This is Chapter 2 in an E2 nightmare called REMFS.



Late night. Rough day. The same old shit. I'd peed in the jar, double-tucked Stephen and clanked my change against the keys to the new Mercedes. It made Laura startle a little the way she does. She was on my side. I crawled over her softly. She smelled sleepy.

I lay there thinking about where the day'd gone wrong, listening to the jets blast out over the Pacific from LAX. I figure I'd fallen off after about an hour and then--in a screech of Jimi Hendrix nightmare blues--I had that god-damned dream.

Vietnam flashbacks. Who the fuck needs them? God knows you can't walk into a 7-Eleven past some homeless red-faced stringy-haired alcoholic wearing a boonie hat these days and not find some bloody paperback or another: Gooks and Mud and Silver Stars. To Do Street. OJ's. China Beach. Guys Who Didn't Know They Had It In Them. Girls Who Couldn't Ever Get It Out. Death and Dying and Living and Killing. Jesus. War stories. People love that shit I guess.

I got a war story for you. And I never got a scratch. Funny thing about my war though: it's still going on; and you're in it. Your momma's in it with you. Your kids'll be in it too. It's quite the goddamn thing.

It seems it was 1970. I went to see old Keith in San Francisco the night before I left. We hung out together in college and he got the girl. Elena.

I'd met her in a set design class. She was one of those New York City Jewish Girls Who Like to Smoke, Talk, and Fuck. At the time this was to me a new thing. I have since learned that it's about the only thing, but wisdom's arrival is oft-delayed. Sometimes it doesn't even dress for the game.

Elena and I used to meet every afternoon, her dorm. Sometimes we just Talked. She would whip up cappucino in a stoneware mug with an immersion heater she kept in her lingerie drawer. She was the first person in my life to make me feel like maybe I didn't need a psychiatrist after all. Unfortunately, after about half a semester, I discovered that she did. It colored my affection for her. But that's definitely another story. A long one. And there is blood in that one, so I'll let it go its own accursed way.

She was tiny and dark and her butt was a little too bony, but Elena had beautiful brown eyes when she was laughing and she was as smart as anybody I've ever met. When my grades began to plummet because of all the cappucino I'd been drinking, I reluctantly ended it. It was like throwing out your favorite fielder's mitt because you couldn't type with it. Please try to understand: we weren't in love yet. It was just this physical thing we had. We were, like, real-life embodiments of the 60's and we didn't even know it. We just liked to do neat things to each other's bodies and then lay around afterwards watching the twilight develop. Idyllic, hunh?

Keith was the ace dude in my directing class. He had a talent for acting too, though he considered that pretty cheap stuff. He used to go on about how the theatre belongs to the director and it's therefore just a place for the actors to hang out and hit on each other. He got real interested in Elena about the time I went on academic probation and, odd as it seems to me now, they got married the week after graduation (which neither of them attended). We were strange birds, the lot of us, in those days.

Keith and Elena were living in San Francisco where he had a (small) role in Oh! Calcutta! and she played piano in the pit. This was a semi-famous show on Broadway at the time, undistinguished pretty much except for the fact that John Lennon wrote part of it and so did Samuel Beckett and everybody in the show was nude. I think it's still playing in some of the farther reaches of the world. Shows to go ya: De gustibus non disputandam est.

They were both OK in the show, though her piano needed tuning and he had a tendency to push his voice. I went backstage after, a little depressed I gotta admit, cause that plane is taking off pretty goddamned soon and they're in the City of the Golden Gate with the Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead and an unending supply of drugs for the rest of their lives, and they invite me over for drinks and doobs. Their place, out in North Beach.

You gotta understand I'm operating on semi-automatic, twelve hours from the Bird that Flies You To Uncertainty. I've been drinking and I know somebody passed me a joint in that dressing room. It was San Francisco, brother. It was 1970. I may have been in the uniform of the complete idiot-patriot, but I am a Baby Boomer with a college degree who knows how to have a good time. Still, for all I know, I'm going to wake up dead in Nha Trang, so I'm a little bummed. This is why Keith and Elena invite me over. I'm starting to think, Oh shit, I'm going to die in this shitty war and he's going to live happily ever after with, it suddenly occurs to me, My First True Love, but like I say, we're all friends and I do decide to fall by the house.

I'm stoned and drunk and I find myself knocking on Keith and Elena's door. There's a psychedelic rendering of the two of them the length and width of the door. I think they're copulating (call it making love if you must), but with that Hashbury Art Nouveau it's hard to tell. It doesn't really matter; looking back on it it just seems quaint to me, that's all. Red white blue and paisley; Nice flag for a country with balls.

I'm stoned and drunk and I can hear Crosby, Stills, and Nash Without Young doing that incredible harmony that they couldn't pull off at Woodstock: Doo doo doo doo doo doo doop doop doop doo doop. Doo doo doo doo doo doo doop doo doo doo...when Keith's door opens. I am greeted by one of the other actresses in the play, one whom I shall admit to you here did manage to bring my insignificant member to attention, in spite of my affected military demeanor, during the course of the show. She is tall and blonde and she smells like sunshine dipped in chocolate.

"Hi!" this gorgeous girl/woman says to me. She's topless; she's got flowers in her hair. It feels like Eden, and she says to me: "Let's make this a night we'll never forget, Soldier."

May 14th, 1970. A Thursday. I dreamed the last good dream I'd ever have in my life. Two days later I wake up in Ton Son Nhut airport with the clap and a polaroid. If she'd had a name she didn't use it.

The 60's were a long time gone.


Chapter 3: How to brush your teeth in a combat zone


On Vietnam:

REMFS

  1. I was a prisoner in a Mexican Whorehouse
  2. A long time gone
  3. How to brush your teeth in a combat zone
  4. Libber and I go to war
  5. Fate takes a piss
  6. Thanks For the Memory
  7. Back in the Shit
  8. LZ Waterloo
  9. Saturday Night, Numbah Ten

grunts
Phantom

a long commute
Andy X Kirby True
a tale of two Woodstocks
Buy a Gun
Dawn at The Wall
Draft
Feat of Clay
Funeral Detail
I was a free man once, in Saigon
The Joint Chiefs of Staff
the shit we ate

AK-47
Breaking Starch
Combat Infantryman Badge
David Dellinger
Dickey Chapelle
Firebase Mary Ann
Garry Owen
Gloria Emerson
Graves Registration
I Corps
MOS
Project 100,000
REMF
the 1st Cav
The Highest Traditions
Those Who Forget
Under the Southern Cross
Whither the Phoenix?

A Bright Shining Lie
Apocalypse Now Redux
Hearts and Minds
We Were Soldiers

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