Wednesday, December 01, 2010


Half a mile further on, passing a rusting wrecked Japanese barge, they met a man eating an apple. Perched high up on the prow of the wreck, he could look directly down on them as he leisurely munched his apple. One apple. Somehow, by some incredible mistake in bills of lading and shipping tickets in quintuplicate, a gross oversight by some nameless but usually efficient functionary, one fresh red apple had gotten sandwiched in amongst all the cans and crates and boxes and cases of precooked, dried and dehydrated foods, and hidden away in some unsearched corner had stowed away overseas. By some unbelievably marvelous stoke of luck this man had gotten it and could sit on the high prow of a wrecked barge eating it while they passed. Had he known them, this stranger, he could have ticked off their names as they passed below him in macabre review, their faces twisted up at him to stare hungrily at his apple...

Mad Welsh, marching on behind the sturdy little figure of Captain Bosche, didn't give a fuck for apples. He had his two canteens of gin. Which was all he could carry this time, and he felt for them furtively. In his mind he was uttering over and over his old phrase of understanding: "Property. Property. All for property," which he had once said in rudimentary innocence arriving on this island. Well, this was a pretty good sized chunk of real estate, wasn't it? this island? He had known the combat numbness now-- for the first time, at Boola Boola-- and it was his calculated hope and belief that if pursued long enough and often enough, it might really become a permanent and mercifully blissful state. It was all he asked.

Ahead of them the LCIs waited to take them aboard, and slowly they began to file into them to be taken out to climb the cargo nets up into big ships. One day one of their number would write a book about all this, but none of them would believe it, because none of them would remember it that way.