Chapter 14 Hotel Universe

“Will you tell me about it?” she asked.

“About what?” I asked hoping to dodge the question.

“Viet Nam.”

“Maybe. Sometime. Not now. Not right after that movie. I don’t feel up to copping to be a war criminal just now.”

“It really bothered you, didn’t it. I mean the movie.“

“Not so much the movie but people’s expectations of me. This isn’t the first time that’s happened.”

“Umm. Another movie?”

“No, no. One time I showed a slide show of photos I’d taken of Saigon; not gory war stuff, just street scenes and like that. It was like the worst social blunder I could possibly have made. Later, one fellow said, deliberately in my hearing, ‘You be embarrassed for him, Hippie No. 1.’ Nobody asked any questions or had anything to say. It was like an ice curtain formed around me. I learned not to do that. But there have been many other times too. People still keep their distance. Some of the people here tonight were at my slide show and I wouldn’t be here tonight but for you.”

“Aw, that’s sweet of you to say. I wasn’t sure how interested you really are. You seem careful with your emotions.”

“I rarely say anything about the war anymore; except other veterans; in private. That was the second time; so it took me twice to learn. I don’t need a third object lesson.”

“What was the first time? Do you want to talk about it?”

“Not really.”

“It might do you good.”

“You really want to know. You’re not just digging for dish?”

“No. I’m not digging. You completely mis-judge me. I didn’t go to American high school. I’m really interested in where you’ve been, how you feel about things, what makes you tick. And it’s just between you and me.”

“OK but you have to promise you’ll still love me in the morning. It’s kind of a long involved story.”

“Not all night, I hope. I want to do something besides talk.”

I finished my tea and took a deep breath. I told her my story about the Ft. Monmouth riot control squad and being on alert during the Kent State massacre. And about Lt. Calley and the military’s position on lawful orders.

Like the few other people before and since who have heard that story, she said nothing but looked at me intently. I felt a pit in my stomach and a chill that wasn’t the breeze. Then she leaned forward, put her arms around me and gently kissed me.

Releasing me she undid the remaining shirt buttons that still clung to their holes, took off my shirt and unbuttoned hers. She didn’t wait for me but took off her bra and rubbed her breasts against my bare skin as she pulled me to the bed. I didn’t resist her anymore than I’d resisted the pointed comments in the great-room downstairs. But I just wasn’t into it. She was being so sweet and loving but we didn’t have a rollicking roll in the hay. She was disappointed. “There will be other times” I said.

“There will be,” she assured me. Drawing her forefinger down my chest to my navel. “Will you come to Marie’s yoga class with me tomorrow morning? It starts at eight-thirty.”

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