This week's word is SCAR.
The Scars Unseen
Downtime; Oceanview, and the monsoon. The war was on hiatus by mutual consent. Neither Charlie nor the USMC was inclined to fight a war in physical discomfort. But it was cool enough to wait out the afternoon rain in the tank.
"So what's everyone planning to do when they get out?" Biff was a master of optimism, and the renowned genius of the Unlucky Question. Bad fortune hovered over Viet Nam like a mosquito
"We're not going to get out," I said. "We're part of the landscape. We're just going to repeat the same day forever."
"Ugh." The Dude had been dozing. "Don't scare him, TC. He might run away, and then where would Westmoreland be?"
"Seriously," said Biff. "TC, what about you?"
I had no idea. Surviving the war was enough of a goal. I'd seen what a B-40 could do to a tank. "Accounting. I'll be an accountant."
Dead silence. "Okay," said Biff. "That's kind of hard to imagine."
He looked up. Perhaps the answer to my question was written on the bulkhead. "Well, it's a long way from here. I mean, who would you kill?"
"I'll go into accounts receivable. Pay up, or else."
The Dude shook his head. "You'd be like the dishonest servant, TC."
"The what?" My dander was up. Me, dishonest?
Yeah. Guy Jesus talked about in the Bible. Got found out for skimming, and before he got fired changed the debts that people owed his master. You'd just let people off the hook."
"Says who?" I couldn't think of anything else to say.
"Says me," said The Dude. "Sonny, what about you?"
Sonny had radio watch, but he'd moved one earphone away so he could hear us. "Me?"
"Waaalll..." Sonny looked down, and then bit his lip. Clearly, he wanted to go back to the farm, and was trying to hold back nostalgic tears.
"Ah'm fixin to light out for Iz-rah-eel. Gonna join the army. Tanks. They got M48s."
I dropped the cigarette I was nursing, and there was an audible thump when The Dude snapped his head back against the turret bulkhead.
Biff was intrigued and wistful. "Really?"
Sonny shook his head like a bull warding off flies. "Yeah. Ah jest don hold with bullies, an I figgered them Jew-boys got pushed round enough. So ah'm gonna jest lend a hand."
And the Pope is Polish. This was just talk.
"Yeah. It's all arr...uh...urr..."
"Arranged?" asked Biff.
"Yeah. When I DEROS ah ain't gonna DEROS. They's gonna outprocess me heah, and ah'm flahin east till ah get thar. Chaplain's got it ahll fixed up."
I really had to get to know these guys better.
"You okay with all that?" asked Biff. "I mean, you're a...what, Baptist?"
"Yeah, but when ah gets thar I'm gonna get Jewish. Ah mean, ya gotta get wet ta swim. raht?"
This was not a side to Sonny that I had ever expected to hear, and The Dude had gone sheet-white.
"You're going to convert?" Biff didn't close his mouth after speaking.
""Sure, wha not? It's jest a little ol' thang, and Jesus was a Jew-boy, raht?"
The Dude said, "Uh, there are some other things..." Life in a tank was intimate.
Sonny beamed. "Ah know what y'all mean Dude, and it's okay. Jest a little ol' snip, and man, I'm thar...ah'm castrated."
"Umm...Sonny..." said The Dude.
"Wha? It ain't no big deal, ah mean, ah won't even ask fer antiseptic. Don't need ta sleep through it...and besahdes, evr-bady's castrated these days."
"Only if you're married," murmured The Dude.
Unfortunately, Biff had just taken a sip of Coke. I handed him a rag.
"You're serious?" asked The Dude. "Seriously, now."
"More serious then a dead hawg in the sunshahn."
The Dude opened his eyes wide at the metaphor, and then closed them tight, hoping it would go away. "And I was going back to the seminary," he said.
"Whattaya mean?" Sonny was perplexed. "Y'all kin go to the cemetery."
"And who's going to drive your tank?"
Biff paused in his cleaning duties. "I always wanted to go to Israel, but I didn't really know anyone there..."
Oh, great. Our Kentucky Pied Piper was working some sort of magic.
I sighed. "Sonny?"
"Mebbe they'll let us-all crew up together?"
"Aren't you guys tired of getting shot at? And c'mon...Israel's hot."
"It's a dry heat."