Written for OLWG# 231
It started as a sort of “mini-reunion.” I had come across a post on my Facebook. Ronny Mueller (aka Wrench) had found me. He had posted a picture of the five of us when we were young and stupid; in Cambodia. We were never officially in Cambodia, but here was this photo. I recognized it. It depicted me, Wrench, Buddha, Ghost, and Leeroy, in Cambodia.
There was nothing posted other than the photo. No names, no places mentioned, no explanations. Only the photo. It was a reminder of things that, I would have preferred to forget. In the picture, Wrench stood smiling. He held a cigarette clamped between his teeth and a CAR-15 held across his chest. I perched on a fallen tree with my flask in hand, raised to the camera. My KA-BAR strapped onto my vest and a Mark 22 Mod. 0 “Hush Puppy” with suppressor height sights on my hip. A full-bearded Leeroy sat on the damp earth leaning against my fallen tree. His Stoner 63 propped next to him He seemed to be picking his teeth with a ‘CB70. Buddha had his ‘M79 Thumper’ resting upside down on his shoulder. His jacket sleeves cut off, his biceps bulging. Then there was Ghost. Ghost wore mirror finish glasses and had a Smith & Wesson Model 12 on his hip. He had taken both the glasses and the gun off an unlucky Slick pilot we had come across in an LZ near Cu Chi.
I commented on the photo. I wrote the single word “Wrench” followed by an interrogation mark. Four days later, I got a PM advising me of a reunion at a rented cabin on the Platte River. I had to go, and we were all there, except for Leeroy. Nobody had been able to find him; Buddha said that knowing Leeroy, he was most likely dead.
Buddha collected me at the airport in Columbus and gave me a ride to the cabin by the river. The river was spotted with sand islands. It could have been described, more accurately, as a braided stream at that point. Wrench was there waiting for us. We sat out under the trees drinking and telling stories.
Ghost was due to arrive in the morning before lunch. He did too. He pulled in on a 1953 deep skirted Indian Chief Roadmaster and still carried that Model 12 on his hip. During the afternoon, we sat by the river, drinking brown whiskey. At one point, Ghost got serious and told us that he had an inside line, an easy way to make big money. I got the feeling that he was, in fact, telling me and that if they had been able to find Leeroy, I probably wouldn’t have been invited.
I stood up and set down my glass, “I wish you the best of luck, Ghost,” I announced, “but I’m too old for easy money. ‘Sides that – easy money is very seldom easy, I want no part of it.”
“Sorry to hear that, TN,” Wrench interjected, “You going home tomorrow?”
I looked at Wrench. I looked at the others, “Yeah, I guess I am. I’m going home tomorrow.”
Buddha raised his glass and looked at the sun, through the whiskey, a faraway look in his eye. “Then today we drink.” He tilted his glass back, downed the liquor, and smiled. We all did the same.
I never heard from those guys again, my brothers. Maybe they got away with it.
This week’s prompts were:
- there were no screams
- easy money
- whisky in the shade