It was incredibly hot and muggy, making everything
seem not just sticky, but close. Myron hated close, hated
the feeling of being closed in. Too much like being
cornered. Or trapped.
Yet here he was, all alone in his hootch. He'd wanted
it that way. Made it clear with a few sharp words and
a cold look that no one was to bother him, short of
the camp being overrun. Even McKay, for once, knew
enough to just stay the fuck away.
Brewster knew. The man missed nothing. Somehow he knew
that Myron needed to really tie one on tonight and
left him to it. Somehow knew the reason why, even if
Myron didn't want to face it. There had been
understanding and compassion in those eyes, and possibly pity.
Myron didn't want the pity. Didn't feel he deserved the
After all, it was his own damned fault he was here
now. Alone. There was no one to blame, no one to rage at.
Only the empty shadows of the hootch and the bottle of
scotch he had on his desk.
He was used to being alone. Had been alone his whole
life or so it seemed. Army brat, his father kept the
family moving. Never had time to make friendships, nor
did the other kids he met. They were all in the same
boat, thrown together for a while, then one would leave,
another come, Myron would leave and find himself at a
new base, starting over again.
Always starting over. Always alone. East coast, west
coast, bases in the south. Overseas in Europe, then
back to the States. You got to a point where you stopped
trying because there was no point. You were only going
to move again anyway.
He had his mother, but did he really ever? He meant
what he'd said to his father, back at Chu-lai. That what
he remembered was a lonely woman. Looking back, Myron
realized she was never really there, not completely.
She was like half a soul, drifting along. She'd smile
at Myron, but there was such a distance, like she was
miles away instead of in the same room.
Then one day she wasn't there at all. His father
buried her and told Myron after it was all said and done.
He never got to say goodbye.
He never said goodbye to his father either. Simply
left. Made the decision that he was on his own now.
Alone. So he walked away and never looked back. Accepted
that he was alone. Had always been alone.
Myron grabbed the bottle and glass and brought them
over to his bedside stand, setting them there. He poured
off a glass but left it, untouched. Tapping out a
cigarette, he then tossed the pack beside the bottle and
lit up with sharp movements. The end glowed brightly in
the lingering shadows as he inhaled deeply.
God, it was fucking hot and sticky tonight. He sat on
the bed which creaked in protest as he stared out the
screen door into the dark compound. The cigarette
burned slowly between his fingers. It was a moonless night
with only the camp lights chasing back the darkness.
He wanted nothing to do with his father's world, yet
the war changed that. Too ingrained in him, he let
himself get drafted. When he made officer in OCS, he had
no one to pin his rank on. No smiling wife, girlfriend,
or proud parent. He'd been alone then, in that
And alone he came to Vietnam.
He could accept that, had been prepared for it, even
expected it. He was an officer, it came with the
territory. He'd do his time, feed the obligation his
upbringing and conscience made impossible to ignore, and then
go back and pick up his life where he'd left off
before he let himself get drafted.
Alone in the States, alone in Vietnam, did it really
matter where you were when it all shook out the same
way in the end?
He drank down half the glass in a swallow. Restless
and edgy, he climbed to his feet with the glass still in
his hand and went to stand at the screen door and
stare out at the camp.
Ladybird was only a year ago. It was a lifetime ago.
He blamed Anderson. Had to blame someone. He'd blamed
and damned his father for years, even blamed the old
man for his being here in this sorry excuse for a
country. Now he blamed Anderson.
Damned Anderson. The bastard just couldn't leave Myron
alone, couldn't respect that Myron wanted to be alone.
Instead he made it a personal mission, squared his
shoulders and dug in. And steadily, quietly, patiently
battered at Myron's defenses. Saw past the defiance, the
anger, the arrogance... the raw fear. Saw past all of
that and saw Myron for who he was. Saw something there
he felt worth salvaging. Became more than an NCO, more
than Myron's sergeant.
The bastard slipped under Myron's defenses. He became
And Myron let it happen. Did the one thing that came
the hardest for him to do... he trusted the other man.
Trusted him when Myron hadn't allowed himself to trust
anyone in years.
And for the first time in his life, Myron stopped
feeling alone. Was no longer alone. He hurt, pieces of him
shattered with each man's death, each kid's loss cut
him so deeply. But he wasn't alone. Anderson wouldn't
leave him alone, wouldn't let him handle the burden
alone. He couldn't shoulder it all, but he shouldered
enough so that Myron felt he could somehow survive all of
It had been a mistake. Myron's mistake for trusting,
for letting himself believe. He knew better, but he let
it happen anyway.
He sent Anderson away. Chased him away. Myron was
broken inside, shattered beyond repair. So he blamed
Anderson and deliberately sent him away.
And Myron now found himself alone. He drank down the
rest of the glass and closed his eyes. He sent the one
person away who could have saved him.
But he didn't want to be saved, did he?
A year ago Myron came to Vietnam, alone. A year later,
he was still in Vietnam.
And still alone.