A story of first love set in San Francisco in
the late '60s against a backdrop of flower
children, racial prejudice, and the
Harv sees Lani in the fog, her dancer's gait carrying her across the grassy slope toward
She is close enough now to touch, the rounded white headstones framing her long brown
hair and navy-blue eyes.
Those eyes scald him with accusation: he never said good-bye. His last words were, in
fact, ugly, slashing at her like sabers to make her run away from the danger.
"They were lies!" he shouts, and her eyes are ink running on wet paper.
He reaches out to pull her to him and stroke her hair, her cheek, but the fog swirls her
away and he is alone.
The mascara I didn't wash off before I went to bed has glued my eyelashes together. It
takes a minute to get my eyes open.
I have been rolling around all night and now I am tangled in my waist-length brown hair.
Dawn peeks in orange strips around the venetian blinds.
I close my eyes again and wander into a dream I'd had when the war was a dragon
devouring villages, rice paddies, American soldiers. A flame-edged dream of hurling
body parts. A leg hits me in the chest and I tumble onto a muddy path under a high canopy
of tropical green. I open my mouth to scream but I see a soldier in olive drab walking ahead
of me, black and big enough to fill the path and cast a shadow in the shadow-glutted jungle,
his mud-caked boots squelching in mold-ringed muck.
"Hey!" I shout, getting up and running after him.
He doesn't answer.
We trudge on in green half-light.
The jungle is an oven, steaming air blistering my throat with each breath. Sweat runs in
rivers down my forehead, my back, my legs. Dark damp splotches spread across my fatigues
and that godforsaken mud sucks at my boots.
Sure could use a cigarette.
"Harv!" I call to the soldier.
But he isn't Harv. Harv isn't black.
"You got a smoke?"
He turns, a grin flashing across his face. "Yeah, man."
He reaches into his shirt pocket and pulls out a cigarette pack. His feet never stop moving.
His arm stretches back to me and just as my fingertips touch the pack, Fourth of July
fireworks blast through the trees.
The hand offering the cigarettes shoots straight up in the air.
His leg flies backward and knocks me into the mud, and pain like a thousand knives stabs
my chest, my belly, my legs.
This time I scream, and my scream wakes me up. Ash settles to the jungle floor and
dissolves in the mud, and the two-room house in Monterey that was my home twelve years
ago, in the fall of 1967, grows up around me. The light flooding through the gaudy paintings
on our windows---a sunk-eyed guy with waves of turquoise hair and a swirling purple beard,
and a woman with yellow cat eyes and a star-spangled face---spatters the walls with