Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Barrack’s Remedy (1970—Augsburg, West Germany)

He removed an obstruction from the canteen; it was empty, and he
       poured red wine into it, picked up a glass, a tall glass, put the
       decanter down by the canteen, heated the canteen up, put water
       and sugar in it, looked about at me. 
“This is an old southern remedy for a cold,” he told me, “hand me
       the little stove, in back of the bed.” 
Then, as I turned and started to play the guitar some, two other
       southern boys were in the four room barracks, all of us       
       privates, one locked the door, I saw Private Small reach and
       take the canteen with the sugar, wine and water in it, plunge a
       spoon into the opening and stirred madly:
Heating it up on that little electric burner stove—
It looked as if he was making some kind of a hot toddy: taken aback
       by him putting  sugar in with wine and water to boot.
But my cold was bad, real bad, and I had guard duty in the morning,
       and I was willing to try anything.
It had now all, dissolved, but it seemed to me when he poured the
       contents of the wine into a glass container, the sugar, some of
       the sugar, fell to the bottom of the glass, like sand: liken to a
       ritual almost, he handed it to me,
“Drink it down fast now,” he said, “you’ll be like new in the morning,
        my grand-pappy, he been making these hot toddies for
       seventy-years, or per near….”
And I remember how I picked up the hot glass, and thought it was
       one big joke, drank it down, hesitated a long moment, and never
       realized, or realized too late, I jerked my head back a tinge, and
       sprang toward my bed and  hurled facedown onto it, and there I
       remained till morning. 
The little remaining contents of the large sixteen-ounce glass I
       evidently hurled into the air, I heard with thud, and in the
       morning, Smiley said “…you flung the glass in the air, and it
       came crashing down onto the floor, splashed wine here and
       there, faster than whistling Dixie, but there wasn’t much left.” 
And I grabbed him, said “Did you pour all this water on me when I      
       passed out?”
I was wetter than a fish in deep water, soaked from head to foot  
       and my mattress was like a flooded sponge,  but I was fine, I
       wasn’t sick any longer. 
“I done told you, my grand-pappy’s recipe always works.”
Then all three of them were standing over my bed assuring me I
       sweated it all out.

#3878 (4-25-2013)