portion of the artwork for Trevor J. Houser's fiction

Guam, 1944
Trevor J. Houser

Guam is a place that existed for three years during World War Two then it disappeared like slavery. Most islands are known for things like resorts and breadfruit. Breadfruit is extinct now because no one understood it. For years people had breadfruit on their tables and said, “I don’t understand what this is supposed to be. I feel like life is being a different way than I expected.” Guam is famous because lots of people got shot directly in the face there. One night my grandfather was hiding behind a banana leaf. The Japs were trying to take over the American base by shooting people directly in the face. The Japs yelled a lot and sometimes they karate kicked things. My grandfather’s friends didn’t want to get karate kicked so they shot machine guns at everything that looked like it might be an impending karate kick. My grandfather’s good friend Bill Conway climbed in a tall tree, but he lost his balance and fell backwards and snapped his neck. My grandfather fired his gun at the Japs. His gun felt hot. Was it was going to melt? Would that make life a cartoon or whatever? It was after midnight. Everybody was yelling and shooting people directly in the face and doing karate kicks. At one point my grandfather thought he saw a werewolf in a tree, but he decided it was probably something else so he imagined he was back in California playing horseshoes and drinking scotch and soda.

The main export of Guam is papaya husks. In my grandfather’s opinion the island was “quite nice.”

Without all the shooting my grandfather could imagine taking his family there for vacation. They would eat papaya and rent horses on the beach. There would be Japanese people socializing on the beach, playfully doing karate kicks towards American families and saying, “I’m just kidding. Let’s have a barbecue or something.”


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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 35 | Winter 2012