He went to Vietnam on a 747 Jet from Augsburg, Germany, first landing in Minnesota for a thirty-day leave, and then onto Seattle, Washington for jungle training, fifty-days later, he was landing in Cam Ranh Bay.
It was lonely, hot and rainy there. After another month, his German-Jewish girlfriend, Chris Stewart had written him, said she was sorry, but she didn’t want to wait for him, that there relationship was over; she wanted to go on with her life. To forgive her, but that was how she felt (—she had leukemia). It wasn’t absolutely unexpectedly, I mean he really didn’t expect to marry her; they never did talk on the subject. He knew it was perhaps the best solution, if indeed a solution was called for.
Three times he got gonorrhea while in Vietnam, three times, and then he stopped his loose behavior, and paid more attention to the war.
After a while, when it got dark in the evenings, and all there was were the night lights, and searchlights, and the light of the moon, he took out his wine bottle, and beer cans, and drank. It made him cool and fresh in the hot nights, if not a little depressed and forgetful.
And they had a joke about a friend who got gonorrhea so many times in their company area, that he got a bent spine and had to be sent to Japan for treatment. He would walk up and down the wooden sidewalks at the company area, holding onto a bamboo stick used as a cane, he was twenty-seven years old.
When he’d forget about that loose behavior, thinking about prowling about—to feed that youthful male lust, he’d remember his pal, with the bamboo stick, in Japan. They all liked him, thought he was quite the guy, but he had that cane, and bent spine.
For a while, for perhaps three or four months, when it got dim and quiet during the nights, he wondered how Chris was, and then after that, after those passing months, he stopped wondering, she was no longer part of his hours of darkness.