(Sergeant Conway, Carter and Ming)
((An Interlude: Buck Sergeant Conway, he was the arch-demon for the Company, at the 611—surely for his platoon—to most everyone at the company he wasn’t worth shit, as a soldier he was mediocre, and in a firefight, or just on routine missions in the bush, he’d always seem to end up getting someone killed or maimed: young soldiers, strong soldiers, Charlie, the enemy had him pigged. And he was mean as hell. He put his own men through all sorts of crap, keeping them miserable from sunup to sundown. He had a lot of good young soldiers working under him, even Langdon Abernathy for awhile—until he was assigned to the ammunition battery, in support, under Staff Sergeant Carter.
He’d, Conway, come on strong with his harsh manner, although none of it would bother SSG Carter, he was one rank his senior. But it all carries over; it made him look tough, not good, but heroic like. He’d actually kick you in the back, in the ass, in the leg if he felt he could find a blind spot, a narrow moment to do it that favored him. SSG Carter never felt comfortable around him, feeling somewhere along the line, he’d step over the line with him, and then what?
Carter had a good reputation, perhaps there was some jealousy in that, between the two who never paid the other any attention for the most part.
Why Ming dated him after hours, pretty much on the sly, no one could figure out, perchance he had a more likable personality than we all thought—but just a prick to most of the soldiers in the Company. Privates and corporals used to say he walked around with a pocket knife in his pocket. Just in case he wanted to stick someone in the ass with it, and watch him jump.
He wasn’t useless, normally in good form, physically and mentally that is. Like all of us, we had our bad days, but he had so many of them we just wondered when he was having a good one, lest he make ours grim, “I suppose he’s no worse than the average asshole,” Sergeant Carter, would say to anyone who asked him—for his view on the matter.
Whatever SGT Conway’s motives were no one knew, but people if not history, and memories as well, judge men by their actions, and it was obvious to all of us, Conway was not in Vietnam for fighting a war for America, believing in what the American politicians said we should all be there for—such as: democracy and freedom, it was a land that still cherished their ancestors’ ways; the darker face of reality lies hidden in the banks and industry of America. I mean this was no ‘Bunker Hill,’ it was Vietnam, ten-thousand miles away from ‘Bunker Hill’ and Conway knew it. The times were filled with a neurosis, cruelty, domination, America was obsessed, a fearful, and suspicious country. And Conway knew this also, fanatics, he called everyone, and laughed at us all. He even said “I know I’m unimportant in the overall picture here,” and would mumble some narcissistic sentence.
There’s an old saying: a paralyzed man will swing a paralyzed arm less than a good Arm: I never saw him swing his arms at all; he was like a wooden soldier. That was Conway.)( On the other hand, SSG Carter was famous at the 611 also, he was one of the few soldiers who became well known fast, like a movie star, and therefore, acquired blind loyalty, fans you might say, and of course, antagonistic critics—especially the blacks who called him the Vietnam Tarzan. Yet he was a commanded presence—stocky and powerful. One either liked him, or loathed him. Except Conway, who paid him no mind? Auburn- flecked hair, sea-deep eyes (bluish-green).
Unconsciously, the thought was there, but it was sleepy-bleary eyed, a pale thought at best, why would Ming, a tall, young lovely Asian girl go out with such a guy—I mean, after the first date, why the second and third and who knows how many thereafter; a soldier who gnashes his teeth more than he brushes them. There was a sleazy side to Conway, a cheap and rickety side to him, almost disoriented, and yet they cohabitated on the sly. This would come out later; it would be food for thought. But while at the 611, it was just curiosity.))