Email this sample to a friend

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen




Chapter 1

(Somewhere in the Philippine jungles, 1937)

I met my ex-wife in a place like this years ago. The tropics of the South Pacific. Philippines this time. A place where Hell’s bellows singe the underbelly of the world, blasting tentacles of flame from deep beneath the earth. And where I’m convinced every volcanic belch is let only to saturate its sorry inhabitants to the verge of misery with hot vaporous plumes of sulfur and ash. A place that when you walk into a bar the first words out of the cute girl’s mouth – once she realizes you’re not local and thus must be pocketing some green – are ‘suckie, suckie…one bucki-eeee.’ And the only thing keeping the jungle from annexing villagers’ lands is the constant roll of foot traffic from passersby on their expeditious ways up tributaries to nowhere looking to do nothing good.

God, I love these places, I think, as my putter-jockey maneuvers our tin johnboat into the yellow glow of a bamboo and rattan village at the water’s edge. He’s a sweaty local chap draped in rags that must’ve been clothes a few years ago, and a smile full of toothless gums and betel nut stains. It’s dark now, not pitch if you’re above the jungle canopy, but down here where trees creep over the water like rafters on a covered New England bridge there’s no light except what emanates from a few low wattage bulbs in the village. Their scant glow – collectively powered by a single gasoline generator no bigger than the motor pushing our boat to shore – barely seeps through upright cracks inherent to the huts’ bamboo and rattan construction; those huts fortunate enough to have electricity, that is. My khaki pants and shirt cling like second skins, tugging at my arms and legs as I shift my weight in preparation for landfall. At least the bugs died off with the sun, I muse.

Previous Page Next Page Page 3 of 81