No light meant it wasn’t yet morning. Not even moonlight under the broken bamboo and soggy brush that cascaded down and over almost everything under it. I lay there, disturbed by the fact that I’d lost the ability to determine if I was asleep or awake. Had I slept or been awake for the whole night? Humans had to sleep. I’d read somewhere that the world’s record for going without sleep was only four or five days — about the same time I’d been in country. I didn’t feel rested or experience any of the relief I would have felt if I’d actually slept. It seemed that the night had been filled with one volley of green tracers after another plunging down on our position from the side of the untaken hill, followed by mortar rounds sent back by Lima Company’s on-loan mortar team.
For some reason the mosquitoes had let up. Had they taken in enough of the repellent to cause them to go soggy and inert? I wondered. I thought about the jungles of Vietnam — how they were nothing like I’d been led to expect from Tarzan and other Saturday morning shows from my youth. There was no “triple canopy” stuff, rising hundreds of feet into the air, with vines and liana strung everywhere. Tarzan would have had to walk like the rest of us in the lowlands of Vietnam, where lush green shoulder high brush and bamboo groves were interspersed with only an occasional large cypress, and there was plenty of mud everywhere. Reed clumps permeated every open area and allowed for hooches to be inhabitable with the monsoons approaching. The reeds could be easily cut and then laid under ponchos or the few air mattresses that weren’t filled with holes. I had no mattress since I’d never made it to supply.
My letter home was ready to go although I wasn’t sure I should send it. My wife was back home in San Francisco, waiting. My parents were in Florida doing whatever they were doing, what with my dad being a warrant officer in the Coast Guard. My brother was an army officer tanker serving in the Big Red One down South in a place called Bien Hoa. My letter detailed what was to be done when I didn’t come home. Ever. There was the government life insurance, the six month’s pay, a small private policy with a company called Mass Mutual and the pay I was owed but hadn’t been paid out yet. My list to Mary was eleven items long. I couldn’t believe that everything I had ever had could be easily described in eleven entries, wherein about six of them were rather meaningless.What to do with my Ace Double Science Fiction collection of books seemed idiotic. Would my wife react badly or understand that she had to do certain stuff without me in order to take care of herself and the baby? Would the contents of the letter be too much for her emotionally?