Shitbird

The Island Where America’s Day Begins, 1971


Finally he heard radio music, and that guided him from the jungle. There was no visible path. He did not walk so much as heave his body through the entangling jungle growth, toward the music. Above, past the canopy of leaves, bits and pieces of blue sky were visible, but all was shadow where he stood, dark unhelpful shadow tinged with yellow. He wore black military boots, dog tags, and utility trousers that had acquired the color of the mud he’d slept in and become caked stiff in places. His shirt had been untied from his waist and carried away by a river that had to be crossed on the first of the lost and alone nights. Red bumps rose on his skin in dozens of spots where mosquitoes had fed. The vines, the limbs, the leaves he’d heaved through had swatted him, slapped him, laying shallow cuts that became faint scab tracings on his face, neck, arms, and chest.

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