Mother Goddess of the Three Realms

hau dong

Summon going on: An Chinh, a medium, in a performance of Hau Dong at the Viet Theatre in Hanoi ( Reuters )

The mother goddess swirled in the clouds above Hanoi. It had been many years since she had been summoned, but for months now, she could hear the calls.

“At last, my children have remembered me.”

For moments, she considered the various mediums who invoked her.

“Yes, she is the one. Her followers give great offerings, and her soul is devoted.”

The mother goddess descended to a modest collection of apartments, and one occupied by 24-year-old Le Dinh Hoang who is in the midst of performing the noisy and possibly even ostentatious Hau Dong ceremony, visions of water, forest, and heaven dancing in her mind and the others present.

Then the medium and garage mechanic sighs, shudders, and then she stands. When she opens her eyes, they are sapphire blue rather than their usual brown, and the rest of them know. Le Dinh Hoang is gone. The mother goddess walks among them.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google maps image and/or location as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Hanoi, Vietnam. I suppose I could have written about Hanoi Jane, but the celebrity infamous among Vietnam era veterans didn’t pop into my head until I began authoring this afterword.

Hanoi Jane

Actress Jane Fonda sits on an antiaircraft gun during a 1972 trip to North Vietnam (Nihon Denpa News/AP)

However, after looking up Hanoi’s vast history, I settled on the news story Vietnam’s spirit mediums revive once forbidden ritual. Ever since the 16th century, the Hau Dong ritual, which pays homage to the Mother Goddess of the three realms, forest, water, and heaven, has been practiced, but when the Communists came to power, it was banned. Now it is experiencing a revival, and I thought I’d base my wee tale on this bit of news.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

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Warriors and the Sons of Warriors

the american flag

“People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” -attributed to George Orwell

His name is Derek Johnson and he’s a disabled, homeless drunk living in an alley that stinks of piss. He’s also a Marine and a Vietnam vet. The three punks thought it was funny, but I sure as hell didn’t. The old man was still passed out when they found him. Drunks most times get rolled for what little they’ve got, which isn’t much, or sometimes a truly sick bastard will pour gasoline on them, and think they’re doing the world a favor by torching a “warmonger” to death.

This time, they only took his prosthetic foot.

I can’t sleep. I can never sleep, well, almost never. When the insomnia monster is clawing at my brain, I walk. Who cares if it’s 2 a.m. or whenever. This time, it was just after dawn. I saw them running out of the alley, laughing like hyenas on coke and carrying something. On a hunch, I looked where they’d been and found him. He was barely conscious and cussing up a storm. I saw the stump where his foot used to be and I saw the words “Semper Fi” tattooed on his forearm. That’s all I needed to know.

“Stay here, brother. I’ll be back.” I touched his shoulder hoping he’d think it was reassuring.

“Stay here? You fuckin’ nuts? I ain’t got no foot. Where the hell would I go?”

I didn’t answer. I just turned away. If I were in his place, I’d probably have said the same thing or worse.

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