You know my two-legs… she’s always gallivanting. Well, okay, not that often…apart from work every day… but it feels like it sometimes. Anyway, she’s home now, for ages, she says. With Christmas coming, that is good news for me! I don’t mind going to stay with my friends, and it is really cool to play with the other dogs, but there is nothing like being home with the one you really love.
I get to snore on my sofa… which she still thinks is hers for some reason… and we have some great walks when she doesn’t have her head buried in a box of tissues. I wouldn’t mind… I like tissues too, but she seems to object to me playing with them…
Trouble is, not everyone gets to be with the ones they love at Christmas…for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes it is because of work… sometimes they are off adventuring… and, sadly, sometimes they never come home at all. Molly Bloom’s human knows all about that…
Labrador Molly Bloom “On the Road Again” with her two-legs, Kay Merkel Boruff.
A single note can transpose life’s melody:
A single smile conveys warmth to a saddened heart.
A single tear impels harbor’s cocoon to break.
A single word steals life from death’s prison.
A single night casts burdens into dawn’s strength.
A single light draws understanding from the mute.
A single stone ripples history asunder.
A single child brings hope on winter morn.
—Kay Merkel Boruff
About the author
My eyes fell on the New York Times front page headlines glaring from the coffee-stained table in the Frankfurt airport:
“CIA Pilot Killed: First Casualty Plain of Jars”
The CIA pilot was my husband Jon Christian Merkel. Hours earlier, in the Air America office in Bangkok, I was instructed not to discuss Jon’s death with anyone. A fellow passenger, who knew I was an Air America wife, asked, Anyone you knew? I replied, A friend.
From 1968 to 1970, my life was frightening yet exciting: Buddhist monks immolated themselves; rockets fell in backyards; Bible study groups convened. I washed sheets in the bathtub, counted each baht and later dressed in silks and gold and traveled Southeast Asia. On February 18, 1970, my 24 carat life was shattered when Jon was killed flying in Laos. I returned to Texas, a CIA widow with PTSD.
Z.O.S. covers my journey from Texas to Southeast Asia to The Hockaday School, Burning Man, and Machu Picchu. I end my genre-bending memoir:
“I write to tell others, especially women, you can screw up and still go on. You can buy a comp book from Wal-Mart and start writing your life.”
My work has appeared in the New York Review of Books, Vanity Fair, Texas Short Stories 2, Suddenly, and The Dallas Morning News. I have also published in several journals, including Paper Nautilus, Grasslands Review, Behind the Lines, Fifth Wednesday, Adanna, Stone Voices, Calyx, Adelaide, and UTD Sojourn and Reunion. Letters of my husband’s and mine were included in Love and War, 250 Years of Wartime Love Letters. In 2017, KERA/NPR interviewed Veteran Willie Minor and me regarding our non-profit Merkel & Minor: Vets Helping Vets: A Class Act Production implementing our Drama Therapy Program. I studied with Robert Olen Butler in France in 2011.
“From a rare and resonant point of view, an utterly compelling and smartly written tale of the Viet-Nam War and its aftermath, Boruff’s Z.O.S. is a necessary work for a full understanding of the human toll of those times.”
—Robert Olen Butler, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
Z.O.S. is a memoir of Sex Blood Money and the CIA in Southeast Asia. Kay Merkel Boruff tells the story from her perspective of wife and widow of an Air America pilot killed during covert operations in Laos. She takes the reader there as only one who has been there can. You experience the highs, understand the efforts to escape the constant fear of the dangerous reality these American heroes face daily, feel the anguish of her loss and the isolation of the “zone of silence” she is required to live in for the rest of her life.
Kay Merkel Boruff, a teacher at The Hockaday School 1973—2010, studied with Naomi Shihab Nye, Li-Young Lee, Tim O’Brien, Madeleine L’Engle, and Robert Olen Butler.
She unveiled the Air America Memorial at UTD with CIA Director William Colby. She attended Burning Man and climbed Wayna Picchu, chasing another adventure in her “zone of silence.”
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