Take a Shot at Our Next Stop…

Let's rest at this nice palace-sade!

…CAMBODIA!!!

SOUS-DEY LITERATI!!!

Our next stop takes us around the world from foggy Scotland to lush Cambodia! Thirsty? Let Michael Stang quench your thirst in his story called:

FATHER

“I ain’t scared of man nor beast, boy, remember that.”

My Father always did that, said that, like it was the one thing I would find useful in life.

He was dying, my Father.

After the funeral, the old guard reunited at the Holy Crab for the wake. The restaurant belonged to me now. I shared it with my Father’s three excuses for having lived as long as he did—his Tigers. Government forces and the general population that made up the People’s Socialist Community were under the impression he walked on water. They hailed him as one of their only real war heroes, they bestowed on him the highest military rank: Rear General of the Royalist troops who defended the Kingdom of Cambodia, God’s own, during the country’s civil war against the Communist fractions. Politically, the man was absolute power and held much personal consideration towards his own inflated image. Bopha, his faithful wife, was his last chance of atonement. When she served him on this earth, her mission was to return the light of the Pali Canon back into his black soul. When they found her body on the floor in an upstairs room strangled and cut from stem to stern, the people started to love my Father less.

Compatriots filled the restaurant. They huddled around war stories impatient to be told and complained of how the Government promised but failed to take care of them. Their wives kept them from the bar, but in the back, where the wooden porch creaked ten feet above the Mekong River, Veterans of 67’ roped up metal buckets of Angkor beer from the water. They bragged they used the best opium, but the brides knew better, the old days were gone.

Nuon Chea entered a side gate hidden by the afternoon’s steam. Crazy heat chugged through the light framing and singed the snake’s tail of his Naga ancestry. He ordered a whiskey then sat back at a table unnoticed until I looked over and recognized the square bald head, the no neck ear pierced with gold.

I motioned Malay, behind the bar, to refill his drink. When she set it in front of him, the Hulk ignored her and motioned me to the table. Massive cabled arms opened magnanimously, hands of steel directed me to sit.

“Come, Comrade, I am here to pay my humble respects. This country of ours will long endure the debt to your family.”

“Your respect was due at the funeral … earlier.” Chea’s eyes were not gray; they turned gray when he studied me. I was reminded of the curiously built heads embedded in the walls at the discovered temples at Angkor Wat and Banteay Srei. Each ten-ton boulder shaped in front worked as part of a face.

The presence of Chea was noticed inside The Holy Crab in an expanding matrix until the restaurant tightened down. Dignitaries suddenly found the hour late. The old soldiers—arm-and-arm—were ushered out by anxious women who kept looking back at our table with the evil eye. The cats began to pace in their cages.

The anvil with two eyes and a nose broke into a social smile.

“Forgive me for such a late arrival. Requirements of an ambassador ignore personal schedules.” Chea growled at Malay.

“Absinthe,” he spat. Two digitally formed fingers broke free from the iron fist indicating a round. “Your Father and I kept many secrets from one another. He was my equal, head to head, toe to toe, we were born to fight. It’s unfortunate we were enemies. As a team, we could have ruled the world.”

Malay sat two shot glasses down and opened the bottle in front of us. She poured without hesitation, calm and sure, then left us alone.

“Cambodia has always been a country of toe to toe,” I said before lifting the glass to toast.

“My Father wanted the killing stopped.”

Chea leaned in from across the table. “Let me tell you something, your Father killed more of our countrymen than all the rest of us put together. The only reason I’m sitting here before you now is military training and a whole lot of luck. He had me in his sights many times.”

I threw back the shot without the toast. My head started to swim. Anger ran recklessly within me. I was ready for a fight I would surely loose.

“So, what? Now you come for the son? Am I in line for the slaughter?”

Chea chuckled.

“You’re just like your old man, you think too much of yourself. When heroes pass, it’s right to honor them. It is true we hated each other, and we went to the ends of this earth to cut each other’s throat. Too bad his depression brought him down. I know he would have preferred an assassin’s bullet.”

I refilled the glasses. “That was always Bopha’s fear, anytime anywhere.”

Chea stilled at the sound of Bopha’s name. “I heard they never found her murderer.”

“Popular belief is my Father did it.”

“That’s crazy talk. Bopha was an angel on earth, she kept your Father sane and alive.”

“How would you know that? Did you have your Commie spies in their bedroom?”

Chea’s hooks retracted and fell below the table as if to rest on his lap, but I could see the corded muscles around his chest tighten.

“You little pissant, you think you stand for the future of Cambodia? You’re not worth the smell of her sewers. Bopha was my daughter, do you understand? She had to die. Without her, he would too.”

Nuon Chea’s hand breached the top of the table holding a steady 45, but Malay had beaded in and shot the anvil’s head in two. She returned to the table to retrieve the bottle.

I asked her to bring another glass and walk with me in fields of gold.

Well, shoot.

Don’t forget to turn your entries in to stefanie@awordwithyoupress.com no later than MARCH 4TH, 2017 AT 11:59PM PACIFIC TIME! Please let Michael a kind thought and share!!!

20 comments

    • Sal, there is no fee, but I have heard the deadline was the fourth, then I heard the deadline (earlier) was the fifteenth. Email Stef at the usual awwyp. Would love to see your talent in this contest.

  1. Tiffany V says:

    This hit my throat like a good, aged shot. Small but vicious, and cute. Something like a koala, until you mess with her babies. Well done, comrade. This is amazing. Even though I didn’t know much of the country, you led me through the nuances well, and I got most of the jokes (funny and not). Good show.

  2. Miryam says:

    This piece is so clean & authentic that it gives me chills. A metaphysical storm….
    It is my thought that Mr Stang receive a category of his own, as there is no comparison to his gift in transporting his readers….
    Thank you once again Mr Stang

    • Miryam, I am just getting this post on 3/08. I feel like I just won an Oscar with your comments.

      Your comments and your thought behind them are too good to be true … but I know they are.
      All the best to you and those you cuddle with.
      Please call me Mike,
      Mr Stang

  3. Diana says:

    Brutal. This very personal look inside tribal politics exposes the worst of humanity and the raw hindbrain drives for power and territorialism that motivate murder, both mass and individual. Powerful and disturbing.

    • When Stef assigned to me the country of Cambodia I found it difficult to get past the press images of constant war. I wanted to reach into the mythology and the pastel landscapes and write some kind of love story but alas it was not to be. Thank you for your comments. Cambodia has a long way to go.

  4. Diane Cresswell says:

    Your words created quite the visuals for this piece. Your stories always do. The country has been in tribal conflict for many years leaving behind deep wounds and scars. You have captured this yet still managed to weave a story of significance within. Mighty fine – Mike – mighty fine.

    • Thank you, Diane. I do appreciate your perception. The research of the country took me to many places I did not want to go, but then, many other places I was glad to have discovered. It amazes me how the beauty of the discovered temples are in stark contrast to the political strife. A strange land indeed.

  5. Jeff Switt says:

    Conflict and flash are made for each other and your writing style is perfect for both. I truly appreciate your delving into Cambodian culture and history and emerging without a single stereotype. I let my imagination tour the bar setting as the story unfolded. I tip my Stetson to you.

  6. Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

    Michael, your sense of imagery is peerless and I loved the mood and stark truths you conjured up here.

    I was less satisfied by the rendering of a particular culture, time and place; I believed in Bopha but thought the narrator could have been a monster’s son anywhere such dynamics flourish.

    But as always I enjoy your voice and could listen to it forever.

    • I am dancing on air, thank you, Sarah.
      Looking back at the piece, I agree that the narrator was on the outside looking in.
      There is still time to get an entry in. I think the deadline is the 15th. Hook up with Stef and she will assign you a country. Could not think of anything better.

  7. The Lady Pafia says:

    Your storytelling, based in characters and dialogue, is a raw and guilty pleasure which was more palatable for my predecessors, but I believe that the tortured emotions of this mad, mad world are a necessary read entry per entry over the history of AWWYP.

    Cambodia to me represents a pain, I, myself, would be paralyzed over due its “Killing Fields”, thoughts of Viet Nam without visiting its past struggles. Your writing touches your readers, because of your own struggles to understand how there can be such inhumanity. I begin this new life of hopeful peace, a fan of you as a writer.

  8. Parisianne Modert says:

    Your storytelling, based in characters and dialogue, is a raw and guilty pleasure which was more palatable for my predecessors, but I believe that the tortured emotions of this mad, mad world are a necessary read entry per entry over the history of AWWYP.

    Cambodia to me represents a pain, I, myself, would be paralyzed over due its “Killing Fields”, thoughts of Viet Nam without visiting its past struggles. Your writing touches your readers, because of your own struggles to understand how there can be such inhumanity. I begin this new life of hopeful peace, a fan of you as a writer. The Lady Pafia

  9. Lady Pafia, it is so good to hear your perspective again. It is true our world faces past. present. and future horrors and I seem to be drawn to it, but there is a love of creativity that I imagine will pay forward. Inhumanity is not new to me (though it disgusts me to the very core), but to write about it, to get closer to it as in a danger zone is something I explore. Clarity is knowledge.
    The best to you. Wishing you well.

  10. Parisianne Modert says:

    Kind sir, I assure you, despite the need to enter my predecessor’s name here, I am not she other than her memories. I am a boundary obeying, rules formed, single lady, living a peaceful, calm & joyful beginning. I am the healed emergence of a multiple-personality disorder sufferings from their childhoods until recent.

    I, Pafia Modert, am not Parisianne, Rufia or Pete & invite any of you to inquire & converse with me on FB and/or in person if we should meet. I remember you, Michael, because of Parisianne’s meeting you at Mr. Sully’s party 8/30/2014. I wish to replace their impressions with my own “Clarity” with each of you.

    The Lady Pafia

Comments are closed.