By Justus Roux
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He took a look around. On the other side of the square, divided in two by the road, was a Gulf service station and a diner with a parking lot that it shared with the Open Inn, a shabby-looking motel promising vacant rooms and golden dreams. He adjusted his bag on his shoulder and headed in that direction, prepared to buy himself a little hospitality without arguing about the price. As long as it lasted, he would be a citizen of Florence, Kentucky. CHAPTER 3 The motel didn’t live up to the promise of its sign.
I’m going to ask you one thing. ’ He had allowed himself a pause. To weigh his words. Or maybe to give them more weight. ’ He had taken off his cap and sunglasses and looked at him. ’ In spite of himself, the tone of that ‘No, sir’ had identified him beyond any doubt. ’ His expression was confirmation enough. The word Vietnam wasn’t spoken, but hovered in the air. ’ He had shaken his head. ’ Instinctively, he had bowed his head as he uttered this word, almost as if it was something to feel guilty about.
The ripples of the wind and the shadows of the clouds made it come alive. He remembered how resistant it felt when you ran your hand through it. An unexpected travelling companion, the colour of cold beer, the warm shelter of the hayloft. He knew that sensation. And he remembered how, with other hands, he had run his fingers through Karen’s hair and breathed in her scent, which smelled like nothing else in the world. He had felt it like a painful spasm when he had left after being at home on leave for a month, a fleeting illusion of invulnerability the army granted everyone before they shipped out.