J. B. Hogan – December 1967

“Where’s the scotch?” Butch asked above the blaring stereo.

“Ey?” Donner said, putting a hand to his ear.

“The scotch,” Butch repeated.

Donner took a pipe from Jackson and pointed across the barracks room to Davis and Cassaday.  Butch nodded and moved over behind them.

“I don’t think I feel anything,” Cassaday said.

“You will,” Davis said, wiping off a record and sliding it into its sleeve.

Cassaday took a deep drag from another pipe Davis handed him and held the smoke in as long as he could.

“Ooh,” he coughed, handing the pipe back to Davis.

Cassaday lay flat of his back, waving his arms to the music.

“Davis,” Butch pleaded, “hand me that scotch. Will you, dude?”

Davis handed it over. Butch moved back by Donner and Jackson. They were talking music.

“The Stones are best,” Donner argued.

“Not any more,” Jackson said.

Jackson, a Californian, figured it was his duty to oppose anything originating east of Laguna Beach. Donner, from New York, thought anybody west of Manhattan was an inbred hillbilly.

“C’mon, what about Their Satanic Majesty’s?” he asked Jackson.

“What about Sergeant Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour?” Jackson countered.

“What about all those Stones songs while The Beatles were makin’ Help, huh?” Donner shot back.

“That’s yesterday,” Jackson said. “The Beatles are king again.”

“Forget it, dude,” Donner said, tiring of the argument. “Hey, Butch, gimme a hit of that scotch.”

“You white boys fight over seriously dumb crap,” Butch laughed, handing Donner the bottle.

Donner winked at Butch and chased a pipe hit with scotch. He handed the bottle over to Jackson. Jackson took a swig just as Cassaday popped up like a jack-in-the-box.

“What the hell?” Jackson said, almost choking.

“Oh, man, I can see it,” Cassaday said. “Up, across, down. Ho, ho, ho, hee, hee, hee, ha, ha, ha. Like a line going up, across, and down. Cool.”

“What are you talkin’ about?” Butch laughed.

“The Beatles,” Cassaday mumbled. “They went ho, ho, ho, hee, hee, hee, ha, ha, ha.”

“Lovely,” Donner sniffed. “Real bright, Cassaday.”

“And you ain’t feelin’ anything, right?” Davis joked. Everybody laughed.

“Oh,” Cassaday said, lying back down. “After the Beatles,” he muttered, “put on the Stones, ‘Another Land.’”

“What?” Davis asked.

“He’s out of it,” Butch said.

“‘Another Land,’” Cassaday repeated.

“He wants ‘Another Land,’” Davis said to Butch.

“He’s in another land,” Davis laughed.

“We’re all in another land,” Butch joked, “this is North Carolina ain’t it?”

Cassaday waved his arms around feebly.

“We’ll play it, buddy boy,” Donner told him. “You try to stay here in this land.”

“Hey, Davis,” Jackson said, “play the Vanilla Fudge album.”

“Oh, come on,” Donner moaned, “that’s old crap.”

“We still like it,” Jackson said, pointing to the other guys.

“Yeah,” Butch added, nodding at Cassaday, “but we gotta play the Stones for Cassaday.”

“God,” Donner laughed, “what a hick. These first-timers always overdo it.”

Jackson reached one of the pipes across to Davis, who put on the song Cassaday wanted to hear. Cassaday made an unintelligible sound. Donner got the pipe from Davis, took another drag and offered it to Butch.

“You kiddin’,” Butch said. “Smoke yourself to death if you want to. I’m gonna stick to scotch for awhile.”

“Suit yourself,” Donner said.

On the floor, Cassaday continued to wave his arms weakly as if directing the music.

“Dum-ta-dum,” he sang out loud, his speech slow and slurred. “And the feathers floated by.”

Davis looked at him and broke up laughing. Jackson and Donner resumed their Beatles/Rolling Stones argument. Butch clung to the scotch like it was the head of one of his opponents when he was an All Big-10 wrestler at Iowa. From his position just behind the others he watched with amused detachment.

“Jesus Christ,” he said, smoke and music blending with the buzz of conversation to give the airmen’s room the atmosphere of an anonymous 1950’s tea or coffee shop gone badly astray, “look at these people, nothin’ but a bunch of potheads.”

He took another drink of scotch and laughed. No one was paying any attention to him or anything else; they were all completely out of it.

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