James Dean, a Memory and an Abrupt Ending
"You're James Dean in a uniform," she said, "is that it?"
At my small piece of real estate there is a James Dean movie marathon playing. Giant, starring Rock Hudson, Liz Taylor (Christ, talk about a beautiful woman) and the beforementioned icon, just finished. One scene happens in a dusty Texas café, Sarge's Place, and takes me back to a scene in a dusty F.O.B. hospital for the 1st Cav Diviz, U.S.A. (that's Army, not America):
"is that it?" - she has a tilt to her tone and jazz in her eyes like she's waiting for me embrace her with my temper and that embrace will somehow bend my spine, collapse my constitution and I will default on my duty. Helluva thing, duty. Don't Understand The Yearning. That's what duty means to civvies. It calls you back, the cordite and the screaming, the strange metallic smell of blood and the absurd incidents like giggling while under fire, cursing the enemy, that asshole just shot at me, it draws you back not because you like it but because you are it. You are a strange screaming metallic giggling cursing ball of cordite as much as James Dean is the icon of brooding rebellion.
"is that it?" - she wants to know. Am I re-uping to rebel - against? Big Daddy Full Bird Colonel, maybe? show him that his NCO son can do a good goddamn job, so he's stupid, ain't' got a college degree, ain't graduated from OCS or the War College - yep, there's a fucking college for WAR!!! - and all such shit, he'll serve a tour and another and another and a n o t h e r until he fucking dies, goddamnit, why? cause he's stupid. Nah, that ain't it. The Full Bird knows that the enlisted man is the backbone of the Army, of any service, by God, so that ain't it. Don't know if James Dean had issues with his dad, hell, the man was a living breathing issue.
Temperature is A-OK, she says, no fever, nothing, blood pressure is fine, all my parts appear to function just fine, I can even hold my dick while pissing, no assistance required. During this scene I'm a short timer, second tour is nearing its end. Because of my injuries, she says, I could stay at the F.O.B., probably move into an executive position in the rear, away from the front. Fuck you, lady, I want to say, but I like her so I don't. She knows that her report in my med file will influence my future deployments. And she outranks me. Capt. High Tits, the troopers call her cause they know of my fondness for her, Hell, sarge, even her tits are higher than your rank. Rank: W_____, Jack, T., Sergeant First Class, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, areas of operation: Baghdad, An Najaf, Fallujah, Babil in Iraq. Won't break down my service so far as squadron, troop, platoon, squad, humma humma, suffice to say, it's nice to meet you and it was nice to meet that nurse captain too and I think she thought it was nice to meet me too because she asked "is that it?" when she could have asked nothing at all. Just finished my physical, stamped me with approval to return to duty and went on with her own goddamn deployment. Could have. And if she would have I probably wouldn't be writing this. But she didn't. Goddamnit. When are you females gonna learn? - you own us. With your tilting tones and your jazzy eyes and the way you ask "is that it?"
"Just doin' my job, ma'am."
What language to come out of that mouth, ma'am, will you kiss me with that mouth?
No? Is that a ne guh tiv, cap'n? Well, how's about you just grant me permission to touch it lightly with my fingertips, yeah, I know they're dirty, and they stink and they're rough, but I'll be really gentle, won't linger, just wanna feel for the softest slightest second the sensitive lips of a female because she takes so much more in her mouth than does a male and so much more comes out of it and out of hers comes, "is that it?"
Why do you care? You want me to stay functional and strong for a good fuck, is that it? - something else I don't say on account of liking her, her tilt and her jazz, her - which is mighty presumtuous and stupid of me. Stupid, always of me. More likely she's just being polite because, after all, ain't we shared a few meals together? ain't we shared a smoke even though you don't smoke? ain't we kicked the sand of the the Big Sandbox with the toes of our boots and both kind of sort of strangely morbidly whatever hoped that I would be wounded so I would be brought back, would have to come back, and you would take care of me, would have to take care of me, intimately take care of me, see that, roger that, I'm circumcised and before you see that you would see that I don't wear underwear under my A.C.U. cause underwear, in the heat and the dust and the sweating and the fuck all, causes chaffing and drying and makes your crotch and ass crack itch like hell. No underwear, no foreskin, no wedding ring. She would see all that. And the scars and the burned tissue and the scars and the bruises and the scars and the everything that used to be my face and she would not care because she's a nurse and is accustomed to seeing what's left behind when War's had its fill. She's used to it. Used to it and asks, "is that it?"
James Dean (Jim Stark) tells Natalie Wood (Judy) that "life can be beautiful" and she asks, "Who lives?" asks with a tilt and those jazzy big brown eyes (Christ, I could just eat her) and he's got this pompadourish hairstyle and I got this high-n-tight hairstyle and his hair is light brown, almost blonde, and mine is dark brown, almost black, and Nurse High Tits asks if I'm James Dean in a uniform. Shit. What business is it of hers? Prolonging our meeting, yeah, that's what she's doing. Prolonging it to what? I don't want to penetrate her, just feel her. Feel her. Feel. Her. Just smell her. Smell her. Smell. Her. Light her smoke that she doesn't smoke, feather touch her lips with which she says bullshit. Bonafide steaming BOOsheeit. Bovine Scatology, dig? Dig her fingernails into my back, my shoulders, mmmhmmm, like I'm James Dean out of uniform, naked and out of uniform, scarred and out of uniform, "is that it?"
Our dusty scene ends in dust. I've carried more on my back than her weight, I think, and she thinks, I imagine, he could carry me and I think she carries the weight of the world on her hips, slender hips, uniformed hips, hip and lips, ain't that the classic irrisistible combination?
Commercial break. I'm back in the here and now. Shirtless, enjoying the manufactured breeze of fans, the thumping beating breaking of thunderstorm rain on the tin roof. Jeans alone cover my body. Inadequate and used. Fucking abusing it, ain't I? Working at the docks, loading and unloading freight for mammoth fucking container ships?
- You know something?
- You read too many comic books?
- Oh, he's real abstract. He's, hmm, he's different.
- That's right. That's right. I'm cute, too.
You know something?
You've read too much of this writing.
Well, you're fucked. Your, hmmm, you're different.
Roger that. Roger fuckking that. I'm cute, too.