Monday, September 30, 2013

Dispatches from the front line

Plieku province.  About twenty klicks northeast of Kontum.  In a shitty little ville next to a shitty little river that, two hours earlier, was brimming with hostiles, all of whom were shooting at us.   We would have had the situation under control a little earlier but the biggest Burmese python I've ever seen had chosen that exact moment to grab ahold of Little Pat's leg.  And let me tell you, you can't imagine what a clusterfuck that was.

Anyway, I was just about to ignite the roof of a hooch with my trusty Zippo when the lieutenant said they needed me in Saigon.  Half an hour later the slick arrived.  Forty-five minutes after that I was in Da Nang.  Three hours later I was in Saigon staring at some motherfucking rear-echelon leg colonel smoking a cigar.  He sat, I stood.

"It's your birthday," he told me.
Interesting.  Out there in the fields you tend to lose track.
"You're 60."
"Sixty!  Jeeze, Colonel.  I feel like I'm 25."
"Well you're not.  And what the fuck are you doing out in the bush at your age?"
"I'm not really out there.  Just like you don't really exist."
I could see him inhale.  Expand to his fullest dimensions.
"You're saying I don't exist, soldier?"
"Yessir.  You're just part of the Saigon slash Wall Street fusion novella I'm writing."
"I'm almost done.  And, truth be told, you don't even really exist in that, except perhaps as a minor contribution to the mise-en-scene."
"That's French, right?"
"Those fucking Frogs ..."

Sixty!  I'm amazed I'm alive.


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