Mar 022013

The Colonel and Sue managed to get Dee into the back seat of the jeep.  All the way to the barracks, Dee started to express her love for Skip.  The Colonel turned on the radio to drown her out and save her from embarrassment.  After she was tucked in bed, Sue returned to the jeep.  Sue started to express her concern for Dee.  The Colonel raised a hand to indicate that Sue should proceed no further.  He declared that anything Dee had said was due to alcohol.  As if to confirm his hearing loss, a succession of shells exploded close to the perimeter of the base.

Early next morning, the sunlight split the reinforced bars on the tiny white room.   Dee woke to loud banging on the door.  She opened it and Sue walked past her.

“Hurry, the bus leaves for Long Binh in half an hour.”

Dee took a clean set of fatigues that were thrust in her hands. Her head hurt like hell.

“Shower.  I’ll bring you some coffee.  By the way, the Colonel saved your butt last night.”

Dee stared, her eyes wild with fear.

“Oh, God, what did I say?”

“You talked all the way back in the jeep.  It was talk that could have got you kicked out of the Army.”

“Sue, what did I say?”

Sue pushed Dee back on the bed.

“You made it clear that you love Captain Skip.  She’s safe from scandal now that she is engaged, but you, you had better not say such things.  You’re the best skilled surgical nurse I know, and if you get kicked out – men will die!”

When Sue returned, Dee was showered and dressed.

“Drink this, you love awful.”

“I feel so stupid, Sue. Did I embarass Captain Skip?”

“You told me she ordered you to shut your mouth.”

Dee started to have a series of short memories.

“I remember that bastard touching my breasts.”

“The Colonel and I rescued you at that point.”

“I remember Skip and someone became engaged.”

“Dee, if are you a homosexual? If so, you’d better keep your lips locked.”

Dee nodded.

“Scriptures tell me to love and not judge. Your secret is safe with me.”

Dee hugged Sue.

“I’m leaving this mess behind, Sue.   I have a chance to prove I’m a good nurse.”

“Great nurse.” corrected Sue.  “Together, we’ll be a great team!”

Dee felt a heavy weight lift from within.  She resolved to erase the mistakes and put them behind her.  There was a high percentage that she would be posted to a remote area where the demand for surgical nurses was great.  There was little possibility of seeing that Major again, or Skip for that matter. She was twenty-one and should have known better .How could she have jeopardized her career over the desire for a woman?  She had been stupid and immature and that was about to change. Vietnam would provide her with excellent training for the future.  She would save lives, tend the wounded and be a compassionate person. She forgave herself and now felt confident and exhilarated.

On the bus ride to Long Binh, Dee looked through the barred windows.  Buses carrying military personnel had been attacked in the past.  Outside, the sun shone brightly and the heat was rising rapidly.  The bus weaved its way through the streets showing rickshaws and street vendors.  Dee stared at the attire of the sellers and at the items for sale.  It was a world so far away from home.  She felt excitement and curiosity.  Everything looked so normal, so peaceful.  It was hard to comprehend that this was a country at war.





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