word-processor. The war had claimed
his body and his mind, but there was still time to redeem his
soul. He set the font to New Courier and typed the caption
Inhumanity: A Combat Marine's Confession,then
followed it with his real name. The first line took a long time
to write. He hadn't been to church or made confession in
years. But soon the words took on a life of their own and
poured onto the paper.
The parcel had no postage, return address, or other
identifying marks, so he shook it a couple of times, then When I received my orders to go to Viet Nam, I
tried to peel the tape off. When his arthritic fingers failed looked forward to combat as a great adventure. I
him, he cut it with the field knife he used as a letter opener had yet to realize the loss of individuality and
and removed the lid. The box appeared to be full of plastic the numbing of conscience my comrades and I had
packing popcorn. A practical joke? He dismissed the thought. experienced in training was miniscule compared to
o one cared enough to play one. the corrosiveness of actual combat.
His poking around in the popcorn was soon rewarded The process began the day after we landed in
with the smooth cold feel of precision-machined metal. It Viet Nam when my two best buddies and I decided
was a pistol, but not just any pistol. It was a 9mm Makarov to go to Saigon. We were strolling down a maj or
PMM. The same type of weapon he'd taken from the body thoroughfare, taking in the sights of this beautiful
of a Russian 'advisor' in Viet Nam. The grip was a perfect fit French city when we walked by a little boy begging
for his hand. His finger automatically curled to the familiar for chocolate. He had an engaging manner and a
feel of the trigger. Then he saw the Cyrillic initials scratched toothy, anticipatory grin on his face. He was
into the butt. His breath came in short gasps and he clutched probably no more than five years old, though it was
his chest as his diseased heart lost rhythm. It was the same hard to tell due to the diminutive size of the
30 Traveler 2006
Vietnamese people in general. We'd been told that gasoline and throw it inside the nearest thatched
it was dangerous to fraternize since we didn't roof hut. It exploded into a conflagration, and the
know who were Viet Cong and who were-But, hey, prisoner started wailing and begging us to put out
we were Americans and all American soldiers love the fire. We found out why when three small children
kids, right? So George stopped and searched his poured out of the hut screaming for their mother
pockets for a treat, while Bones and I kept going. and headed for our captive. Their hair and clothes
Then, a blast rang out, and before I could turn were in flames, their bodies charred by the fiery
around, something hit me in the back of the head. jellied gasoline stuck to them. I knew somehow I
It was George's arm but he was no longer attached had to end their agony but I couldn't risk the
to it. The kid had detonated the grenades hidden sound of gunfire behind enemy lines and I did not
under his loose shirt, and had shredded both of have the silencer on my Makarov. Instead, Bones
them into pieces of bloody flesh and bone. and I tackled them and cut their tiny throats with
In the weeks that followed there were more our field knives, severely burning ourselves in the
incidents. Our intelligence-gathering section process.
took heavy casualties, losing most of our enlisted With little time left before we had to be at
By Haran Phaneuf
On the fateful day of the mission, my unit
and I were transported to our insertion point
where, shortly after rolling up our chutes we
literally stumbled across a young Vietnamese woman
hiding in a rice paddy. Since she was wearing the
black pajama outfit of the Viet Congo I ordered her
taken to a nearby village, where we herded all the
residents into the central square at gunpoint.
Pointing at the first hut, I had the translator
inform them that if the VC did not tell us what we
wanted to know, we would burn their village one
hut at a time. We had found in the past that this
gave neighbors a powerful incentive to pressure
each other to talk. When she refused, I ordered
Bones to attach a live grenade to a can of jellied
command personnel. This prompted my rapid promotion the extraction point, I faced a Hobson's choice.
to gunnery sergeant and Bones to sergeant, second Unwilling to run the risk of making human torches
in command of our unit. out of more children, I had the option of failing
My first mission in command was to parachute
behind enemy lines, capture VC and vette them for
intelligence, then be extracted by chopper. After
the briefing, my CO called me aside and told me
ABC News reporters were sniffing around. He went on
to say that even though it took longer and placed
us at greater risk, G-2 Command Staff wanted us
to belay physical torture and employ more humane
psychological methods of interrogation. They knew
of course, that we were trained to carry out the
mission no matter what, and that we would ignore the
suggestion if needed. By now we were so calloused
from witnessing the deaths of our comrades that it
was becoming easy to justify our actions in the
name of duty.
Glendale Community College 3 I
in my mission or resorting to physical torture; I
chose the latter. I had the translator inform the
myself and my men that no civilized person could
justify. In addition to the innocence and humanity
I had already lost, something else died in me that
AK-47 leaves only bloody goo where a buddy's face
once was; when only a handful of us survived out of
45 assigned to our unit; when a soldier gets blown
to bits for trying to help a kid, and when sinless
VC woman that we were going to cut her body parts
off one piece at a time, unless she told us what we
wanted to know. She resisted through several fingers,
but finally gave us what we wanted. To prevent her
from ruining the value of the intelligence by
disclosing what she had told us, we smothered her
with a plastic bag. Then we strung her up in the
village square as a symbol of what happened to VC
"My husband saved that gun for over thirty years. He
made me promise to deliver it and
the envelope when he died. Said you
would know what it meant." There
was a click and the line went dead.
An envelope? He rattled the receiver
base, and then slammed the phone
into its cradle. Oblivious to the
mess he was making of his usually
immaculate apartment, he frantically
rooted through the popcorn until
he found a small envelope. When he ripped it open, three
items fell out: an obituary dated two weeks ago and a
USMC shoulder patch for his unit clipped to a photograph
of Arlington National Cemetery. With trembling hands
he grabbed a magnifying glass from the desk drawer and
scrutinized the picture. A knowing smile played across his
cold-sore, cracked lips when he saw the open grave. He
turned the photo over. Scrawled on the back, in familiar
handwriting were the words, We're waiting.
The writer turned back to his word processor. He
deleted THE END,added the words and Atonement, to the
title and began to type again. This time his fingers flew over
7 he writer typed THE END, then placed his
hands together at arms length and cracked his
knuckles. The phone which he had ignored
until now, began to insistently ring again. He reluctantly
picked up the receiver and propped it between his shoulder
and ear. "It's your quarter."
"Did you get the package?" a husky female voice
"Yes, who is this?"
and no longer
My husband saved that
gun for over thirty years. "
the words "benevolent
when a burst from an enemy
for people who
It is de rigueur
been in combat to say that there
and I fell to our knees and
cared what happened to me.
puked our guts out. At that
moment I realized my moral
compass was broken and I
God" become an oxymoron.
children are burned alive,
I recall as if it were yesterday, the stench of Upon arriving home we returnees tried to
death and the look of fear in my men's eyes as they integrate back into society and resume our lives.
lay disfigured and dying. I can still hear their But we soon found that the country for which we had ..
screams of final agony, calling for a medic then, fought, and for which our buddies had, as Lincoln
realizing none would come, crying out for their said, "paid the last full measure of devotion,"
mothers. They died alone, without even a priest to did not appreciate our sacrifice. We felt betrayed
administer the last rites of extreme unction. by those who threw rocks and spit at us and by our
To survive I metamorphosed into a caricature, leaders who pandered to those who dishonored us.
filled with a Platonian belief, that "might makes We became terminally cynical, rejecting everything
right"; relying solely on my comrades in arms and in which we once believed. In some ways, the dead
an implacable, Mars-like god. I wonder every day were the lucky ones. Those of us who survived were
how Bones and I lived through it, and feel guilty stripped of something far more precious than our
because I did. lives. We lost that ephemeral spark which elevates
32 Traveler 2006
us humans above sheer animal instinct. For years I have hidden behind my new persona
Desperately trying to deal with what we had and, even though somewhat of a hermit, I behaved
become, we formed support groups, forcing a in a socially acceptable manner-shrugging off any
reluctant government to recognize and treat us noticeable differences as being due to the stress
for Agent Orange exposure and something they of combat.
euphemistically called post-traumatic stress. But today, like Scrooge, a ghost from my past
Our chaplains told us that confession and prayer has forced me to face an immutable truth. As
would help and we should seek God's forgiveness.
Our doctors offered medication and electro-shock,
long as I live, I will never find peace, nor will
Jehovah, the vengeful god of atonement, grant me
and our psychologists opined that if we would absolution.
just mourn that which had been taken from us, the
septic wounds of despair infecting our minds would
be healed by the antibiotic of therapy. All "the
experts U said our humanity was not dead, but only
in stasis, and would awaken with time.
We rapidly concluded the doctors' prescriptions
produced only false hopes and realized that the
God of forgiveness of the chaplains was for us, an
"eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth U deity who only
recognized penance. And it was impossible for us
to ask for a forgiveness which was unearned, and
Our temporal bodies may have survived but in
order to re-integrate with society we had to learn
how to compartmentalize our minds: to isolate
those areas of the personal jigsaw puzzle where
our humanity used to be. So we quarantined our
sociopathic pieces and re-programmed the rest to
respond, android-like, as though the missing parts
were still there. When we finished reconstructing
ourselves we were still somewhat amoral, without
a lot of humanity; but were able to embark on a
relatively normal life.
7 he veteran's rheumy eyes were blurry as he
typed 'THE END'. He printed two copies
and put the word processor back in its case.
Placing what he had written in two stamped envelopes, he
addressed one to his priest and one to his publisher, then
struggled down the hallway to drop them in the mail chute.
Returning to his apartment he gathered the wrappings and
every piece of spilled popcorn, placed them in the box they
came in, and chucked it into the garbage bin.
After working for hours to ensure his apartment was
Uwhite glove inspectionUperfect, the veteran polished his
brass and spit-shined his shoes. He threw his filthy clothes
away and took a long shower. After shaving against the
grain, he dressed in the formal Marine uniform he had kept
for a special occasion. Surveying his image in the mirror, he
satisfied himself that all was ship-shape, then threw away
his cane and marched to the cubbyhole. The Makarov slid
easily into his hand. He fondled it, then carefully screwed the
silencer onto the barrel and slammed the magazine home.
Standing erect with his shoulders back, he saluted crisply
with one hand while he put a round in the chamber and
thumbed off the safety with the other. I'm coming, Bones. *
Glendale Community College 13
The Snowdrift Teo (eremony
By Vicki Joyner
"No. I wonder if you're ever going to gain rank among
those of your clan."
uki realized that she'd never By Patrick Martin "That's not important," Yamaro
eally appreciated the soft, Third Place, Fiction said, still staring at the birds. Yuki
. et beautiful sound that a stepped in front of him.
nowflake makes when it hits the ground. The "Then what is, Yamaro?" All her life, she had been
paque sky blocked the sun, and yet, the snow trained to keep her emotions under control. But when she
made everything bright. But the layers upon layers that she was with him, whether it was passion or fury, she couldn't
wore underneath the beautifully embroidered silk kimono contain herself. "The other women talk about you. They say
didn't stop the shiver that ran through her body. that you have no ambition. That you're weak."
The hot green tea in the simple cup before her wouldn't "People always have something to say."
serve to warm her. The woven blanket that lay beneath "Then why don't you prove them wrong! I know that
prevented the snow from wetting her, but did nothing to you are faster and stronger than anyone in your sect," Yuki
alleviate the coldness that ran to her heart. The healthy pleaded.
serving of sashimi upon the platter would do nothing to "The birds. I never noticed them return because they do
satisfy her. Yuki craved only to live. But as soon as the steam so during the season of love. I was so busy staring into your
from the teacup stopped rising, her life was to come to an eyes; nothing around me mattered."
end. "That is no way for a warrior to talk. You must stay... "
Upon her left sat a bottle of Sake and a lengthy letter that
she'd written. On her right, a dagger-sized sword collected
stray snowflakes. The beautiful cherry finish on the scabbard
had a tiger masterfully etched across it. Yuki laughed with
disgust. When the time came, blood and bone would be the
only sheath the tanto blade would need.
The forest clearing was meant to be a place of tranquility,
with only the wind and the swaying of the branches to
intrude. But Yuki would find no serenity. The flurry had
covered the earth, the earth underneath was stained crimson
with blood. They brought everyone here to reflect upon
their death. But Yuki would defy them until her last breath.
Instead, she would reflect upon her life and everything that
made it worth living.
~he could almost taste the sweet aroma of the cherry
blossoms. And during those warm days, the scent on the
flowers hung heavily upon her Yamaro. As they strolled
hand in hand through the grove, it became their perfume.
"The birds," he cryptically stated.
"What about them!" Yuki replied, trying to sound
"When they flyaway for the winter, they leave by the
flocks. But when spring comes again, they sneak back one
by one. Have you ever wondered why we don't notice their
34 Traveler 2006
before she could say vigilant, Yamaro wrapped his arms
around her waist and pulled her close.
"The only reason we mourn their departure is the fact
that we must part from each other. When they fly south, I
have to spend three long seasons longing to feel the softness
of your lips." Though his hands were on her hips, Yamaro's
dark eyes held Yuki tighter than any embrace ever could.
"Why do you have to talk like that? You know that the
kunoichi and the shinobi can only meet in the spring. We
can't do anything about it, so stop gushing."
"There is one thing... " Yamaro wrapped his lips around
Yuki's before she could say anything else. It was reckless
to kiss as they did, but she allowed herself to slide toward
the ground. The trunk of a cherry blossom tree became their
backboard. The petals that it dropped became their bed as
they made love. All of the other Obaki ninja acted fierce and
cold. They only cared about making juenin, the esteemed
rank of head ninja. But Yamaro was different. Suffering
blows to his reputation and status, he dedicated all of his
energies towards one thing: her. And that's why she loved
During the third spring they spent together, their love
had culminated into something beautiful -- something that
grew inside of Yuki during the cold winter months. Yamaro
wouldn't learn of their miracle until the next spring.
"A son. I have a son," he repeated for the fifth time as he
held his baby boy. "What's his name?"
"He is our beautiful first son, so I named him !chiro."
"It's a fitting name. Now we'll be able to tell him apart
from the others."
"Our other sons, of course."
"We don't have any other sons."
"Well... " a devilish smile crept across his face, "I guess
we'll have to fix that, won't we," he said, once again pulling
Yuki close to him. As he leaned in to kiss her, Yuki nipped
his bottom lip. A puzzled look crept across his face.
"I don't think I can bear the thought of giving away
another child. The next kid is going to be a girl." Though
meant to be playful, the bitterness she felt seemed to seep
out. Once a male child reached the age of two, he could no
longer live in the kunoichi camp. He would be sent to his
father for training.
And for those two years she had him, Yuki didn't let
!chiro out of her arms. Every time she finished her patrol of
their camp, she would kiss her son on the cheeks.
"Stop coddling him! It's only going to make things
harder on him when he has to leave," Yuki's mother would
remind her. A hard life of the strictest training and discipline
lay ahead of her son. Though her mother was right, she
couldn't help herself. Despite the warning, she spoiled him
every second she could.
matter how hard she tried to hold on to the precious
moments, the time they had together soon came to an end.
The day that she had to turn !chiro over had finally come.
She slung her baby boy over her shoulders in the carrier she
had made out of reeds. After letting his grandmother say
her goodbyes, Yuki departed their camp.
She leapt from branch to branch, the epitome of kunoichi
agility and grace. Though ice and slush coated every limb,
she didn't slip once. She'd been trained to keep her footing
under the most adverse conditions. And even though racing
along the slick branches in the canopy of the forest seemed
dangerous, it was much safer than the alternative of walking
in the snow. For a ninja, that was suicide. Footprints in the
snow were easily tracked.
Soon she came upon the grove. Their grove. Winter's
frigid breath had stripped the grayish-barked trees of their
blossoms. The blue skies that marked their springs were
replaced by opaque clouds that allowed no sunlight to pass.
Yamaro was waiting for them.
"What kept you?" he asked pragmatically.
"I had to let my mother say goodbye," Yuki replied,
trying to hide her hostility.
"It's not safe here. We have to hurry."
"Just give me a little longer." She kept her eyes on her
"We don't have time, Yuki!" He was stern as he said
"You'll have all the time in the world with our son!" she
snapped. "Let me have these last precious moments." She
stroked his silky black hair, trying to capture every aspect of
his face in her memory.
Then she heard it -- a low whistling that only the
trained ear could hear. She and Yamaro reacted instantly,
moving in two separate directions. They each ended up on
opposite sides of the tree trunk. Where their heads had been,
a pointed metal object with a hole at the end of its handle
was embedded the gray bark. It was a shuriken. But since
it wasn't the four-pointed star that male ninjas used, they
knew that it must have come from enemy kunoichi. Without
hesitation, Yuki slid !chiro from her back and shoved him
into his father's arms. She took the blanket that he wore and
placed it into the empty carrier.
"They'll pursue if they think that they can take Ichiro."
Yuki pulled six shurikens from the holsters on her wrists,
placing the projectiles in the gaps of her knuckles.
Glendale Community College 15
was soon closed and she was left
after she'd pulled out the empty blanket. Yuki was made
to kneel, her arms restrained by two warriors. The Sh020ku
or uniforms they wore were brown. Sewn above their heart
was a patch bearing The Black Lotus. That patch stood for
everything she was against.
"Where's the child?" the mission leader demanded,
pulling harshly on Yuki's hair.
Yuki smiled spitefully. The foolish woman had told her
exactly what she wanted to know. Yamaro and Iclllio had
made it back safely to their camp. When she failed to answer
the Black Lotus' questions, the woman cuffed her. Though
her bottom lip bled, she continued to smile.
The Black Lotus kunoichi bound and blindfolded Yuki
before they marched her further into their domain. The path
they took meandered and circled constantly to confuse her.
After nearly three hours of marching, Yuki felt the slush
give way to firm ground -- a shoveled path that could only
mean that they'd arrived at one of
the Black Lotus encampments. The
voices in the village grew silent as
she passed, but she could feel eyes
glowering at her. She could hear
contempt in every breath.
After a few minutes, she
heard a door open. Harsh hands
pushed her from behind causing
her to fall to the floor. The door
in darkness. She wasted no time,
sliding and twisting the ropes
that bound her wrists. After struggling rigorously with her
bindings, she was able to free her hands. She quickly removed
the blindfold and set to work on the ropes constricting her
The room they had thrown her into was what she'd
expected. A thatch hut with a small, bamboo barred window
and a pile of hay. She sat against the back wall, facing the
only entrance. The point of removing the ropes was only to
find what little comfort she could. Escape wasn't an option.
She was sure that if she wanted to, she could walk right
through the door. But the second she did, fifteen shurikens
would pierce her body.
She kept her vigil through the night, refusing to be
caught in a moment of weakness. But in the early hours of
dawn, they came. Five of the Black Lotus women entered
the tiny storage room that served as her prison. Three of
them carried bundles of varying color and size. The other
two held only kunai blades.
They unfolded a beautifully embroidered pink kimono.
parents were o~e ofthe
most valuable r~sour\es.
} - }.~ \ "
"And children young-enough
not to remember their
"I won't let you face them alone." Yamaro held a fourpointed
shuriken in one hand, his son in the other.
"Remember your mission. You're shinobi. The task
you've been given was to protect your son. Not me." The
grove was soon filled with the sound of stray shurikens.
Though she could see the pain in his eyes, Yamaro nodded.
She wished that he could stay by her side. But now that they
were parents, they had their priorities.
After one last glance, she dove from behind the tree and
let the shurikens she held in her left hand fly. Not stopping to
see if any of her weapons had made contact, she fled into the
forest. The metallic whistle of the enemy's projectiles filled
the grove. Soon she made her way from the patch of cherry
blossom trees into the mass of evergreens that populated the
rest of the woods. There was no reason to use the branches
any more because she'd already been discovered.
She made sure that her feet made the snow crunch
loudly. That she stepped on every
twig in sight. She would have to
ignore all of her training in silence.
In order to ensure Ichiro's survival,
she had to distract the enemy.
Her flight took her further and
further away from her territory.
She couldn't let them find her
camp. She threw the second set of
shurikens she'd been holding. A
distant grunt told her that it found
its mark. But she knew that the
warrior she'd at least injured was
one of many who were pursuing her.
She also knew that the enemy kunoichi wouldn't chance
hitting the bundle in the baby carrier. It was the way of the
ninja, whether they were shinobi or kunoichi, to not waste
their resources. And children young enough not to remember
their parents were one of the most valuable resources.
She'd intended to take the chase to the treetops. But the
second her foot had touched the particularly thick branch
of a redwood, it gave way. She careened into the branches
below her, painfully hitting her head, stomach, and back.
She eventually fell through the tangled mess and was only
cushioned slightly by the snow. She'd fallen for a trap
Before she could even lift her face. She felt two sets
of arms holding her on the ground. A knee was planted
firmly into the small of her back to ensure that she wouldn't
escape. She could feel them digging through the carrier on
"Lift her up!" called the angry voice of one the kunoichi
36 Traveler 2006
They quickly and unabashedly slipped off her traveling
clothes and placed the decorative gown upon her shoulders.
The weight was almost unbearable against her broken ribs,
but she wouldn't let them see her pain. Two of the Black
Lotuses held the flaps of her kimono closed while the other
pulled the obijimi belt tight around her waist. With a few
strong (and painful) tugs, it was tied into a bow and secured
behind her back.
Then with an almost delicate touch, they began to comb
the twigs and debris from Yuki's hair. When it had been
brushed and looked presentable, they began to form an
intricate bun on the top of her head, which was topped by a
decorative jade comb. White powder was dabbed over her
face to hide the bruises. Crimson berry juice was smeared
over her lips to blend in with the cut she'd received the day
before. The Black Lotus kunoichi wanted to ensure that Yuki
would enter death looking flawless.
When the preparations were finished, she was made
to rise. A pair of wooden sandals were placed on her feet
before she was taken through the doorway. The camp was
filled with only ten closely grouped huts. Besides the five
escorts, the village was empty. The only sight that greeted
her was a single campfire burning at the edge of town. A
tea kettle hung just above the flames. One of the kunoichi
grabbed and handed it to Yuki.
It was a short walk from the village to their destination.
In a clearing, a blanket was waiting. Upon it sat a light snack
of sashimi, a cup, and a tanto blade in a cherry wood sheath.
No words exchanged between Yuki and the warriors.
None were necessary. The kunoichi disappeared into the
undergrowth at the edge of the clearing, but Yuki knew that
they'd be close by.
It was a ceremony that Yuki knew very well. She poured
the green tea from the kettle into the small cup they'd
provided for her. This was her timer. When the steam had
ceased to rise, the Black Lotus kunoichi expected Yuki
to plunge the cherry wood blade deep into her stomach,
providing herself an honorable death. If she refused, their
shurikens would end her life.
The snow began to fall again. From the moment she was
seated upon the blanket, to the moment the faintest remnants
of vapor rose from her cup, she was given the opportunity
to ponder her death and regrets. She picked up the finely
crafted instrument of death they'd provided for her. Her
training had taught her that death was inevitable. The only
regret she had left was that she didn't kiss !chiro or Yamaro
one last time.
She took the engraved sheath from the blade and placed
it at her side. The blade glistened, even in the absence of
the sun. Her cup wasn't producing the steady flow of white
By John V. Aragon
vapor. The steam rose in weak puffs. Yuki closed her eyes
and raised the knife. She listened carefully. She heard a twig
snap in the distance as one of the Black Lotuses watching
her was becoming poised for attack.
It'll be over soon.
She opened her eyes and in one fluid motion, let the
blade fly from her hand. She could swear that the snow
churned from the ground as the knife flew true. A surprised
and anguished howl of pain followed shortly after its
flight. Yuki smiled when she heard it. Suddenly sharp pain
filled her body. She gasped as the many shurikens of the
Black Lotus kunoichi sheathed themselves in her body.
The blood flowed in torrents from her various wounds.
Lightheadedness swept over her and she let her head rest
against the blanket underneath her.
Suddenly, it wasn't so cold anymore. She knew her time
was near, but she wasn't afraid to go now. She had refused to
take her own life. She saw no honor in such a pitiable demise.
She would die as she lived, by the strength and spirit of the
kunoichi. The forest grew darker and darker, until she could
see nothing. She could only smell the sweet aroma of cherry
blossoms and hear the distant love song of the lark. *
Glendale Community College 11
The Heverending Puzzle of life
By Florence Flynn
there. Nada. He couldn't speak Spanish, but he liked to fool
people. He knew some phrases like que tal and 10 siento and
hasta luego. He could remember luego because it sounded
By Sydne Lingg;
Attention-Deficit Disorder. That's what AI had. All
he knew about ADD was that it had something to
do with his inability to concentrate on something
for very long and his chronic impulsivity. He also had
hyperactivity. That was something called ADHD, or so his
wife said. The "H" stood for the hyper-part. His restlessness
nearly drove her crazy. She said it was as though he was
driven by a motor. But who wanted to sit around doing
nothing all day long? Sitting around was for duds. His wife
didn't see it that way, and so she insisted he take something
she called"a little blue pill." He hated it. It made him dull.
And life was boring then. But when he was hyper, when
he was himself without the "little blue pill," he was King of
the Hill, Mr. Popularity, Joe Cool. People loved it. He loved
it. Once, when he was water skiing, he came as close as he
could to the shore so he could spray everyone sitting on the
beach with water. That was why everyone loved it when he
was himself He put life into things.
But, to his wife's credit, even he could see that his mind
ground out its gears like a stick-shift. His thoughts changed
quickly. First he'd think of going hunting with his friends;
then watching the Sunday night movie; then getting a new
pickup; then eating fajitas. As far as he was concerned,
readers were thinkers and there wasn't anything in life that
needed that much "thinking." He liked to go.
But now he was sorry he'd agreed to meet his partner at
the bookstore cafe so they could go over pay raises for their
employees. Their paving business was good and it made
him quite wealthy. But here? At this place? How he hated
reading, maybe because he couldn't sit still long enough and
focus long enough to get any benefit out of it, soon enough
frustrating him, and here he was in the middle of people who
read. So, he criticized it. "Who needs to read?" he smarted
off. "1 watch movies." And how he'd agreed to be in a world
so unfamiliar to him, so opposite him, was beyond him. God
he hated yuppies and readers were yuppies. But he felt superior
to them in a strange way. How would he be able to hide his
discomfort from them? He'd always tried to keep his ADD
a secret, and, although everyone knew he hated it (how he
wasn't sure), it was something he never talked about.
He found a parking space near the store, opened the car
door, got out, and looked around to see if his partner was
38 Traveler 2006
"Oh, I don't-"
"Come ooooon. It won't hurt anything. It's close to
Cinco de Mayo. What d'ya say?"
"L. ..guess....yeah... .! s'pose so. I don't see any reason
not to." The girl pulled her card from a pocket in her apron
and slid it through the register. "A dollar forty-six."
Al winked at her and handed her a five. "Guess Santa
will know who's naughty and who's nice." The girl burst
into laughter for a second time and for a moment, he was
again in his element and forgot that he didn't read, and that,
more than likely, no one here knew about his ADD. She
turned and drew his coffee out of a large canister, looking
children over a ball in his pool. He'd won and that was all
that counted and when he threw it at Sully and it hit him
in the head and it bounced off into the grass, everyone
laughed. That was what made him so popular. Funny things
The girl tittered into her hand, blushing slightly, and
then looked up into his eyes.
''I'm just kidding. Coffee."
"Do you have a Book Card?"
"What's that for-a reading club?"
The girl burst into laughter.
"No. If you buy a yearly
membership card you get ten
percent off your purchase."
"Ten percent, huh? How
'bout letting me use yours?"
He didn't need the ten percent
discount but it was a way to
flirt through teasing. He liked
it when the girls felt pretty.
Like this one. AI didn't really
think she was all that pretty.
He thought she was very plain
and plus she had a mole with hair growing out of it just
above her upper lip. But he didn't like to be judgmental.
What about his toe fungus? That was another thing his wife
did: treated him like a child. She made him put on an antifungal
cream and forced him go to the dentist. She made him
go every year. But candy was a vice of his, like beer, so he
put up with the nagging.
"1 dunno. What size do you have?" He wasn't allowed
to drink coffee. His wife had banned it because that really
made him hyper. But he did a lot of things his wife didn't
know about. Like now. Flirting. "Just give me your small.
But when he was hyper, when
he was himself without the
"little blue pill," he was king of
the hill, Mr. Popularity.
like "[aagie." He gurgled up phlegm from his throat and
spit it onto the pavement. He chuckled. Luega! But now he
had more pressing business than Spanish; he had bookstore
intellectuals to face. He scanned the parking lot again for
his partner's car. There was a flicker, no more, reflecting
vulnerability and suddenly a kind of panic began to rise
inside him. "Shi-hi-it," he said barely audibly. He clicked
the lock button on his keys and turned toward the building.
His Dodge Ram pickup truck was big and masculine and
that was something he was good at: being masculine. His
wife said he had enough testosterone for all of Phoenix.
Huh! Yeah. He liked that. But already he was tensing and
the comfort he felt in his own world, a world of hot rods and
parties and water sports, was beginning to fade.
He walked up to the double doors with long, lean steps
and slightly slope-shoulders, pushed through them, forcing
the air to suck at him and then
burp back at him as he opened
the inside door. Once inside,
directly in front of him, there
was a pine table covered with
columned-stacked books and on
the top of each stood a bookstand
with a new release in it, upright,
and facing out. To his right there
were rows and rows of brightly
colored books and to his left there
was a long row of calendars, then
a display of cards, and more
books, books, books. Color was everywhere.
But he was colorblind, too. He wasn't proud of that
either and tried to keep that a secret. Reds were purple and
yellows were tan. When he painted the trim on his house red
and didn't even know it and his neighbor's howling laughter
erupted into, "You're kidding. OH NO!!!" he had to admit
to it. "1 thought it was dark brown," he whispered to his
partner. Then there was the blabbing about it in the office.
His secretary hooted, "UNREAL," at him and he wanted
to fire her on the spot but didn't because of the paperwork
involved, so he let it slide.
Al walked up the crowded aisles and into the cafe. He
leaned on the counter with his palms flat and his arms stiff
and smiled at the cashier. "You sell any beer?" He liked to
flirt. It was a way of distracting people. Funny, he'd always
had an animal attraction about him. Even with men. He
guessed it was his high level of testosterone. For some reason,
men responded well to his invitation to be competitive. He
remembered once he and his friend Sully wrestled like two
Glendale Community College
By Daryle Gregory
back at him as she did and asking, "Room for cream?"
"Gotta have cream. Can't drink coffee without cream."
The girl snapped a lid on the paper cup, taking one, two
steps away from the canister and sliding it across the counter
at him. "Thank you. Have a nice day."
"You must be a Capricorn," he said.
"Why do you say that?"
"I dunno. Guess cuz you work here. You know. 'Round
all these books and stuff." He was handsome in a rugged
way. His arms were thick and muscular because he worked
outside on construction sites. He had nice white teeth. His
hands were strong. He was a good mechanic. ''I'm not into
books much, though," he continued. "Why waste a good
afternoon sitting inside when you can take your hot rod
out and cruise! Now that's what I call a productive day."
Suddenly he was feeling defensive. And actually, deep
down where no one could see, he admired people who read.
His sister read. "My sister reads," he said. "Yeah. She reads
a book in a day." But suddenly he was realizing he was out
of his element and that perhaps this girl was a reader; all of a
sudden, he wanted to get out of there. Where the devil was
The girl smiled at him. Questioningly. Startled a bit.
Then, unexpectedly, in the briefest fraction of an
instant, several things occurred: like a blind and lurching
bull, Al turned and blundered straight into a metal rack
40 Traveler 2006
full of magazines, forcing it off balance so that it clamored
backwards, exploding into a shattering racket and scattering
magazines like fluttering napkins; his hand, floundering
for something stable, caught a shelf full of bagged coffees,
forcing it off balance in a kind of teetering way, then
shuddering backward and, finally crashing. He fell on one
knee to catch himself and then veered off to the right in order
to put his free hand on the tile, his own sense of balance now
compromised, and as he did, his coffee flew from his hand
in a fountain of steaming brew. Flustered, sheepish and
now embarrassed, he quickly stood. The girl behind him
stood tense, her eyes wide with indecision and disbelief. A
manager appeared from somewhere, apologizing profusely
and instructing the girl to get him another coffee.
Instantly he shrugged it off, claiming the racks were too
close to him and that he merely brushed one, causing it to
wobble a little and then bounce against the other and then
both of them falling. The truth was, he felt so intimidated he
could hardly wait to get away from the scene, so he grabbed
his fresh coffee, nearly leaping down the cafe stairs and onto
the floor, breaking through a body of bulging-eyed people
like Moses through the parted sea and headed for a chair on
the other side of the store. Now, embarrassment was piling
upon embarrassment and he was suddenly filled with a
sickening feeling. He wanted to run. Run like hell. But he
didn't. He was also stubborn and proud of it. He came by
it naturally. His mother was stubborn. So stubborn that in
fact she'd always refused to shave under her arms. Like him
refusing to wear slacks to church. He always wore baggy
shorts with a t-shirt that said Billabong on it. It was a test of
"church-people's love." His wife said it was because he was
insecure, but, then, what did she know?
Several chairs were clumped in a small, organized circle.
Each one was filled with a reader. Al grabbed a magazine on
the coffee table and sank back into a large chair that had
wide arms and a slouchy pillow for a back. These people
were so boring they could drain the energy out of a battery,
An ivory-skinned and silvery-haired woman sitting to
his right leaned forward and whispered to him, "Did you
ever have insomnia?"
He relaxed a little. "Not often," he said. A slight tick
crossed his shoulders, as though he were straightening his
shirt, and it always came when he got nervous.
"If we're not careful, they're going to drag us under, you
know," she continued.
"They ain't gonna get me, lady." He didn't want to "go
there" so he looked down in a gesture of conclusion. But she
"Let me give you some advice. Form regular habits,
don't try too hard for anything, forget about-well honesty
or effort-or it'll all get you like it's got me." He had never
been claustrophobic until now and something like a rubber
band began to squeeze his throat. A man sitting to his left
glanced at the woman, frowning, and then looked into
his magazine as he flipped the pages. He glanced over his
shoulder then turned back and took a slurp of his coffee.
Where was his partner? He'd had just about enough of this.
By now he'd had enough caffeine to start feeling buzzed.
He crossed his legs at the ankles and started to jiggle his
"Nervous?" the woman inquired.
"No. Impatient. I'm waiting for somebody." What was
this woman's problem? Typical he would find somebody
like this in here. He shifted in his seat and turned a shoulder
toward her. The same man now stood and as he did, he
made a small disgusted growl in his throat. He threw his
magazine down and walked away.
''I've been waiting here for my husband for quite some
time. He said he'd pick me up, but I haven't seen him. You
haven't seen him, have you?"
A woman directly across from him stood, obviously
annoyed at the silvery-haired woman's conversation, and
stepped around her chair and left. Only Al was left.
There was a lingering sense of confusion that crossed the
woman's face, a look of vagueness, and her voice was filled
with uncertainty. "Naw. I ain't seen hardly nobody," he
said. But then it dawned on him this woman had a disability
of her own. What it was he wasn't sure and despite his
own restriction, he was keen that way. He had an ability to
sympathize with people. "What's he look like?"
"Huh?" she said.
"Your husband. What's he look like?"
"Oh-oh-well, he's handsome. Oh, yes. Quite
handsome. We haven't been married long. Only a month.
We're just starting out, the two of us. He asked me to marry
him during summer break. Out under the trees. It was a
lovely night. A lovely night... " her words trailed off and
she picked a thread from her skirt. She looked up at Al and
leaned over toward him. "Young man, have you seen my
husband?" Al didn't know what to say so he shook his head
and said, "No, ma'am. I haven't seen your husband." But
suddenly Al didn't feel so uncomfortable anymore. Here was
someone else who was out of place, who didn't completely
fit in, and he knew how she felt. He decided he'd stay here
until he knew she was okay.
Just then a man walked up, gray headed like the woman,
with several books in his hand. "Margaret. You all right?"
"Oh, here he is. Here's my husband."
The man looked at AI. "She hasn't been bothering you,
"Oh, no. No. Not at all."
''I'm sorry. I can't leave her home alone. I have to keep
her with me all the time. He paused to set his books on the
table then continued. "This year the Alzheimer's set in rather
severely. I can't leave her for more than a few minutes at a
"Oh. My grandfather had Alzheimer's. I know what
that is." Al wasn't good at the emotional side of life. Like
when his pet lizard died and he threw it in the garbage can
because he didn't want the emotion of a funeral. He didn't
want to go to that side of life.
"Thank you for putting up with her."
"No problem." And it made it all worth the while, he
thought. Because he knew what it was like to be different.
He knew what it was like to be rejected by people who didn't
understand. He knew what it was like to need someone on
your side. *
Glendale Community College 41
By R.A. Matheson
You made your coffee, poured a cup another
Cleaned your body with warm water another
Your blood pressure rose, fighting traffic another
You turned up your car's AC another
You pushed digits into your PC another
You laughed beside a water cooler another
In the meeting, you did your best to stay awake another
You took more angry phone calls another
Frustrated, you had to wait in line another
How could they not put mayo on your sandwich another
Your mood soured as lunch ended another
Burping as you drove back to work another
Where ore my grope~!
By Betsy Van Antwerp
Third Place, Drawing
A confrontation with your boss another
Snide remarks from a co-worker another
Watching the clock ease toward five another
Hop in your car, to head on home another
Your bland and simple TV dinner another
You drank a cold one to wash it down another
C-Span angered you, but you just sat another
While the loudest silence in history sauntered down the
another soldier dead.
You thumbed a book for a while another
You lay back into your soft bed another
And while you slept the night away another
42 Traveler 2006
Jmt North Of Here
By Sarah Kinney
By Rowena Wildin Dehanke
Honorable Mention, Poetry
The closet of
myoid bedroom turned guest room,
in my parents' Iowa farmhouse,
is slowly losing stored memories of a daughter.
A tote bag with a broken strap,
A folding umbrella to protect against the Tokyo rain,
left by a young divorcee on her way to ew York.
A frosh book full of eager faces,
a bundle of letters from parents and friends back home
left by a college grad on her way to Japan.
A leather choker and daisy-chain beads,
a stack of notebooks filled with poems and dreams
left by a daughter off to college on the West Coast.
Barbie, Ken, Tammy, a Little Kiddie fireman,
a stuffed dog named Greenie because it was green
left by a grown-up teen.
The newest of these leavings nearly twenty years old,
dredged up by my mother, sifting through
more than fifty years of marriage, on her way to
a new house, perhaps in town, perhaps in Texas.
"Should I send to you?
I hate to throwaway with asking," she says,
revealing a mother's wisdom
knowing that my closet holds
Discards, leftover, artifacts, remnants, things
Are left behind as life goes on,
Burdens that cannot be carried by a daughter
Whose hands can barely hold onto
Glendale Community College 43
U.S. forces had been in Iraq
for two years and what had
been accomplished besides
taking a psychotic leader
out ofthe country? , ,
without their weapon."
Cunningham knew his commander was likely correct
and disengaged the targeting computer as his pilot pulled
into a hard left bank returning to standard patrol.
Though he had been in country for three months and
the day's events were nothing new, he still felt the sweat
bead up in his palms, his heartbeat intensify to the point
of convulsion, and his eyes widen each time he locked
weapons on Iraqi insurgents who relentlessly shelled the
base. He would often sit at his terminal and wonder what
was going on with this war. U.s. forces had been in Iraq for
two years and what had been accomplished besides taking
a psychotic leader out of the country? More civilians were
dying now than during Saddam
Hussein's rule. The only difference
Cunningham could see was that
instead of being gassed with toxins
launched by Hussein, the people
were being blown up as collateral
damage by American bombs. Also
disturbing to the young lieutenant
was that Iraqi insurgents were
constantly killing his brothers in
arms. Out in the middle of nowhere
lurked platoons of men with mortar
launchers who rained death from
the hills surrounding the small air base. Most of them were
disorganized and were caught or killed by Cunningham, or
people like him; however a report had come down regarding
one man in particular -- a man, who moved like a ghost,
and could launch three times as many shells in one volley
as his two-man-team counterparts. He had even been given
a laughable code name by the U.s. servicemen out in the
desert: Mortar Man.
Wnd tore at al-Hazir's face as he attempted to
weather the sand storm in a bombed out truck.
It wasn't much, but the sandstorm had arisen
unexpectedly and the truck was the only shelter the leatherskinned,
middle-aged Iraqi could find. Camel spiders and
thick-shelled scorpions joined him in his bullet-riddled and
grenade-scarred abode, usually ending up splattered on
both al-Hazir's boot and the floorboard of the vehicle. The
environment was nothing new for the ex-Iraqi special-forces
" The second man grimaced
as the high-pitched whine of a
turbofan engine caught his ear.
The pair immediately dropped
their mortar launcher and took
off in a dead sprint.
By Daniel Small
Second Place, Fiction
Sand blasted outward with each breath under the
man's nostrils. He lay prone, his face so close to the
ground he could taste the bitter dirt. Day breaking
over the rocky hills blinded him as he and his partner
"It's time," he whispered in Arabic. His partner began
setting up the tripod and 120-millimeter mortar launcher.
The pair had been shelling a u.s. Air Force base in central
Iraq every day for the last two weeks with only minor
success, and their superiors were growing impatient.
"Work faster," the man
ordered his partner, "before they
ii TheY're on the move,
sir," Lt. Cunningham
control room for the remote-controlled unmanned aerial
vehicle (UAV) was alive with chattering computers, crackling
radios, and officers barking orders. As the weapons release
officer (WRO), 1st Lt. Brian "Digger" Cunningham was
responsible for tracking enemy units and showering them
with Hellfire missiles launched from the UAV circling their
tattered base. Each of the four planes had its own control
station manned by three flight personnel: one pilot, one
WRO, and one flight engineer.
"They got their mortar tube with em' Digger?" Lt.
Colonel Wright'S voice didn't suit his appearance. A slender
man of six feet and two inches, he spoke with the gruff voice
of a much larger and older man.
"Lieutenant, I asked you a question," Wright demanded.
Cunningham squinted hard at the small black and white
screen before responding, "No, sir. They left it."
"Abort fire. No use wasting our ammo," Wright ordered,
"Sons a' bitches'll prolly be executed when they report back
44 Traveler 2006
footman. He had survived longer and in harsher conditions,
though the thought wasn't much comfort to the manhuddled
in the passenger seat, sand burning his flesh.
"At least it's night," he thought, just before pulling a
piece of ragged cloth over his face and drifting off to sleep.
When he awoke, the wind was calm, the sand had
settled, and the glow of dawn streamed over the surrounding
hills. Exiting the truck, al-Hazir stretched out and brushed
off the four or so pounds of sand that had accumulated on
his clothes. Reaching into his rucksack, he drew his prayer
mat and dutifully offered his prayers to Allah for helping
him survive another day to fight the Infidel. Moments
later, the makeshift camp was abandoned, as peaceful and
undisturbed as when al-Hazir happened upon it.
Chow time! Lt. Cunningham scurried from the VAV
command center and set off at a brisk march to
the officer's mess. He had missed breakfast that
morning and the rumble in his gut was a reminder of the
cheeseburger and fries that awaited him. His pace quickened
as he neared the mess, smoke from sizzling burgers teasing
his nostrils. By the time he reached the door, he was nearly
Te~tino My Patience
By Wesley Watson
in a sprint. Reaching for the door handle, he was distracted
by an all too familiar sound; the shrill whistle of incoming
mortar shells. He threw the door open and charged inside,
shouting, "Incoming! Everyone dow... "
He was cut off by the roar of the first round impacting
the back side of the mess tent. His body was thrown out the
door he had just entered, landing about twenty yards away
on a small sand bag bunker. More rounds landed, sending
vehicles and soldiers flying, flattening tents, and blowing
craters in the roads. Cunningham awoke to the eye-stinging
pain of sulfuric residues. It took a moment to regain his
bearing, especially since dripping blood obscured his vision.
Once recovered enough to move, he took off down the road
back to the VAV command tent.
iiDammit, get that fucking VAV fueled up and
in the air," Wright barked over the radio, "We
need to catch the bastard this time. I'm sick of
Cunningham shuffled over to his station, his eyes still
burning from the blood, sweat and sulfur.
"Cunningham! Christ you look like hell! Are you all
Glendale Community College 45
right?" inquired Lt. Col. Wright.
"Yes, sir. It's not as bad as it looks. Just a scratch over my
eye and a few bruises," Brian shakily replied.
Moments later, the UAV was launched and Cunningham
focused on his infrared display. "Mother fucker, I'm gonna
get you this time," he muttered under his breath.
Sirens from emergency vehicles wailed in the
background responding to the numerous casualties as the
young lieutenant panned his viewer back and forth. Rocks,
sand, and more rocks. No trace of enemy forces. "All right,
let's bring'er back around for another pass," he instructed
his pilot. The plane's attitude shifted sharply as it made a
hard, declining turn. Cunningham grabbed his canteen to
wash the blood out of his eye, when he noticed a bright
white flash on his monitor indicating a thermal spike. The
canteen hit the ground with a muffled thud. "Hold the
fucking phone! Turn us back around, heading two-onefour
over sector eleven," he exclaimed excitedly. The plane
banked sharply to go in for another pass. As the grid came
up on the monitor, Cunningham scoured for the thermal.
Nothing. "Turn it back around. 1wanna come at it from the
other direction," Digger explained, "I think the bastard is
hiding behind a rock."
"Affirmative," replied the pilot.
The plane again banked sharply for the last pass.
Cunningham's heart leapt as the thermal image displayed
on his screen, and without a word, he locked weapons on
"Col. Wright, 1 have the target locked. Permission to
fire," he requested.
"Granted. Light that bitch up, son."
"Firing," Digger chimed with a grin.
The belly of the UAV opened, a circular battery of
missiles extending below the aircraft. The seeker head on
each missile came alive and vibrated as it locked on target.
With a loud hiss, the rocket engines lit off, catapulting
seven Hellfire missiles at the thermal. Within seconds, huge
fireballs erupted as the missiles struck their mark, sending
rocks, dirt, and sand flying. Billows of smoke rose from the
ground as the UAV buzzed over, checking that the target
"Booyah! We got 'im!" exclaimed Cunningham.
"Excellent work, Lieutenant," Wright proudly
Smoke and charred earth surrounded al-Hazir's body.
With a loud cough, he crawled out from under a
cluster of boulders, which had shielded him from the
deadly Hellfire's blast. He had some close calls in the past,
but this, by far, was the closest. Though, as many soldiers
did, he had come to grips with death, knowing there was
no question of if he would die, but when. He brushed the
dirt from his clothing, packed up his mortar tube and set
back out into the desert. The Americans would be coming to
claim what might be left of his body. *
By Betsy Van Antwerp
Ink Drawing with Wash
46 Traveler 2006
By Shirley E.. Bennett
Honorable Mention, Charcoal Drawing
Glendale Community College 41
A CHILD OF • onsclenc
As you well know, I am your mother's cousin. I have
decided to write this letter in an attempt to, and
in my own peculiar way, absolve myself through
Because you are linked to me through your mother, I am
counting on you to be patient enough to hear me out, thus
giving me an opportunity to be judged by someone who
desires outcome over consequence. I understand it is out of
the ordinary to hear from a relative in this fashion, especially
one who is so unfamiliar to you, but try I must, for if anyone
could forgive me, I imagine it to be you.
And you ask: why are you telling someone now? It is a
selfish reason. Death knocks quietly at my door and I know
it won't be long before I have no choice but to answer it.
Also, perhaps it is because I have lived under the freedom of
America for so many years that I have come to understand
the absolute need for liberation and that, without it, a man
can never truly realize himself.
Because your mother married into"great ease," or so
I am told, you may find it hard to commiserate with the
misery of my life or perhaps consider it too uncivilized for
the bourgeoisie, but it is a risk I am willing to take. And, so,
will you bear with me? Will you indulge an old man?
Mine is a simple dwelling, a worn chair, a dirty couch, and,
on the whole, without much affection for I do not maintain
any false hopes for myself. I live on the third floor in a onebedroom
apartment just above Otto who, beyond being my
friend, has also become my misfortune. What are the chances
of me living above a Jew who survived Oachau? Perhaps
God is there, looking down on me and saying, "I know who
you are. I know you were one of Hitler's henchmen," and
Otto's face, sometimes so close to mine I can feel his breath,
expresses a compressed mural of lost souls.
Today, the morning sun already floods through my
window, delicate and fickle and ready at any given moment
to flee from me. Its longed-for spell, elusive and slight, offers
only a provisional respite from long and morose bouts of
depression that each day plague me. On days like this when
the weather is sunny and splendid, Otto and I walk to the
48 Traveler 2006
By Sydne Linggi
In any event (and I
wistful moments, I still h\nk abp,ut h .,. beautiful my native
land was. Perhaps since yo are n cestor of Germany
yourselfyou should lik t hear it from som~onewho has seen
it first-hand. When I tel you it ts a land so scenic that to rest
your eyes upon it is as thoughyou are glancing into heaven's
own splendor, that it is an oasis full of verdant greens and
blues and browns and generous - yes, generous - wonders.
The idea that life could be anything other than magnificent
in such a place seems utterly im ssible and I am not in any
But beyond that beautiful landscape, beyond the Berghof
and beyond the Obersalzberg where the road bends and
comes to the base of Kehlsteinhasu, Hitler's erstwhile Eagle's
Nest, a madness so evil, an obsession so wicked, a predation
so complete, took its first breath. Hitler, secluded by nature's
paradise, laughed and played with his dogs and ate rindlende
and drank obstler with his mistress. Furtively he covered
his lunacy with exemplary nationalism, and we, Germany,
ultimately sold ourselves over to it. We didn't realize he was
a madman- you must believe me - he kep
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