“Love child, never meant to be. Love child, always second best.” Brother John, on Armed Forces Radio, presaged the lyrics in his deep baritone voice. A different voice introduced John without actually introducing him. Was John really in Nha Trang, spinning a platter with the latest Supremes’ song on it? The song was as far and distant from the coming dawn as I was from any kind of reality that I wanted to be a part of. I got up, although I could not remember sleeping like I’d been so accustomed to doing back home. I’d merely missed a few hours somewhere. I didn’t feel like I’d slept or was waking up. The sounds of morning gentled their way into my recovered ear canals. I knew I needed some kind of ear plugs for night combat or I was going to go deaf,  but then when I thought about it further, I realized that I’d be deaf anyway with the plugs in and I could not afford to be deaf in combat any more than I already was when the firing began.

I poured water into my helmet, setting the liner aside until later. I shaved carefully with no mirror and a mechanically operated double edged razor. The edge was brand new but not sharp. I worked at it intently, trying to forget where I was. I took off my utility top and washed under my arms for no good reason I could think of. I brushed my teeth, spit out the water and was done. I got dressed for the coming day, put my helmet together, strapping the rubber band Fusner had given me around it. Now I had repellent right there at any time anywhere. My utility top still had some wrinkled starch left in it which had nicely absorbed now blackened sweat marks. Shirts or tops were not called that in training. They were called blouses, but I could never think of them that way. Folding up the bottoms of pants, called trousers, at the bottom was called blousing too, for whatever reason.