Seven in the morning, Cindy and I are at a gas station outside Hemet, California. We’re leaning on the hood of our rental car, eating breakfast burritos and drinking coffee. Across the parking lot, on the other side of a chainlink fence, a group of men has congregated, looking for work, waiting.
Some kind of commotion begins and one of the men from the group comes running over to us. He says, there’s something wrong with that guy, I think he’s dying.
Somewhere in the background I hear someone call an ambulance. People are gathering and doing what they can to help the dying man until the medics arrive. There’s nothing we can do, so we stand there, in the parking lot.
While we’re waiting, watching, the guy who has come over tells us, I’m Johnny Slaughter Junior. Junior. My father’s Johnny Slaughter. Senior. He was a soldier in Vietnam, my mom’s Vietnamese. I grew up in Vietnam with her, I never knew my dad. He wasn’t there. When I got older I came here to look for him. I found him but he told me he don’t want to know me. So here I am.
In the distance a train goes by, its whistle blowing. The medics arrive but the man is already dead.