Soldiers Of Fortune

There was something about this new guy at the party, this laughing mulatto veteran that reminded Jack of his old Navy friend. Similar sounding and unflappable and generous with the bounty he had. Just back from ‘Nam’ and looking for a place to crash. Jack had an extra room in the apartment he had above a Sherman Williams paint store several blocks on the wrong side of the Tracks in the big city. Frank moved in and Jack and Frank listened to ‘Yellow Submarine’ on Franks stereo he brought back from the war and they took apart the speakers and found something Frank called ‘Park Lanes’. Cigarettes that Frank obtained in Saigon and were on the whole, very pleasant to smoke. Quite a few soldiers brought home trinkets and other things from the wars. No one minded.

Frank knew some people, had connections as it is said, and soon both men were working for yellow cab. It was an interesting job. Both Jack and Frank were somewhat extroverted and that helped a lot with tips or ‘scale’ as it is referred to in the cab business. Chatting up customers was not only a good way to get a good tip but it also was a bit of an education on the world to Jack .

A new friend that Frank introduced to Jack was one of the connections and was a city alderman in the big city. He had a nickname that was sort of odd, the grease man and he was rather slippery and loquacious and ran an after hours joint in the ‘happening’ neighborhood. The beer was imported (fromWisconsin) and cheap. Life was easy and since Jack and Frank played guitars and sang, it was a shoe-in to hang out late at night, drive cab (any hour) and as a bonus, the Grease man also drove cab and showed the boys tricks of the trade. The cab queue line at the airport was the social event of the day at times and ‘connections’ were made there as well. Up and comers with the well known Greasy. Many interesting things changed hands at the cab stand. No one minded.

As the weeks rolled by, Jack noticed that Franks skin was getting lighter. Boldly asking Frank about it, Frank said his deep tan was because of his months recuperating from wounds. Recovery at the famous China Beach. “I thought you were a black guy!” said Jack. “I’m a dark Norwegian” said Frank. Another bonding of humor that ex-military guys seem to fall into. Exposure of truth on both sides. Franks recuperation was the result of ‘getting blown up real good’ with his deuce and a half.

Frank was assigned to Psy Ops (psychological operations) and had a big loudspeaker on it’s roof and would blast through the area playing ‘sunshine of your love’ by Eric Clapton and Cream. Then he would stop at one of the ‘vills’ and show movies from the truck.

Evidently there was a music critic in one of the villages. Later in their friendship they rode old motorcycles to California. Another story. It’s pretty good.

JACK GATOR

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