At 1:00 am, as I was running past the Sun City Fire department, a ladder truck and an EMT vehicle were disgorging themselves from their resting place.
There were no sirens to break the night.
A mortality run, most likely.
As they passed me on my left, a large plume of exhaust enveloped me and filled my nostrils with a very familiar smell.
Smell has a memory and it filled my head with mine. The memory of burning shit and 5 gallon cans.
The memory of incredible uncertainty, burning charcoal, spent rounds and faded jungle fatigues.
Of long days, drunken nights, trash bags full of weed and loaded, unguarded, weapons. Of smokey hooches filled with an odor NCO’s couldn’t detect. Yet.
Of “short timers” calendars, erratic behavior and sad stories. Of disappointing mail calls, wily hookers and vengeful First Sergeants. Of Bob Hope.
The memory of the body bags at graves registration. Of bloated, dead enemy.
It was the wild west…..in spades.
What a hell of a time for a young man to be alive.
An M-16 with a full clip could change your personality in a heart beat, while taking someone else’s.
Uncertainty will always change your priorities.
As it does today.