by Jim Foreman


"Gory, gory what a helluva way to die
       Gory, gory what a helluva way to die,
       and he ain't gonna jump no more.
       Gory, Gory, what a helluva way to die."

       I'd heard that song before. A few years ago, I had the misfortune of trying to get a night's sleep in the same hotel where the 82nd Airborne was having one of their annual reunions. They staggered up and down the halls most of the night, bellowing that song to the tops of their voices before throwing up on the floor and passing out in a drunken stupor. This time, it was coming from a much different source than those inebriated revelers; it was my ten year old grandson who was singing it.
       Jason had come to stay with us for a couple weeks, but since our neighborhood was made up of mostly retired people like myself and no young families with kids, he was having to more or less entertain himself. I walked around the house to where he was running a toy truck over little piles of sand.
       "Where in the world did you ever hear a song like that?" I asked.
       "Grandpa Jack went away to a reunion with the guys that he was in the army with and came back home singing it," he replied. "He was a paratrooper and jumped out of airplanes with a parachute and killed lots of Germans. Grandpa Chuck goes to reunions too. He was on a battleship and shot down lots of Jap airplanes with an Ack-Ack gun."
       I had long realized that when it came to my daughter's kids, I was outnumbered by a ratio of two to one in the grandfather department. She married a man whose parents had divorced and remarried, giving her children two grandfathers on their dad's side but only one on hers.
       "What's a reunion?"
       "What's an Ack-Ack gun?"
       "What did you do in the war, Grandpa Jim?" came his questions in rapid-fire order. This kid had the unique ability of being able to ask questions three at a time.
       "Well, I wasn't in the same war that your other two grandpas served in," I replied.
       "How come you weren't in that war?"
       "Do you get to go to reunions, sing songs, get drunk and throw water balloons at people?"
       "What's a whoopee cushion?"
       His other grandfathers must come home with some mighty tall tales about their exploits at reunions with their old buddies. To my knowledge, my old unit has never had a reunion, and probably never will have one if our luck holds out.
       "During World War Two, the one in which your other grandfathers served, they drafted men according to when they were born. The last month and year that they drafted was October, 1928, the month before I was born. Had the war gone on any longer, I would probably have been drafted to serve in it. I was in the Korean War, or Police Action as they liked to call it, and served in an organization known as SCARWAF." I answered.
       "What's a Scarwaf?"
       "What was the Korean war?"
       "Grandpa Jack killed all the Germans and Grandpa Chuck shot down all the Japs, so why did you join up to fight in another war?"
       "Actually, I didn't join up, I was drafted. Being in the army was the last place that I expected or wanted to be. The best that I can figure is that they decided to have the Korean war to get even with those of us who were born a year or so too late to get drafted into what they call the big war. SCARWAF is an acronym which means Special Category Army Reassigned With Air Force."
       "Special category sounds real important. What did you do in it, were you a spy or something?"
       "What's an acronym?"
       "Were you a General?"
       Now I was getting somewhere with my grandson. Neither of his other grandfathers were in any kind of an organization which had special in its name and he thought that I might have been a General or something.
       I sat down beside him, "Special Category means that the Air Force had a special need for airstrips to be built in Korea so that they could fly their airplanes there. They didn't have anyone who could build airstrips, so after the Army drafted us, they sort of loaned us to the Air Force to build runways."
       "Was I born when you went off to the war?"
       "How old was Mama?"
       "Was that in the olden days?"
       "I suppose that you could call them the olden days because your mother wasn't born then either. In fact, I hadn't even met your grandmother when I was in the war. The Korean war happened many years ago, in 1950."
       "1950 had been a good year for me, even a great one by some standards, at least up to that point. I now owned my own crop spraying business and during the summer just ended; I had worked my way as an migrant crop sprayer all the way from the Mission Valley of Texas northward to the Canadian border. The spraying season had finally ended and I was back at home with both the airplane and truck paid for and money in my pocket.
       One of the first things that I did after returning was to buy myself something which I had always wanted: a brand new convertible. It was a 1950 Dodge Wayfarer sport roadster fitted with the optional, 145 horsepower Chrysler engine. Although that combination made the little roadster one of the hottest stock cars around, I souped it up even more by installing a high compression head, dual racing carburetors and glasspack mufflers. Not only could such a car pick up speed at an alarming rate, it could also pick up far more girls than I could possibly keep entertained. I spent next few weeks riding around in my new car with the top down and my right arm encircling some cute little thing who snuggled close against me with her hair flowing in the breeze.
       Football season was in full swing and the Stinnett team was doing something which it had been unable to accomplish during any of the twelve years that I had spent in those hallowed halls; it was actually winning games. A winning team does certain things for a small town; the most notable is to bring out the townspeople to watch. I even began to attend the games, partly to watch the home team trounce their opponents but mostly because it was a great place to show off my new car and pick up girls.
Her name was Janet Winchester. She was now a senior, homecoming queen and the head cheerleader. She had long blonde hair, long blonde legs and a long blonde ass. It had been at least four years since I had seen Janet and My Oh My what those four years had done for her. The last time that I saw her, she was a shy little thing with knobby knees, buck teeth and a face full of freckles but she was now the most popular and prettiest girl in school.
       Full, round breasts strained to escape the confines of a bra and she now had the cutest little butt that I had ever seen. I took one look at that nubile body in the tight blouse and short skirt; she took one look at my car with fender skirts and convertible top; and it was instant love, or at least instant lust. No matter whether the attraction was love or lust, hardly an hour passed after that when we weren't together. Parking on a dark country road after a movie became the standard fare with Janet not only allowing me to fondle her beautiful breasts, but she aided the process by always wearing sweaters and a bra with the snap between the cups. However, only on rare occasions would she allow a finger to explore that wet and wonderful world which she insisted that she was saving for her wedding night.
       We were without cares, or even knowledge of what was going on around us. We were especially unconcerned about some obscure war going on half way around the world. We were too busy snuggling together in a little world of our own to take note of such mundane happenings.
       Her mother immediately began to weigh my potential as a son in law and evidently considered me to be an adequate catch because she would invite me to dinner almost every night, during which she would comment at least a dozen times what a lovely couple we made. Even though her mother was obviously trying to bring our budding relationship to a quick conclusion in front of a minister, her father was somewhat less enthusiastic by always adding, "But he doesn't have a real job. He just flies around the country in airplanes."  

       I walked into the post office one morning to pick up my mail and there he stood, Obert Filpot, the most repulsive person in Stinnett, possibly even in the whole state of Texas; well perhaps the third most repulsive, when you consider his parents, Big Egbert and Mama Filpot. Big Egbert, who weighed at least three hundred pounds, was known around town as "Hawg" so, it was only natural that his first fat offspring would become known as "Shoat". Mama Filpot stood well over six feet tall, weighed at least fifty pounds more than Hawg and always looked as if she had just emerged from a fighting a forest fire. She not only could, but did whip Hawg's ass and throw him out of the house every time he came home drunk, which happened at least twice a week.
       Obert always wore bib overalls and usually had at least one hand thrust down inside of them, alternately scratching or playing pocket-pool with himself. Obert had some sort of a problem with his gastric plumbing which caused him to produce intestinal gasses in such quantity that he could not only fart at will, but could do so with a blast which far surpassed anything which any normal human could produce. His favorite game was "Pull My Finger".
       Obert had a round, fat face with tiny, pig-like eyes, set close together under an overhanging brow. It made one wonder just how long it had been since his ancestors climbed down from trees and started walking erect. His laugh was something close to the sound of that made by a hog, sort of a Snort, Snort--Oink, Oink, usually followed by a fart or two.
       The Filpots lived in a collection of shacks and shanties, and an abandoned school bus down south of town where they raised hogs, hell and kids. Part of their property was used as the local trash dump, but it was impossible to locate the line of demarcation between where the dump ended and the Filpot yard began.
       It seemed that Mama Filpot spawned another male Filpot about every nine months and fifteen minutes, providing a stair-stepped succession of hubcap stealers, pig screwers, tree climbers, cat killers, window breakers, rock throwers, yard pissers, creepers, crawlers and screamers.
       The whole Filpot family stayed drunk about two thirds of the time and amused themselves by fighting with each other or taking pot shots at anyone who tried to sneak in without paying the fifty cents they charged for using their dump.
       The Filpot's post office box was just above mine and while I waited for Obert to fiddle with the combination lock to get his mail, I did my best not to breathe. The last time that he saw soap, it was going the other way. His bodily odors, combined with his gastric discharges were enough to peel paint and kill flies. The whole Filpot family smelled so bad that it was claimed that whenever any of them went out to feed their hogs, they would all run to the upwind side of the pen.
       It seemed as if most of my life had been spent looking at and smelling Obert's backside. With his last name coming alphabetically right before mine, no matter what I did or where I went, he was always right in front of me. The day that I began the first grade in school, the teacher seated us in alphabetical order, putting me right behind that fat cesspool. When we had a fire drill, I had to follow Obert. When we went through the lunch line, I followed Obert. I endured Obert through the first six years of school, until "Hawg" decided that since he had only gone through the sixth grade and was a success in life, that was enough "learning" for "Shoat".
       Obert finally managed to work the combination, which required only two numbers to open, and removed his mail from the box. He fumbled through it and moved down to the window to pick up something. I took my last breath of fresh air at the door and plunged into the fogbank of Obert smell which hung like a cloud in front of the boxes.
I twirled the knob to open my box, which was more or less a foolish exercise since they all had the same combination and the only purpose of the lock was to keep the door from being left open and the mail blowing out when someone opened the front door. Mixed in among the seed catalogs, copies of Trade-A-Plane News and the Grit Newspaper was a small yellow slip, indicating that I should call at the window for a registered letter. I moved from the old cloud of Obert in front of the boxes to the new one that he had left hovering at the window.
       "Sign yore name rat cheer," said Mr. Bates, the postmaster, pointing to the bottom line on the yellow slip. He then thumbed through a stack of identical letters until he came to the one addressed to me. He ripped off the attached green return card and slid it through the window for my signature. "Looks like we ain't gonner be seein' you 'round cheer much longer 'cause they done gotcha, along with Shoat, Bucky Groves and most of the other young studs like you who didn't go off to fight like real men in the big war." he added.
       "Greetings from the President of the United States." the letter began. Why in hell am I getting a letter from Old Hairy Ass; I didn't even vote for him. He is a damn Democrat. Texas, for the most part, is predominately Baptist and Democrat and with my being a fifth generation Texan, I suppose that I should have belonged to and supported both of these factions. However, I have managed to remain one of the few holdouts or outcasts from both of them. I suppose you could call me a Republican backslider.
       "A group of your friends and neighbors have selected you to....." Damn! I barely escaped WW-II by being born three days too late to get drafted and now they are throwing another war just to get even with me.
       "You are hereby ordered to present yourself at the Selective Service Office, located in the US Post Office Building in Borger, Texas at 9:00 AM on November 3, 1950 for induction into the United States Army. Bring only enough clothing for two days." Not only were they drafting me into the Army, but they were doing it on my birthday.
       Janet responded to the news that I was being drafted into the army by turning on the tears. The flow began as soon as she heard the news at noon and lasted till well past midnight. When the tear factory finally stopped production, she looked at me from bloodshot blue eyes and said, "Let's get married before you go."
       There was no question that I had a fantastic case of the hots for cute little Janet and wanted to jump her shapely body in the worst way, but now with my life as messed up as a dog's breakfast, the last thing that I wanted to do was to take on the responsibilities of a wife. Her mother joined the fray by saying that getting married before leaving for the army gave a man a special reason for wanting to return from the war safe and sound. She almost made it sound that going into the service single was an open invitation to disaster. In order to keep things from getting too tense, I gave Janet an engagement ring and we sort of set a wedding date for the following June, after she graduated from school but before I would be sent off to the war in Korea. This seemed to please her mother to no end and the whole matter sort of slid to a back burner.

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