Randy E. Richmond
Home from the war! Free at last! Now I can start to catch up on some of the things I’d missed out on the last three years. Unpacking this suitcase is the only thing left to do before I can feel totally like a civilian again. I pop the snaps of the top of the line Samsonite, the best one my few dollars could buy there at the PX. I didn’t have much but I doubt if I could have crammed much more in anyway. From the top, I pulled out a couple pairs of ‘civvies’. The only time I’d worn them was while on R & R in Singapore. Damn they were ugly! What the hell was I thinking? They were certainly not the type of duds I’d seen on most of the twenty-something crowd I’d observed on the trip from California to my home here in the Midwest. I hung them on hangers anyway and stuck them way back in the closet.
It seemed a little odd not to have packed any uniforms after my discharge. The dress uniform I’d worn home was already as far back in the closet as I could reach. All the others… jungle fatigues and khakis, were turned in at the repo-depot and Oakland Army Base respectively… and with my good riddance.
I pulled my toiletry bag from the suitcase pouch and placed my toothbrush and the other items into the bathroom cabinet. I heard change jingling and remembered the few coins, MPC, and piasters that I’d placed there prior to leaving my company. I wondered why I hadn’t just spent them when I had the chance. Lot of good they’ll do me now. Oh well, into the middle junk drawer with them.
Ahh! Now something useful. Kool Milds… six cartons! This was one of the few perks I’d really miss! At fourteen cents a pack, I brought home all I was allowed. I find I’m smoking a whole lot more now and will not enjoy paying regular price for them but of course I’ll pay what I have to pay.
And there’s my bottle of Crown Royal, still in its own little bag AND unbroken! I find myself drinking a lot more now too… don’t really know why… when I enlisted I drank ‘cause I could… now, I just drink.
I unscrewed the cap to have a little welcome home sip/toast to myself. About this time, a late summer bolt of lightning lit the evening sky outside my bedroom window. Instinctively, I fall to the floor pulling the now empty suitcase with me. To my credit, I lost but a few drops of precious liquid, which dripped harmlessly into the suitcase. I set the bottle on the dresser, closed the lid of the luggage and, having completed my last coming home task, lifted it high onto a shelf.
I gently picked up the bottle, turned out the light, and chuckled to myself. In a few days, a week at most, I’ll have forgotten Vietnam… and things here will be as though I’d never left. Nothing’s changed… nothing’s changed… nothing.
©Copyright July 30, 2001 by Randy E. Richmond