And then—the ladies joined us. Wow! They surely did have little Gulna all tidied up and quite nicely so. And—right now she sure did not look at all “little.” It was pretty obvious that Tim was finding the new view more than just a little satisfactory. Jessica said why didn’t we take our drinks up to the after deck while the table was being set for supper. We did, taking the sodas the ladies had asked for. Jessica declared then that Gulna would sit next to her while we ate so they could chat. Natasha and Katie would translate for them. As you can see, Our Jessica was really an extremely nice lady.

Golly Ned! This is so beautiful, it is almost unbelievable; starting with what must be the most glorious, sunny late afternoon you could wish for. Everywhere are fully-leafed trees, many with buds and some in flower. Song birds are fluttering between the trees and butterflies hover above the scattered, blossoming flowerbeds. All of these, dotting lush green lawns that seem to go on forever.

In the near-distance, with a winding, tree-lined road leading to it, we can see one of the most beautiful edifices one could imagine. Not a castle type; not a palace either. It looks mostly like a beautiful large home or perhaps manor house; cream colored walls, leaded glass windows and ornate carved doors all under an ornate red mission-tile roof. As we draw closer we hear the strains of beautiful organ music filling the air. How peaceful; how in keeping with the atmosphere.


I was just about to complete my second tour of duty with the Marine Corp, where I have just recently been promoted to sergeant. I had gotten pretty fair grades in high school, but for some reason I just did not care for formal schooling. I was able to convince my parents during my senior year in High School that I should try one of the branches of the military. They finally agreed. I think the first recruitment center I came to was the Marines and here I am. After my first year I began taking all the courses or special training for which I was eligible. Strange, I shunned all the extra studies available while in school. Why did I find this so much more interesting?

I find that I like military service and when my time to decide whether or not to enlist for a third tour comes I thought I would take my thirty days leave and during that time will have to make a decision as to whether or not I am going to stay in the military until I reach the age of retirement. That could vary. It might be twenty years but if I have advanced to the higher enlisted grades I might be able to continue to thirty years, when retirement would be mandatory. If I could hang on until then I would have a very good retirement for the rest of my life and I would only be about forty-seven or eight years old and then, if I wished I could seek a civilian job.


Well, now what? Here I am lying on my back, staring at the sky; my left leg jammed down between layers of barracks’ bags and I can’t move! Who was the genius who decided to load this tub with some outfits luggage before dumping us on top pf them? I have on a field pack with a shelter half and jammed full of what feels like a hundred pound stuff.

I’m wearing my new mesh-covered steel helmet. I and everyone else, is wearing these special olive drab uniforms impregnated with something supposed to protect our skin from a gas attack of some kind. Whatever that stuff is, it’s stiff, smelly and uncomfortable. Oh yes, and of course, the gas mask; It’s big and bulky enough, I wonder if it will really work in a real attack? I feel like I must weigh a ton! (‘Just great if I had fallen into the water climbing down into this scow, right?)