The picture is of one of my paintings. It has absolutely nothing to do with this story, but the folks who give you tips on blogging say you need visuals. So there’s a visual. If you can make it relate somehow, that’d be cool!
As you can imagine, 26 years in the Army will leave you with lots of different memories. Some good, some bad, and some just plain weird. This is one of the weird ones. Actually, I have lots of those! This one happened in 1972.
I had been in the Army about six months or so, and I was stationed in Alaska, at Ft. Richardson. I didn’t like it, but I wasn’t in Vietnam, and that was a plus. I lived in the barracks, in an “open bay” type of arrangement, which meant that there were about 50 or so guys like me in a big room. No separation; just a bunch of bunks and lockers. The guy who bunked next to me also happened to work where I did, and we were friends. At least, I thought we were.
One night, I happened to half-way wake up for some reason, and I looked over toward his bunk. What I saw really woke up the other half. There was my bunkmate, sitting on the edge of his bed with a knife in his hand, just staring at me.
I don’t know how big the knife really was, but, at the time, it looked pretty damn big. At first, I wasn’t sure what to do, so I just started talking to him. He didn’t seem very talkative, but we did manage to have a conversation. It wasn’t much of a conversation. He seemed a little on edge, and by this time, so was I. He just kept staring at me. All I could think of was that while some of my buddies were in Nam trying to stay alive in the jungle, I was gonna get stabbed by my bunkmate in Alaska. As we continued talking, I got out of bed and slowly made my way toward the door to the hallway. I made it to the hallway, and started running. I headed downstairs to where the barracks headquarters was (there were always soldiers there who were on duty). So there I was, in my underwear, telling these guys about my bunkmate. I wasn’t about to go back up there, so I just told them where he was. They called the military police, and I just sat down and waited.
An hour or so later, they told me I could go back to bed. They said my bunkmate was no longer there, and not to worry. Ok, I won’t worry, I’ll just go back and fall right to sleep! I never saw that guy again. I have no idea what happened to him. I hope he got help, and I hope he’s happy wherever he is today.
I’m a big Pink Floyd fan, and they did a song that always reminds me of that night in Alaska. The song is called “Careful with that axe, Eugene”.