I Hate This Place
After Donald sat down at the makeshift desk, he squirmed in his seat, tugging at both knees of his sweaty utility trousers. Nothing like a case of jungle rot to ruin your day, he thought.
Damn procedures. Zero-seven-forty, feels like a hundred in the shade, and already the captain is yelling his crazy ideas down the hill. When will the madman ever stop? And these reports due in an hour.
Every flat surface available had the acronym IHTP scrawled on it. Up the pole in the middle of the tent. Written in grease pencil on the sides of every file cabinet. A felt-tip pen worked well on the canvas flaps, and the CO had even found a can of red paint to help voice his opinion. He used a stick for a brush to scribble out the letters on the back of his jeep, and dared anyone to touch it.
“I Hate This Place”
Worse than that, he began adding to it. Only Donald, being the highest ranking sergeant, ever dared to ask.
“I hate this place….MAM?”
“More and more,” Everett snapped back.
Days later, one particular new line caught his eye.
“More and more every day that goes by.”
The Marine captain, who Donald addressed as Ev in private, got wild ideas. At the end of the day, when things cooled down some, and as long as the troops weren’t around making pests out of themselves, they would both take a couple of folding chairs and sit in the shade near the crest of the hill overlooking the valley. Donald always carried the chairs out, being the junior man, while Ev followed, cuddling a bottle of Southern Comfort to his chest, along with two plastic coffee cups.
Captain Everett poured his cup half-full, set it on the ground, and then leaned forward to fill the other one before storing the bottle in his lap.
Then the man held up his cup in contempt at the building down below. It housed the brigade commander and his staff.
“Just look at that son-of-a-bitch down there!”
Donald followed the captain’s gaze.
“You know what I think I’m going to do?”
Three choppers disappeared over the far ridge behind the two men before he spoke again, but the man hardly moved as he glared down at the rooftop.
“What’s that, Ev?”
He motioned back over his shoulder.
“I’ll get me a big-ass blinking neon sign that reads Ev’s Place, and mount that mother up on the top of our tent.”
He took a quick gulp of the sweet, warm drink.
“Shit, I’m talking like letters four feet high, and bright red or maybe a blue. Then I’ll have a switch installed right by my desk, and every time that bastard looks up this way, I’ll flip it on and off a few times. That ought to piss him off good.”
Donald thought about State-side. Some crazy people he had left back there, but nothing like those he had met here in Nam, that’s for damn sure.
Just last week a new lieutenant walked around bragging to him about the deep foxhole he dug.
“No one is catching me off-guard, and I’m sure not aiming to get a purple heart on this tour.”
The first sound of in-coming, the officer panicked and dove in head-first, and to the delight of everyone around, broke both arms.
“Yeah, that should fix him alright. He’ll send your sorry ass home as a private, too.”
Ev stared down the hill as the sun went low.
“I hate this place.”