Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Soldier with the Coke Bottle

He waited again, in the thick heat of Vietnam (1971). It should have been routine, if not easy for him now—since he had had all his Army training in Southern States, the warm states, and a year plus in the Army and now the entire evening to practice waiting. He had, as all soldiers have had, time to accustom oneself to waiting: in, here, there, wherever, everywhere.  But it was hard now, harder because he had only eight months to go before he’d (ETS) get out of the Army, one and for all, for all times sake. Yes, only eight months to go: it was harder now, sitting on that steel plated floor in the shadow of 240-other soldiers in Cam Ranh Bay, side to side,  alongside a long concert wall. A bottle of coke against his shirt, it felt cool, like Minnesota snow, fresh.
       “Drink it slowly,” the sergeant said, with emphases. “The heat will get to you if you don’t,” he added. He had fetched him a coke for a costly: $3.00.
       It went cold down his throat, amazed and dreamy eyed, unbelief it could be so refreshing. Automatically he opened his eyes wide, raised his chest, he could not see straight (he had drank the while bottle in a matter of seconds, gulped it down), he was dizzy; he started to pass out, thought he was going to pass out, it felt as if he would, his face a tinge pale. The coldness in his body had had an effect on him, like: light to dark, no, like swimming against hard waves. It still felt pretty good though.
       ‘I want another coke,’ he thought, then thought ‘I just can’t drink it slow, it is impossible, it seduces me.’
       He would marry the coke if he could, he told himself, and for three dollars, he could have drunk all night on that, at the Enlisted Men’s Club. But he said, ‘I aint the marring kind,’ and laughed to himself.

       His mind chattered on, feedback on what just had taken place as he waited, and waited for his new assignment, against that hot wall, with two-hundred and forth other soldiers, in the night heat:

I had had the coke. I thought that that was not enough, but with sheer curiosity the coke and its coolness had subdued, no—seduced me. Therefore, it was enough. When I had finished the coke I began to struggle—
       “No,” he said.  “No. No. No.”
       “Hush” his brain told him, “you’re not going to pass out.”
       Then he realized he was clinging tight, tighter, to himself.
       The night was lit, he knew the moon was somewhere overhead, above him, but he was too dizzy to look, still too dizzy.

5-7-2013 (#993)