Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Good news

June 17, 1969

Laurie, who goes by the name of Peggy because she’s runaway from home, had her baby last night.
Someone called my uncle’s house to inform me since nobody can actually get a hold of me here in Fort Dix because I’m still going through basic training.
It was most likely my mother who called the base commander to tell him about the birth and that I should know. So I had one of the sergeants shaking me away an hour before reveille to tell me my DI wants to see me.
My DI is a huge black sergeant, who spent three tours in Vietnam. He already doesn’t like me because he thinks I’m a wise ass (and he may not be wrong).
“What the fuck are you up to now?” he asked me the moment I got through the door to his office at the end of the barracks – we’re on the second floor of a four story brick building, one of a few hundred buildings that remind me somewhat of the housing projects in Paterson.
“I don’t know what you mean,” I said, and honestly didn’t.
He leaned over his desk to glare at me. He hadn’t shaved. So his deep black face looked even meaner than usual.
“Nobody in my fucking unit has his fucking mother calling here,” he growled. “This ain’t the boy scouts. And this ain’t fucking summer camp.”
“My mother called?” I said, still trying to wring the sleep out of my brain.
“Are you fucking deaf?” my DI shouted. “What did I just tell you?”
“I’m just surprised,” I said.
“You were surprised?” the DI said, mocking me as he glanced at one of two other sergeants in the room. “He was surprised!”
The other sergeant shrugged.
Then the DI glared at me again.
“Let me make this clear, boot!” he shouted. “Don’t ever let it happen again.”
“Ever?” I said, starting down the same path of endless questions with which I had driven countless teachers crazy in high school. “What if…?”
My DI had half turned away; his turning back halted me.
“You are testing me, boot,” he said, in a gravely voice. “You do not want to test me.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…”
“Will you fucking shut up already,” the DI shouted. Both of the other sergeants looked at me in amazement. Clearly they saw the train wreck coming, and could not believe I still stood in the center of the tracks, not only not moving, but taunting the train.
Wisely, I fell silent, and after a few minutes, the DI dismissed me.
The news of Laurie’s giving birth is a big deal.
Laurie is Hank’s girl, but the baby isn’t his – but rather some biker from one of the biker gangs who got her pregnant then dumped her, only for Hank to come along.
I can’t wait to see his face, and find out all the details, although I remember her telling me that she planned to “go natural” at one of the other more progressive hospitals near Union Square.
I’ll just have to wait until I get my weekend pass after basic to see how it all comes out.

Let’s hope my mother doesn’t call again with any more good news.

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