The Righteous Brothers began their song called Unchained Melody and, as the first words of the lyrics squeaked out of Fusner’s tiny radio speaker, life came to a stop for me. I just sat there and listened.
I knew that our real registered position was known to the two Army batteries we’d used for fire, and Cowboy and Hobo had to have our position fairly well marked, but the jets coming in would not be quite so accurately informed.
I was wrong and I knew it by the time the company had proceeded less than an hour into its rain-flushed mud-slogging move into an impossibly dark night of trying to break through abusive jungle bracken while attempting to be careful not to set off any booby-traps.
I climbed the hill, switching back and forth, heading for chunks of outcropping rock and then toward the density of a protruding stand of low-lying bamboo. It was the Hill Trail climb my platoon at the Basic School had dreaded once a week in Virginia training…
I finished the letter home. It wasn’t my best work because I kept nodding off. Nodding off but not sleeping. I nodded through the letter, forgetting about what I was going to tell my wife, instead going into detail about how much Casey reminded me of Kramer, the major at the Basic School who’d hated me.
I ate ham and lima beans while the mosquitos ate me. The repellant backed them off but there were plenty of FNG mosquitos to replace the ones who flew away.
I lay in my hooch, dug into the side of the hill through the effort of using Fusner’s entrenching tool. The hill was too slanted to lay against without a step being carved into its side. Fusner was just down from me,
I went to work on my stuff, just outside the exposed rock area where the choppers had come in. The area wasn’t that large, having hardly the footprint of an average small home back in the real world.