Amerasians (3)

The end of my quote from Last of the Annamese:

One by one, the other children crouched close to Chuck’s feet. He sang three verses and stopped. The wolfish, meager faces watched him.

“Can’t you smile?” Chuck asked them.

They went on staring.

“Smile.” He opened his eyes wide and used two fingers of one hand to push his own lips into a grin.

The little girl closest to him covered her mouth and giggled. A boy laughed out loud. Soon they were all laughing, even Philippe. A passing sister shushed them but kept going.

“You want another song?” Chuck said.

“Song?” Philippe said, nearly inaudible.

Chuck sang as much as he could remember of “She’ll Be Comin’ ’Round the Mountain.” At the end, the children screeched with laughter.

“You should clap,” Chuck said with a grin.

“Ka,” Philippe said.

“I—” Chuck pointed at himself, then performed a charade of singing. “You—” Holding Philippe in the crook of one arm, he pointed at them and clapped.

Again he pointed at himself, sang a few notes, pointed at them. The girl at his feet clapped three times silently.

“Yes,” Chuck said with a big smile. He repeated the pointing and singing. Half the children clapped hesitantly. “Good for you. Again.” This time they all clapped.

The singing and clapping went on until the last of the sunlight had moved beyond the courtyard. Chuck told them that was all, and they moaned in unison. He stood and carried the weightless Philippe back to his spot by the chapel wall.

“I’ll come see you again soon,” Chuck said.

“Soon,” Philippe repeated.

On his way out, Chuck left the customary twenty in U.S. green in the empty saucer inside the compound gate.

End of quote. Many of the children in orphanages were evacuated during President Ford’s BabyLift operation, but many more were left behind. I shudder to think how the North Vietnamese treated the bastard children of their sworn enemy.

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