Fiction/Short Prose

Doctor Death
by Alan Catlin

Three by Marc Levy:

At the Market
Linh Dinh

Two by Vito Ricci:
Cam Duck

Contributors Notes

~ . ~

Doctor Death

by Alan Catlin

         It all began in a bar. It always does. The third pint of Bass Ale was depth-charging its way through the inner ozone layers on its way to a new kind of subatmospheric destiny. I was always looking forward to stateside out-of-body experiences, the way I did in a bunker counting mortar rounds land inside the perimeter, on hard drugs somewhere beyond the edge of nowhere in The Nam.
         Out of body, I cruise treelines in my mind and the trip flares go off in an Agent Orange hell. The music that accompanies the journey is by Jefferson Airplane, spiraling out of the sky to touch our ears with fire. Air Head says the concussion shock of all that hard stuff had put me one-third of the way back to Iowa.
         "Open your eyes," AH says. I love seeing paisley-colored ants singing 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band' in Vietnamese. "You've been so zee'd out I could hear Chairman Mao trying to make contact with you on some spook's frequency through your teeth. I told you back in the stone ages of your tour to stay off acid, man, or in-country will get you."
         "Whatever you say, AH."
         "Excuse me," she said.
         I opened my eyes and saw this girl sipping a Long Island Iced Tea through a straw, and wondered how she had ended up in the bunker. She wasn't there when the incoming started. No one was, actually, not even me.
         The incoming now was a shit storm of sound from the disc-playing monster juke in the corner of the room. I thought my dead ear drums would bleed all over again from the mind-boggling decibel level of Guns 'N Roses wiping out all life in the back room with a fresh wave of Noise.
         "There's no reason to be rude. We haven't even actually met," she said.
         She wasn't from any war zone I remembered. There was something incredibly youthful about her that suggested years of probation even thinking about touching her. Maybe even hard time.
         So I decided to buy her a drink. I'd done plenty of hard time already. What's a few more years in stir among friends?
         "Doctor Death," I said, "another pint of Bass for me and whatever the lady is drinking."
         "A little bit late in the month for your Welfare check, Ray. You got any president's faces I might recognize?"
         "I put in more overtime in the last two weeks than you've done in ten years, clown."
         "We don't do tabs here, Ray, you know that, and you're light three pints already."
         "It's a good thing I love you or else they'd be picking pieces of you out of a dumpster in Cleveland for weeks."
         I peeled off two Andy Jackson's from the wad and laid them on the wood, said to the Doctor, "Here's the hard stuff. Do your worst."
         To her, I said, "What do you think?" Stupidly--instead of reconsidering tempting a barman serving my drinks known as Dr. Death for good reason. They call bar guys 'doctors' because they serve medicines and bar girls 'nurses' because they deliver it. This guy had earned his nickname the hard way. I wouldn't say he served bad medicine, but people did die a lot when he was around.
         "Think about what?" she said.
         "Anything. How about Wittgenstein's Theory of Transcendental Linguistics or maybe the new starting line-up possibilities of the Strawberryless New York Mets?"
         "I'm sorry, the 'shrooms I took, like hours ago, are wearing off and I had this incredible nightmare, dozing off and waking up straight for the first time since I was like ten."
         "You have 'shrooms?"
         "Had, sweet thing."
         "Can you get more? I love 'shrooms."
         "Could, but it might take a long time to get to Cleveland, even with a fax machine."
         "Why Cleveland?"
         "It's the end of the earth, babe. The phrase, 'Shit happens,' was invented there."
         It wouldn't take a genius to see that I was doing bad time with this babe. At best, I was a one-free-drink weirdo in old Army clothes with a strange rap and an aura that went out of style with the fall of Saigon. Eventually it clicked why she kept hanging out: I had access to dangerous drugs and bucks to ply Doctor D with.
         "She's taking you for a ride, Raymond," Doctor D counsels.
         "I've been on rides before, Doctor. I used to do R&R riding tail gunner on Big Birds for fun, chugging Mr. Beam from the bottle straight, and shooting every moving thing that came from one end of the delta to the other."
         "Must have made you one hell of a popular guy."
         "I got more K's than three Thai gods could count."
         "Still, you were a lot younger then, in better shape, and on better drugs."
         "What are you, my conscience? I've been on drugs all my life."
         I was exaggerating, as always, and the Doctor knew it. Still, she was young enough to be impressed by a strange line and a wad of twenties. I was cynical enough to wonder why. All I needed to be the epitome of weirdness was a Nazi sign carved into my forehead and 'Born to raise hell' tattooed on my forearm. It didn't help that Doctor D was teasing me about all the atrocities I had committed in my life--and he wasn't even talking about my tour of duty. It's tough to make time when someone is telling your babe what a pig you are.
         Atrocities. Jesus, life was one long string of things you wish had never happened and I was beginning to think I was looking one right in the eye.
         "Where do you get them?"
         "All those drugs."
         "I was in Special Forces. We can get anything."
         "I'll leave with you now, if you can promise me something cool."
         'Cool.' I loved that line. She was probably a loner loser doing some kind of bad act drug enforcement routine. I was going to have to weird out big time. Kools were what I--we--smoked on the edge, man. We clipped off the filters and took whatever we could stuff in there, hard. Sometimes it was 100 percent uncut H. You don't forget stuff like that and you could spend the rest of your life looking for it again, and failing.
         "Alas, unfortunately, the dispensary is temporarily closed."
         "There's something incredibly strange about you. For instance, why do you keep calling the bartender, Doctor Death?"
         "He killed a man with a martini once."
         "That's sick."
         "Yes, but it's true. Ask him."
         "Never mind. What do you do with your time that you call 'living'?"
         "I'm a living cadaver."
         "I have the scars to prove it. I donated my body to science to show people, especially the young, what not to do with your body."
         "That's a twisted way of looking at things."
         "Here, I'll open my shirt and show you something. See those? They're called 'scars.' Amazing what a homemade mortar round can do to an unsuspecting human being. The bottom line, babe, is don't ever get involved in a shooting war."
         "I've seen enough. I gotta split."
         "What are you, in pre-med? I thought you were like an apprentice narc. Actually, you disappoint me. I thought you were used to seeing mutilated bodies."
         "It's not the bodies that bother me so much, it's the minds that go with them."
         I assumed that was the final dust-off and it was. I thought maybe mine was one of those minds that had been backed into the jungle too long. A mind that cared for too many quick fixes, mind warps, broken packages, and unglued frames of reference that could never be fixed. A mind that loved sick things.
         It was that way in my mind.
         So I considered Doctor Death working in the back bar mirror. He was letting people play that Billy Joel song on the box about everyone going down together, despite having warned him about the consequences. One day someone was going to take an M-16 to the bar and make a mess of things. It might even be me.
         Still, the Doctor is cool about my latest dusted-off mission: "Have one on me, Raymond. Fishing was tough today."
         "What's this?"
         "Your favorite poison, Raymond. People of like dispositions must stick together."
         "Does that mean I'm going to die soon? By the way, no one calls me 'Raymond,' AH."
         "We all die soon, Raymond. To your health."
         We touch glasses and he slugs something amber down that could burn a hole in the Rock of Gibraltar and so do I.
         Everything is unclear for a while afterwards. The next thing I remember is the Doctor tapping me on the shoulder with this shit-eating grin on his face, saying, "Raymond, you don't look too good. 'You all right?"
         It was like coming home from the Tour. Everyone said they were glad to see you but no one meant it.

~ . ~

Short Prose


(based on a letter from Larry Heinemann)

by Marc Levy

         Someone who witnessed war, bamboo and body counts, monks self-immolating, Nui Ba Den a.k.a. 'The Black Virgin Mountain,' the napalmed girl running naked, someone who'd burnt villes, crunched bodies under treads, loaded and reloaded, worked the gun, worked it, laid down suppressing fire, someone who knows a thing or two about the dead, them that's naked, artful nude or just plain ragged, knows himself inside out and right side up; writes me a letter. Typed, not ink jet, not laser printed, mind you, but Hermes, Underwood, Smith Corona or some such thing. Got old-fashioned black ink ribbon, type set choppy like a dead man's smile. These are his exact words:

Thanks for what you sent, could have knocked me down with a feather, made me laugh so hard shot beer up my nose. Very nice, indeed.

'Very' is underlined, thick, like three-day stubble.

You read Anis Nin?
he asks. She was a hoot before there were hooters, you'll pardon my French, he says.

Next page: You been watching the impeachment? Someone's gonna write a book on that, no, make a movie.

He continues, every word a bullet gem.

All I see is an event rich and ripe for parody beginning and ending with a judge who walked into the room wearing Gilbert and Sullivan chevrons on his robe ('I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General'); the over-the-top stern prosecutors who any moment were going to break into a Yosemite Sam screaming mad conniption, the weasely defense lawyers, complete with character witness doing his aw-shucks riff of Walter Brennan doing his riff of Gabby Hayes doing his 'Arkansas Traveler' riff; the bimbo dressed in black; the 'feets do-yo-stuff ' Mr. Bo-jangles fixer; and the general carnival air of the hired gun talking heads in the Peanut Gallery.

         Jesus H Christ, bud, now that is some fancy writing, I mean fancy, don't you think? I certainly do. But he ain't done yet, he's working those keys, working, he slams that chrome-plated carriage handle--thwack!--that boy is locked and loaded, got me in his crosshairs, every word a bull's eye on this white sheet paper target.

I've hung around long enough to understand that everything, and I do mean everything, James, contains its own ironic opposite. You hang in there,
he says. You got talent. Just keep your top knot tight and your utensils clean.

         His signature is a long, squiggly curlicue line, stamped with a circle of red Chinese letters. He knows things; been there, done that. But what he don't know (or maybe he does), it's four days since the massacre in February (only thirty years later), and today's my birthday. And this here's the best card, the point-blank-shit-happens-ain't-no-co-incidence best card I ever got.

~ .


by Marc Levy

         The taxi from Phnom Penh to Kam Pong Cham took four hours and cost two dollars; the road back was mined. I found a guide, Japro, and early next morning a ferry constructed of thick sheet metal welded to empty barrels carried us two miles to an unnamed island. Legs clenching metal thighs, my baseball cap turned backwards, red bandana covering nose and mouth, I hugged Japro's hips as the motor cycle whizzed down high-treed dirt roads, the villagers a blur of smiles and thin hands waving.
         "I want to go to the rubber plantation," I shouted above the trembling din.
         He leaned back. The words, "Khmer Rouge," shot past me.
         "No. That's not true. And besides, I pay extra."
         The thought of violence was magnetic. The rubber trees, planted by the French, were laid out in countless rows forming one great, silent forest; the morning sun light filtered down through a delicate tangle of leafy patches. With Japro walking the motor machine like a child's carriage, only the faintly rustling wind and tread of our feet broke the silence. The heat was relentless.
         We approached two small Cambodian boys in ragged clothes who clung to a mud-mired bicycle. They smiled, shyly pointing at my pale white skin, touched and retouched the foreign body hair.
         "What wrong?" asked Japro.Vietnamese children had once done the same, though under different circumstances.
         "Nothing," I said. "We go."
         Further on, a sleepy guard in a torn blue uniform dozed against a spiraling tree, the wood-stocked AK-47 curled in his lap, kitten-like, its long-tailed, triple-edged bayonet tucked neat beneath the cold steel barrel.
         All around us, thousands of latex pearl beads dripped slowly down winding paths inscribed in tree bark. The fragile porcelain collecting cups, carefully avoided during combat patrols, were now made from molded plastic. Wakened by our footsteps, the guard peered up from sleep. There were no Khmer Rouge, he said, only thieves who cut trees down. His orders were to shoot them, Japro repeated. Hot and tired, we sat in silence for several pleasant minutes.
         Suddenly, a faint jingling sound could be heard. A dainty Cambodian horse, large eyes nervous, its black leather harness stippled with shiny bells, trotted briskly past. The two small boys were seated precariously in a small wooden cart, the elder held the reins in one hand. The guard said they were headed toward the processing plant. Smiling, he aimed the assault rifle in their direction. Following the tiny hoof prints, the wide tracks of the wagon wheels, we began walking forward. The sound of the bells, like ocean buoys, beckoned and receded.
         A half-hour later, our clothes soaked with sweat, I spotted the dim outlines of several low-lying buildings. Closer up, I tasted the swirling fumes, saw whirling chopping gears, deadly conveyor belts, snarling and snapping engines. Several workers, black haired and thin, dressed in light blue shirts and pants, ignored us. I tried carving a chunk of finished rubber from a large block stacked in a corner.
         Processed latex has the look of kapok, the feel of spongy granite: It is hard and thick and unforgiving. I prodded and gouged with all my strength; my gallant Swiss Army knife repeatedly struck and buckled. Finally, I cut and tore and ripped off a piece the size of a man's ear.
         Japro said, "You keep?"
         I nodded triumphantly. Once, in a distant war, men had called such severed things 'trophies.'

~ .


by Marc Levy

"You need to know that 'FNG' means 'fucking new guy'," I said to the audience. An unexpected titter followed. Why are they laughing?

"An FNG was someone new. Didn't know the ropes. Could get you killed." Someone chuckles.

"Hey," I said, looking into a pocket of shadow. "You ever kill anyone? Ever held someone shot, blood gushing, as you count the heartbeats, see the bones splintered like fresh-cut wood, tendons and raw muscle brilliant in fresh air? You ever see that?"


"Well, I did. On my first time out...."

         It was friendly fire. Morton and Johnny B up on a hill spotted dinks in a gully, opened up with the machine gun. Down below, Lieutenant Gill calls for aerial support. Loach comes in, Light Observation chopper, rips into Johnny B with seven point-6-2 slugs. The bullets tore into his shoulder, burst out the armpit. They got both legs too.
         "Not us," the Lieutenant yells into the radio telephone, 'them." He's pointing to the ravine. Pete throws a red smoke to mark the trail.
         "Hit the fucking smoke!" the Lieutenant shouts. "Doc, get up there," he says, pointing to the hill. I run up and straddle Johnny B's belly.
         "Johnny B, you believe in Jesus?" I say. "You believe in Jesus?"His brachial artery is busted, his legs are mangled, and Johnny B is screaming.
         "Pete, give John a cigarette!" I yell, packing the wounds with gauze that turns bright red. Corson the radio man shrieks, "Cobra gunship coming. Get your fucking heads down!"
         Pete lights one up, goddamn Cobra gunship power dives, rolls in, that's Loach's partner, spitting steel from mini-guns, forty-mike grenades, pumping rockets right over us. The smoke corkscrews from the engines like white thread gone crazy.
         "You believe--. For Christ sake, John, stop screaming." "Here," I say. "Here's a fucking cigarette." His hands shake so hard we shove it in his mouth.
         "Pray with me, John!" I hear a strange voice shouting. "C'mon! We're gonna pray to fucking Jesus!"
         "For Christ sake, Doc, give me a fucking morphine!" he hollers. I take one out and stab him.
         "Pete, tell John he's going home. Tell him only one morphine; the medivac's coming in. C'mon, Johnny B!" I yell. "Stop shaking and pray!"
         "How is he, Doc?" Pete says. We're dragging him down to a crater.
         I say, "He's gonna be all right." The bandages are red and heavy. "You're gonna be all right, Johnny B," I whisper.
         The Lieutenant yells to Corson, "Get a medivac in here. Tell battalion we killed five." Ten minutes later we hear the chop-chop whirlytune, see the red cross steel belly. Dust and dirt swirls over us. They kick out a litter.
         "Hold still, Johnny B!" I shout. "Pete, help me lift him."
         We wrap John up good and tight, snap the wench D-ring to the canvas stretcher, wipe the crud from our eyes. The helicopter hovers twenty meters overhead. Its prop wash throws down engine noise and fumes. Dirt and pebbles spin up from the crater.
         My hand cupping his ear, I shout, "Johnny B, you're gonna be all right. Everyone loves you, John. You hear me?" Nice and easy, they haul him up. Nice and easy. "You hear me, Johnny B?"

"Two months later," I said to the silent room, "he wrote us a letter: Well, I walk with a cane now, it said. Got a permanent limp, but I'm back in the world, gonna get married."

Looking deep into the silent pool of shadow, I said, "We never heard from him again."

There was only silence.

~ . ~

Short Prose

At the Market

by Linh Dinh

         "We like to paint our toenails red because misery always gets in between the toes." Through a darkened doorway, someone's bare behind. The woman to my right resembles Nelson Mandela.
         "Seeded oranges are cheaper because you have to spit the seeds into your hands, then you have to go wash your hands."
         Ten cases of beer stacked on a bicycle. A girl with a backward ponytail. "How do you want me to shear your fish?"
         The key ring hawker shouts, "2,000 for a bear! 2,000 for a dog! And only 1,000 for a Santa Claus or a Buddha!"
         The blind woman's head nods to one side. Her cane probes left, then right. She mumbles, "Sister number two, help me get something to eat!"

"So sad, so sad, so sad,
Night and day
Without a piece of bread!
Two loaves for a 1,000
Right here!"

         Under six-sided umbrellas, vendors squat behind woven baskets and aluminum trays. On display is every item known to man.
         There are melons and cassavas, shoes made of real and fake leather, sandals made of real and fake plastic, contrabands smuggled across guarded borders, hollowed-out lobsters mounted on seascapes, improbable merchandise without names, extinct or yet-to-be-invented thingamajigs.
         There are also globe fish, squids, tunas, puffers, salmons, blowers, whales, beluga, pimelodes, dace, mullets, dipnoans, spinibarbus caldwebli and ochetobius elongatus.
         Lavished with this surfeit of choices, the shoppers stumble about in a daze, angry and ecstatic.
         Here comes a woman whose face has gone slack. Her muscles are on strike. She wears the expression of the recently dead.
         Here comes another wearing six conical hats, one on top of another.
         And here comes a child who is the image of concentration. She is a locus of madness and vitality. She wants to suck the entire world into her 54-pound body.
         A thin young man with purple pimples on his face is sitting on the ground sleeping, his mouth open, his back propped against a wall. Next to him is a dirty musette bag with rags in it. Two girls walk by, one pretty, one not so pretty. The prettier one says, "Look, your boyfriend is waiting for you!" The girls laugh. The man with the purple pimples on his face is startled awake. He looks up and shouts, "Crazy cunts!"
         And he keeps on cursing even after they have disappeared.
         On a wooden platform, The Queen of Serenity sits, surrounded by beef. Shank, brisket and sirloin. What is a meat cleaver but a quarter moon on a blood-red night, eclipsing desire and spurring on memory? "Sister, give me cuts of filet tender enough for a baby."
         "I know this one: She was impregnated by an old man inside a bus. She was seventeen. He was arrested. Her father's a bus driver."
         "And I know this one: She dumped her husband to take off with a Taiwanese. He kicked her in the stomach, causing a miscarriage."
         Two dogs, one black, one white, are chasing each other from one end of the market to the other. The white one has a retractable red penis. "Buy from one end of the market, sell at the other." Sniff, kiss and betray.
         A cat the size of a mouse is staring down a cat-size mouse. A baby lies dreaming inside a basket: I want to eat up all the candies in this world! I want blue ice cream on a red cone! No, red ice cream on a green cone! No, green ice cream on a yellow cone!
         The eels lie intertwined inside an aluminum tray. These creatures, so shy that they spend their entire lives hiding in mud and crevices, are now exposed to sunlight for the first time. Even after decapitation, they writhe coyly, as if blushing.
         The blind woman's huge head is listed to one side. Her cane probes left, then right. She mumbles, "Sister number two, help me get something to eat!"
         An old man walks up to her and gives her 2,000 dong.
         "Buddha blesses you," she says.
         The old man stares into her murky eyes: "You are quite blind, that's for sure, but quite fat also! A lot of meat on this forearm!" He begins to knead her improbably large forearm. "That is not very becoming of you, beggar woman, to have such a large forearm! You're wearing a filthy hat, which is appropriate, but your blouse looks brand new, with red threads embroidered on it!"
         "Sister number two, help me get something to eat!"
         Your daily calorie intake is twice as much as mine! Your nutritive value is twice as much as mine! Why, yesterday, I only had a banana!"

~ . ~

Short Prose

Cam Duck
by Vito Ricci

         In June, we moved up north to a place called Cam Duck, just a beautiful place in the middle of the jungle right next to a big mountain and a small lake. The countryside around Pleiku was jungle, but Cam Duck was paradise. In Cam Duck there was no "on-limits/off-limits." You were in the middle of nowhere.
         Cam Duck was very peaceful when we got there. A small Montagnard village half a mile away added much color to the atmosphere. Although I had seen montagnards in Pleiku, I never visited a village until Cam Duck. The montagnards were even more friendly then the regular Vietnamese people. We (me and Skippy) went to a memorial service one night. Although we weren't allowed to join the ceremony, we were able to hang out and watch. All I can remember is fire, drums, singing and dancing. I have the feeling we were the first solders in Cam Duck.
         The place was so beautiful. It hadn't been bombed and the people were so friendly, they couldn't have experienced war. For the first 30 days, we thought we had died and gone to heaven. It was the dry season so the sun came out every day and it was wonderful and warm. We knew we were "up north," but we never even saw a mortar round or tracers from a helicopter. So, we kinda forgot the war was on.
         Everybody was in a good mood all the time. The regular troops worked at building an airstrip right next to where we were camped so there was no traveling for them. Everybody kinda fell out of bed and went to work. Of course, this was all too good to be true. Just about the time we finished the air strip, we got hit.
         This wasn't like the hits in Pleiku, which were a few mortar rounds lasting about 15 minutes in the middle of the night. This was the real shit. The bombing lasted four days; continuous bombing and gunfire all day and all night. Me and Skippy lived in a hole. All we ate was C-rations (canned food heated in boiling water). We just kept the fire going 24 hours and whoever got to our hole could eat a hot meal, though mostly people just opened the cans cold where they were.
         Those were the most frightening days of my life. We sat in our holes and watched people get blown up. They were making direct hits on our artillery weapons. Every day we thought would be the last. There wasn't much sleep. We were fighting 24 hours a day. Not that me and Skippy were doing anything but boiling water. They kept on sending more infantry and planes, but every day it got worse. The VC were getting closer every day. On the final day, word came we were being overrun and would have to evacuate.
         I remember waiting for a long time that final morning. First, we had to wait for the sun to rise, then for the planes to arrive. Of course, all this while the VC know we're getting out of there, so they keep the heavy artillery coming and of course that slows down the planes. That was the scariest morning of my life. We knew that they were overrunning us and the planes couldn't land and all we could do was wait.
         After a few hours, a plane managed to land. Since we were the construction company, we boarded the plane first. And since I was a cook, I was told to go with the first group. I just ran like hell. The plane barely landed and we started running toward it. Of course, the VC saw it land and concentrated all their firepower on the plane. I don't think the plane ever came to a full stop. We just ran into the back of it as it taxied along the runway, trying to be at least a moving target. We all just ran for our lives. Everyone just threw away their rifles and ran as fast as they could. As I said, the plane kept moving and just as it started to really take off this guy from Brooklyn jumped in but didn't quite make it. Only half of his body was actually in the plane. Now, as we're all looking out, with the plane lifting off the ground, he's still hanging out (so to speak), and you could see the mortar rounds following as we took off. Finally, he got all the way in.
         After we evacuated out of Cam Duck and back to Pleiku I realized that the ones who made it into that plane were the only ones who made it out of Cam Duck alive. Those that survived all got assigned to different companies, except me. I was short by then so they decided to send me home.

~ .

The KP's
by Vito Ricci

         The KP's were my first friends in-country. We bonded almost immediately. I'm not sure what it was. I think my size had something to do with it. I'm 5'2", so I was their size. As a matter of fact, I was smaller than some of them. I was smaller than Dong, the leader of the KP's. Dong knew the most English and acted as the go-between for the KP's and the GI's. He made sure everyone did their job. If something was wrong, he would be the first one you would go to. He was an excellent worker and knew everything about being a KP. Dong was 16.
         Ra was my favorite. He was a skinny kid who was always laughing and goofing around. After a few weeks, Ra really let me know he liked me by including me in his playing, making fun of me or playing jokes on me. None of the KP's was for the war, but Ra seemed to be against war--period. I remember when he got drafted a couple months after the Tet Offensive. He came to me and said, "Me no want to kill." We just sat there and cried. There was nothing he could do. For him, it wasn't a matter of going to jail: He was already in Vietnam.
         Deba was a chubby kid around 14 who was always laughing and had a smile on her face. She didn't know much English and I thought 'boo koo' was Vietnamese, so we didn't talk too much. Mi was the intellectual one, very pretty, but solemn. Because of her looks, she probably got harassed a lot so she tried to keep a low profile. Papasan was the oldest by far. He was probably 50 or 60. The only four words I ever said to him were, 'Number 1,' 'Papasan,' 'boo koo,' and 'chop chop'--which he pronounced 'sop sop.' But we smiled a lot to each other and never had a problem communicating.
         Papasan was the only one who always did the same job. He washed the pots and pans. When he was done, he was done. The kids helped each other finish. The girls usually cleaned the dining room. This included sweeping the floor, cleaning off the tables, and setting up for the next meal. The boys washed the trays, knives, forks, etc., and kept the kitchen clean.
         The KP's stayed the same from when I got there in August till we moved up north to Cam Duck in May 1968, so I worked with the same KP's for nine months. We really got to know each other. I also got to know their families since Pleiku was on-limits till sundown.
         In the Army, cooks have 24 hrs. on, 24 hrs. off, noon-to-noon. So when I got off at noon, I would change into my street clothes and go to Pleiku. After doing this for a while, I realized I could stay after sundown. As a matter of fact, I could stay all night and go back in the morning. All I had to do was be at work at noon to start my shift.
         My love for the KP's is deep. I remember them like it was yesterday.

~ . ~