Flash in the Pan

A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights

Particle Physics

by Ken Rodgers

In my dream Betty and I fret about boarding a plane. We're to meet Alice and Neil in Paris but something pops up and prevents departure, something unexplained, a palpable murk—a hazy barrier.

Wakened several times by diesel trucks chugging down US Highway 30, I've drifted in and out of this dream—I know the dream probably happens in a few seconds—yet I'm uncertain.

Betty and I met Neil and Alice at the reunion of the Khe Sanh Veterans. Neil and I survived that combat and now he spends time preaching PTSD and he's almost convinced me I'm infected, too. For forty years I've said, "No way."

I think Betty thinks I've got it.

Neil and I shook on it. He says he hates the French. Alice loves the French. Betty and I adore France and if I contact the Veterans Administration and pursue treatment for something I'm not sure I've got, we'll go to Paris together.

Thus, I suppose, my irritation with our inability to board that plane, but I must admit that dream pales in comparison to two earlier in the night—I think it was this night— knockoffs of a dream that pops up and invades my slumber ever since we returned from that reunion (and maybe before—long before).

I'm in the jungle grass and saber-like blades tent above my head. There's yelling. Incoming shrieks and concusses the red ground beneath my knees. I have orders to attack the top of a ridge. Every time I try to advance, a North Vietnamese soldier pops up and shoots at me, and then another one pops up, and then another, AK-47 rounds zipping by my head. It's like my enemy's connected to a string that gets yanked every time I try to advance.

It reminds me of string theory—or my rendition—where an indiscernible string of energy yanks connected objects all across the universe; events are tied. Or like quantum mechanics and Werner Heisenberg's uncertainty principle where things pop up like the enemy in my dreams and when I leap up to waste them first, they are not where I think they ought to be—they aren't there.

That's how the dream keeps erupting. Like quarks and all that quantum particle stuff. Yanked by a string tied to events forty years past. Maybe the dream played in my sleep all these years, but my insistence of the dream's non-existence suppressed it and now it pops up like random electrons because I have capitulated.

"Yes. This terrible thing happened to me."

I hate that admission.

But the process marches on irrevocable as time's relationship to the second law of thermodynamics-we ain't going back, Jack—not to the age of twenty-one and certainly not to my war. And though I want to keep that violent past to my front so I'm not ambushed by ghosts, too many issues I thought I held in firm hands now seem out of control.

Except our trip to Paris. Bonjour.

Ken Rodgers lives and teaches in Boise, Idaho--sometimes he writes, too, and right now forty-year-old Marine Corps war memories consume him. Semper Fidelis.

Fourteenth Flash

Final Cut by Anne Kaier
Sounds Of Night by Alegria Imperial
Youʼre Invited! by Arlene L. Mandell
Books by Gillian P. Herbert
Lost by Gretchen Clark
Cc by Joan Zerrien
Birds Of A Feather by Kathleen Mcclung
Feel Like Fay Wray by Jonah Raskin
The Great Blue by Kit Croucher
Finding The Missing Piece by Maggie Manning
On Beauty by Leslie Whatley
The Call by Pamela Villars
Reconstructing Janus by Rodney Merrill
Fear Of Passion by Diana Kimberlin

Back to Flashes