Dad exhaled from a long drag on his cigarette and said, " I'm not sure what year son, but I was working for Singer at the time. Your Mother and I knew that a call could come, that's just part of the deal when your in the National Guard. They didn't screw around. The phone rang and they told me to pack my kit and stand by. Our unit was going to Vietnam. I was stunned and so was your mother. It was a call we'd hoped we'd never get..."
Rain pelted the windshield of the old Datsun splintering the light from on coming traffic. It was very dark and cold as my father and I drove from Lexington to Danville; the windshield wipers kept a steady beat over the hum of the engine.
"So I got everything together and had all my gear sitting in the living room ready to go. We waited that whole weekend for a confirmation call and orders about my departure; fortunately it never came. The Army had decided to take a unit from Bardstown, Kentucky that we were attached to...but not us."
I looked over at Dad and said, "Wow, that was welcome news."
"For me...You bet. But not for the poor guys from Bardstown. A number of them got killed over there."
"Yep, Bardstown has a monument to them and everything."
It got very quiet inside the little Datsun as I mulled that over. Finally I said, "Dad if you had gotten killed over there I would never have known my father."
The silhouette of Dad's head nodded, and I watched as he took another drag off his Winston, the tip glowing, painting his face blood red. "Oh it's worse than that son. This was before you were born. Had I been killed, you would not exist."
I would not exist. Turning away I looked out the passenger window, watching the water bead and run down the glass. Somewhere out there the green hills of Kentucky were rolling by, but I couldn't see them for the darkness. I could only see my face reflected in the glass, illuminated by blue light from the dashboard. A ghostly vision of myself.