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Word Count: 916
Work For Food Will work for food The words were neatly written in black magic marker on a jagged piece of brown cardboard A filthy man about forty-five held the sign He wore a pair of dirty blood stained military fatigues a green t-shirt tattered and frayed a military issue jacket whose patches needed patched and combat boots worn with holes allowing his dirt and sweat stained socks to peek through He huddled over a subway grate trying to keep warm Holding his weather beaten sign he hoped that someone would recognize that he was more than just a bum asking for a hand out David was nineteen when his number was called A fresh faced kid he worked at the grocery store and dated the girl next door The Sunday before he shipped out his church honored him with prayers and well wishes for a safe and speedy return Eight weeks later David was on a transport plane with fifty-nine other child soldiers They were being sent to Saigon David spent three years in the lush jungles of Vietnam Soldiers old men women children he saw them all die The earth was red with blood Faces of the dead haunted David in wakefulness and in sleep David was sent home in January three years eight weeks and six days after he left Of the fifty-nine men he began his nightmare with only twenty were alive to make the journey home David returned not to a grateful nation but to a country torn by war He was booed and spit upon Men and women yelled baby killer and murderer at him David knew they were right He carried the images of the dead with him everywhere Eventually David returned to his former life Once again he bagged groceries at the local market and dated the girl next door He went to church on Sundays and the local pizza parlor on Saturdays David became the manager
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