Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Last Casualty

The voice on the phone was vaguely familiar. He Identified himself by first name , he said he was someone who had graduated from high school with me five years earlier. He started talking about high school in a strange, disjointed fashion. He mentioned that he remembered people calling me "gay".

???

Then it started to click. He was reading from the yearbook; I had put that phrase in the nickname section as a joke. I asked him for his full name, he gave it and I still drew a blank. I had my yearbook handy and looked him up as he dithered on. I recognized the face, he hadn't been in any of my classes, we had never spoken until now. He said he was throwing a party, he asked if I wanted to come, and if I knew any one else's phone number. I gave him one, and begged off the party.

The next day I ran into the guy belonging to the phone number, he gave me the story on our mutual acquaintance. It seems he'd been in the Marines, stationed overseas, and something happened and he was sent home. "The guy was always a nutcase" my friend said, "and he's really gone over the line now!"

A few weeks later his obituary ran in the paper. My friend had that story as well. He said that our "friend" had called up a lot of people, trying to make a reconnection, grasping for anything he could hold onto. When that didn't happen, he shot himself with his service revolver. He was the last casualty from our high school class in the Viet Nam war.

I'm afraid that this story is now being told again, with just as little sense to it.

By Professor Batty



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