“How did you get to the US, Miss Yen?” I asked. “Most of the refugees that pulled out at the end and certainly the boat people did nowhere near well enough to own a yacht builder, much less own a shipping company.”
“Of course we weren’t boat people! Or refugees for that matter. And how I came here has more than a little to do with you.
“Well, after you left that story with the money laundering put him on edge. And when the story got out, in February 1970 I think, everybody else we knew on was on notice that sooner rather than later Saigon would fall.”
“Wait, wait. The story about money laundering got out? How did that happen?”
“Of course it got out. You and that story were a much bigger event that you apparently imagined. You told me about your visit to that colonel, Bau as I remember, at Theiu’s Palace and I was frightened. I told Col. Suel the next day. So eventually he told Major Toms and after a couple of months he told me the rest of the story. I was moping around feeling sorry for myself after you disappeared and I was coming in late and being sick in the latrine.”
“I had no idea I meant that much to you. Not that had I known it would have been any different. Suel had me on the next flight out of Saigon after I told him what had happened.”
“Well you did mean that much. If I’d had any sense I wouldn’t have let myself get emotionally attached to an American GI. It’s not like that story had never been told. Lots of bar girls had the sense to get a ticket to American with no emotional attachment. But I was only 23 and I didn’t have any sense.”
“So now you know the whole story? From Suel?”
“No, I don’t know the whole story and neither do you. I don’t know where you went so suddenly. I don’t know what happened to you after you left Saigon. I don’t know anything until you appear like magic on a spring day on the California Coast. It unearths long-buried emotions. And new questions appear like so many spring flowers. Meeting you today could turn my life upside down but we do need to talk. Listen, I’m getting a little cramped sitting here.”
“So am I. Shall we walk.”
“Why don’t we head down the beach a ways. I’ve borrowed a cabin on the beach down at Laguna. It’s an artist colony of sorts. It belongs to a painter friend of mine. It’s about 10 miles. You can follow me. You have a rental car?”
Yes, it’s a Crown Vic, light blue. Looks like a cop car. What are you driving? Let me guess; a Mercedes 380 SL?”
“Close, a 500SEC. Maroon. Where are you parked?”
“In the triangle lot just down the way.”
We paid the bill. Separate checks. I was on an expense account and alcohol wasn’t included so it had to be hidden as snacks or tips-in-transit or some other subterfuge.