Drills in an August San Antonio sun like hot butter down your neck. Still in the putrid civies we arrived in from home two weeks before. We were “Rainbows”, the target of taunts and verbal abuse from guys who got here a week before us. Our drill sergeant yelled at every mistake. We were dumb shits, pussies, useless, not worthy of the high calling of being Airmen. To the left, march! Yeah, your other left Dimwit! Does your mother still tie your goddam shoelaces? How did I get stuck with all the dumb asses. Look at the other Flights. . . see how they march? One leg at a time? Left Right Left Right, like THAT!
We just kept marching, kept a low profile so as not to be singled out. God no, don’t be singled out! Not much of a sweater before now I was drenched, flop sweat they call it. We got a short break and were told to smoke’em if you got’em. We heard a nearby radio playing “Crazy” by Patsy Cline. Then the announcement . . . she had died in a plane crash. Damn! Patsy Cline, sweet, beautiful Patsy Cline with that strong, poignant country voice. Even those of us who were more into Rock loved her. There was a sudden pang of homesickness and thoughts of our girlfriends left behind. OK.. field strip those butts and if you got a tampax on yours stick in your goddam pocket and line up! Let’s see if you guys can march in a straight line for crissakes . . . Left, Right, Left, Right. Patsy Cline gone, is gone.
Sam Culotta is retired and resides with his wife in Southern California. He is the author of two books of personal essays: Sleeping With Lumbago, and Clueless In Paradise, as well as James Dean Is Dead, New And Collected Poems. His prose and poems have appeared in The Write Place at the Write Time. Buffalo Spree Magazine, and Avalon Literary Review.