#10. One of These Days

#10. One of These Days

I didn’t know how the below conversation came into existence. Nha was just sitting there, idling away his life like how people treated the lottery tickets when they knew they didn’t win. And I guess as a passerby on the street – and a decent citizen at least – I should pick up the lottery […]

#9. Hurtful Things Are Beautiful Things

#9. Hurtful Things Are Beautiful Things

I woke up to Nha sitting like a monument at the edge of the wooden bed. A champion of inconsolable sadness and grief. Except that he was not a monument. It’s just that somehow, he happened to sit there long enough to become one. My phone was still in his hands. The battery was long […]

#8. The Flood Is Always There (Even When You Are Not Looking)

#8. The Flood Is Always There (Even When You Are Not Looking)

I was standing in the dark, wet corner of the house – every corner of this house is a dark, wet corner – when uncle Hai came in from the fish pond in the backyard. He said, “It’s gonna rain hard today, ya be sure to pull in those clothes.” He meant the old, worn-out, threadbare rags […]

#7. The Story of Hai “Don Co”*

#7. The Story of Hai “Don Co”*

*Don Co: đàn cò in South-West Vietnam accent – a musical instrument used in Vietnamese opera It was high noon when I met them just outside the village’s gate. They didn’t go straight through the decayed yellow-painted gate, no. They hid by the gate’s corner, looked stealthily at the empty road winding through the small […]

#6. The ‘Murican Syllables

#6. The ‘Murican Syllables

I and the wild little pros – I meant, thing, arrived at Ca Mau bus stop in a wintry early morning. The station’s parking lot was so empty it made me wondered about the loneliness of men on the run, finding the meaning of life. But none of that bullshit now, because this wild little […]

#5. The First Conversation

#5. The First Conversation

“What did you tell him, you snitch?” Nha asked me, his teeth gritting while his left hand squeezed the bone out of my right arm. “Nothing much. I said I was running away with a murderer. I said that the same murderer threatened to kill me. And I also said the murderer I was running […]

#4. Thang “Khung”‘s Story*

#4. Thang “Khung”‘s Story*

My bus departed at one in the morning. We drivers always joked with each other about the girl left at one in the morning. We said it was the devil’s bus, ’cause there’s always something that happened to her. After all, the thirteenth hour, right? The week before that day, Viet “Ba Tam” drove her […]

#3. I Can Only Do Nothing For You

#3. I Can Only Do Nothing For You

I opened the door to one of the most astonishing scenes in my entire life. My best boy was there with a man who looked a decade older than him. The old bastard carried every symbol of bad luck. Dirty shirt, torn jeans, callous hands, skin darker than my funeral dress. I could go on […]

#2. I Ain’t Gonna Tell Anyone

#2. I Ain’t Gonna Tell Anyone

To this day, I still don’t know what evil forces pushed me into that alleyway, approached that criminal-look-alike creature (spoiler: he was an actual criminal), and dragged him home. Not my home. Not that I own anything. But one must have this illusion that one actually possesses something, anything, to ground one’s feet on the […]

#1. Ma, I killed a man

#1. Ma, I killed a man

“Ma, I killed ‘im” I told ma, my voice was sinking amid the mournful and dreary tunes of an old, worn-out cai luong cassette. Outside, the April rain was falling hard like a flood in October. The downfall was ready to sweep this poor neighborhood away to the dark, unfathomable sea. The loudspeakers at every street corner […]