John Yohe
Puerto Rico in the late 60s 

Puerto Rico in the late 60s, when there was still a naval base, and officers’ families lived in houses, along cliffs that looked out on the Caribbean, out on Vieques Island, where at night navy ships practiced bombing, the explosions and rumbles seconds later, and in one house was a father, a man, a boy really, an accountant really, who joined the navy to avoid going to Vietnam, who had proposed to a girl, or a woman, they were both college graduates, because he thought he should and because maybe he was scared of going off to Puerto Rico alone, and she accepted, because that’s what girls did back then, though she thought he loved her and thought she loved him though maybe she liked the adventure of going to Puerto Rico and maybe she thought he liked adventure too, when it was the opposite, and maybe they were just lying to themselves and each other, because that’s what people did back then instead of now when everyone knows exactly what they’re doing, and they had a son, and then a daughter, and lived in that house on the cliff with a path down to the water though there was no beach and they didn’t ever swim and the father invited the enlisted men over for small parties, enlisted men only a few years younger than he, without college degrees, because that was the only social life there was really, because certainly never went and talked to puertoriqueños, couldn’t anyways, except the mother, who had studied spanish and gone to Spain once and brought back flamenco records her son would discover years later, but right then she enjoyed having people over because it meant they were popular, though there wasn’t much choice for anybody really, and maybe she was just a little bit lonely cooped up in a house all day with one, then two, children, when she thought she was going to have an adventure, when she thought she was in love, and loved, and that that would be the adventure, and meanwhile she was missing all the new music, the protests, the riots in Detroit, all the fun, while they played ping pong with those enlisted men, who probably came for the booze and the chance to see one of the rare American (white) women, because which single male ever the fuck ever comes to a party to play ping pong, even in the sixties, and when the navy bombed the half of Vieques Island that belonged to them sometimes they missed and bombed the other half where people lived, if you can imagine living on an island which was bombed regularly, and yes sometimes they missed and killed someone though it was ok, they were only puertoricans, but the mother didn’t know that and probably the father didn’t know that either, and the son doesn’t remember anything, not even the geckos that crawled over the ceiling at night, eating the mosquitoes, their long tongues flicking out, sticky, all night.