Amerasians (2)

Further from my quote of Last of the Annamese about Amerasian orphans in Vietnam:

Philippe raised his scarred face, lacking one cheekbone, eyes out of alignment, and offered Chuck a disfigured smile. “Hi pee-kwee.” He reached for Chuck.

Chuck lifted him into the sunshine. “I missed you.” He folded Philippe into his arms. When Ben [Chuck’s son] was a year old, he was this size, but he weighed more than Philippe, whose arms were barely thicker than Chuck’s thumb. The sisters didn’t know how old Philippe was. They didn’t know his real name. They said nothing about how he came to be in the orphanage.

As usual, a sister carried a folding chair into the yard and opened it for Chuck. Philippe nestled in Chuck’s embrace, pressed his head into the curve of Chuck’s neck, and grasped Chuck’s shirt in a tight fist.

Chuck rocked him. “You all right, Pipsqueak?”

“Pee-kwee?” the boy said in perfect imitation of Chuck’s intonation.

“You want me to sing to you today?”

“Seen too yoo?”

“Okay.” Chuck started “Froggy Went a’ Courtin’” in a quiet, deep voice. He’d read, back when Ben was a baby, that children responded more to the vibrations of the male voice than to the sound, and sure enough, Philippe contoured himself against Chuck’s chest.

More next time.

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