He washed his face over and over, trying so hard not to look up into
the mirror.

Eventually, he would have to look at his face.

The wrinkles, the lines, the paths of worry and his years of drinking,
and smoking, doing the things that kept Vietnam out of his mind. It all
showed, showed as much as the stump of a leg that stuck out of the right
side of his pants.

They hadn't changed. Sure,they looked older. Some of them looked happier.
No one looked as worn as he felt, Boonie realized.

He felt shame. "This is where I went,this is what I did. Became a fucking
washed up vet" he muttered, still washing his face with the scorching
hot water.

Pain felt good then, a sort of punishment for letting go so fast when he
came home.

"Fucking shit" he hissed, burying his face in paper napkins.

"Boon? Hey, is that you?" Richard called, from the bathroom door.

"Hey...Hey, Dr.Dick" he called back, forcing a smile,"How's it going!"

"Gimme a hug, man!"

He backed away slowly towards the wall, grabbing on for something to dig his
nails into, something so he wouldn't fall. He wasn't helpless, he had told himself
over and over, when he was slipping and falling drunk on some street. I don't
need anyone's help, I'm good on my own, he told himself over and over, as Richard
reached out to give him a hand.

"Is everything alright, Boonie?"

He started the dialog in his head. The one he told the nurses at the hospital, the one
he told the psychiartist in the mental institution. The same thing he told the girlfriend
who looked at him with big eyes while he tried to explain the sudden cry in the dark
while they both slept.

He wasn't supposed to be there. Him, being a solider, it was a joke. He wasn't
supposed to be in Vietnam at all. Even when he enlisted himself, walking out
of the small glass building, proud and tall.

He wasn't supposed to go to 'Nam.

"I'm..I'm fine.You caught me off guard, come here,ol buddy" Boonie forced a laugh,
almost greatful for the chance to put his arms around someone's neck and gather his
balance.

"You sure?"

He was young. Too young to leave home, too young to be gutted by someone's angry
knife, too young to step on a landmine, too young to carry your buddy's limp
bloody body over your shoulder, too young to...

Boonie shook his salt and peppered colored hair,"Yeah...yeah,I'm fine"


"There's alot of people out there asking for you" Richard pointed to the door,"Did you
see McMurphy's husband? I think.." he dusted off the front of his navy blue suit,"She
could have done better, but look at me, I'm just a.."

He was too young to feel like an old man. He had spent years after the war trying
to forget all the years he lost over there,over seas.

"Washed up surgeon" Richard sighed,"See you later, Boon"

Nodding, Boonie turned on the water, and went back to washing his face.