The .38 Snub Nose Pistol (2)

The revolver in Tuyet’s possession proves ironic. The weapon, which Chuck gave her, was to protect herself and her son. That’s not how she ended up using it.

As Saigon is falling, Chuck is safely evacuated to the Midway, a ship of the U.S. 7th Fleet, but Thanh and Tuyet are still in Saigon. Chuck is ill with the same maladies that affected me due to privations during and after the evacuation—exhaustion, amoebic dysentery, and pneumonia. He’s in sick bay. Colonel Troiano, his boss in Saigon, sits with him:

Troiano pulled his chair close to the gurney. “I discussed it with the Commander [the ship’s doctor who is caring for Chuck], and we decided to tell you instead of waiting. We don’t want you to get the word somewhere else.”

The base of Chuck’s spine tingled. He sat straight. “What?”

“Tuyet’s dead, Chuck.”

It was a sledgehammer to his chest.

“We found out,” Troiano went on, “from Radio Liberation. It’s moved into Saigon—they’re calling it Ho Chi Minh City now. So you’ll know all of it, I’ll read a translation of their broadcast from 0600 this morning.”

He took a paper from his breast pocket, unfolded it, and read.

“The running dogs of the imperialists are now all either dead or captured. Yesterday our valiant troops seized the so-called Joint General Staff of the puppet army almost without resistance. Only one of the puppet officers, the infamous Marine Colonel Pham Ngoc Thanh, the notorious butcher of Phat Hoa, tried to fight us. Our forces quickly overcame him and his wife, holed up in his office. Unable to face the strict justice of the people after we captured him, his wife produced a snub nose .38 pistol, the weapon of cowards, and killed the colonel and herself before our troops could stop her. Her treachery is typical of the running dogs . . .”

Troiano took a deep breath. “It goes on, but that’s the important part.”

Tuyet dead. Like Molly. And Philippe, Angélique, Thanh. And [his son] Ben. He’d known it before Troiano told him. Now there was no denying, no escape.

“I’ll stay with him,” he heard Troiano say.

End of quote. The bitter irony of how Tuyet used the snub nose pistol Chuck gave her—she, like so many other South Vietnamese, chose death rather than life under the communists.

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