Wilbur's True Story

Wilbur's dead. Died in Nam. And, the question I keep asking him is: "Did it help you face the Danger? All those hours together we played soldier?"

Wilbur's family moved next door from West Virginia when I was eleven. They were stupendously uneducated. Wilbur was my buddy though. We were rock-fighting the oaks of the forest when he tried to heave a huge boulder over my head. Endless waiting in the Emergency Room. Stitches. My hair still doesn't grow straight there. "Friendly fire."

More often, we used wooden swords to slash our way through the blackberry and wild rose jungle of The Enemy; parry the blows of the wildly swinging grapevines; hide out in the hollow tree; launch the sudden ambush.

We matched strategy wits on the RISK board, on the chess board, plastic soldier set-ups. I always won. Still, Wilbur made me think -- more than school ever did.

One day, for some stupid reason, he insisted on fighting me. I punched him once (truly lightly) on the nose. He bled. He fled crying home to mama. Wilbur couldn't stand the sight of blood.

I guess you got your fill of that in Nam, Wilbur.

After years of dangerous jungle combat, he was finally to ship home, safe and sound, tour over -- thank God!

He slipped on a bar of soap in the shower and killed himself.

Wilbur answers me across the years and miles: "So much for Danger, buddy," he laughs, "Go for it!"

Thanks, Wilbur.


Why you should worry
Story of Spring
Short Story Index

To contact the author: truthtable@aol.com

Last modified: Sun May 18, 1997