I Don't Talk Service No More

Neap's face is not very clear to me. It drifts just out of range. He said he could feel his house going down while we were talking on the phone.

You were supposed to get a week of meritorious R and R in Hong Kong if you brought in a live prisoner. We dragged three live prisoners all the way back from the Chinese main line of resistance and one was an officer and I never got one day of R and R in Hong Kong. Sergeant Zim was the only one who ever did get it that I know of. On the regular kind of R and R you went to Kyoto, which was all right, but it wasn't meritorious R and R. I asked Neap if he knew of anyone besides Zim who got meritorious R and R in Hong Kong. He said he didn't even know Zim got it.

He asked me if I was in a nut ward. I asked him how many guys he could name who went on the Fox Company Raid, not counting him and me and Zim. All he could come up with was Dill, Vick, Bogue, Ball, and Sipe. I gave him eight more names real fast, and the towns and states they came from. "Now who's the nut? Who's soft in the head now, Neap? Who knows more about the Fox Company Raid, you or me?" I didn't say that to him because you try to be polite when you can. I didn't have to say it. You could tell I had rattled him pretty good, the way I whipped off all those names.

He asked me how much disability money I was drawing down. I told him and he said it was a hell of a note that guys in the nut ward were drawing down more money than he was on Social Security. I told him Dill was dead, and Gott. He said yeah, but Dill was on Okinawa in 1945, in the other war, and was older than us. He told me a little story about Dill. I had heard it before. Dill was talking to the captain outside the command-post bunker, telling him about the time on Okinawa he had guided a flamethrower tank across open ground, to burn a Jap field gun out of a cave. Dill said, "They was a whole bunch of far come out of that thang in a hurry, Skipper." Neap laughed over the phone. He said, "I still laugh every time I think about that. 'They was a whoooole bunch of far come out of that thang in a hurry, Skipper.' The way he said it, you know, Dill."

Neap thought I must be having a lot of trouble tracking people down. I haven't had any trouble to speak of. Except for me and Foy and Rust, who are far from home, and Sipe, who is a fugitive from justice, everybody else went back home and stayed there. They left home just that one time. Neap was surprised to hear that Sipe was on the lam, at his age. How fast could Sipe be moving these days, at his age? Neap said it was Dill and Sipe who grabbed those prisoners and that Zim had nothing to do with it. I told him Zim had something to do with getting us over there and back. He said yeah, Zim was all right, but he didn't do no more in that stinking trench line than we did, and so how come he got meritorious R and R in Hong Kong and we didn't? I couldn't answer that question. I can't find anyone who knows the answer to that. I told him I hadn't called up Zim yet, over in Niles, Michigan. I wanted to have the squad pretty much accounted for before I made my report to him. Neap said, "Tell Zim I'm living on a mud flat." I told him he was the last one I had to call up before Zim. I put Neap at the bottom of my list because I couldn't remember much about him.

I can still see the faces of those boys who went on the Fox Company Raid, except that Neap's face is not very clear to me. It drifts just out of range. He said he could feel his house going down while we were talking there on the phone. He said his house was going down fast now, and with him and his wife in it. It sounded to me like the Neaps were going all the way down.

He asked me how it was here. He wanted to know how it was in this place and I told him it wasn't so bad. It's not so bad here if you have the keys. For a long time I didn't have the keys.

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