Thursday, October 31, 2019

Judge to Pittsburgh: No, you can’t usurp state law

Gun control advocates managed to push through a raft of new gun laws earlier this year. These included bans on “assault rifles” and extended capacity magazines. They also passed their own version of a red flag law. The bills were immediately challenged by gun rights groups and affected individuals and the case was heard by a judge in Allegheny County.

A Pennsylvania judge ruled on Tuesday that Pittsburgh’s recently passed gun-control measures violate state law.
In his ruling, Allegheny County judge Joseph M. James said the city’s ordinances were in plain opposition to a state preemption law which prohibits localities from passing their own gun laws…
The Pittsburgh ordinances restricted the use of certain rifles, like the AR-15, within city limits, banned the use of magazines which hold more than 10 rounds, and creates a process to confiscate firearms from those accused of being a threat to themselves or others.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Gunner, early warning dog of Darwin

A frightened dog learned to warn Allied forces of approaching Japanese bombers and fighters.

Link at

Sunday, October 27, 2019

US leftist CEOs pal with China crackdown on democracy

Communist China is one entangled oligarchy which mingles political party and company. Sound familiar?

The CEO of Nike sits on the board of Disney. The CEO of Disney until recently sat on the board of Apple. The CEO of Apple sits on the board of Nike. Good thing we have a “free market economy” isn’t it?

Disney, Apple and all the rest have no problem understanding their Chinese Communist counterparts.

ESPN smears democracy protesters in Hong Kong for the same reason that it celebrated Colin Kaepernick. There’s a fundamental contradiction in principles between supporting a Communist police state and denouncing American police officers, but a perfect synergy of political expediency.

In America and China, a lefty political elite controls the culture. Chinese and American lefties interlock cultural, economic and political power. Disney, once seen as a square family friendly studio, can rule the box offices in America and China because it advances the cultural goals of their political elites.

American corporations went ‘woke’ because their ideal customer base, wealthy millennials, were reprogrammed by academia. Getting access to young people with lots of money required ritual virtue signaling, first by cultural industries, which didn’t need much encouraging to function as gatekeepers, censors and reeducators, and then by all the other industries which bowed to the culture.

The “enemies of the people” in Hong Kong “are free-market Christians who don’t want a police state controlling their lives. Funny coincidence those are also ‘enemies of the people’ in America.”

Friday, October 25, 2019

Don’t mess with Alabama?

The “Don’t Mess With Texas” program started 34 years ago. Since then, Texans and visitors have made spectacular progress toward ending the sight of trash on highway rights of way.

Coming out of Mobile, Ala., Tuesday afternoon and headed for Texas, my wife and I were treated to sights neither of us had seen in Texas since the late 1980s.

Along both sides of U.S. Highway 45 were several miles of trash – beer and soft drink cans, fast food containers, pieces of paper.

So accustomed are we to clean highways, the sight of so much trash led us to believe Alabamans do not care about litter, nor do they have any pride in their state.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

What do we have that they don’t have?

The left quarter of this satellite photograph is Mexico. Few to no crops grow. The Texas side is green from the Rio Grande to the irrigation canal.

Quemado, Texas sits in the center between green and gray. Quemado is in Maverick County. The town’s population was 230 by the 2010 census. Racial/ethnic breakdown** shows the population at 53.9% White; 2.47% African-American; 42.39% from other races; and 2.06% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 87.65% of the population.

The demographic on the other side of the river most likely is near 100% one ethnic/nationality.

Although sitting among green fields, Quemado is far from rich. Figures from the 2000 census show 48.6% of families and 51.7% of the total population living below the official federal government poverty line.

Quemado is poor. People across the river are poor. The difference is, Quemado citizens are Texan and American.

That makes all the difference in the world.

** It is often amazing how the federal government through its insistence that every man, woman and child in the United States must choose a racial and/or ethnic identity, making us separate, insists we all are equal. Separate but equal. 

Monday, October 21, 2019

Unauthorized dam breaks, flood kills 15 gold miners in Siberia

Thirteen still missing.

The dam was built without governmental approval or inspection. Or, as a government official said:

"The hydro-technical facility was self-constructed and, I believe, all rules I can and cannot think of were violated." -- Yuri Lapshin, head of the Krasnoyarsk regional government.

Link at

Not to point fingers at anyone other than the mining company and those who fund the company, but … A dam is built without approval or inspection by the regional governmental agency responsible for approving and inspecting dams. Then, the dam remains in service for however long it was there, but no one has said, with no inspections. Any competent government … Oh. We’re talking about Russians here.

Bosnian city says it will stop paying utilities for migrant camp

News site readies blame for upcoming “humanitarian crisis.”

By Daniel Kovacevic

“Fears are growing of a humanitarian crisis at the overcrowded Vujcak camp in northwest Bosnia, after the Mayor of nearby Bihac warned that his city will no longer pay for essential services.”

“’Ever since Vucjak was established, the City of Bihac has provided all kinds of services, including water delivery, through its public companies. We delivered 20,000 litres of water daily. I sent a letter to both utility companies that the city would no longer pay for it,’ the Mayor of Bihac, Suhret Fazlic, told the media on Monday.
“The largest city in the Una-Sana Canton in northwest Bosnia has seen an influx of migrants over the past two years and has become a hotspot because of its proximity to the border with EU-member Croatia, which most migrants are trying to enter.”

Government officials say 6,000 to 7,000 “migrants” are on the Una-Sana Canton.
“The EU wants the Bosnian authorities to find a new location for migrants to stay in more humane conditions, saying that if such a solution is found, the European Commission would provide funding for such accommodation.

(The EU is big on dictating what countries will do. Sitting in offices in warm and cozy Brussels is a fine place from which to issue orders.)

We made the list! We made the list!

Not content with shit in the streets and needles all over the place, “The City of San Francisco has added 22 states to a blacklist that prevents city employees from traveling to those states or using city funds or dealing with businesses based in them.”

The decision also prohibits the city from making new contracts with businesses headquartered in the states.

The 22 ‘deplorable’ states are: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

I am particularly pleased as a native-born Texan and present resident of Florida to be part of twice pissing off ‘Frisco.

When will the city ban its sports teams from going to prohibited states and cities?

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Kellogg’s going after your kids by offering gay cereal

“Have you ever eaten Froot Loops and thought, ‘This cereal isn’t gay enough?’ Do you seek a safe space to eat your Rice Krispies? Are you concerned that your Corn Flakes aren’t sufficiently woke? Well, now Kellogg’s has the solution! On Thursday, the gay site PinkNews reported, ‘Kellogg’s is launching an LGBT-themed cereal so you can start your day with maximum gay… If you’re a fan of breakfast and being gay, we have grrrrreat news for you – Kellogg’s is launching an LGBT-themed cereal.’ And to think, we’ve been eating straight, cisgender cereal all this time.


“This makes my teeth hurt. Parents beware. A good learning moment to teach your children to be careful what they put in their mouth. Probably will be advertised on the Disney Channel.”

Link at maggiesfarm.

Dishonest Democratic push

Leading with a lie. “For more than 200 years our party has led the fight for civil rights …” Published when we had a community organizer appointing crooks and liars, but then, that is who Democrats are.

Two hundred years would be 1810 or so, given the date of the article. A cursory study of American history shows 1810 was 18 years before the party was founded. Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren are credited with founding the party in 1828. History shows little to no civil rights legislation, as we now know the term.

Democrats have no problem rewriting history to suit their needs.

Egyptian archaeologists show coffins almost 3,000 years old

Thirty coffins found last week contained remains of 25 adult men, five adult women and two children.

Coffins were hidden by a priest “for fear of being looted.”

Wanted criminal leads to ‘Wow! We made the big time!’

“Crime has no gender,” reads a EUROPOL campaign, and the law and intelligence group released a list of “the most wanted female criminals in 22EU member states.”

Release of the most wanted led Daily News Hungary to this enthusiastic headline: “A Hungarian woman amongst the most wanted female criminals in Europe.”

A “Wow!” would not seem out of place in the headline.

Should you wonder, Hungary’s Woman Criminal of the Month is Ilkio Dudas.

“Dud├ís’ biography on the EUROPOL campaign site point to a range of serious criminal activities; between 2010 and 2012 she sold drugs in the bars and nightclubs on the shore of Lake Balaton, all the while consuming speed, cocaine and ecstasy with her partner. She not only consumed the drugs in her children’s presence, but the children also witnessed her drug transactions. She has been sentenced for 6 years imprisonment.”

Roman chariot, remains of two horses found in Croatia burial site

Burial dates to 3rd century AD, near Vinkovci, in eastern Croatia.

“The metal parts of the two-wheeled chariot and the horses’ fittings date the burial to the 3rd century A.D. and it must have belonged to an extremely wealthy individual with a prominent position in the Roman administration of Pannonia. It was discovered in a tumulus about 130 feet in diameter but only three feet high due to centuries of erosion.”

The site “was located along one of the most important Roman roads in the empire connecting the Italy to Pannonia and the Balkans to Asia Minor and has been documented in archaeological literature for 100 years. The family interred there built it to as a monument that conveyed their wealth and importance to all who passed on that busy thoroughfare.”

Saturday, October 19, 2019

The Man Who Walked Away From War, Part I

     It wasn’t that Moreland was a jinx or had bad luck. Guys in the squad just didn’t like him.
       You get jinxes, same as you get lucky ones. Lucky ones, fire never comes close. You can be in the biggest firefight ever -- thousands of rounds cracking, dozens of grenades going off -- and stuff never comes near the lucky ones. In a firefight, the lucky ones are on one knee, busting caps like they’re on a qualification range, where targets pop up and you shoot them and they go down and come back up when the range NCO flips a switch and you shoot them again. That’s the way it was with the lucky ones. They knelt and fired, because bad stuff avoided them.
       Marsetti had the luck. Two times when the gooks hit at night, a grenade landed in Marsetti’s foxhole but didn’t go off. The first time a grenade landed in Marsetti’s foxhole, he didn’t know it was there until next morning, when the shit was over and we were policing up -- counting bodies, gathering the few weapons the gooks couldn’t get to when the people using them were dead. There was this loud “MOTHERFUCK!” and Marsetti came flying from his hole like he was launched by a rocket, and he was yelling in mid-air. Marsetti yelled “MOTHERFUCK!” again after he landed on the ground in front of his hole, and he beat his fists on the dirt. The rest of us grabbed weapons and hit the deck or jumped in our holes, figuring the gooks were coming back.
       Marsetti lay in the dirt for a while, not saying anything after the second “MOTHERFUCK!” He just stared around, eyes wide and vacant. Nothing happened -- no incoming or anything -- so we decided maybe there was a Two-Step in Marsetti’s hole, a bamboo viper or banana viper, and when it bites, you get two steps and then you die. After a while, Marsetti raised his head. His eyes were hugely round as though he’d seen a Two-Step or maybe a gook drawing a bead on him. He looked around, then stared straight into my eyes, grinning that crazy grin he had, and he said, real quiet, “There’s a motherfuckin grenade in my hole, Man. A fuckin gook grenade and the pin’s pulled.”
       I didn’t believe him. Marsetti was always pulling shit on us.
       He must have read my eyes. “No shit, Man,” he said.
       “Riiight,” I said, drawing it out the way you do when somebody’s pulling something on you. Then I stood up and walked over to the hole and looked in, and damned if there wasn’t a gook grenade in the middle of the hole, pin pulled and everything, just lying there. “Holy shit!” I said and I backed up fast, yelling, “Hey! There’s a live grenade in Marsetti’s hole!”
       The thing was, nobody knew Marsetti had the luck. When the gooks hit that night, Peabody was in the hole with Marsetti, and Peabody took an AK round through the neck. Not in a “Guess what? You’re dead” place, but bad enough he was medivacked when the gooks pulled out. It was still dark when Dustoff came in, with Sergeant Reid standing in the LZ and holding a strobe light so the pilots could see where to land. Sergeant Reid was a crazy bastard, but he had balls. We later heard Peabody went home. There was nerve damage or something.
       The second time a grenade landed in Marsetti’s hole, the thing hit him in the chest. That’s what he told me next morning. “Man, I was there, bustin caps like a motherfucker, you know? I mean rockin off some rounds, and this thing hits me in the chest. Right here.” He made a fist and tapped the center of his chest. “I knew what it was, Man. I mean, a grenade hits you in the chest, you know what it is.” The grenade hit Marsetti and bounced off, landing somewhere in the hole. I remember Marsetti yelling “Grenade!” in the middle of the fight, but I thought maybe he was throwing one at the gooks. He said he yelled “Grenade!” while flying from the hole. “Me and Chavez, Man, we unassed that hole, let me tell you. Laid behind it all night long, waitin for the fucker to go off, waitin for gooks to fuckin crawl in and fuckin waste us.” He shook his head. “Man, I was one scared dude. Chavez too.”
       Chavez said it was all true, and when we saw the grenade in the hole -- just like the first time, pin pulled and everything -- we knew Marsetti had the luck.
       The first time a grenade landed in Marsetti’s hole and didn’t go off, the LT wanted to call EOD (Explosive Ordnance Demolition -- crazy fuckers who blow stuff in place; walk up to a bomb or artillery round and place C4 next to it and then connect wires and a blasting cap and back off and blow the thing). The LT said EOD could come out and blow the grenade in place, but Sergeant Reid said Marsetti should just bury the thing, we didn’t have time to wait for EOD. Marsetti wasn’t too hot for the idea, shoveling dirt on top of the grenade, but Sergeant Reid said, “It’s your hole, and you can either bury the grenade or pick it up and throw it away.” Marsetti took the easy choice, lying on his stomach and raking dirt into the hole with his entrenching tool.
       The second time, Marsetti didn’t even ask what he should do. He told Sergeant Reid what had happened, then went back to his hole and filled it in. Standing up. “What the fuck,” he said when I came by. “Didn’t get me the first time, ain’t gonna get me now.”
       Marsetti definitely had the luck, but he had been there long enough to get it. Nobody ever arrived in-country with the luck. When somebody got it, the luck just settled over him. Nobody ever said he was working for the luck. It’s the kind of thing you can’t earn; it either comes or it doesn’t. Sort of like grace. You can’t earn grace, no matter how much faith you have, no matter how many good works you do. That’s what preachers back home said, anyway. God either gives you grace, and luck, or He doesn’t.
       After a time, when we all knew Marsetti had the luck, some guys wanted to be close to him everywhere he went, like maybe the luck would rub off or it had an aura and would settle over them the same way it settled on Marsetti. That didn’t work either. A couple of guys got wasted trying to get Marsetti’s luck, moving toward him in a firefight when they should have remained in place. After a longer time, we decided it was Marsetti’s gift. The spirit had landed on him, and we couldn’t share in it.
       Moreland, though ... Like I said, he didn’t have bad luck, but he wasn’t a jinx, either. Moreland had been in-country five months when he told me about the grunt who walked away from the war, and guys with bad luck don’t last that long. You get a guy who can’t watch where he’s going, his feet are too big, too heavy and he stumbles into tripwires, he won’t be around very long. You might think bad luck balances out the good luck, but that isn’t the way it works. Sometimes you get more good luck than bad, sometimes it’s the other way around. And a jinx isn’t the same as somebody who has bad luck. A jinx might trip a wire, and maybe that wire is connected so it doesn’t get the man who tripped it, but the man behind him. Or a jinx might draw heavy fire and the bullets find the guy next to him. Eventually, though, somebody who draws that much fire, it catches up to him. So, Moreland wasn’t a jinx, but he didn’t have bad luck either.
       The thing about Moreland was, nobody liked him. He was always bragging about stuff back home -- cars, girls, places he’d been. Lying, actually. All of us lied about that stuff, especially girls and cars. Moreland just didn’t know when to stop lying. Grunts know a liar when they see one, a real liar and not a simple bullshitter. And Moreland was a liar. He always had to go one up, always had to latch onto somebody else’s story, take it one or two steps further. In the five months I knew Moreland, he told the truth twice.


The Man Who Walked Away From War, Part II

       The first time was after Hunter told us about his T-Bird. Hunter was from LA, and before the Green Machine grabbed him, had attended a couple semesters at UCLA. Before that, Hunter had a black ‘57 Thunderbird.
       “Call her Miss-T,” Hunter said one night when we were back at base camp and had a couple days to clean equipment and replace worn out boots and take showers. “Call her Miss-T ‘cause she glide like mist through California nights.” Hunter talked that way sometimes; mostly, I believe, for the benefit of us white boys who understood Black. Some white guys got confused when a black man used proper English, so, depending on his audience, Hunter sometimes talked Black. Hunter shook his head when talking about his car. We sat on a bunker next to the squad tent, five of us, sucking up a case of Black Label and watching flares float through moonlit sky and land in the rubber trees beyond the wire.
       Somebody -- Billy D, I think -- asked of Miss-T, “You put her in storage when The Man got you?”
       “Nah,” Hunter said. “Los’ her a year before. Somebody stole her one night. She was parked in my garage, and some motherfucker stole her.”
       I asked if he called the police, but Hunter just laughed. “Sheeit, Man. Somebody steal a brother’s car, po-leece don’t give a damn. What I want to call the po-leece for?” He crumpled a can in his big hands. “I found her, though. Partner of mine, he tell me he hear she was in this vacant lot. I went there, and sure enough, there she was. I like to have cried, Man. All her windows busted out, body look like somebody take a sledgehammer to it. Wheels gone, seats cut up.” He shook his head, then said, “Robby, pass up another beer. Black Label. Who buy this shit, anyway?”
       I said, “Sergeant Reid.”
       Hunter laughed, and the sound was like charcoal, smooth and black. “Well, can’t be too bad then. Who got the church key?” I handed up the opener. Hunter punched holes in his can, then went on with his story. “One thing, I find out who stole my Miss-T.”
       “Uh-oh,” Billy D said. “Somebody was in for payback.”
       Hunter chuckled. “You got that right. And as you know, payback’s a motherfucker.” He leaned forward, dropping his shoulders, settling in to the story. “My partners check around, find out who did it. People say they use a baseball bat to beat up on Miss-T. I got me a bat too. Went down to a sports store, got me a thirty-four-inch Jackie Robinson bat.” He laughed that laugh, then went on with the story. “Man, Willie Mays ain’t never hit a baseball hard as I hit those motherfuckers. I got both of ‘em same night, same place. Cocksuckers never knew what hit ‘em. They found out though. I put the word out, they want some more, just let me know. Any place, any time, just let me know. They didn’t RSVP my invitation.”
       Moreland sat to one side of the bunker, not out of the area, not quite with the rest of us either. He laughed when Hunter finished the story. It was a high cackling laugh that made my skin crawl. “You should’ve made ‘em pay for the car,” Moreland said.
       Hunter didn’t even turn, just said, “Ain’t you listened, Man? They paid. They paid big time.”
       “No,” Moreland said. He moved his head then, and I saw his silhouette against the moon, his face all sharp angles -- high cheekbones and sunken cheeks and a pointed chin. “What I mean is, they should’ve paid money. Enough to fix your car, anyways.”
       Wizard spoke up. “There’s payin, and then there’s payin, Moreland.” (Wizard got his name because of his talents with the M-60 machine gun: He pointed the thing and the bullets went where he wanted them to, like he was a wizard using a magic wand.)
       “Yeah,” Moreland said, “but ... ” and he went into this long-ass story about three guys, cousins, Back Home in Iowa and how they had a hard-on for him. I listened to Moreland’s story, but mostly keeping an ear just enough to catch him if he contradicted himself. “The biggest one,” Moreland was saying, “was Jobo Friddle. Man, he ... ”      
       Billy D jumped in. “Say what?”
       “What, what?” Moreland asked.
       “You say the big one, his name was Jackoff Fribble?”
       “No, Man. Jobo Friddle.”
       Wizard about fell off the bunker laughing. “Jobo Friddle? Man, now I know you lyin. Nobody got a name ... His folks might as well name him Jackoff. Jobo.” He shook his head. “Shit, Man.”
       “No,” Moreland said. “See, his real name was Joe Bob, but we called him Jobo. Everybody’d always called him Jobo.”
       “Sheeit,” Hunter said. “You sure this was in Iowa? Sound like Alabama, maybe Mis-sippi.”
       Moreland got mad, as mad as he ever got. He was always the butt of our jokes, and he had learned to take it, just like the kid bullied at recess learns to take it. “Fuck, no, it wasn’t Alabama. Wasn’t no fuckin Mississippi either.”
       “Okay, okay,” Hunter said. “So the big one is Jobo Friddle. What about the other two?”
       “James and David,” Moreland replied. He talked on then, about a couple of high school sweeties named Charlene and Charlotte -- both blonde -- and how he was in with them, and that was what pissed off Jobo and his cousins.
       “They twins?” Wizard interrupted. “Charlene and Charlotte? Man, twins. Think about that, huh. Hey, Robby. You think you could do twins?”
       I nodded. “In a heartbeat. Maybe they were cheerleaders. Yeah. Twin cheerleaders, and you get them in their cheerleader uniforms, short skirts that swirl when they do those cheerleader jumps, and touch their toes with their fingers, and all you see is thighs round and firm.”
       Wizard laughed. “I be lookin between their thighs, Man. Oh, yeah. I tell ‘em jump high as they want, long’s they land on my face.”
       “Jesus,” Moreland said. “Man can’t get a word in edgewise around here.”
       Hunter quieted us. “Hey, let the man finish his story. So there’s these twin cheerleaders ... ”
       “They weren’t twins,” Moreland said, “and they weren’t cheerleaders. They could have been. I mean, they were pretty enough. Like Robby said, their thighs were round and firm.”
       Billy D was in again. “You know about their thighs, huh. They sit on your face or somethin?”
       Moreland stared at Billy D. “Yeah,” he said. “Yeah, they did.” He grew frustrated because no one would listen to his story. “Fuckin-A they did. One at a time. I did Charlene while Charlotte watched, and then I did Charlotte. Satisfied?”
       Billy D shrugged. “Don’t make a fuck whether I am or not. Were they?”
       Moreland stood up, black against the moon. “Shit, Man. Fuck it.”
       “No,” Hunter said, and it was like an order. “Sit down, Moreland. Finish your story. And you guys shut up.”
       The way Moreland told it, Jobo had the hots for Charlotte, but she wouldn’t have anything to do with him. Moreland said Jobo was a prick, and I could believe that. Anybody hung with the name Jobo Friddle, how else is he going to turn out? Moreland said he took out Charlotte and Charlene, a weird kind of double-dating, but one most of us would extend for. I mean, if the army said we could spend, say, a month, all expenses paid, with two beautiful girls -- or relatively pretty ones -- if we would only extend for six months ... Yeah, we would have signed the papers.
       There was a 1954 Chevrolet involved, too; the link with Hunter’s Misty. Moreland said the Chevy was butterscotch color and two doors, a two-door with window posts, not a hardtop. Now, that is why I believed Moreland’s story. Most guys telling a story like that, the car will be a two-door ‘57 Chevy, hardtop and cherry red or candy-apple red or midnight black, with chrome that shines in the sun. But Moreland talked about that ’54 Chevy like it was the best car ever made. He didn’t say anything about how fast it would go, no records in the quarter-mile at the local drag strip. Moreland just said, “It was a damn good car, Man. Best car I ever had.”
       I understood, in an empathetic sense. Sitting on that bunker, drinking warm beer and smoking too many cigarettes, I saw myself in the back seat of that butterscotch ‘54 Chevy, muffing Charlotte while Charlene watched, Charlene leaning on the back of the front seat, with a knee in the space between the backs of the seat, sipping at a beer, maybe even chewing gum. She was on her knees, round knees with dimples, her arms on the seat, resting her chin on her forearms, occasionally raising her head to get a better view of what Charlotte and I did in the back seat. And Charlotte, skirt and slip pushed to her waist and her legs apart, her left foot on the drive shaft hump, white lace panties wrapped around that ankle. In that picture, I was on the floorboard, on my knees, head buried between Charlotte’s thighs, and she made noises, good noises. I couldn’t wait to finish with Charlotte so I could do Charlene, but at the same time, I was wrapped up in the work at hand. Jesus, yes, I could empathize. That car, that 1954 two-door butterscotch Chevrolet, was a damned good car.
       “Jobo was some kind of pissed ‘cause Charlotte wouldn’t have anything to do with him,” Moreland was saying. I listened now. I wanted to be in that Chevy; I wanted two girls like Charlotte and Charlene -- hell, either one would have been good, but both of them ... “He said he was going to take care of me.” The first climax of the story began while Moreland was in Dubuque, at an FFA contest, judging hogs. (I shit you not, that’s what he said, and nobody makes up that kind of thing.) What happened was, while Moreland studied the finer points of Yorkshires and Ohio Improved Chesters, Jobo Friddle and his cousins James and David went to the Moreland farm, while Mom and Pop Moreland were in town (it was a Saturday). Jobo, James and David carried 12-gauge pump shotguns, and they each put five rounds into Moreland’s Chevrolet, Number 6 shot, Moreland said.
       “Man,” Moreland said, “when I got home, I couldn’t fuckin believe it. My car, Man! Like Hunter said, windows gone, big fuckin holes in the windshield and back window. Fifteen rounds of Number 6 shot, Man.” He shook his head, even a year later almost unable to believe.
       Wizard asked quietly, “You call the police?”
       “Sheriff,” Moreland said. “Things like that happen in the country ... Shit. What am I saying? A thing like that had never happened before in Cooke County, Man. Never.” The deputy sheriff, Moreland said, took notes and “Hummed” over the car, even a “Goddam” when Mom Moreland went into the house to make coffee and she wouldn’t hear him cuss. Moreland told the deputy of his suspicions, that Jobo had it in for him and took out his dislike on the car.
       Billy D asked, “You tell the law you ate Charlotte and Charlene in the car, that’s how come it was so special?” but Moreland just said, “Fuck, Man.”
       “So,” Hunter said. “What did you do? You take a baseball bat ... ”
       Moreland cackled. “Not a chance, Man. I’m tellin you, Jobo was big. Baseball bat wouldn’t have fazed him. Naw, Man. I ambushed ‘em. Got all three of the cocksuckers next Friday night, right after midnight. Reconned their neighborhood, waited across the street from Jobo’s house ‘til they come back from this whorehouse in Franklin County. See, Jobo was twenty-one, and he used to take James and David when he went whoring.”
       “Hey,” Wizard said. “You mean you wasted ‘em? Over a fuckin car?”
       Moreland cackled again, and I wondered if he’d hung around the chicken house too much. “Naw, Man. Law in Iowa takes a dim view people wastin each other. Naw.” What he did, Moreland said, was wait. “I had a 20-gauge pump, figured they used shotguns on my car, I’d pay ‘em back same way. But I took out the shot and filled the rounds with rock salt. Gets into the skin, burns like a motherfucker.” He shrugged, as though what he did next was a run-of-the-mill operation. “Jobo had this ‘48 Mercury, black, with orange flames. He was proud of that car, Man. See, Jobo, James and David were drunk on their asses when they got to Jobo’s house. Practically fell out of that Mercury.”
       The Friddles, Moreland said, struggled to their feet, leaning on the car when almost erect. Moreland simply walked across the street, and, in his words, “Cut their legs out from under them with that rock salt. Man, they was cryin. ‘Oh, it hurts! It hurts!’ Shit like that. I said, ‘Too fuckin bad,’ and then I went back to Daddy’s pickup and got a gallon can of gasoline. Poured the whole can all over Jobo’s Mercury, stepped back and threw a match.” He laughed. “Man, you should’ve seen ‘em. They was like crabs, tryin to get away from the fire. I laughed myself sick. Even while I was emptyin their billfolds, I was laughin.”
       “Uh,” Billy D said, “this was like in town, right?”
       “Sure was,” Moreland nodded. “And, yeah, next mornin the same deputy as looked at my car came out and questioned me. You’re wonderin how come I’m doin time in Viet-fucking-Nam and not in a state pen?”
       Hunter said, “The thought had crossed my mind.”
       “Robby,” Moreland said, “pass me another beer.” He leaned his elbows on his thighs, hands between his knees, beer can dangling from his right hand, proud as fucking Punch to tell his story. “Here’s how things work. Daddy had backed Sheriff Dawkins in five elections, campaigned, even bought advertisements in the newspaper and radio. And, Momma had a second cousin was district attorney in town. Momma and Daddy, they were pissed at what I did, but, hey, they gonna let me go to the pen ‘cause I peppered the Friddles with rock salt? No way, Man.”
       “So,” I said, “you and the law struck a deal. You enlist, nobody does anything?”
       Moreland nodded. “You got it. ‘Course, Daddy had to pay the hospital bill -- I mean those three sunsabitches were filled with rock salt -- but I’ve been sending fifty dollars a month home, ever since basic. Almost a year now.”
       Hunter asked, “What about the robbery? You taking their billfolds?”
       “I denied it,” Moreland said. “Gave the money to a body man to fix my car. ‘Course, it took more than the fuckin Friddles had. Been sendin money home for that too.” He laughed again, but the sound wasn’t as harsh as before. “The funny thing, when I get home? I’m trading that Chevy for a GTO.”
       Hunter began, “In the long run . . . ”
       “It was the principle,” Moreland said. “Same as with your car, Man. The Friddles ... ”
       Headlights speared the darkness, illuminating the bunker, interrupting Moreland’s tale. A jeep bounced over bumpy ground, brakes squealing as it came to a stop. Marsetti’s voice cut through the silence. “Hey! I got two cases of Budweiser. Cold Budweiser.”
       We scrambled from atop the bunker, gathering around the jeep. Hunter asked the obvious question. “Where’d you steal the jeep?”
       “I ain’t stole shit,” Marsetti said. “It was up by battalion headquarters, not locked or anything. I just borrowed it. Hell, how was I supposed to carry two cases of beer back here?”
       Billy D touched the cans. “Shit, Man! They are cold!”
       Marsetti turned in the seat. “What’d I say? Didn’t I say they were cold? See, on the way back here, I sort of had to drive across the air strip. They got these fire extinguishers out there. Big fuckers on wheels. Must hold, I don’t know, a hundred pounds of whatever they hold.”
       “C-0-2,” Hunter said.
       “Whatever,” Marsetti said. “Anyway, I sprayed most of a bottle on the cans. Hope I didn’t freeze ‘em.”
       “Don’t matter,” Wizard said, lifting a case from the jeep. “If they’re frozen, we got time for ‘em to thaw.”
       Billy D took the other case. Marsetti said he would be back as soon as he returned the jeep.
       Moreland touched my shoulder as the others walked back to the bunker. “Robby,” he said, “you believe me, don’t you? About the Friddles. The other guys ... ”
       I nodded. “Yeah, Moreland, I believe you. Charlene and Charlotte, though ... ”
       “Naw, Man. That’s true too.” He made a fist and punched my arm. “I get back, I’ll do ‘em for you. Tell ‘em it’s for my friend Robby.”
       I laughed. “Yeah, Moreland. You do that.”


The Man Who Walked Away From War, Part III

       After that night, Moreland and I got paired up when the platoon dug in. I don’t know why it happened. Before then, Hunter and Moreland shared a hole, but Hunter said he and Billy D would pair off, so Moreland and I were assigned to the same hole. Call it luck or fate or whatever, or maybe Hunter was tired of putting up with Moreland. When I thought about it later, I remembered, too, that Moreland and I always were one behind the other when walking the bush. Sometimes he was in front, sometimes I was. And when we went on line, he was always beside me. It gets to be that way; you stick close to your partner. Even if you don’t particularly like him, you stick close to him.
       All that nearness certainly didn’t make me like Moreland anymore, nor any less. He was always there, that’s all.
       It was about three weeks later when Moreland told me about the grunt who walked away from the war. The platoon was eighteen days in the bush, looking for gooks, but not finding any. In a way, that was okay. Nobody stepped on a mine or hit a tripwire. We didn’t take any sniper fire. On the other hand, eighteen days of wired nerves is not good for the system. We all were a bit edgy.
       The LT picked a place for our NDP (Night Defensive Position), near a clearing, as always, so the Hueys could land and drop off a hot meal, deliver mail, maybe even bring clean uniforms.
The night Moreland told his second true story, the platoon got to the NDP around 1600. By 1800, Moreland and I had our foxhole about finished, all the sandbags filled and limbs for overhead cover. I dropped the last sandbag on the limbs, then stretched the tired from my muscles.
       Moreland sat on the row of sandbags that made the front wall of the position. He lit a cigarette. “There was a grunt walked away from the war.”
       I bent over, taking kinks from my back. “Oh?”
       “Yeah,” Moreland said. “Just walked away.”
       “Wait a minute,” I said. “This isn't one of those First Cav, Hundred and First stories, is it?”
       Moreland glanced up. “No. Why?”
       “Because every weird story I’ve ever heard, and I mean really weird, happens up north, Central Highlands, where the Cav is or the Hundred and First.”
       “Naw, Man.” Moreland shook his head. “Naw, it ain’t about them. It happened down here. The guy was in the Michelin, maybe Hobo Woods.”
       I lit a cigarette and sat on the sandbags. “Okay. Another thing. This grunt can’t walk away. This is a helicopter war, remember? Maybe he flew away, but he didn't walk.”
       Moreland got a look on his face. “How he left don’t matter. Well, it did to him, but the thing is, the story loses ... loses validity if you say he flew away.” He shook his head again. “No. It has to be he walked away.”
       “Okay. So this grunt walked away from the war. How’d he do it?”
       “On the evening resupply chopper. He ...”
       “See? He flew away.”
       “Fuck, Man! Would you just listen?”
       “Okay. Sorry.”
       “It’s like ... What’s that book where this American is in Italy and it’s the first world war?”
       A Farewell to Arms,” I said. “You read that book?”
       “I ain’t stupid, Robby.” He stripped his cigarette, scattering tobacco over the dirt and rolling the paper into a ball. He held the ball between his thumb and index finger a moment, then thumped the ball, and the paper made a high arch, like a baseball hit deep. “Wouldn’t you say that guy walked away from his war?”
       “Yeah, I guess so.”
       “He took a train and then rowed a boat across that lake, but he still walked away, didn’t he.”
       “Okay. I see your point.”
       “This grunt gets on the evening resupply chopper, tells the crew chief he’s going on R&R.” Moreland looked at me, probably to make sure I was listening. “He waited until the chopper was about to take off, and then he grabbed his ruck and ran for the chopper.”
       “Did he take his weapon?”
       “Of course. He’s a grunt.”
       “And the pilots didn’t ask any questions?”
       Moreland snorted. “You know pilots, Man. Those airedales, they don’t like sittin on the ground out here. They drop off stuff, they’re gone.”
       I nodded. “Okay. So this grunt takes the chopper back to base camp?”
       Moreland nodded. “Yep. They let him off at a helicopter landing pad, and he ... Well, for a minute or so he doesn’t know what to do. He hadn’t thought that far ahead.”
       What the grunt decides, Moreland said, is that he can’t go to his own company area. The first sergeant might see him, ask how come he’s at base camp and not in the bush.
       “Then,” Moreland continued, “he remembers a clerk he knows at battalion headquarters. A personnel clerk. They met on the plane coming over, and hit it off, you know? They talked about cars and girls and stuff on the plane. So, this guy walks to battalion headquarters hooches, finds this clerk, asks the clerk if he’d type up orders transferring him someplace else.”
       “And the clerk agrees.”
       “Yeah,” Moreland nodded. “See, not only did they have common interests, but they were from the same ... Both of them were from eastern Indiana, and they knew some of the same people, had even played basketball against each other in high school, if you can believe that.”
       “Strange things happen.”
       “They do,” Moreland said. “They weren’t starters, mostly sat on the bench, so they never met face-to-face ‘til the flight over. The clerk asks where does this guy want to go, but the guy doesn’t know. Not Saigon. That’s too close to where he was, and a place that big, people are always asking questions. The clerk says there’s a book at personnel, has the location of every American unit in Vietnam. So they go to personnel and look up units and cities and where the cities are. It has to be farther north, ‘cause this guy doesn’t want anyplace close by, and he damn sure doesn’t want the Delta.”
       “I hear that.”
       “So they find this place on the coast. A small town, maybe five thousand people. This guy’s from Indiana, remember, and he’s never seen the ocean.”
       Moreland lit another cigarette. “There’s a transportation company there, trucks. This grunt can drive anything that has wheels, so he says to the clerk, ‘What the fuck. I’ll go there.’ And the clerk cuts transfer orders.” Moreland dropped into the hole.
       “Wait a minute,” I protested. “What happened then?”
       Moreland shrugged as he opened his ruck. “The guy drove trucks. Came time for him to go home, he went.” He pulled out a piece of clear plastic folded around pieces of paper. “I got pictures of Charlotte and Charlene. Want to see em?” He climbed from the hole. “These are extras. They sent me two sets. I carry one set in my steel pot.”
       I opened the plastic carefully, one fold at a time. Somebody shows you a picture of his girl (or girls), he has the plastic just the way he wants it. You don’t want to tear the plastic, and when you fold it back up, you make sure there are no new creases. With the plastic unfolded, I looked at the first picture. Charlotte and Charlene, both blonde, smiled big smiles in the close-up. The second shot was from the waist up. The girls wore yellow pullover shirts, and they had an arm around each other’s shoulder, smiling those same smiles.
       Moreland pointed at the picture. “That’s Charlotte on the left.”
       “They could be twins,” I said. “And cheerleaders.”
       Moreland nodded. “For a fact.” He grinned. “They sure fill up those shirts, don’t they.”
       “Well,” I said, “I did sort of notice that.”
       “Yeah.” He punched my arm. “You could get lost between those, couldn’t you.”
       “For a fact.” I folded the plastic.
       “Keep ‘em,” Moreland said.
       He waved a hand. “I got a set.”
       “No, Man. They’re ... ”
       “It’s okay.” He glanced at the ground, then back at me. “You don’t have a girl back home, do you.”
       “There’s a couple ... No.”
       “Keep the pictures,” Moreland said. “They’ll give you an idea of what we’re fighting for. Or against. Maybe just a reason to ... ” He shrugged. “I’m going up to the CP. I got outgoing mail.”
       Moreland picked up his rifle and his ruck and walked off before I could say anything else about the pictures. I lit another cigarette and sat on the sandbags. Again unfolding the plastic, I studied the girls who weren’t twins or cheerleaders, but could have been both.


The Man Who Walked Away From War, Part IV

       The evening resupply chopper came and went. Moreland didn’t come back. I sat on the sandbags and ate dinner -- roast beef, mashed potatoes and brown gravy with too much salt, green beans, some sort of apple thing for dessert -- and drank a canteen cup of real coffee. As real as army cooks made it, anyway. Night neared. I wasn’t worried about Moreland, deciding he was walking the platoon perimeter, sitting in on stories, one-upping everybody until people got tired of him and suggested he go back to his own squad. Everybody in the platoon knew Moreland and his penchant for outrageous lies.
       I did worry when darkness began to settle. I put out two Claymores, running the wires back to the hole and connecting the clackers. I figured surely Moreland would be there. He was afraid of Claymores and delayed putting them out as long as possible, always waiting for me to do the job. Night came for real, and still no Moreland. Wizard and Marsetti had the hole to my right, then Billy D and Hunter. Third Squad’s holes were to my left, then First Squad and Fourth Squad, the platoon perimeter arching around the small clearing.
       After a time alone in the hole, I whispered across: “Wizard! Hey, Wizard!”
       His whispered answer came quickly. “Yo! You got movement?” I heard his M-60 move, belted rounds clacking against the gun.
       “Negative! Negative on movement! Moreland’s not here! Pass it up to Sergeant Reid!”
       Wizard snorted, then whispered back: “Dumb fuck’s lost, most likely.”
       “Just pass it up!”
       I waited. There wasn’t anything else to do. I couldn’t leave the hole and go walking around, looking for Moreland. There were too many wired nerves attached to fingers on triggers.
       It seemed an eternity before Wizard relayed: “Sergeant Reid says there ain’t shit we can do right now. We’ll do somethin come first light.”
       I nodded, which was a dumb thing to do. Nobody could see. “Roger,” I said.
       The night turned spooky. I had never been alone at night; someone always occupied a hole with me. There were noises in the night. Bushes moved, but that always happens. You look at a bush and then away and back at the bush, it will have moved. Ignoring the bushes that moved, I concentrated on the noises, occasionally closing my eyes, trying to see with my ears. After a time, the noises went away.
       I lost count of the times I nodded off, quickly coming awake, touching the Claymore clackers, making sure they were where I left them. I touched my rifle, too, drawing comfort from its nearness. The night dragged on and on. It was about four o’clock when my numb mind began to put the pieces together. “There was a grunt walked away from the war,” Moreland had said. A grunt who got on the evening resupply chopper, telling the crew chief he was going on R&R. Impossible, part of my mind argued. But another part, the part that knew Moreland ... Yeah, that might be something he’d do. Impossible. But it’s Moreland.
       When the first hint of dawn pinked the horizon, I sat in a corner of the hole and lit a cigarette. Flame from my lighter made some light, but right then I didn't care. Besides, if gooks were in the bush, they knew were the holes were. It had been daylight when we dug in, and any gook worth his rice would have marked each position. I sat in a corner of the hole, cursing Moreland, especially the idiotic idea that somebody -- anybody -- could simply walk away from the war. You just don’t do something like that. Then I wondered: Why not? What had we ever given Moreland except a hard time? The answer came quickly: Nothing. I felt no remorse at the way we treated Moreland, though. What was done was done, and there was nothing I could do about it.
       Thinking about Moreland reminded me of Charlotte and Charlene. I took off my helmet and unfolded the plastic and stared at the pictures, dark in the dim morning light. I remembered how the girls looked, and I suddenly realized another reason why Moreland walked away. Two reasons: Girls who could have been twins. I wondered what it was like, doing both girls. I swore at myself then. Thinking of things that would never happen ... But we all did that, thought about girls back home, girls we could have taken out, maybe, but never had. And Moreland, maybe worried about stepping on something that went “Click!” when the striker hit the fuse and then the thing blew off a leg or two or everything between his legs. I laughed at that thought: Moreland having bigger balls than the rest of us because maybe he was afraid of losing them.
       When there was enough light to see, Sergeant Reid slid into my hole. “Moreland isn’t anywhere on the perimeter. Tell me what happened.”
       I kept my eyes to the front, hoping Sergeant Reid would think I watched for gooks sneaking up in the dawn. “He said he was going to the CP. He had outgoing mail.”
       “That’s it?”
       I nodded. “We finished the hole, smoked a cigarette. Then he picked up his rifle and his ruck and said he was going to the CP.”
       Sergeant Reid’s fist made a muffled sound when he punched the dirt. “Shit!”
       I said, “You think maybe the gooks sneaked in and grabbed him?” The idea was so monstrous that I could look at Sergeant Reid while saying it.
       He shook his head. “No. Not a chance. He would have yelled. No.”
       “Well,” I said, “he damned sure didn’t walk away. I mean, Moreland can be dumb sometimes, but he ain’t stupid.”
       Sergeant Reid swore again. “He wouldn’t ... No.”
       “What?” I asked, but I knew.
       “You think he got on the chopper last night?”
       “Moreland? Jesus, Sergeant Reid!” I wondered when the first chopper would leave base camp that morning, maybe going to Tan San Nhut, figuring maybe 0730, thinking there might yet be a chance. At Tan San Nhut, Moreland could catch a hop to wherever he was going. “You can’t ... Nobody walks away. Moreland’s a grunt!”
       “Yeah, but ... Dammit, he ain’t here!” He sighed, and I knew he would go to the LT, confirming Moreland’s absence. I knew, too, that the LT would have to call the CO back at base camp. The LT would get on the radio and ... I almost laughed. Talk about a career fuck. The LT would tell the CO that Aero Rifle Platoon was missing a man, and the soldier in question might have taken the resupply chopper back to base camp, and would the CO be so kind as to send someone around the troop area and ask if Moreland was there. I could hear the LT’s voice when he made contact with the CO. “See, the thing is, ah, one of my men, uh, maybe left the field, and ... ” Desertion under fire? Nah. We weren’t taking fire when Moreland left. In the face of the enemy? But, there was no enemy, was there. Not in the immediate vicinity.
       “What?” Sergeant Reid said abruptly.
       “Pardon? Oh. Nothing, Sergeant Reid.”
       He exhaled noisily. “Shit. Well, I pity his ass when they catch him.” He climbed from the hole, walking slowly back to the platoon CP.
       Wizard spoke from his hole when Sergeant Reid was out of hearing. “Shit, Man. You think he really did it?”
       “Did what?”
       “Deedeed, Man.”
       “How? How would somebody just leave?”
       “On the fuckin chopper, Man.”
       I shook my head. “Nah. The chopper crew would ask, wouldn’t they? I mean, a grunt just gets on the chopper, wouldn’t you ask?”
       “Yeah,” Wizard said, “but I ain’t a fuckin airedale.”