- N. N. Light
Winds of Discontent by Don Meyer is a recommended read #historicalfiction #histfic #fiction #bookish
Title: Winds of Discontent
Author: Don Meyer
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: D.P. Meyer Publishing
A coming-of-age saga set against the backdrop of the French Indochina War years that follows the chaos of their defeat up to the American take-over and the creation of South Vietnam. Sinclair Langdon, in an act of youthful rebellion against his American mother and British father, arrives in Haiphong Harbour post war 1945. Langdon is quickly recruited to make a delivery only to find out afterwards that he has delivered a load of guns to a rebel force. He is introduced to a besotted British newspaperman who offers him a job as an investigative reporter hoping to get stories from his gun running adventures. In a chance encounter, he meets Yvonne, an exotic beauty of French Vietnamese mix, who sets in motion a torrid forbidden love affair that will entangle Langdon on his journey. Initially running guns to survive, he slowly hones his skills as an investigative reporter covering the historical events of the times, right up to those fateful days in November 1963 when everything changed forever …
A note from the author:
This is a passion project I have worked on for the last six years. For me, it answers the question of why I went to Vietnam. Yes, I am that old.
“If I did die last night, this surely isn’t Heaven.”
The smell of the harbour coupled with the diesel fumes further engulfed Sinclair Langdon as he lay there suffering from the night before. The ship no longer swayed in the waves, but still rocked against the dock. The pain in his gut caused him to double up before subsiding and letting him stretch back out. The crew always has a toast to the last night out. Shipboard alcohol concocted below deck somewhere. And no doubt the cause of the pain in his gut this morning.
“Hey kid,” the man said gruffly, “time to get off this ship, you’re here.”
Sinclair felt the kick to his side and tried to open his eyes, but the sun burned into them and forced his eyelids to quickly close. His parched throat struggled to get the words out and offered a dry garbled retort.
“Here? Where’s here?”
“Haiphong Harbor. Near Hanoi. Up north. Tonkin area. French Indochina. Late October 1945. Early morning.”
“Right, okay got it.” Sinclair blurted out to stop the man’s cadence and tried to clear his throat. He raised his hand in the air to block the sun and again tried to fully open his eyes.
“C’mon kid get up, last stop.”
“What’s it to you?”
Sinclair looked up at the man who stood over him. Tall, six feet maybe, bearish, but firm like someone who spent time in the sun doing manual labor. He stood there dressed in a wrinkled khaki shirt, open three buttons down and faded dark pants.
“I’m currently in need of a man to help me deliver a load. Captain said you got on last minute and might be in need of some francs. I need to deliver a load. Could use the help.”
Sinclair looked at the man silhouetted in the sun, sat up, shook his head and tried to focus. The pain in his gut returned. He used both arms to hold on.
“What’s the pay?” Sinclair asked.
“How much do you have in your pocket?” The man laughed.
Sinclair reached in and removed a Dix franc and Cinquante francs.
“Sixty-francs? I believe I can do better.” The man laughed again.
“Drank the crews’ rot gut last night.” Sinclair said. “My head’s not real clear. Load of what exactly?”
“Does it matter?” The man said.
“What do I need to do?” Sinclair responded.
“Ride along, maybe help unload, watch my back.”
Sinclair looked at him for a long minute then surrendered.
“Yes, I could use some work right about now. Yeah, sure.”
“Name’s Frenchy.” The man pointed down to the dock. “See the truck? Grab your gear. Meet me there.”
Gathering his wits, Sinclair stood and made his way down to his bunk. His gear consisted of a beat-up old grip. A quick search through his clothes found the least offensive shirt and a passable pair of pants to put on, but noticed the clothes hung loose. Now quite sure he lost some weight due to the rancid food on the ship over the last ten days and tucked the shirt into his trousers believing it would help. He stuffed everything else into the ancient grip and took one last look around before he quickly made his way off the ship.
Two burly men loaded the back of the truck as he approached. Six large wooden crates were stamped Machine Parts. They loaded the last crate onto the truck as Frenchy walked up. The bigger man waited while Frenchy handed him several francs, grunted and walked away. The second man fell in behind him.
“Yeah, and don’t call me kid, name’s Sinclair Langdon.”
“St. Clair Langdon? You British?”
“Sin-clair, not the British St. Clair, like the American author. My American mother liked the name, my British father had no choice.”
They both climbed into the truck, Frenchy in the driver’s seat and Sinclair on the passenger side. Both doors closed simultaneously.
“Look kid, not that I mind, but those clothes. I mean, well, they could use a good wash and maybe some that fit. You look like you stole those from a man twice your size.”
“Yeah, they’re mine. I lost some weight.” Sinclair said. “Food’s not real edible on the ship. Neither was laundry available. Rotating last couple of days, but once we got close, the heat. Well, no chance to do anything about it, maybe after I get some francs.”
“So how old are you, kid? Ah, sorry, I mean Sin-clair.” Frenchy asked.
“Nineteen. Why, how old are you? And you got a real name?”
“Thirty something. Yes, Frenchy.”
“Seriously, a French guy wants to be called Frenchy?”
The truck pulled out slowly as Frenchy ground through the gears.
“So, ah Frenchy, you know how to drive this truck?” Sinclair said.
“Good enough. Why, you do better?” Frenchy said.
“Well, at least I know how to shift using a clutch. You might want to try.”
“You mean like this?” Frenchy slid the gear into second, pushed forward, and smoothly shifted into third as they hit the street.
Don Is the author of six novels, A Vietnam Memoir, several short stories, a number of essays and a couple of articles.