Friday, April 1, 2011


Play play for some mood music

Tom was only back from Korea for a week and he had to make sure he made the most of it. The next leg of the tour would be rough. Or so they predicted.

Rumor was his outfit was headed for the 38th Parallel and that it was gonna get all sorts of ugly before it got better. But he shrugged it off like he did most things. It was his way of dealing.

Riding the bus he was sweaty and the Nevada heat was almost unbearable at this time of the day. For a moment, he wondered just what in the fuck he was doing in this sandpit but then quickly reminded himself it could be his last chance to do those things left for the back-burner like visit Grauman's Chinese Theatre, place his hands in Bogie's on the wall and stick his foot into the majestic Pacific.

This was the time.

His buddies Chip and Phil -- also on leave -- decided to stay at the El Rancho and win back the $45 they were gambling with all week. In a way, he was bummed because that the next time they'd cross paths would probably be in a foxhole somewhere between Suwon or Wonju. As he tried to get that haunting sound of mortar fire out of his brain, the brakes of the bus pushed him forward a bit. He was about 300 miles outside of Las Vegas and had about an hour at bus stop before they shoved off once again towards La La Land.

Tom wasn't off the bus but a minute when he noticed the ladies. There was something odd about them. While they looked like twins, one could've simply been a lookalike older sibling. Watching them, he was mesmerized by how different they seemed. The older-looking one clutched onto her knitting while the other was a peppy and lanky sprite hopping around the bus stop and ultimately stopping at the lunch counter. He drummed up to her and bought her a Pepsi while she tried to drum up a beer. He asked her name. It was Swerve. Betty Swerve. Her sister was Barbara. He smiled. "Betty and Barbara Swerve..." It had a ring to it.

For the next hour, the three shared a bench outside and they spoke of their hometowns, favorite movies and yes, the war. When Tom asked why they were on the bus, they got quiet and Barbara blurted out that they needed a change. Betty joked that they busted out of the loony bin and hopped onto the first bus they could find back in Chicago. All three laughed.

It wasn't long before they were back in their seats and he was off to explore the wild side of Hollywood. And the Swerve Sisters? Tom never saw them get off the bus.

Months later, lying in the muddy foxhole, Tom drummed up memories that would keep him safe. He thought often of Betty and Babs and wondered whatever became of them. But mostly, he just wanted to know if they were telling him the truth.

Music: Jim Reeves, 'Bimbo'. It can be downloaded HERE.


  1. The opening put me in the mindset of a JD Salinger short. Everything seems hunky-dory for the returning veteran, then he offs himself at the end all tragic-like. While the message was good, I couldn't stand the approach. I much prefer your tone and the bench you take them to, Anthony.

  2. Hey John ... Thanks for reading. I think you may have misread (or perhaps I didn't communicate effectively) but our hero doesn't off himself at the end. In fact, he's very much alive...

  3. There is something about bus travel that conjures up that bygone era. Nice piece Anthony. The Swerve sisters left an impression on Tom. Didn't we meet them once before in Atlantic City?

  4. It seems to me that the Swerve sisters should have their own novel about their travels around the country. Telling their truths and lies as they go. Nice tale, Anthony.

  5. Hey Harry: Thanks for stopping by ... You're sorta right... although it wasn't the Swerve Sisters in Atlantic City but ... The Albino Twins ;)

    Good memory...

  6. I am in awe of your unique voice, Ant. You have a way of sitting me down beside your characters so effortlessly (seemingly!).

  7. This piece evoked alot of nostalgia. The reflection bit at the end was a nice touch. I too think thiese sisters could have their own story.

  8. Classic Venutolo. Really enjoy your stories, Anthony, and week after week you deliver them. Thanks!

  9. Excellent story! Wonder what their story really was.

  10. Anthony - I need more information. LOL. Lots of fun. I've got all sorts of questions swimming around in my head.

  11. Well written flash, and like all your stories, rich in details that put each of us on that bus or in the foxhole. Felt like I knew Tom as well as the Swerve sisters - would love to see more about the Swerves! Well done


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