Cry for the Water Buffalo: Overview
Vietnam, a family is torn apart by the war around them, the side
each chooses to serve, and a sniperís rifle. Children, parents,
politicians and soldiers are shaped by that war, driven by it, and,
worst of all, never freed from it. This is a work of contemporary
historical fiction inasmuch as it moves from the fighting of the
Vietnam War into the lives of todayís still struggling immigrants
and soldiers who share the persistent and often unrecognized
residuals of that conflict.
An heirloom comb, carried by the fortunes of war, transcends its
immediacy of being a talismanic protector by intertwining the lives
of friend and foe. Whether it has magical power or not, its timely
appearance punctuates the pivotal turnings of the story and the
actions of its current holder. After centuries of maternal
bequeaths, the carved ivory is handed from mother to son and son to
assailant before it is eventually brought to the U.S. as a prelude
to the thousands of Vietnamese refugees airlifted to safety.
Ironically, safety does not eliminate the experience of war and
participants are doomed to repeat those experiences through time and
recollection. Some cannot cope and are driven to distraction or
suicide while others struggle in the aftermath trying to rebuild
their losses of family, friends and future.
When the anti-hero of this story, a U.S. soldier from the chimney of
Idaho, falls in love with the sister of his last target in Vietnam,
little does he know that she, the heirloom comb and his combat
flashbacks will drive him into eternity three decades later.
Only then, as the comb and its connections are broken, do the teeth
of action, reaction and retribution fall at the feet of those early
survivors who have become the ultimate casualties of the war.