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  • GOLD

    They had no time to pack. They took only a few photographs, the clothes on their back, and a heavy burlap sack of gold and jewelry.

    When they arrived at the United States embassy, there was a mob in front of the gates, pushing, shoving, pleading with the armed soldiers to give them sanctuary.

    My uncle waved a special blue pass (a gift from an American diplomat) The gates opened. A soldier whisked them inside the embassy.

    On the embassy rooftop. They scrambled aboard a helicopter.

    The helicopter lifted into the sky, whirling its way towards an aircraft carrier in the South China Sea.

    Suddenly. The helicopter sputtered. Losing attitude. Sinking. With too much weight.

    The solution. Dump all baggages. Before my uncle could protest. A soldier grabbed his burlap sack.

    My uncle watched as his entire fortune tumbled into the ocean, vanishing, without a sound. He almost jumped.


    A week after they escaped Vietnam into the ocean, a Thai pirate ship rammed into their boat, and after jumping on board, the pirates raped the women, even the young girls, husbands watched their wives, fathers, their daughters, brothers, their sisters, the women were crying, screaming, but there was nothing they could do, the pirates had guns and knives, and so the men, they all stood there, ashamed. Impotent.

    When the pirates were finished with raping the women, they started shooting people, and burning the boat, and it was then that everyone realized that they would all die, and so the people began to fight back, the women, the men, with everything they had, their fists and nails, bullets and blood spraying everywhere on the boat. During the meelee, the man fell off the boat, and when he surfaced, he could see the boat burning, the billowing black smoke, the fire, the odor of kerosene and wood.

    He was the only one who survived.


    After several weeks, they were still lost at sea. They came across two islands. One was infested with monkeys, the other with snakes.

    They chose the snake island. The monkeys were too viscous, attacking them, with teeth, from the trees, with rocks.

    But: the monkey island had water. So everyday volunteers had to cross into the monkey island to fetch water, gather food.

    Their clothes were melting as a result of the merciless sun. There was not enough food. Starving.

    The low point. Fighting with a monkey over an unripe banana.

    The worse was not knowing if they would ever be rescued. If they would die on this tropical island that looked from a photograph. Like paradise.
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