I Remember Dave

It was about five in the afternoon, and maybe a dozen of us were dug into a foxhole, taking hits from enemy sappers.

Guys were getting plugged left and right, and as dark was beginning to fall more than a few of us were wondering if we'd ever get back to camp that night. It was a Girl Scout camp, so we were especially eager to return.

This was in Nam. Not Viet Nam, but Nam, a Cambodian seafood-and- doughnuts place off Copley Square. We'd been eating peacefully when some yahoos at the next table started an argument about who was playing center against Chamberlain the night he scored 100 points. The right answer was Darrall Imhoff, but Dave insisted that it was George Washington Carver and when Dave got an idea in his head it stayed there until another one came along, and you have to admire that kind of stubborness. Well, things escalated pretty quickly, and then somebody pulled out an M-1 machine gun and somebody else gets out a Bradley armored personnel carrier and somebody else yanks out a B-52 bomber and the next thing you know that doughnut shop is in a real firefight.

At one point I look over at Dave. Two guys to my right had been blown apart by some booby-trapped eggrolls, and the doughboy to my left had gotten waxed by a waxing machine. Morale was lousy and getting lousier, and just when I think it's all going to hell, I see Dave, and he's sitting there with a Pascal manual in his teeth and he's just been shot a couple of times through the heart and he kinda, he kinda grins at me and says, "Say, kid, how 'bout helpin' me with this tourniquet." Then he slices open his abdomen with a penknife and pulls out about two feet of his upper colon, snaps it off, and starts wrapping it around his heart, which was spurting pretty bad at that point. I came over and tied off the ends of the tourniqet and he just looked me straight in the eye and said, "Thanks, kid." I'll never forget that. Just "Thanks, kid," as though it were nothing at all, just a simple "Thanks, kid" followed by a description of a garden shed he wanted to order from Montgomery Ward.

"Plenty of time for that," I told him.

Turns out I was right, too.

(c) Mateo Burtch. Please Don't Duplicate w/o Permission. Thanks.