I’ll never forget that late April 1975 car trip from the embassy in Saigon—following my failed briefing of the ambassador—back to my office at Tan Son Nhat, on the northern edge of the city. I was driving alone, but in the novel Last of the Annamese, I wrote the description of the trip from the point of view of the protagonist, Chuck, who was chauffeured to and from the meeting:
Chuck ensconced himself in the sedan’s passenger seat to the right of the driver rather than sitting in the back on the return trip to Tan Son Nhat. His hand grasped the Beretta [pistol] hidden inside the briefcase. After less than a mile, the hordes of refugees filled the street and blockaded the sedan. As the crowd surrounded the car, the din grew louder. Faces outside the car windows were savage. Chuck heard the thump of fists beating on the sides and trunk of the car. The driver, terrified, tried to move forward, but now the mob swamped the sedan, screaming. The car was stymied.
Chuck sat straight and with a calmness that surprised him, drew the Beretta into the open. He aimed it through the windshield and drew his lips away from his teeth.
The thugs directly in front of the sedan drew back, startled.
“Drive through,” Chuck growled at the chauffeur. “Now.”
The car crept forward, gaining speed. After twenty feet, it was up to ten miles per hour. Chuck kept the Beretta on display for the rest of the trip.
End of quote. More tomorrow.