Chapter 25 We Reach the End
Paul Vogle awoke in the dim chill of his living room with a throbbing hangover. It was how he usually awoke. He was used to it. His mouth tasted like the inside of a truck driver’s glove. He was used to that, too. Lizards fucked urk-urk-urk on the wall and a fly buzzed lazily in the background.
He groped for a cigarette. Then he poured a stiff bamdebam on the hair-of-dog principle. Maybe it would help. He felt like shit. He wondered whether he could stand up, and then wondered why he might want to. He did not believe that anything he did materially affected anything at all. UPI paid for the bamdebam, though. Somehow he would stand up.
Damn, he thought, ashen memory creeping back into his aching head like an unwanted relative. New York wanted a feature on Our Wounded Boys. Yeah, that was it. Oh, God, how splendid. He would catch a cyclo to the Naval Support Activity Hospital through the luminous green countryside that he so loved, that was his agonized home now, with its people who had somehow become part of him and who had no idea why their families got caught in napalm attacks and charred crisp, and he would walk down the wards of the blinded, the faceless, the burn cases from exploded amtracs, under sheets of plastic covered with moisture from evaporating serum, the gut-shot kids awaiting a lifetime relationship with a colostomy bag, kids who didn’t know where Viet Nam was or why they were there, and he would squirt off some bullshit or other into the teletype for the five o’clock lead.
Another day in Viet Nam. He poured himself more bamdebam. A water glass, full.