These stories address ways that war alters lives in ways that persist long after the last firefight or strafing.
In “Night Mission,” two Marines who scan aerial photography make an appalling discovery about the targets they have identified.
“Cadence Count” follows two Army draftees, one white and one Black, through weeks of basic training that turn surreal.
In “Papa-san’s Private War,” a Vietnamese peasant seeks revenge after an obtuse lieutenant refuses to compensate him for the water buffalo the troops at a firebase have killed by mistake.
In “The Inland Sea,” the narrator searches in his history as the grandson of an educator and the cousin of a military officer for clues to his own decision to marry the wrong woman.
“Harry and the Ugly Rug” traces the descent of Harry Waters from his service as a fighter pilot in Korea, where he strafed fleeing civilians, to his retirement near an American air base in Germany, where his guilt fuels delusions.
In “Dawn Call,” an Air Force veteran who teaches English in Saudi Arabia takes a predawn jog in Riyadh. He flings epithets like “Your Emptiness” at God for causing the death by suicide of a close friend.