I kept hearing someone call my name as I ran through the jungle, ducking behind trees and blinking my eyes to the flashes of the explosions. “Mushy (not his real name)!”
I heard the sound of feet getting closer to me and the light flashing before me got brighter and brighter. For some reason I thought that if I answered the voice and opened my eyes, I would die. I fought to get away from the voice and the light, but the voices got louder. I know now that it was a
Finally, I opened my eyes and angrily shouted, “WHAT?!”
“It’s Don, he’s laying out here in the hall calling for you,” someone said.
“What the fuck does he want,” I said rubbing my eyes and looking squinty-eyed up at the bare incandescent bulb swinging back and forth above me.
“He’s hollering for you man!”
I staggered to the door of our room and looked down the hall, and rubbed my eyes trying to adjust to the light again.
There in a rumpled heap lay my roommate Donald. He was obviously drunk, no more than drunk; he was totally smashed, and just short of hallucinations! He reeked of alcohol and vomit!
I stood over him and began to ridicule him for getting so stinking drunk, but he reached out and grabbed my leg, and tried to reach up higher. Finally, I bent down and put my hand around the back of his neck and pulled him up close to my ear. He was trying desperately to tell me something, but wanted closer.
I leaned over and let him pull himself up to ear. “I’m gay,” he whispered letting out a long expulsion of alcohol breath.
I froze for an instant, and then stood up allowing him to drop back to the floor. “I’m sorry man,” he said just above a whisper looking up at me. I looked around to see if anyone had heard what he said before, but everyone seemed overly concerned for him and not to have heard.
Donald began to throw up violently. He began to shake uncontrollably and scream between bouts, so we had no recourse but to call the medics. An ambulance soon came and they carted Donald away, with him still saying “Mushy, I’m sorry!”
I stood in place for a long time, but finally made it back to our room and sat on the side of the bunk in the dark. I began to feel guilty for not going with him, but for the moment I was embarrassed, and I was confused – confused about my feelings and about what I should do.
A couple of days later I came in from work and Donald was there. He sat silently on the side of his bunk staring out the window. I pulled a Falstaff from the fridge, popped the top, and sat down on my bunk staring out the same window.
He broke the silence first say, “I will understand if you don’t want me to be your best man at your wedding. I should have told ya.”
“Yeah, why didn’t you say something? I mean, you and talked about girls and…”
“No, you talked about girls…I talked about my sister…think about it,” he said raising his voice slightly.
I really had grown to like Donald and it dawned on me that nothing should change. I do not know how or why I came to the decision, especially in that day and age, but I did.
“Nothing changes…I asked you to be my best man and by God you will be…you, you are my best friend!”
“You sure ‘bout that?”
“Yes, I’m sure, so let it go,” I said taking a long pull on the tall can. “What did they tell you at the hospital anyway?”
“I had the DT’s…been drinking all day and part of the night I suppose.”
“Bruce? What the hell has he got to do with it?”
“He was my boyfriend,” he explained, as my eyes got wider.
“He was with me before Billy Jean, then you came along, and he came back, now he’s back with her…at least I think he is.”
“Holly cow man!” I said, realizing for the first time the world is a big place with strange things going on it. I was never as naive again.
Donald went on to be my best man, and he and Bruce came to Harriman and we had a bachelor party in some little motel room near there. Yep, just me and two gay guys celebrating my last night of freedom! Life is strange, but ain’t it fun!
A few weeks later Donald was called away to the First Sergeant’s office. He apparently had blabbed too much that night to the medics. He was forced out of the Air Force, and I never saw or heard from him again.