This is a long story about a long story Many years ago I was advised to call it a novel
Illegally Sane 17
All four of us lit up a cigarette at the same time and I went back to my story.
For the next three weeks, every time I went out with Charlie, he’d fill me in on his progress. I got the feeling it was one of those “If anything happens to me sort of things.” It dawned on me that may be that was what all of those Kennedy comments of his back at FortDix were all about. He was all alone back then and perhaps he felt someone else should know the truth, just in case things went wrong and he didn’t make it.
Pat interrupted, “What do you mean by know the truth? The truth about what?” “The truth about the truth, Pat. Like the man said, the evil that men do lives after them, the good oft interred in their bones. Everyone involved in the intrigues of power needs their Mark Anthony, Pat.” “Those were Shakespeare’s words, not Anthony’s” “That proves my point, Pat.” “What do mean?” “Well obviously, you’re Shakespeare’s Anthony keeping the record straight for him.” “Yeah, well what happened after that?”
Well, Charlie told me had stopped at Le Charabanc for drinks, prior to his luncheon with Harris, but he hadn’t given the place much thought. But now he was pretty sure it was a hub, so he was trying to establish himself as a regular. He told me the luncheon with Harris opened that door for him and he had dined there regularly with Michi and Claudette, plus he was now on a first name basis with Andre.
A couple of nights later, Charlie got a hold of me in the barracks after chow. “I need you to do something for me tonight. You got a side arm?” “Yeah Charlie, but it’s in Brooklyn.” “Well that’s a big f..g help. Here, he handed me his 45 with two extra mags. Pick me up at the hooch tonight at eight.”
I showed up in fatigues and Charlie was dressed in Khakis. On the drive over, he filled me in. “I got myself into Andre’s private Thursday night poker game. I need you to drop me off, pull around back and wait.At , I want you come in, find me and hand me these five c notes. I’m going to finger someone for you. You just leave, go back to the jeep, and wait for him to come out. When he leaves, follow him and see what happens. You got it?” “Yeah, but then what?” “You just make sure your back here at one to pick me up. Be careful John, because I don’t know where this guy will be heading to anymore than you do.”
I did what Charlie told me and at a quarter after 11, the whole restaurant staff came out of the back door carrying cardboard boxes filled with left over food in containers. I spotted my guy, and gave him a block lead before I got out of the jeep and followed. He walked down the avenue for about six blocks and then turned down a dimly lit side street. I quickly got the feeling I was going to end up in some slum. You know the kind that would notice a lone unarmed G.I. and no witnesses. So I chambered a round in the 45 just in case.
He finally stopped at a small hooch and an elderly woman came to the door. They chatted as she picked out two of the food containers. Then he walked four doors down and entered another hooch which I guessed was his.
I walked back to avenue and hung out in front of a GI bar, where I could still see both hooches, but nobody came or left. After an hour some MP’s pulled up and told me to go home. It seemed like a good idea, so I headed back to Le Charabanc. Two hours later the game broke up and Charlie came out followed by Harris. Charlie offered him a ride, but he said he had his own jeep.
On the way back I filled in Charlie on my activity. He said the results were pretty much what he expected, but he was sure the place was a drop and that some of the staff was walking out each night with the days take. He was convinced that whoever they dropped it with, was the guy who took it directly to VCHQ. “I said great, now it’s time to turn it over to someone else, right?” “No way, man, why would I want to do that?” “Look Charlie, tonight I had the wrong guy, don’t you think the right guy is going to notice someone in fatigues following him?” “This is our deal buddy; you’re just going to have to use your Brooklyn street smarts to work that part out.” The next week it was the same thing, but this time Charlie was right on the money. Unfortunately, so was I.
The guy I was following started heading in the direction of the embassy. After eight blocks, he started short cutting through back alleys. I also noticed that I now had a guy following me. I was starting to get the feeling I being lead like a lamb to slaughter. I took my 45 from under my shirt, chambered a round, and cuffed it in my left hand with the barrel up my sleeve. When we turned down another alleyway, my guy hopped a fence at the end of it. When I got half way down the alley, suddenly two guys came out of a shadowed doorway about ten feet in front of me. I could see the spaces between their teeth as they smiled in silence, you’re f..kd.
Instantly, I heard the flick of a butterfly knife locking at one of the guy’s side. Then I saw the other guy using both hands to raise a 45 in my direction. This was what we use call a south Brooklyn number back on the block, and there was only one way to beat it. So I drew my 45 and started busting caps.
I caught the guy with the 45 dead in the chest and he exploded backwards. His friend with the knife got a step on me just before the side of his head flew south. Then I heard the sound of sandals slapping on the pavement behind me.
I spun and click off another round, but he was to close and I missed. Luckily, I caught his knife hand and was able to slam the butt or my 45 into his face as I hard as I could. He went down on all fours, but then son of a bitch lunged and stabbed me in the calf. I grabbed him by his hair and clicked off a round in his face. It wasn’t pretty but it got the job done.
Suddenly it got real quite and my leg started to burn like there was a hot coal on it and I could feel the warm blood starting to flow into my boot.
I knew I was in some deep shit when I looked up and saw a crowd was gathering at the mouth of the alley. I quickly dropped the mag from the 45 and slapped in a new one. Then I took out my wallet out of my pocket and flipped it next to the corpse.
Luckily, the MPs arrived and started pushing their way through the crowd. One them pointed an M16 at me and yelled, “Drop it.” I did and slowly raised my hands. Then a lieutenant and two MPs cuffed me and dragged me through the crowd to a jeep. En route to jeep, I yelled, ‘Hey, one of those guys has my wallet.” When we got into the jeep, the lieutenant sent one of his men back to get it.
We drove out there pronto as a just couple more jeeps arrived. When we got clear of the crowd, the lieutenant turned to me, “What the hell happened back there, Moran?” “I got held up, sir.”
I told him I was driving for the Captain and had some time to kill, so I decide to take a walk and look around. “Then one the little people came up to me and asked me if I could help him with a drunken G.I. that had passed out in the alley. So I walked into the alley with him and the next thing I know I’m surrounded by him and two of his buddies. They pulled knives and one them had a gun; and they told me to hand over my wallet. So I dropped it on the ground, and when the guy bent over to pick it up; he stabbed me in the leg and started laughing. I figured it wasn’t going to get any better so I made my move. “You had to shoot all three of them, Moran?” “Excuse me sir, but I sure do like living.’
They booked me at the MP station and tossed me in the can. A little while latter they took me to a dispensary and put ten stitches in my leg. A half hour after that I was being interviewed by a full bird Colonel in front of what appeared to be the Vietnamese General Staff and half of their Army.
I stuck to my story and after two hours they put me back in the can. They fed me, and afterwards, since there was nothing else to do, I just said my prayers and sacked out.
I got dragged back into the Colonel’s office at ten the next morning. When I walked in, Charlie was there with Devlin and Colonel Hayes. The Colonel stared at me, and said, “Moran, I am going to turn you over to Colonel Hayes, pending further investigation. But first I have a few more questions for you. How did you come into possession of that 45?” I knew Charlie was good, so I took a reasonable guess. “Captain Taylor gave it to me sir, to guard the jeep.” I could tell from Charlie’s face that I had guessed right. Then the Colonel continued, “Now, this assailant took your wallet and just decided to stab you in the leg?” “Well, sir, I guess he wanted me to hand it to him and got pissed off went I threw it on the ground.” “When he stabbed, you, that’s when you drew the weapon and started firing?” “Yes, sir, I truly believe they were going to kill me, but first they were going to try to have a little fun with me.” “Okay, Moran, you’re dismissed, but you will be hearing from us.”
It was not a pleasant ride back in the Colonel’s jeep. Both Devlin and Hayes were more than noticeably upset with me and Charlie. The Colonel spelled it out for us. Charlie was out of there, and me, I’d be mopping floors for the next eight months, providing I didn’t get hung for murder.
I didn’t see or hear from Charlie for next three weeks; he was reporting to a different HQ. About two weeks after the incident, Devlin called me into his office. “You’re one lucky bastard, Moran. The Provost Marshall cleared you of all charges. It seems two of the deceased were known VC agents. Now I’m going to be real sporting about this and return you to duty under Major Harris. But you are restricted to this compound until further notice, you got that, Moran?” “Yes, sergeant major.” “So help me, Moran, if you are found off this compound, I will personally shoot you as a deserter. Now get out of my sight, and stay out of my sight.”
A week later, Charlie paid me a visit at night in the barracks. It was just like old times back at FortDix. He brought me up to speed on what was going on. He said he was pretty sure he located the jump off point to VCHQ. He went on to tell me that he had Claudette follow a new guy, and that my guy had disappeared completely. She told him she followed the new guy to hooch and five minutes later a young girl left with the food containers in the basket of her bicycle. Claudette followed her on foot to a nearby ARVIN check point and a jeep then left immediately with the food containers heading in the direction of the embassy. “All we got to do now is to get to that check point by and wait. So I want you to meet me up with me at Le Charabanc at 11 tomorrow night. I’m going to need you to cover my back on this one.” “What if I can’t get a jeep?” “Take a cab; I’ll have my jeep with me.” “Can you get me out of here officially, Charlie?” “Fraid not, you’re going to have to get out of here on your own. Don’t worry about it; I’ll take care of you once this is done. You just get a good night’s sleep tonight.”