It was worse than in 1971, much worse, something Frank Marlowe thought impossible.
It had been a murky twilight zone. He wasn’t unconscious, but neither was he conscious. He remembered some things with total clarity, but they came and went, never in any logical sequence. Visions of the war, his childhood and his life since intermingled nonsensically. His imagination added people who never existed and occurrences that never happened. Sometimes he was emotionally involved; other times he felt removed and had no feelings.
With willpower from a source he didn’t understand, Marlowe pulled himself out of the fog and away from the brink of insanity.
He was exhausted and didn’t know how long he had been on the cot. The sheets were drenched with sweat. He touched his chin; at least two days’ stubble scratched his fingers. A dim glow illuminated the sky, but he didn’t know if it was dawn or dusk.
Marlowe was dehydrated, and a cramp gripped his right calf. He jumped up and tried to walk it off. A quart of cold well water from the kitchen sink spigot eased the pain. He wanted more but knew if he drank too much too quickly it would sicken him.
The sky brightened, and he thought it a positive omen…the beginning of a new day, not the end of an old one. The old medals and photographs had fallen on the floor. He picked them up. Touching the medals pleased him. He’d earned them taking care of his buddies; that was all that really mattered. The photographs of his fellow GIs brought back joyous memories of beer drinking and the fun times.
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