Chapter 9 – Part 3

“Hah! Halftrack doesn’t do anything because he likes somebody. There’s always an agenda. He also wants you to be done and out of ‘his’ warehouse.”

“He did mention a territorial dispute the other day.”

“Yeah there is one and it’s not likely to be settled anytime soon. What we need is another warehouse. And the war will be over before that happens.”

I continued down the back steps as the Capt. returned to the urn to rewarm his coffee cup. When I got back to the warehouse the crew had just finished mopping up the water and dust. It looked pretty good. The trailer was still hooked up to the forklift and sitting outside the door. Halftrack stood inside the door looking pleased.

“Nice and clean, just like you wanted. How long till you figure to be done?”

“I got my part,” is said gesturing to the pizza box under my arm. “So we should be done by the end of the day.”

“Then you’ll be out of the warehouse?”

“Should be. I’ll take the transmitter cabinet over to artty and reattach it to the radar set. I’ll need the forklift for that.”

“No sweat. Button it up and move it in the morning. I’ll move this last shipment in tonight after chow. Then you can have the forklift all day if you need it.”

“So that’ll be two planeloads of rifles in and one pallet of sugar out on approval of credit from some Australian bankers. Do I get that right?”

“Actually, it more complicated than that but you get the drift and nothing moves until a plane gets back from Bangkok. That I promised DB.”

“That’s how he’s gong to get his money?”

“Yep. In a plain grey Samsonite suitcase from the PX. You’ve seen them, I know.”

“In the meantime you’ll just keep stacking crates in the warehouse?”

“That’s about the size of it.”

So DB still hadn’t gotten his money. I felt bad for him and for the unknown number of people depending on his largess. But it looked like Halftrack had his back and was holding a shipment until payment of the previous invoice. Nothing unusual about that. But what about the sugar? What was that payment for? Trying to figure out the business deals made my head swim.

I spent the afternoon on something I could understand and checked every piece of the waveguide for proper installation. There were a few loose screws but nothing out of order. The head-woman not only knew English but understood numbers too. That was impressive for a woman who came from a preliterate society for whom even compass directions were too great an abstraction or so DB had told me.

I carefully inspected the T-R switch for obvious damage and installed a new diode detector. Then I carefully set it into it’s home in the labyrinth of waveguide. Twelve dark eyes crowded around, watching. It fit. We were done. Now if it didn’t have any reflections within the waveguide the radar should work. I capped off the open end of the waveguide with tape to keep the dust out and closed up the cabinet. I asked the head-woman if we could celebrate with tea. Did they have enough left from lunch. They did. And they boiled a pot of water on the alcohol burner and we had a tea ceremony, all seated in a circle much like we had done to celebrate the repair of the generator with the ARVN students at the 60th Depot in Saigon. We might have done the ceremony the next day after I installed the transmitter on the radar but the Montagnards were still frightened of the cannons.

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