Fiction: Plain of Jars

- Matthew Roy Davey


Cloud hung in the valley of the arrowhead hills.  Ly sat outside his shack amidst the green and stared towards the house by the river.   Old Kham had lived there until his landlord realised how much the westerners would pay.  All had been quiet before but now a thump of bass echoed down the valley.  Ly couldn’t hear the music, his eardrums had been ruptured by an air strike years before, but he could feel the concussions.  Pouy could hear it, she spent hours crying, unable to sleep.  Ly and Pouy had been close since he arrived, everyone else had viewed him with suspicion.  Pouy had no one, her husband and sons both dead.

It seemed to Ly that the westerners were welcomed at first.  They meant life was safer, that the madness to the south was over, but it wasn’t long before the calm was destroyed.
Not far from the river was an area that hadn’t been swept.  When he saw two women walking across it, swigging from a bottle they then hurled into the river, Ly didn’t call out.  It was only a matter of time.

Ly knew westerners, he’d worked for the French as a boy; they were kind, treated him like a pet.  He ignored what happened to his sister.  When they departed life went on as usual, until the war began to the east.  More westerners came, Americans this time in civilian clothes.  They flew small aircraft to help the B52s find the trail.  Ly and his friends helped the smiling men.  Then one day the communists came.  ‘We drove out the French’, they said, ‘and you welcome the Americans?  Are you from Saigon?’  Ly denounced his friends and watched as they dug their own graves.
He left town forever that night.

Ly watched the westerners dancing almost naked on the river bank.  Now the village was awash with litter.  Some of the local girls had been forced to leave for Bangkok and Pouy was always crying.  He could feel the beat, like the rotors of a chopper, deep in his heart.
Ly picked up his machete and walked down the hill.


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