”Coming Attractions” – 52 Pickup, Question #5

Question #5, 6/12/18

From Ethan Evans-Hilton

“So I can’t help but wonder about the various ‘other dangling threads’ that have cropped up throughout this extended narrative. I would love to hear the specifics about Walt’s time on Johnston Atoll. Clearly it wasn’t all recuperating in the sun. I’m fascinated by the thought of reading about Vic’s time in Belize from her own perspective. I imagine there was more than just liquid therapy happening. And then there’s Henry’s time in France after the war. Is there any chance we might be treated with these odd short stories or novellas?”

Hi Ethan,

In short, yep.

As I mentioned when talking about Henry and Dorothy’s relationship, I like providing the connecting tissue between characters but also between time-periods. The episode after the Vietnam War was a period of adjustment for Walt and Henry, sort of a Lost Generation all their own. Henry’s story in France is more of what has happened since and may lead me to writing my first Longmire novel that takes place there, but that would be in contemporary times.

Vic’s time in Belize was probably too short to sustain a book and because from her perspective it might be X-rated, but I don’t see any reason why she wouldn’t want to go back to Belize and take a certain sheriff along with her.

Speaking of beach time, the Johnston Atoll book, now that’s something a little different… At the end of Another Man’s Moccasins, Lieutenant Inspector Walt Longmire is persona non grata with the United States Marine Corp not so much for what he did in Vietnam but more of how he went about it. Consequently, the Provost Marshal looks for a place to stow a damaged Walt until his tour is up and they can send him home.

Johnston Atoll in 1970 may not be the end of the world as the saying goes—but you can certainly see it from there. Walt is shipped off to the coral-dredged rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean seven hundred and fifty miles southeast of Hawaii. Not since the Boston-based, American Brig Sally piloted by Joseph Pierpont accidentally grounded there has there been a more nonplussed occupant. And not since the Guano Act of 1856, which incorporated the atoll as part of the United States, has anyone cared less.

Used for high altitude nuclear testing operations and finally in the period that Walt was there as a chemical weapons storage site holding almost seven percent of the country’s chemical arsenal including 1-ton containers of Sarin, Agent VX, vomiting and blistering agents such as mustard gas, and finally almost two million gallons of Agent Orange.

In this less than idyllic hideaway, housed in an abandoned Quonset hut next to a four thousand foot landing strip, Walt sleeps in a fishing-net hammock and patrols the three thousand acre atoll in a Duke Kahanamoku Hawaiian shirt and cargo shorts to check that the occasional visitors display the proper ID, padlocks remain locked, spending his free time drinking Tiger Beer, and throwing expired meat to the sharks in the east bay.

What could possibly go wrong?

—Craig

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