EXCERPT FROM “HEIRS OF HONOR” – ‘THE CHERRY’


 

 

“…In strolled Henry, a rosy cheeked wide-eyed innocent; sashaying about with both hands in his trouser pockets, projecting a calm confidence that made me smile.  I instantly thought of a fawn caught in the headlights.  That first impression was quickly replaced by memories of my little brother and his toy guns, posing to look tough for my mother’s camera.  Henry was struggling to look tough by burying his hands in his pockets, pretending he was John Wayne and sauntering toward us.  I was struggling to keep a straight face, seeing this idiot swagger.  It was obvious the only thing he had ever been worried about was finishing High School, or finding a date for the prom.  But we all start out as virgins, and I think everyone of us found the sight of a cherry intriguing for the same reason.

While walking through camp, he heard our cynical raucousness, mistook our noises for laughter, and came in uninvited.  Doing that surprised us; we’d grown accustomed to being avoided by the regulars.  Our compound was not a place to visit, but Henry didn’t know that.  He was new, and it was Sunday afternoon.  Everyone had light duty, so he went exploring and found us.  Evidently, he assumed because we were in the same army, we were all buddies.  Grinning just like Gomer, he introduced himself.  It was evident to us he was afflicted with hero worship for anyone who had survived a patrol, and there was at least two years patrol time in our bunker.  A common feeling for the uninitiated, even though I can’t understand it, I remember it.  The most ridiculous thing was he wanted us to talk about it.  That was the last thing we wanted, so we did what all soldiers do, we lied.  We lied to the cherry about how heroic we all were.  Someone handed him a beer and allowed him to sit.  He probably hadn’t drunk more than a six-pack in his life.  Beaming at being accepted by what he thought were heroes, he immediately thickened his worldly tough guy act.”

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