"Why so glum chum? Ain't you glad to be back? ... to be out of
"Hey ... he's back! Hail our conquering hero!"
"Hail, hell! Hale and hearty! You bring any beer?"
"Man, you look good. You feeling fine?"
"Don't he look good ...."
"Good? ... shit, if he looked any better I'd marry him!"
"Don't he look good?"
"Why you asking me?"
"Okay, okay ... let's run a re-supply train before somebody
steals our stuff. Some beer and such on the sidewalk, so lend a
"Say, Captain K, this is Bobby. I put him in your bed when his
daughter threw him out on the street ... he was in that gravel
parking lot next to the airfield."
"What you doing there?"
"Everybody's got to be someplace. Seemed like the place to be at
the time. I can move along now that you're back."
"You going to thumb a ride on one of those planes? ... or maybe
fly one of them?"
"No, Captain, just looking for a place to hang. I be moving along
as soon as I grab my tackle."
"Don't be in such an all fired hurry to get shut of us. Where you
from? What do you do in life as we know it?"
"Yeah Bobby, lay it on him. Here's a cold one to wet your
"Hey, the Captain's alright ... he don't buy that cheap beer!"
"Yup, look at this shit! We done died and gone to heaven! ... no
more pork and beans."
"No more macaroni out of a can."
"No more processed cheese on white crackers."
"Hey, careful there before you insult my redneck cuisine!"
"Ummm, he even bought dill pickles!"
"Is Mother Hubbard going to party hardy?!"
"Captain, if I was divorced, I'd marry you! ... you take better
care of me than my wife did!"
"Hey asshole, she wasn't your mother ... you know what the word
"Why you guys always take her part against me?"
"Uh, couldn't possibly have anything to do with the fact that
she's a bunch better looking than you!"
"Or that she smells better!"
"Or that you're a lazy lying worm that would try to fuck a
"Okay, okay ... I want to hear Bobby's sob story, so save the
punch-up for later."
"Nothing much to tell. I'm from Louisiana. I'm divorced. I got
two kids that got no use for me. And I do odd jobs helping out
folks around the neighborhood."
"You mean the 'hood? ... or the ghet-to?"
"No. It's just where I live."
"And how do you live? ... I mean, working for small change,
trading under the counter. Are you an urban guerrilla? ... a
noble revolutionary bringing down the evil capitalist system by
gobbling the crumbs that spill from the mouths of fat cats and
rich bitches? Or are you just another charity case, ambling along
the pity promenade with your rice bowl?!"
"Cut him some slack, Captain. He's one of us."
"Yeh, Bobby was a grunt in The Nam."
"Don't nobody need to fight my fight. If Captain Cracker wants to
get in my face, well ...."
"Going to eat his lunch?"
"Oh, where? ... when? ... with who?"
"Yeh, he was based out of Little Appalachia."
"Well, if you're going to be one ...."
"All together now boys ...."
"... be a BIG RED ONE!"
"Yeh, and he was almost a Big Dead One. On his third week in
"Oh shit! ... not another one!"
"Yup, just like Dangerous Dan and To The Max."
"Good Lord ... kiss my ass. Did you even know where you were?"
"No sir, not a clue."
"Could've been an FTX in Georgia ... right?"
"Or the wilderness of Virginia."
"You said it."
"Or even good old Louisiana. Right in my own backyard."
"Love the way he says that ... like it's another country."
"You ever notice how they spell it? ... with the U S A
emphasized. They're the only state that can."
"So he's sitting there in the jungle, doing what he's told,
minding his own business, and Mister Charles decides to put one
into his head ... BLAM! And the lights go out."
"World of hurt, dude."
"Damn dink must have been an FNG too, or else he'd have picked a
better target. Just bad joss, Bobby."
"Sometimes you wonder."
"So, actually, you can't be a revolutionary, 'cause if the Big
Bad Machine stops printing checks for you to live on then you'd
have to go out and find some real work. No more off the books
coin for beer and poker."
"Not am, never was. But that money tree died when my wife
"Yeh, apportionment is a bitch."
"It must be part of the All Girl Survival Training course."
"You'd think that feminists would be too proud to take alimony
out of disability compensation, but I've never met a woman yet
who didn't weigh a man's wallet while she was measuring his
"Feminist? ... no, not just ball-busters, but ALL of them!"
"You got some mail, Captain. I threw out the junk."
"Damn, wipe that smear of brown stuff off your nose!"
"Hey asshole, you afraid he's going to throw you out?"
"... up your rent?"
"You sound like some stupid e-mail server! We're trying to have a
"Lighten up. If you're still stoked, go hump some beer."
"Well Bobby, what do you want to do? ... relocate to this
arboreal paradise? ... or return to the fetid swamps of your
native bayou? Hell, if you didn't get malaria over there then you
can certainly get it back home!"
"My daughter got all the money from my last check, so I need to
hang somewhere 'til the next one is issued ... then I can go back
"You didn't answer his question."
"Can, may, should, would, could, want ... whatever."
"I haven't decided yet. This is nice country, and I've met some
"Present company excepted?"
"That's fine, bro."
"I can move my stuff if someone will show me where to go."
"Hang tough. A bed is not necessary for my discomfort ... I can
be almost as uncomfortable on the floor."
"We'll rearrange some things, and I'll break-out an extra
sleeping bag from my footlocker for you, Cap."
"There's enough room here for everyone. Just rack-out where you
were billeted. The landlord gives me some wiggle room, just as
long as we don't disturb our neighbors or make a mess."
"Jody took me out a couple of days last week and he had us
"Yeh, Captain Krunch, he was terrific! ... those scars, and I put
a bunch of your medals on his shirt. I was wearing my cammies
with the old hook exposed. I really got into it!"
"They looked like Street Theater performers."
"Yeh, play to the crowd. Get into the role. Find some square to
rap with and make him feel like a wimp for not being a hero."
"Well, sure ... even if I don't have all the brass that you do. I
was there. I did my bit. That's more than most of America ever
"All your war stories have come from HollyWEIRD, where
they pack shit in foil and everyone thinks it's chocolate!"
"Say Captain, don't misunderstand me. I just went along to help
pay my way. If I was back home, I'd be sweeping somebody's floor
or washing their dishes."
"I'm sorry, guys ... maybe it's the medication, maybe it's just
been a long day already, maybe I'm on the rag. I know things are
tough, and we got to help each other."
"Any good mail, Captain?"
"Not so far ... just bills and notices."
"Remember I asked you about being down when you first arrived
home? Did anything happen that set you off?"
"You know, Jody, you're worse than a wife, because she had the
excuse of ignorance, but you don't. I don't give a shit about
those medals, or whether you've truly paid your dues,
but you don't seem to care about the fact that the rules are
being broken all the time."
"I didn't write them!"
"Hey numbnuts, none of us did!"
"But we all got to live by them, like it or not, fair or not."
"You can't pick the laws of nature you happen to agree with, and
you can't ignore the social contract."
"It's just like the rules in combat ... the Rules of Engagement.
They might not make any sense, especially when we are the only
ones obeying them, and we suffer from the other guys not
following them, but if we cheat ...."
"Yeh, if we cheat, then the only one who loses is us."
"I don't cheat ... what the hell you fuckers talking about?!"
"All that trash you talk to those civilians ... that's not
"The woe is me song and dance routine that Max
charitably characterized as dramatic performance ... that's not
"The medals and patches and cammies ... that's not cheating?"
"Hell, the patches and medals aren't even yours, and we never
wore camouflage uniforms ... they only existed at the end of the
"Worn by a bunch of REMFs and pogues playing dress-up."
"That's really not what I meant. That stuff is only the trimming
on the outfit ... gilding the lily is what the Buddhists say.
Jody, old son, you're lying about our history and people are
eager to believe it. So Uncle Sugar screwed you, and Army life
was not alot of fun, but you're alive and you can work ... but
you don't want to ... you don't want to conform. And, by happy
coincidence, you have a visible defect that makes the straight
world uncomfortable enough that they willingly give you money to
appease their pinched consciences."
"Hey, whatever works to keep the bread on the table, right?"
"... except that you're selling your brothers down the stink
"I'm NOT! I'm just getting some payback. I'm just punishing those
punks who burned their draft cards, protested the war, ran away
to foreign parts, and got rich on my sweat, blood, and tears."
"And THEY got amnesty while we got the shaft!"
"When the hell has amnesty ever applied to the graveyard?"
"Oh yeh, rise up brothers and sisters, we done fucked up and we
sure is real sorry."
"And how many of your suckers are reformed hippies? ... are born-again citizens redeemed from criminal cowardice?"
"Ever known a war protestor who didn't believe he was better or
smarter than the dumb dogface in the dirt?"
"Ever even heard of a war protestor who was unselfish enough to
bleed or die for a stranger?!"
"Ever had a repentant draft-dodger come up to you and confess his
sins? ... offer to pay for an extension to be added onto a vet's
"Or just contribute to your maintenance with some coins tossed
into your bush hat?"
"Who do you think is contributing to your patriotic scam? ... the
same people who paid their taxes, raised their families, flew our
flag, went to church, and never ever embarrassed anyone in
"Even if his misconduct deserved it."
"Yeh, while you milk the crowd, you spoil it for the rest of us
... THEY're not your patsy, WE
"They're good people, the salt of the earth, the so-called Silent
Majority ... and you're asking them to pay twice, then and now."
"Hey, whose side are you on?! They deserve everything I give them
and alot more! They boned us, and I'm boning them back!"
"Oh really ... then you should've ridden in my taxicab today,
where I was lectured on the immorality of war and the particular
stupidity of the current military fiasco."
"See, THAT's what gets me about these heartless bastards: you're
OBVIOUSLY what you are and they spit on you anyway!"
"Not anyway, but just BECAUSE of who he is and what he
"Why'd you put up with it? Why didn't you crank him up tight?"
"No way ... he may have forgotten about America blaming the
troops for not letting us win the war, but I haven't! ... he's
only interested in reading the Riot Act to his fellow veterans."
"Thanks Danny, nice and cold ... tastes good."
"Thought it might help lower the temper-ature a bit."
"Or get us all so buzzed that we won't care about anything!"
"I'll drink to that."
"Honestly, I don't really know. It actually wasn't all that
confrontational ... pretty dispassionate, like we were both going
through the motions in the ritual. You've seen bouts like that,
where the boxers had to show up and throw some hands, but nobody
was interested in breaking a sweat, much less in breaking
"So what'd he say? ... I mean, you're rolling out of the
veterans' hospital and he suddenly volunteers his philosophy on
"No. At first we just chatted about the weather, the time of
year, his day, the new computer they've got in his cab, the
stupid way people drive, but when I asked him to drop me at the
grocery, he said that he was overdue for a break so he'd just
wait for me."
"You got to watch those quiet ones with their sneak attacks."
"Like your farts?"
"Like your brain farted and your lips flapped!"
"So there's this really handsome Vietnamese lady working the
checkout ... you know, the way they all do these days, talking on
a cell phone while passing your purchases over the bar-code
scanner, as if the customer didn't exist ... so I spoke to her in
my fractured Vietnamese."
"Well sir, since you only know how to swear and threaten grievous
bodily harm in gook-ese, I'll bet she wasn't very impressed!"
"Oh, big strong Captain Round-eye, you hairy as my pet monkey!
You have nose like dog, ears like elephant, and tail like teeny
tiny snake ... chop, chop, all gone now!"
"Oh, so sad."
"Yeh, no bet."
"She used the mask of the inscrutable oriental to avoid replying,
but I kept talking ... asking her where she was from? ... where
her family was from? ... was her family still alive? ... were
they refugees? ... was their travel to America difficult? ... was
she married? ... did she have children? ... and so forth. She
"Probably out of great desperation! ... cheez, won't this whack-o
ever shut up?"
"Like, hell-lo, can't you see I'm talking on the phone?"
"Under-whelmed her right off her Ho Chi Minh sandals."
"Maybe she thought he was a government agent checking on her with
all those personal questions about her private life."
"Max, that's a good point. It would be very rude to confront any
other stranger in this intimate manner, but we think we've got
some sort of unremitting bond with all Southeast Asians."
"Instant familiarity ... just add sweat and blood."
"And a little gunpowder for that special zest."
"And some Agent Orange for even more pizazz!"
"She wanted to know why I was interested, so I told her that I'd
spent a couple of years in her country as an advisor."
"Somebody, maybe Max or Dan, was telling me that you were up
north and that you worked with Black people. I heard the native
women went around topless all the time ... is that true?"
"I told him you worked with 'yards, but I never said nothing
about bumble in the jungle!"
"That's okay, no sweat. Yes Bobby, I was lucky enough to serve
with Montagnards ... we called them Strikers ... of mostly the
Bahnar, Jarai, and Bru tribes. They were fine people, decent and
courageous, honest and honorable ... and for years after America
abandoned those falling Southeast Asian dominoes, they believed
we would return and help them attain independence. They died by
the thousands, from all sides, in every way possible. Their story
is something like that of the American Indian tribes, who also
suffered our best and worst intentions ... but that's another
"And beer ain't strong enough to get us through it."
"But were the women naked?"
"Well Bobby, first of all, they aren't black skinned like some
African tribes, but, seemingly from Polynesian stock, are short
and stocky with light brown skin and straight black hair. They
hunted with crossbows, traded for metal implements, and practiced
slash and burn farming. Like many primitive peoples, they were
patriarchal and matrilineal, with puberty rites for both sexes at
adolescence. Because their work was hard and their lives were
short, they tended to marry early. It was not unusual to see
teenaged mothers carrying a baby in a sling while she worked in a
dry hillside rice field."
"Hey professor, cut to the chase. I don't think Bobby can hold
out for the complete ethnography!"
"He is getting a little twitchy."
"Yeh, Captain K, we already know you're smart, so tell us about
the naked broads!"
"Not broads, you moron ... lusty teenyboppers!"
"Why the hell do you think those blanket-heads kept re-enlisting
and extending their tours?!"
"But there was a war going on ...."
"So? Every paradise has its little flaw ... besides, they
couldn't drink beer and screw all the time!"
"Aw, you just want to be the snake in the next episode!"
"It was an all-expenses paid vacation to an exotic paradise, so
it's only reasonable that they'd have to take out the trash every
"Well, honeybunch, got to go out and kill a few commies, but I'll
be back real soon."
"Whew yeh! ... and pass me a cold one."
"Rice wine, not beer."
"Yeh, must have been really tough ... even with home-brewed
"Hmmm, do I want to eat these C-ration peaches or do I want to
contribute them to the tribal distillery for some truly primo
"Yeh boy ... donate!"
"Ummm, love that jungle juice!"
"Must have been out in the sun too long to even ask!"
"This doesn't taste anything like brandy!"
"That's because it's not, you dolt!"
"So Captain, how many blonde 'yards have you fathered?!"
"Hey, isn't there a letter in that stack of mail I passed you
from some agency having something to do with Montagnards?"
"Yeh, show us pictures of your abandoned children!"
"They're not called Sneaky Petes for nothing!"
"No wife, no kids, no secrets. Just a receipt for some money to
buy food and medicine. Entirely unexciting."
"Can't trust officers."
"He probably has the entire family album safely stowed in a bank
"You mean the unabridged and unexpurgated pictures of busty Gram,
booby Mom, buxom Sis, bosomy Auntie, and titless Daughter ...
just a little too young at this stage."
"And the one of the topless elephant racer with hair flying as
she edges out her competition by a tip!"
"Hey, we shouldn't be talking this way."
"But I love to study those photo-finishes ... such a lovely tip!"
"Because it's the Captain's secret bevy of luscious ladies?"
"Of course not! Didn't he get to ogle the Asian checker? And did
the selfish swine rent a movie for us?"
"No. After lazing around the hospital with all those wanton
nurses, our champion flirts with an oriental cutie on his way
back here to lecture us about primitive rituals."
"Uh-oh, Bobby's getting more excited."
"No! Don't get him started! He'll tell us about wearing the
"And killing the water buffalo ...."
"And eating some of it raw!"
"And being inducted as a blood brother, or impecunious uncle, or
unfortunate son, or some other disadvantageous relation in the
tribe. You'd think that cheap tin bracelet was a gold medal or a
blue ribbon or something very special for all the attention he
"Okay, okay, enough is enough. It is precious. One of my advisor
friends used these bracelets when he married."
"Of course he did ... you officers are too stingy to buy real
"Bobby, do you remember how hot it was in Vietnam?"
"Just like Louisiana."
"Except that it's cooler in the Highlands, and the rainy season
gets quite cold. So, for the most part, both Montagnard men and
women were bare chested ...."
"Say dude, I'm not into naked boys ... just girls."
"The men wore loincloths and the women wore wrapped skirts or
sarongs in their tribal color pattern. Puberty rites involved
filing of the teeth in tribal fashion. Everyone was barefoot
until we arrived with alien ideas. Men tended to smoke and women
tended to chew betel nut, but both would do either."
"What does this have to do with naked jugs?"
"Don't be crude. They're what the feminists want: unfettered
"Picture it: a person who lives in a thatched hut beside a muddy
stream, who works hard all day at many chores, and relaxes with a
narcotic that stains the skin and teeth. This romantic model bore
her first child shortly after menstruation began and kept
bearing until she no longer could, due to debilitation or age.
She will not receive medical or dental care throughout her life.
When she smiles her mouth looks like a vicious wound, and her
teeth are either black or missing. Her feet are dirty, her body
is sweat streaked, and her hair is greasy. Her few possessions, a
few implements and some animals, are kept nearby, and their
residue is evident. If she is still nursing her children, dried
milk will extend from her nipples, and flies will walk over her
breasts. If she is beyond breeding, her breasts will lay deflated
against her washboard ribs, as a public testament of her
exhaustion. This forest nymph is not unlike her sisters around
the world, being only a little more unspoiled by technology and
urbanization. From a distance, she is every poet's dream; and
propinquity makes one marvel at racial survival."
"Well, Bobby, you still hep on an arcadian idyll?"
"Not any more. He busted it good."
"Look at him ... he acts like he just learned that Santa Claus
"He's not twitching anymore."
"Man, that's been a dream for over thirty years. I can't get the
image of flies drinking her milk out of my head! I'm not crushed
... I'm just really really sad."
"Yup, flat. No good lying about it."
"Like finding the corpse of the Tooth Fairy under your pillow."
"Kind of puts me off sex a little bit too."
"Who the hell would give you any?!"
"On the other hand ...."
"There ain't no way you're ever going to beat your meat with two
"That's why there are adult sexual aids."
"You think the VA will buy me some of those?"
"Not aides, you moron!"
"All you can do is ask. The clerk might take pity on you, even if
your requisition is denied."
"Be some ugly witch for sure!"
"Or some guy."
"Some fancy guy ... Dangerous Dan might like it!"
"Don't spill my beer!"
"Okay, okay, settle down. I wanted to explain about the checker."
"Once an officer, always an officer."
"What kind of upper-toppers did she have?"
"She reversed the interrogation by asking me when I was in her
country, what I did, where I worked, if I'd been wounded there,
and so on. Then she hit me with the answer that was supposed to
either shut me up or turn me into the stereotypical crazed
Vietnam vet ... I think she was hoping for the latter so she
could have me arrested."
"Let me guess ...."
"You know it. Welcome to the New Socialist Republic of America."
"She was, of course, too young to have lived during the
American War, as they call it, but I had thought she
would have family that was touched by the war that we knew. She
told me that she was from Hanoi, that her family was well and
comfortable, and that she was married to a Canadian who also
"Hey, ain't it great? ... a two Green Card family."
"We're just a goddamn doormat for everyone who wants a higher
"... a higher standard of living."
"I continued talking with her, just like the supposed argument
with the cabdriver, but it didn't mean anything to either of us.
I intruded upon the privacy of a pert young woman, and she now
had a gotcha story to share with her resident alien
"Big dumb soldier tried to talk some trash with me and I shot him
down ... again. Someday he'll learn not to mess with Vietnam!"
"Power to the peasants."
"I couldn't help thinking about all the innocent people who were
imprisoned as war criminals because they happened to be on the
other side, of the political criminals who worked on farms, in
shops, and prayed to non-communist Gods, and how they all went
into slave labor camps for re-education."
"And little Miss Hanoi gets a free ride to the Land of the Big
"I cannot forget the execution of our former allies and
associates. I know that war isn't fair, but there's no
compassion, not there, and not here either."
"What about all the refugees, preyed upon by pirates and
warlords, and if they survived, these escapees would be forcibly
returned to the new regime for punishment."
"Yeh, how many Americans love freedom that much?"
"How many Americans could endure the same ordeal?"
"How many Americans could even accomplish what our pioneer
forebears did as a matter of course?"
"Hey, don't underestimate the modern American who will shop till
she drops, pay to view other people playing games ...."
"... other people having sex!"
"... travel great distances to visit places that are
indistinguishable from every other place."
"Kiss my ass ... what are you talking about? ... most Americans
couldn't even finish boot camp!"
"Let's not get lost on a tangent of envy and jealousy."
"W T F O!"
"Are you still medicated?!"
"He's just messing with your mind. Check his eyes, see the
"So then what happened? ... I mean, there you are with twenty
cases of beer and twenty bags of chewies, and little Miss Hanoi
is finding you quite resistible ...."
"Right. Led a cavalcade of bag boys out to the taxi ...."
"Ah, the return of the native."
"You're too friggin' intellectual."
"Not me ... HIM!"
"And did the professor lecture you on the ecological and
medicinal ramifications of imported beer?"
"Of course not."
"No, of course not ... he only tried to incite the horde of
exhausted bag boys into going on strike against labor, which
everyone knows is a demeaning condition of subordination and
"What is he talking about?"
"If you give him another beer he won't talk anymore."
"Like I said, we were just going through the motions. He said
that the Vietnam War was immoral, so I rebutted with a request
for a moral war, and he predictably said World War Two
"Talk about predictable ... these clones all mimic the same
"... so I itemized the litany of atrocities. My words didn't
change his mind, and neither did his change mine."
"You weren't talking, you were playing ping-pong."
"He claimed that all war is evil, especially the one we're now
fighting, so I pointed out that war was the only way to stop such
"Did your paradox flummox him?"
"Cheez, no more beer for you!"
"Does this look like a seminar or a bullshit session?"
"He wanted to bash the military, scorn soldierly sacrifice,
belittle political effort, and betray national objectives, so I
asked how this differed from the usual drivel proliferated by
pacifists and protestors and complainants?"
"And he just said that it was wrong ... right?"
"Essentially. But he couldn't understand why I hadn't learned
anything while I was at war or afterwards in the hospitals."
"The other side of that argument is that you cannot admit your
misguided and misspent youth because you have been permanently
marked by your decision."
"You mean that if I concede my base instincts then my body will
be miraculously restored?!"
"These people have tried to turn humanism into a religion, while
denying the spirituality that surrounds us all the time."
"If you profess anything they can use, then the only reward is
exploitation, not redemption."
"Aren't they the ones who advocated what goes around comes
"The chickens come home to roost."
"But they think they're immune."
"Yeh, shit happens, but it only happens to the deserving."
"They believe that they can carry the stuff without getting any
of it on themselves, without stinking or drawing flies!"
"My people used to say that if you pass hate, then you will
receive hate; and if you pass around love, then maybe we'll all
"That says it, Bobby."
"You come from smart people."
"Man, that smells good!"
"And looks good too."
"Careful there Bobby, the platter is hot. I made some hors
d'oeuvres for us to snack on while this convocation is in
"Now if you was pretty and could cook like this ...."
"Nice job Danny."
"Tastes great! ... and it really is hot!"
"What exactly is it?"
"You girls want to swap recipes?"
"No, I mean, what all is in it?"
"It's just some spinach and egg and cayenne pepper and two kinds
of cheese tucked into a wrapper. Real simple."
"Got any napkins?"
"And more cold beer?"
"This is good ... the best I've eaten in a long time."
"You know that love isn't the only thing that grows the more it's
"That's a little too touchy feely for me."
"Then try this. Freedom is the one thing that can be endlessly
given without loss."
"Even if they abuse it?"
"... to the cabby?"
"... to little Miss Hanoi?"
"Certainly. They're wasteful and preoccupied ...."
"But we bled for them, and their disrespect is insulting."
"We also bled for us, for ourselves, for each other, so we could
be more appreciative than they are."
"We know what freedom costs."
"Maybe they'll learn it, maybe they won't, but would you deny it
to them because they want to deny it to others?"
"That would make us just like them."
"We spend tax dollars sending kids to school, but if they don't
want to use the opportunity to learn ...."
"Right. Close the schools. Fill up the jails. Who is standing the
first watch? And Captain, pass that mail back over here so I can
"You look too damned subversive to be an enforcer."
"We've already been through the young and reckless stage, so the
next phase should be applying our hard earned wisdom."
"Passing the lessons learned along to the next bunch of troops."
"I sure as hell remember what it was like to be the only one who
didn't have a clue."
"You weren't the only one ... everybody else was faking it."
"Well, we've proved ourselves, so we definitely don't have to
fight every fight."
"You right. And the ones we choose to fight better mean
"Better result in something other than dead bodies."
"... something worthwhile."
"I look at it a little different. You've got to fight enough to
stay alert, keep fit, be responsive, so that fighting is part of
survival. You don't fight for the hell of it, but you only fight
"I disagree. Winning doesn't justify fighting, but fighting just
to fight, or fighting not to win is stupid."
"There are things more important than winning or fighting."
"Such as family, home or homeland, faith or trust or honor ...
and they're beyond price."
"And so is comradeship."
"The guys who've been in the trenches with you are the only ones
who can share some feelings, appreciate some memories, who can
know what no one else can understand."
"Trying to explain it to someone who hasn't experienced it is
like speaking a foreign language in a strange culture."
"Like the Hindu parable of the blind men examining the elephant
... no offense, Bobby."
"Isn't that why we're all divorced?"
"You can't talk to them."
"You can talk alright, but they don't understand."
"Not just wives, but anyone who hasn't been out on the
"They say that they want to know, but then they don't get it ...
like telling a joke that can't be explained."
"And some of them get real excited when they think you're going
to tell them something horrible."
"Yeh, like little kids who want to be scared as long as you're
there to hold their hand, to reassure them."
"They want to reassure us, but you can tell how the idea of
violence really gets them excited."
"Yeh, it's a turn-on for them ...."
"... you know the way some women like guys to fight over them?"
"It's the same kind of kinky thrill ...."
"... like they want you to be brutal and gentle at the same
"And you know its a big mistake as soon as you start talking into
their glazed eyes ...."
"... gazing at something deep inside that is running in her head,
affecting her breathing and making her wet."
"But guys act that way too."
"Sure they do, and you know what to do with some punk who wants
to suck you off!"
"... uh, figuratively. They're just voyeurs."
"Hey professor, fuck your big words! ... they want to play with
"They would eat your heart if they could!"
"... you soul."
"The mere revelation diminishes the value of the experience. It's
like talking about it invalidates ...."
"But we've talked about things ...."
"... we've shared, even though none of us has had the same
experience, but we still understand each other."
"Okay, two things: we have more in common than any civilian does,
and we have a positive attitude toward the events described."
"We don't put each other down."
"We don't discredit each other."
"When you talk to a civilian with an ulterior motive, he or she
is exploiting you ...."
"... using you like a dildo!"
"... which cheapens the act, the exchange, the memory."
"Any of you guys ever brag about sex?"
"Natch ... we're card-carrying pigs!"
"You ever describe sex with your girlfriend or sweetheart? Talk
about what you and your wife did, the way it felt?"
"Jeez! ... that's sick!"
"Of course not."
"And why not?"
"It's too private ...."
"... too personal."
"... too intimate."
"... too sensitive."
"It's too special."
"It's nobody else's business!"
"Well, it's the same thing. Ever listened to
some pathetic soul sincerely witness his faith?"
"Not necessarily. But if he does it regularly, then it's not a
profession of faith, but a dramatization."
"Yeh, he's acting the role."
"And how many professional vets have we seen acting
"Why you always on my ass?!"
"Ah, the guilty flee when none pursue."
"Oh, fuck you very much!"
"Modern life is synthetic. We didn't have to invent rituals
because they were integral to our lives."
"Now everybody can be anybody."
"B T D T."
"Got the t-shirt."
"That's why primitive religions always conceal the name of God
... it's too precious to be exposed to anything not sacred."
"And the profanation doesn't diminish Him, but us."
"Right on, brother."
"Tell a war story and it becomes just another commodity."
"Or a game."
"Say what? ... ummm, bad trip, dude ... you want another drink?"
"... say your best friend died in your arms, well I had this dog
"Or they sneer at you for not being like some book or movie."
"Or they look right through you, like you never spoke and don't
"That's probably why every war story I've ever heard, present
company excepted, of course, was pure unadulterated bullshit."
"Got to lie, if you don't want to feel that dirty
"... that fickle finger of fate."
"B O H I C A!"
"Not all of us are liars."
"And none of us are baby killers! ... so what?!"
"They made me into the animal I am today."
"Whew, rude, crude, and tattooed!"
"If they want an animal to stare at, then they got to pay."
"I'd settle for some petting."
"You disgusting sex maniac!"
"Not all of us are on the make."
"Not all of us are divorced."
"I seen your hairy ass hanging out of the bed this morning, so if
you got a home to go to, why the hell are you stinking up my
"This is my home, you know that. I'm just not
divorced ... not yet."
"You said it: home. It's the only place to share certain
insights, sensations, realizations."
"It's not only a place to share some truth and trust, it's where
my life was saved ... again."
"Yeh, I been there too."
"I been so far out that only a comrade could walk me back from
"We all save each other's lives ... just like before, in another
time and place."
"And is it worth it?"
"Well, I'm grateful."
"Yeh, me too."
"It's like we were saying about picking your fight. I'm not
pointed in a positive direction anymore ... I'm just trying to
avoid heading in a negative direction."
"Roger that. The hell with trying to be first, just as long as
I'm not last."
"Trying to be the best is kid's stuff, like fighting and drinking
and acting up."
"Life is not school. Look at all the hot-shot fast-movers who
burned out early."
"Usually getting a bunch of good troops killed in their blaze of
"Yeh, I'm not trying to be good; I just don't want to be bad."
"That funny to you, Captain?"
"So glad we could amuse you with ...."
"No, not you. This letter. Oh lord, what a hoot!"
"What is it?"
"Hey, this is o-ffic-ial. It's from Uncle Sugar."
"Whew! He got a draft notice!"
"No. He's an officer. It's got to be the IRS auditing his
"It's from the VA ... the director of the Regional Office. It
says that they have examined my records and have determined that
I am now rehabilitated!"
"I'm ready for that miracle any time now."
"Have they looked at you? ... I mean, they do realize that you
are a poster child for scar tissue, don't they?"
"What does it mean?"
"Anybody else received one of these?"
"Send me one of those and I'm going to send the director into
"I'm not sure what it means, Bobby, but I think they're trying to
tell me that they're tired of passing paperwork on me."
"Does this mean that you have to pay for your own treatment?"
"Does this mean that you don't have any benefits anymore?"
"Good thing you got a job."
"I don't think it means that I'm done, but that
"What are you going to do, Captain?"
"You could get cards printed up saying that you're now
"Hey, why not frame the letter, and mount it on the door ...?"
"You've been in too many motel rooms!"
"... not on the inside, but on the outside, where everyone will
"We could enlarge it and hang it on the living room wall."
"We could seal the letter in plastic laminate and attach it to
the back of your wheelchair."
"What did the Sons of Liberty do with edicts and such
"I think they just tore them down."
"They might have kept the paper for re-use ... it was valuable in
"Well, this is not worth mustering the Minutemen ...."
"Ummm, does that mean that this is not a worthy fight?"
"That's an apt metaphor."
"So, if you're not going to make them retract it, Captain, then
what exactly are you going to do with it?"
"Piss on it, my friend ... piss on it!"
"I'll drink to that!"
"We'll all drink to that!"
"And we'll all piss on it!"
"Ahhh, brotherhood ... ain't it beautiful?!"
"Another round please."