The whisperers, p.38
The Whisperers, p.38John Connolly
Bobby Jandreau closed his fist upon the seals. ‘There are men and women worse off than I am.’
‘I know that. That’s why they’ve been given to you: because you’ll do the right thing. You need any advice, talk to Ronald Straydeer, or just ask your girlfriend.’
They left before I did. I stayed for a time, among the dead, and then, as the shadows lengthened, I crossed myself, and left the fallen to their own.
Here the dead lay down their burdens, for a time. Here are names etched in stone, and bouquets on cut grass. Here husband lies next to wife, and wife next to husband. Here is the promise of peace, but only the promise.
For the dead alone can speak of what they have endured, and just as sleep may be punctuated by restless dreaming, so too the final repose is sometimes uneasy for those who have seen too much, who have suffered too much. The dead know what the dead know, and soldiers know what soldiers know, and they can share their torments only with their own kind.
At night, figures emerge from the shadows, and dark forms move in sheltered glades. One man sits beside another on a stone bench, listening quietly to his comrade as a bird sings lullabies above their heads. Three men walk softly through the first fallen leaves, disturbing none, leaving no trace of their passing. Here, soldiers gather, and speak of war and of what was lost. Here, the dead bear witness, and witness is borne in return.
And the night air carries whispers of consolation.
This book could not have been written without the generosity and patience of Tom Hyland, a veteran of the Vietnam war and a good man, who answered many questions over the course of its completion, and who improved the manuscript immeasurably with his knowledge.
I am grateful too to the contributors to Truckingboards, the truckers’ forum, who took the time to explain the nature of their work between the US and Canada.
I consulted a great many newspapers and journals in the course of writing The Whisperers, in particular the committed, sensitive reporting of The New York Times on the issues of PTSD and the treatment of returning veterans. Meanwhile, the following books proved invaluable in filling in the gaps in my knowledge: My War: Killing Time in Iraq by Colby Buzzell (Putnam, 2005), from which much of the detail of serving in a Stryker squad originated; Trigger Men by Hans Halberstadt (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2008); In Conflict: Iraq War Veterans Speak Out on Duty, Loss, and the Fight to Stay Alive by Yvonne Latty (Polipoint Press, 2006); War and the Soul by Edward Tick, Ph.D (Quest Books, 2005); Blood Brothers by Michael Weisskopf (Henry Holt and Company, 2006); The Forever War by Dexter Filkins (Vintage Books, 2008); The Secret Life of War by Peter Beaumont (Harvill Secker, 2009); Sumerian Mythology by Samuel Noah Kramer (Forgotten Books, 2007); Ancient Iraq by George Roux (Penguin, 1964); Thieves of Baghdad by Matthew Bogdanos (Bloomsbury, 2005); The Looting of the Iraq Museum, Baghdad edited by Milbry Polk and Angela M.H. Schuster (Abrams, 2005); and Catastrophe! The Looting and Destruction of Iraq’s Past edited by Geoff Emberling & Kathryn Hanson (The Oriental Institute Museum of the University of Chicago, 2008).
Many books have been written about the experience of war, but few authors have written as beautifully, and as incisively, as Richard Currey, who served as a combat medic during the Vietnam War. Fatal Light, his classic novel of Vietnam, was re-issued in 2009 as a special twentieth anniversary edition by Santa Fé Writers Project, and Crossing Over: The Vietnam Stories, from which this book quotes, has been in print for three decades. Further details are available from www.richardcurrey.com.
My thanks, as always, to my editor at Hodder & Stoughton, Sue Fletcher, and my editor at Atria Books, Emily Bestler, as well as to all those who at Hodder, Atria, and elsewhere who help to get my odd books into the hands of readers; to my agent, Darley Anderson, and his staff; to Madeira James and Jayne Doherty; to Clair Lamb; to Megan Beatie; and to Kate and KC O’Hearn.
Finally, love and thanks to Jennie, Cameron, and Alistair.
Oh, and Sasha.
About the Author
John Connolly was born in Dublin in 1968. His debut – EVERY DEAD THING – swiftly launched him right into the front rank of thriller writers, and all his subsequent novels have been Sunday Times bestsellers. He is the first non-American writer to win the US Shamus award. To find out more about his novels, visit John’s website at www.johnconnollybooks.com.
Also by John Connolly
Every Dead Thing
The Killing Kind
The White Road
The Black Angel
The Book of Lost Things
John Connolly, The Whisperers
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