Sunday, September 29, 2013

Tall tales from a small man

While reading The Cold Dish, the first Walt Longmire western by Craig Johnson, scenes describing the Cheyenne people reminded me of a 6th Armored Cavalry sergeant I knew in 1968 at Fort Meade, Md.

His name doesn’t matter. We’ll call him R. He was from Coeur D’Alene, Idaho. He ran a good con of getting money from other soldiers by being friendly and talkative, telling stories of his life in Coeur D’Alene, and whomever he was talking to reminded him of a friend from high school.

R. drove his mother’s 1966 Cadillac de Ville from Idaho to Maryland. He brought a set of skis, too, a gift from his mother. Within a short time of arriving at Fort Meade, he sold the skis to a civilian and then told his mother the skis had been stolen. His mother sent money for replacements. When he was again running short, he told his mother somebody had slashed two tires on the de Ville. Replacement money soon arrived.

I specifically remember R. one day talking about living in Coeur D’Alene, and he and his friends getting Indian girls to go for rides.

“The bucks didn’t like that,” he said.”They didn’t have cars.”

I had never heard anyone use the term “bucks” before. Or since.

Over the course of 10 months, I loaned R. $100. He didn’t repay any of it.

After leaving the Army the first time, I wrote a letter to R.’s father, a business man in Coeur D’Alene. I told him his son owed me$100. A few weeks later, R. called. He was in Hollywood, pitching some sort of deal that promised a big return. He said he would send the$100 as soon as the deal went through. I guess it never did.

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