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With War, Without You (http://stores.lulu.com/harrychong)

With War, Without You (http://stores.lulu.com/harrychong)

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Published by Harry
A breast cancer survivor disguises herself as a man and goes to a warring country in order to find her boyfriend.
A breast cancer survivor disguises herself as a man and goes to a warring country in order to find her boyfriend.

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Published by: Harry on Nov 29, 2008
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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05/09/2014

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1“All is far in love and war,” saysKaren to Marian as they jog around in the mist.“Don’t you mean ‘all is fair in love and war’?” asks Marian while trying to keeppace with her best friend.The sun starts to come up against the horizon; its piercing orange-glow ushering in the day. “No,” replies Karen with a smirk. “All is far in love and war.That’s what my mom used to tell me. It means that both endeavors are equally asunattainable...equally as distant.”Marian thinks about it for a few seconds andlaughs loudly. “That’s kind of a clever saying. Maybe you should considercopyrighting it.” Karen huffs. “Let’s finish our workout first.”2 After taking off her shoes, Marian slogs through the house soaked in sweat. Shegoes into the kitchenwhere her longtime boyfriend, Jerry, carefully listens to theradio. His head is lowered down with his ears pointed to the speaker. “What are you doing?” asks Marian while patting her face dry with paper towels.“I’m listening to the news,” repliesJerry with a stoned look. Marian walksover to the fridge and swingsopen the white door. She grabs the jug of sugar freeorange juice inside and guzzles it down like nothing. With trembling fingers Jerry turns the knob on the radio to the far right. With the volume increased, the sound of the president’s voice fills the room. “Thelast thing we want to do is go into a war. However, under these circumstancescertain action is merited. We must vanquish the threat and ensure the safety of our citizens. We have tried negotiation, but...” A finger reaches for the radio and pushes the off button. “What’re youdoing?” says Jerry. “I was listening to that.” Marian puts her hands on her hips.“You can’t sit around all day and listen to gloom and doom.” Jerry lifts himself off from the wooden stool. He reaches into his back pocket and takes out a packet of cigarettes. He opens the box and starts to smoke with worry. “If there’s a war,Marian, it means I’m going.”Trying to quell the tension in the air, Marian puts her hands on Jerry’sshoulders, rubbing them gently. “Relax, honey. Maybe you won’t get sent. There’salways a chance.” Jerry explodes with frustration. “Jesus Christ, Marian! I’m inthe army! Of course I’m going!” Marian steps back with her eyebrows pusheddown. “Don’t you say the lord’s name in vain. You can say whatever ‘f’ words you want, but I will not listen to you insult my beliefs.” With a heavy sigh Jerry beginsto calm down. With a solemn voice he replies. “They’re mine too.”3Marian and Jerry sit on a wood bench outside the mall. They’re huddled closetogether with shopping bags by their sides. “How do you feel?” saysMarian whilelooking at Jerry, carefully examining his eyes for emotion. Jerry crosses his legs.“I’ll be honest with you. Shopping doesn’t make me feel any better.”
 
“Is that so?” asksMarian rhetorically. “I always feel better after spending your money.” A smile comes across Jerry’s face. He puts his arm around Marian.Marian leans her head on Jerry’s shoulder. The two of them watchthe harriedshoppers go by. Hurrying back and forth, their feet make a rhythmic sound like a well played drum set. For a moment this couple in love forgets their troubles;their minds only thinking of each other.4Thanksgiving is unusually quiet. Nobody is saying a word, not even the children. While that would normally be a good thing, it has created an atmosphere of silence; something certainly not appropriate for the holidays. It seems they are allaware of what things are to come. Every man in the family is in themilitary. While they are proud to be serving their country, they still remain human. Theirfears are bottled in their stomachs, which seem to have manifested intospeechlessness.Then Jerry’s father, Mr. Whitaker, speaks up. He clears his throat. “How about them Dodgers?”he says. Mrs. Whitaker darts her eyes, waiting for aresponse from one of her three boys, or maybe even “the wives.” Jerry’s youngest brother, Henry, puts a spoonful of mashed potatoes in his mouth. Speaking witha mouthful he musters a response. “I hate baseball.”Lewis nearly spits up his beer. “How can you hate baseball?!” he yells. “It’s America’s favorite pastime! If Jesus played a sport, it’d be baseball!” Henry responds emphatically. “Bro, it’s a boring sport. And don’t bring our lord into thisconversation. It has nothing to do with anything. You have no idea what kind of sports he would be playing. For all you know he could be a chess buff.”There is a moment of silence as the brothers glare into each other’seyes...then one of the “rug rats” throws a spoonful of mush peas. The green pureehits Henry in the forehead and splashes on those beside him, his wife and hisonly son. All hell breaks loose. Henry returns fire with his mashed potatoes, andsoon the whole family is throwing food at one another. Jerry takes Marian by thehand and takes her under the table where they escape the pandemonium. Marianlooks at Jerry with a smile. “I told you we should’ve just got a bucket of chickenand stayed at home.” Jerry puts his hand behind Marian’s neck and gently pullsher forward. He kisses her with cranberry flavored lips.5The jeweler looks at Jerry through his thick black glasses. He inspects himcarefully across the display case, rapidly scanning his eyes up and down, checkingout his clothes and asking quietly inside, “Does this schmuck have any money?” With a broad smile Jerry speaks up with simple words. “Hi. I’m looking fora wedding ring.” The jeweler leans forward. His dark turtleneck hides his doublechin. “Oh, when is your wedding?” Jerry scratches his head. “When is my  wedding?” he says.“I don’t know. I haven’t thought that far ahead yet.” The jeweler chuckles, his body jiggling with amusement.
 
“It’s not a wedding ring you’re looking for,” he corrects. “It’s anengagement ring. You see, there is a two part process to marriage. First you haveto propose. You’ve seen it on television. I’m sure you have. You get down on bended knee and say ‘will you marry me.’ Then you put a ring on her finger. Thisis the engagement ring. When you get married, when you say the words ‘I do,’that is when you give her the wedding ring. So what you want is an engagementring...preferably something expensive. Women don’t like cheapskates.”“Well,” says Jerry shyly, “I don’t really have a whole lot of money. I’m kindof in the army...not trying to be unpatriotic here, but Uncle Sam don’treally pay its boys too well.” The jeweler is disinterested. He puts up his thick finger in theair. “You cannot put a price on love my friend! Even if you have to max out yourcredit cards and go into debt with paying a ridiculous 36% interest, you have todo it.”Jerry looks to the floor, ashamed. “I want to do that, believe me. But I haveto be conservative with any money I get. We’replanningon buying a house.Renting is not really part of our ‘American dream.’” With his hands out theJeweler expresses his overtly bias opinions. “I know what they say. They all say it.‘A house is more important. You can’t live inside a ring.’ Well, let me tell yousomething. A woman would rather live in a cardboard box with a big rock on herfinger, than to be in a loveless home with a cubic zirconia. Oh! Please! Do noteven utter those words! Yuck! Cubic zirconia! It makes my body shiver all over!”“Don’t you think you’re being a little overdramatic,” says Jerry. The jeweler takes a step back with his hand placed over his heart. “I am not beingoverdramatic!” he shouts. “My advice draws from real life experience! I onceknew a man from Nantucket. He pulled a fast one on his wife and gave her twophony rings. For 50 years of marriage she had no idea. Then one day she went tothe pawnshop to sell her rings. She found out they were fake, then blam, divorce!Is that a coincidence?! I think not!”The chimes hanging over the shop door ring. Another person comes in.“Excuse me,” he says to the jeweler, “can I use your bathroom? I really need togo.” The jeweler hops over the display case and starts pushing the man with twoof his fingers. “Wait!” the man yells as he’s being shoved. “I just wanted to take apee!” Jerry watches through the corner of his eyes.The jeweler is definitely on some sort of heavy medication. He ouststheman from the store and gets back to business like nothing’s the matter. “What arude man,” the jeweler mumbles to himself. “Asking to pee in my toilet...withouteven buying a single thing!? The nerve! The nerve!” Jerry zips up his jacket,readying to leave. “I have to go now,” he says to the jeweler. “I think I’ve seenenough things for today. Thank you.”The jeweler grabs onto Jerry’s sleeve as he tries to go. “Remember what Isaid,” he warns. “Women don’t like cheapskates. Be warned! You cheap out and you’ll ruin everything! She’ll head for the hills!” Jerry pulls away and hastily exits with a pained expression. The Jeweler continues to shout. “Love and romance arepriceless! They can’t be bought like a cheap grocery store novel!”

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