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The Daring Young Man Meets William Saroyan at Harvard

Published on Thursday, July 9 of 2015 by

NOTE: The following story is from a collection published in my latest book, A Personal History of Moral Decay. The Crimson was told to not print an advertisement for the book because of its content. Can a simple literary work be so dangerous to Harvard students that advertising it in the Crimson should be forbidden? Here you can read the second story in the collection. Tell me what you make of it. Is the Crimson refusal to advertise this book one more illustration of the academic taboo that is so well established on the Harvard campus?

The Daring Young Man Meets William Saroyan

That morning in the forest we fell out alongside the trail for a rest and some chow. There was the creek, the trail that followed alongside it, the trees, the bars of slanting sunlight with the specks drifting down, the underbrush and so on. It was a nice spring morning.

I ate a can of C-rations and threw the empty over my shoulder. After a moment it seemed something wasn’t right. When I looked back the empty was sitting on the quilted, uniformed chest of a Chinese infantryman.

“Hey, Decker,” I said. “Look at that.”
Decker looked back. “Shit.”
“I threw my empty back there and it fell on the guy’s chest. Right side up and everything.”
“Shit,” Decker said.
“I’m going to get a look at him.”
“Say hello for me.”

There was the brown leather chest strap, the quilted cotton cap with the ear flaps tied on the top of the head, the serene sickly yellow face. I circled the corpse carefully, my M-1 at ready, though I couldn’t have explained why I was being so careful because the 22 corpse was half gone. It was missing from the belly button on down.

“Hey Decker, this guy’s only half here.”
Decker looked around again. He didn’t say anything.
“He’s been whacked off clean as a whistle just above his San Brown belt.”
“What the fuck are you doing over there?”
“I’m being careful to look at him from the top end, I can tell you that much.”…

I couldn’t see any wires attached to the corpse. I couldn’t see his legs or ass anywhere either. I looked around. Nothing. It made me feel funny.

“Decker, don’t you have any curiosity?”
“Yeah, I do. I want to know what the fuck you’re doing back there.”
“The other half must be around here someplace.”
“When you find it what are you going to do with it? Save it?”
“It must have been artillery.”
“Get the fuck down here before you start tripping off wires or some other goddamn thing.”

I looked through the trees and the underbrush but I didn’t find anything and then the column started up again and I fell in with my squad.

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