Zippo didn’t get back from retrieving the starlight scope from Rittenhouse until full dark. There’d been no fire from the hill. I’d registered our new position but not ordered a fire mission. I knew it wouldn’t be long. I wasn’t afraid of taking fire from a heavy machine gun nearly as much as I was from the prospect of the NVA attacking and penetrating our lines, or what might come of the obvious threat from First and Fourth platoons internally. By the time I moved to Zippo’s hooch to try out the scope, I realized my shaking hands were back. Longer than an M16, the scope weighed twice as much. It was like handling a thick length of sewer pipe with a big rubber grommet on one end. The night mist returned, combining with  my repellent soaked hands to make the black metal hopelessly slippery.  Handling the ungainly scope, in conjunction with my shaking, was nearly impossible. The case for it had to be bigger than Fusner’s radio. I wondered if the thing was worth the effort until Stevens flipped a switch and I pushed my eye into the rubber grommet and stared into the lens.

Green light everywhere. Shadows of green light in the distance. I knew I was seeing things in the dark that were impossible for a human eye to detect,  but I couldn’t make them out. Everything moved too much and the scope seemed to be slowing  things down. If I moved the scope at all it seemed to take part of a second for the green scene to catch up.

“You’ve got to prop it up on something,” Stevens said. “It came with a tripod but that got lost somewhere.”

I laid down on Zippo’s poncho cover and propped the ‘sewer pipe’ across the back of his pack. I pulled the scope and pack closer, and then stared at the jungle not far away. I knew it wasn’t far away because I’d seen it during the day, but I also knew because I was seeing it at night. The view was astounding. The wind wafted across the tips of different kinds of jungle growth. I watched, feeling like I was hypnotized. I could even see the moisture falling and blowing around in the air. It looked like rolling green mist. I watched the Gunny light a cigarette in his hooch twenty yards away. His lighter flared briefly, like a street light burning out. I saw every green feature of the Gunny’s face. Gazing through the scope took some of my fear away, and I didn’t want to stop looking through it.