“Abuses?” Royce’s face reddened. “Both of you should talk. Marco you run around in the bush shooting and carving up the VC on your own authority. Stinza you act like the Lord appointed you as his personal cremator.”
A small crowd began to surround them. They looked at their audience and began walking after they pushed their way through the gaping Asians. They remained silent for a few blocks.
“Fuck it.” Royce broke the silence and pointed one block down the street. “Here’s the Wing Fut, let’s eat.
They each ate as if they hadn’t consumed a hot meal in a year. The food smelled and tasted not like Chinese but not unlike it either. Both Royce and Stinza drank three bottles of Tiger beer apiece. Marco sipped tea. Royce placed the menu behind his beer and smiled. He had given them instructions on what to drink.
“The rule on what beer to drink out here is not to drink any beer that you can’t read newsprint through.” Royce was still in his sergeant’s caretaking and training behavior. “If it’s too cloudy, don’t drink it. Give it back.” It was with this logic Royce and Stinza settled on the Philippine brand called Tiger beer.
“This Tiger beer may be clear,” Hissed Stinza, “but it tastes like tiger piss.”
“How do you know what tiger piss tastes like?” Marco grinned.
They all laughed. Marco finished his tea after Royce and Stinza had three more Tigers each. The trio left the Wing Fut brushing crumbs from their uniforms. They arrived at the USO building, which was similar in structure to the Bamboo Loo Hotel. It was painted a pastel blue with a large American flag above the single door entrance. American jukebox music was playing over the speaker system. A combination of Vietnamese, Red Cross or American Overseas Volunteers attended each visitor. The first beer, a Budweiser, was free after a valid ID was presented. Thereafter, each drink was 25 cents. They chose a table next to a large screen TV showing sports highlights of the week. They watched a baseball game while Stinza and Royce consumed more Budweiser and not Tiger beer. Marco sipped green tea.
“I want to talk to you two about the bussssh,” Royce slurred after his ninth beer of the night.
“Shpeak Sarge.” Stinza was slushier than Royce.
“You two have got to tone down whatsha doin’ ina bussssh.” Royce burped. “When we’re on patrol we’re spoz to act azsh a unit and not every man for hissself.”
“What do you want us to do, Sarge?” Marco turned his head away from Royce’s beer fumes.
“I don’t want you ta sneak out at night and murder what could be innoshent civilians, Marco. An another thing, the way you treat the VC corpshes. Itshs making the men shy away from you and disirupshing the group.” Some mucous was being airborne with Royce’s sloppy enunciation. Marco wiped his left cheek with the back of his right hand.
“Anything you say, Sarge.”
“An’ you, Jock.” Royce aimed his boozy breath at Stinza. “I want you to only burn up the ones that don’t come outta their holesh. I don’t want to see you fryin’ up VC who aren’t dead above groun’ and wounded.”
“Sharge, fuck you.” Stinza was as weaving in his chair as Royce and leaned onto Marco. “The gooks shtill alive will try to whack out the flame thrower first. When they’sh down I keep ‘em down.”
“Fuck you too Shtinza.” Royce downed his tenth beer.
Royce’s expletive ended the topic. A decision now had to be made as to whether to walk back to the hotel or take transportation.
“Can you two walk?” Marco looked at both of them. The strongest thing that Marco had to drink all night was tea.
“Those Nam cabbies and ricksha pullers will mug us cuz we drank too musch, so letsh walk.” Royce tried to lead the trio as he wobbled out the USO entrance.
The three Marines walked abreast with Marco to the right, Stinza on the left and Royce in the middle. Royce required some support. Stinza, amazingly, still had his superhuman strength even after ten beers.
“We gotta stop.” Royce looked from side-to-side at his comrades. “I gotta puke or pee. Maybe both.” They were halfway to the Bamboo Loo.
“I definitely haffta take a leak.” Stinza looked around for a private spot. The triad entered a dark alley smelling of urine and garbage.
“This must be the place.” Stinza gratefully acknowledged the darkened space. He unzipped and began urinating on a wall.
Royce did the same but had to place both hands on the wall to remain erect. He vomited mostly beer but with some definite solid residues from the evening meal. Marco looked on with disgust. He and Leon would never debase the Marine Corps with such physical weakness.
Out of the darkness, from the depths of the alley three figures rapidly set upon them. Royce had his legs whacked out from under him and fell backwards away from his emesis. Stinza turned his head directly into the descending arc of a pipe. Marco caught his assailant by the upraised right arm wielding a 2-foot pipe and hit its owner rapidly in the chest, the kidney and then back-chopped his hand into the Adams-apple. Marco tackled the figure about to kick Royce and slapped his rigid palms over both of the attacker’s ears. His motion from the slap went quickly to a firm grip on the Vietnamese chin with his left hand. Marco’s right hand went to the back of the man’s head. One fast clockwise motion and a loud snap announced the disconnection of the brain from the spinal cord. Stinza was staggering from the blow he received but was holding the non-descript mugger by both wrists. Marco came behind the Vietnamese and delivered two simultaneous lateral chops to each rib cage. He reached in front and pulled the chin back toward him with his left arm and hand, allowing Stinza to let go. This action was punctuated with his right hand directing the tip of his boot knife to reach the victim’s heart inside the chest, filleting open the right ventricle.
Stinza shrunk down to a sitting position breathing heavily. Royce was laying on his right side turning to look at the three bodies of their attackers. Marco moved over each body before attending to his comrades. He didn’t want the muggers to return back to life–ever. Royce watched in horror as the enucleation of six eyes proceeded with swift surgical precision. He and Stinza would owe Marco.
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