On the Street
Teresa Schartel

Outside of the post office I talked to a bum lady. She said, They sent our boys over there, when they came back they were never the same again. She told me I had to write about it. Five million was the U.S. death toll, she said. They've always lied about it.
At the office, I told the editor about the lady, told him that I didn't know much about Vietnam, nothing more than a trashed, 10th grade research paper. Don't talk to the crazies downtown, he said. Later that day, the lady dropped off a letter containing lines for every dead body and a map of a graveyard. Tell the truth, she wrote.
I ripped the letter to shreds, ripped it so fast my hand caught fire. I looked around to see a village, a naked, bloody five-year-old running toward me. He said, Run, mama, before the whole village is burned dead.