Thi Ne and the Saigon Sinners
War changes people.Young mature faster and you find yourself doing things you'd never do state side.It was almost as crime was okay or the black marker really didn't hurt anyone.But sure helped me with my shack job.
As a recon photographer in Saigon and working with mainly officers I had a lot of privileges that many didn't.When I was off at night I could stay off base as long as I was there for breakfast the first flight out.
At first I just stayed in the barracks at night.Then one night a friend Steiner a big blond german who enlisted from west Germany took me to town at night.The famous Tudo street nothing but bars for servicemen and no male viet namese would go in the bars but the cowboys as they were called hung outside.Same as gangsters in our language.The Saigon tea girls usually didn't whore themselves out as they made alot money just talking to G.I.S.
But cowboys would provide girls all in a local hotel where they lived.Also known to kill for money and get rid of the body never to be found.As Thi Ne would tell me.She once had a solider killed who would come in and ruff her up because she wouldn't sit with him.He'd get kicked out but would back the night after night.Until one night four cowboys rushed him into a cab and did him in.The price 500 dollars American.
I know what your thinking how could I be with a woman like that.But over there someone bugged you enough they disappeared it was just excepted and no one gave it much thought.
I wrote a book once when I was in my thirtys called the Saigon Sinners.Never published as they thought it was too ruff about the night life.
THi NE OR SUNNY as her bar was.She was Cambodian 18 years old I remember when I saw her it was love at first site or lust.She was standing at the bar long black hair and thin body but tight.Darker skinn and almost white features as I was I later to learn there was French in her family line.She seemed out of place somehow .I left Steiner and went over to her.
"Hi my name is steve buy you a drink,thats how this works isn't it."
"Ha ha what pretty boy you are.Killer of VC or office boy pretend to be tuff."
"Air recon photographer they shot at me and I take there picture.I say smile VC ."
"You are so funny no bull shit like others."
I yelled out to mamasun a beer and Saigon tea enough for an hour or so.
We sat down at booth.I sitting next to her putting my arm around her.
"Sunny somehow you look like you are out of place your English is prefect."
"I speack five languages and already have two years of college.When everything changed."She turned her head down."Everything changed.My father an officer in the Viet Namese army lost a arm and one eye and that was it for his service and my mother died of cancer.I had to make money to surport my father and little sister.I make good money here and don't have whore myself.My father thinks I work in an office.I pay the bills so he can live in town in a house with my sister.I don't know why I am telling you this.I never tell anyone."
"Maybe cause you like me .Cause I like you the instant I saw you."
"G.I . so full of bullshit.You love me take me to a America and I give 4 children."
"Yes why not."
"You hear that girls G.I. take me to America."She laughed.
I stood up "Damn straight be my wife."
All the other girls clapped there hands and laughed."They all say that G'I'." Someone answered.
'When I come back tomarrow and tomarrow maybe you'll believe."
"You want to be my man then bring C rations and cigarettes and American beer sale to mamasun for bar.Then I believe.'
So I left that first night and thought what the hell gives something to do.Lust or love who can tell when your young.
Beginning of the black market
Now as soliders we had ration cards 4 twelve packs of beer a month and 4 cartoons of cigarettes.Very cheap as we only making 2 hundred a month depending extras as I was flying I got fifty dollars more.So I went to the Px on my way to the Blue Sky Bar where Sunny worked and brought 4 packs of beer Budweiser.
Outside a cowboy stopped me."You buy for bar ,I can buy, pay more or C rations or tools anything.Make you plenty rich.Why go to bar."
I could see the pistol in his front packet.Then looked back at him."Can I trust not to kill me."
"Why kill the goose that lays the golden egg."He pushed his pistol deeper into his pocket."I pretect you and my gang plenty dangerous to bring beer down here without pretection."
"Keep it in mind."Then I walked into the bar.
"Stevie sun stevie sun."Called out the owner ,you number one you say and you come with beer."
I took the beer to the bar and put it on the counter and she open the cash register and gave me double what i paid.Man I thought if I could get more.Almost a third of my pay per month.
Sunny looked over at me and smiled."NO bullshit solider."She walked over and gave me a long kiss."You get me c rations pay my rent.Or whatever you can get."
"What about money instead.That cowboy outside has other ideas."
"Damn Lee but it is okay.You pay and talk about you live with me."
"Lee what is he to you.Not your pimp."
"I no whore ,he is man who does favors for me from time to time.Not to say more would be foolish.Can I trust Steve ,I don't yet."
"What does it take."
"You say you love me but just want to fuck me.Leave poor Sunny when time is up.I want to go to America first man who can deliver."
"What about your family?"
"I send for them.Lee can get pass port for a price and push papers through."
"lee seems to have a lot of jucie around here.So sell to him ,does give a good price."
"Depends on the stuff.If you get continually he'll pay."
So that night we went to a rented room and had the best sex a 19 year kid ever had.When I ask why not her place,she said in time when trust is higher.
business as usual
I didn't start out wanting to be crook.But I just got in deeper and deeper.Sunny wanted stuff ,that I couldn't afford.After awhile I was living in her apartment.A one room with a bed and tv I brought.At night we would watch a viet namese soap opera and she would explain the story.Then arm forces tv a detective show.She was so interested in not the story but America seeing it.The houses and cars and life style.I tried to explain I was just photographer you know almost no money in civilian life as well.But she wouldn't hear of it.
"No Steve when we get America the sky is limit you get better job and I'll work too.Finish college become a doctor.You stay home with kids."
Me stay home with the kids.Now that wasn't going to happen but wasn't going to tell her cause would get so mad if even talked negative.
If you want stuff to sell you go to supply.Where Staff sergeant Baker was in charge a big black man who loved to sing.I could here him ten feet away.
"Talk about my baby little latin lupe lu.Steve whats happen man need some bullet for you pistol you never shot.Ha ha"
"No sarg I want to get into the black market and I need stuff to sell."
"Are you working for CID cause I am a honest man no double books."He got up looked angry.
"Come on sarg I got a shack job,you know what it takes to support an apartment on spec 4 salary."
"Oh ya or even a staff sergeants salary.Hey got one a honey ,does Baker every night.But the night I don't bring home money or stuff.Well black is only beautiful when its got money.I can't let you in on my thing.The cook sales fruit and veggies and sometimes even meat on the side.Hell we all crooked as can be ha ha.But I got an idea for you buddy.Americas Aid to Viet Nam.An outdoor fenced in place not to far from here.Guard by Viet Namese troops who make 50 dollars a month.They can be brought.Load refrigs and paint and air conditioners.I was going to do it.But I don't need it.Had a deal set up the motor pool for a truck covered with canvas.Of Sergeant Johnson gets a cut.I'll lend you the money at double the return.Two hundred and back four.Motor pool gets a hundred a trip."
"Shit sarg after pay everyone off hell I be brook."
"Shit Steve don't give me that.A load is worth a grant feel it to the top."
"Okay ........but what MPS."
"Fuck those bastards pay them off you get stopped or tell them its for the generals staff.If that doesn't work shoot them.They'd think it was VC hiding in town.
So Steiner and myself americans aid to Viet Nam.In broad daylight.The guard at the gate took the envelop and opened the gate.Inside was everything you could imagine.TVs ,refrigs washers and dryers .Five gallon buckets of paint.Air conditioners,radios. etc on and on.
We just started throwing things in a little of this of that.Then we left the front gate and waved to the guard."Next week same same okay."
"Okay and he held up the envelop.
On the outskites of town Lee had a wharehouse.We came to it and two cowboys with carbines opened the huge doors.We drove in and Lee himself opened the back tailgate.
"Wow what a load.GI learn fast we make plenty of money.
Well I got 1200 for the load and that left 600 for me.Two for Steiner and I still had four.But with my selling my ration card things I had enough to pay the motor pool and the guards,This time no Staff Sergeant Baker.
After awhile I was bring home two grand a month.I was saving to pay off Lee for pass ports when I extended.We would take different things every hit.But the guards said not to worry no one every check.They expect the stuff to be lifted a little as long as it got the people they didn't care.No one cared as long as the money flowed.It did more stuff the higher I had to pay.But I still a profit.
To me it was love and lust.To her it was love if I follow through with America.Hey I knew it was business deal.Hey aren't all marriages like that.Fail and I get someone else.But I wasn't about to fail.When I saw her naked body god it was worth it.To hold her in my arms in that war zone.People were dying all around me and I was having the most fun in life time proably.I could get killed on my recons nothing in war was forever you just take what you can get as much as you can get.
We made love so much that I was actually starting to bleed a little.I went to the medic and he said."Stop screwing so much back off for a week."
"A week Steve no love Sunny anymore."
"Yes but I bleed to much coming a big strain.A break is all."
"Sunny need no relief.NO dick you got a mouth."
"What."Then she took off her panties and cover my mouth.She was moaning in no time.A little while later she came.Then got off.
"Now Stevie love Sunny.I get everyday no matter what Stevie."
My first time doing that.For a week and it was getting old and I was thinking she loved it more then my thing.So after 4 days it was business as usual.
Not 21 or Karloyn gets even
Here I was in a war zone putting my life on the line.Because I wasn't 21 I needed my mothers written permission to get married.Her brother was killed by the Japanese and she didn't like orientals much.Besides which I was engaged back home to my child hood sweet heart.Later to be found out she cheating as well as I.Hey I don't blame her.But mother it didn't look good.
Another problem I had money piling up and couldn't put in banks there.So I had to send home to my mother to put it in savings account.I told her it was for a car.She never question how a enlished man made officers money being sent home.
I wrote my sister Jolene and ask her to soften mother up without letting the cat out of the bag.But she wrote back that Karloyn and Mother were making wedding plans when I came home.Shit I just extended and was due to go home on leave in a month.
I finally met Major Thi and he was for it.A very intelligent man and I could see where Sunny got it.
"You back to America never come back,"she started to cry."All bull shit,you never come back."
"I will just leave I need to go back and get written permission from my mother."
"Does not make sense I do not need.Why you."
"Damn America law."
tet offensive:was early in tour
Now back in Iowa the most conservate state in the union.How was I tell her.Karloyn met at the air port.Then we kissed like I was never gone.I was starting to second guess myself.We went to her place and we had our clothes off before the door was shut.We made love must have been an hour.Lust pinned up from her she said."You want me baby take me again."'
Climbed on top and pushed back long blond hair."lets get married now before you get you next post."
She got off me and stood up on the floor."What you extended when everyone else wants to come home.When I am here to fucking marry you damn bastard.You got a girl over there don't ya."She started to cry."Fucking bastard I bets it a girl.Tell its not......tell its not.Your no killer."
"I.........shit Karloyn.A year is a long time."
"Well fuck you mister.Your dick is not only one town either.I got replacement don't need you shit."She walked over to her clothes started putting them on."Oh wait until I tell your mother.An oriental bitch,she'll love that."
I got out of bed and got dressed."You will not tell her anything understand."
"Watch me buddy."She picked up her phone dialed my mother."Ruth this is Karloyn I have Steve here and this fucker extend because of some Viet Namese cunt can't wait until he comes home."She turned and gave me the middle finger."Get the hell out,I'm not driving you.And you know Johny is better in bed makes me come and come.I only fake it with you.Like this oh ya hu hu.Then she snapped her finger pointed to the door.
"You come to me ask my permission to marry this Viet Namese whore."
"Mother please she is no whore but a working woman.We love each other."
"I will not."She turned away."I will not ruin your life."
"NO mother please.............please mother.'
"What of Karloyn a girl you have love so many years."
"She had decided to go the lover who took my place while in Nam."'
"young people don't understand anything."
"Do you know this woman will leave once in America.What a fool you will be.I wont have it do you understand."
"Mother please I bet of you ."
I looked up my old friend clyde we played in a rock band in high school and he was going to junior college.He told me our lead singer died in Viet Nam in a fire fight,
"Shit Clyde can the news just keep coming bad.I can't stand much more."
"This girl over there?"
"I lose everything and have go back to harms way."
Back In Nam
"Sunny please.I will be 21 in a year."
"You go Phu Bi a dangerous place.YOu not come back.I will not wait the first man who can take me to America."
"Sunny don't say that."I grab for her arm.She pulls away.
Crying"I love you Steve I will always love you but I must do this thing for my family."
"Sunny please I beg of you please.I have money lots of money .I could get your pass port and meet you in America."
"No that is all.You must leave now."
So I left no woman in the States and none here as well.I felt like such a loser.A womans man my sister would say.I go to war with no reason to stay safe.
THe Saigon Sinners
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