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
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.