25 Short Stories and Novellas - novelonlinefull.com
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She felt sorry for the old man. And yet he had managed to have one
big thing in his life: the war. That was something. His one moment of glory,
Her life had had nothing in it at all, so far, except the uneventful
getting from age zero to age nineteen, and that was how it looked to
remain. The world was pretty empty, locally, these days. You couldn't
expect much when you lived in a country thirty miles across, that you
could drive from one end of to the other in an hour, if you could
drive. At least Uncle James had had a war.
They were on the bridge now, meshed with its transport cable, whizzing
westward at a hundred kilometers per hour. Carlotta pointed out
landmarks on the way, in case he had forgotten them. "There's Alcatraz
Island, do you see? And that's Mount Tamalpais, away across on the
Marin County side. And back over there, behind us, you can see the
whole East Bay, Oakland, Berkeley, El Cerrito . . . "
The old man seemed interested. He responded with a jumble of military
history, hazy memories intermixed with scrambled details out of the
wrong wars, "The Mendocino people came in right through there, where the
San Rafael bridge used to be, maybe two hundred of them. We fixed
their wagons. And then the j.a.ps, General Togo and Admiral Mitsubishi,
but we drove them back, we nuked their a.s.ses right out of here, Then a
week afterward there was a raid by San Jose, came up through Oakland,
we stopped them by the Alameda Tunnel-no, it was the bridge-the bridge,
right, we held them, they were cursing at us in gook and when we went
in to clear them out we found that Charlie had planted Bouncing
Betties everywhere, you know, antipersonnel mines . . . "
She didn't know what he was talking about, but that was all right. Most of
the time she didn't know what he was talking about, nor, she suspected,
did he. It didn't matter. He rambled on and on.
The bridge crossing took ten minutes-- there was hardly any
traffic--and then they were gliding down the ramp into the city.
Carlotta felt a little wave of excitement stirring within her. Approaching
the city could do that to you. It was so lovely, shining in the bright
sunlight with the waters of the bay glittering all around. A place of such
infinite promise and mystery.