Our darlings are all those bits that we …

Our darlings are all those bits that we hate to part with. We think they add to the story, but in reality all they do is slow it down. In my novel, More Deaths Than One, I had my hero Bob going to a Vietnam Vet support group and listening in, but I had to kill the discussion because it served no purpose. So here, for you, I am unkilling it:

Marvin’s voice rose in anger. “My kid came home from school the other day and told me we lost in Vietnam because the American military did not know jungle warfare.”

“Horseshit,” Frank said. “We didn’t lose. We left.”

“After winning every major battle,” Dolph added. “But, like Korea, it was not a war. We were only supposed to be there, a presence, until the people who make those kinds of decisions got what they wanted.”

Gaston leaned forward. “Even if you Yanks didn’t know jungle warfare, we Australians did. We’re tough and well trained, and are some of the best jungle fighters in the world. Everyone seems to have forgotten we were in Vietnam, too. So were thirty thousand Canadians, though I’m not sure how much they knew about jungle warfare.”

“But the South Koreans did,” Dolph said. “Man, those guys were really good at hand-to-hand combat. I’m glad they were on our side. So were the Chinese mercenaries, the Nungs, and they definitely knew jungle warfare. There were also some French soldiers who remained after France pulled out of the country.”

“That’s beside the point. We Americans”—Frank pounded the air using his fist as a hammer—“know jungle warfare. What the hell do they think we were doing in World War Two? Much of that action took place in jungles—Burma, the Philippines, the South Pacific, to name a few. And the OSS was already in Vietnam back then, helping the Viet Minh fight the Japanese. While the OSS was teaching the Viet Minh modern warfare, the Viet Minh were teaching the OSS their way of fighting. So anyone who says we lost because we didn’t know jungle warfare is full of shit.”

Marvin made balloons of his cheeks, then blew out the air. “I tried telling my kid that, but he wouldn’t believe me. I hate to think what other crap they’re teaching him.”

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