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Our 3rd Anniversary

Mike Lavieri




I first met CRZ back in 1968 when I was serving the union in Viet Nam. Chris -- that's what some of the boys called him, at least -- was the only Mexican fella in our platoon, but I'll tell ya, I ain't never seen no man of that race with such a passion for artillery, specifically grenades. Anyhow, occasionally we wouldn't spend a day marchin' through the rain lookin' for those Viet Cong SOBs -- those little yella buggers are a hell of a thing to find, all with the Devil's eyes and the ability to disappear. Hell of a thing. So anyway, whenever we wasn't hunting ol' Charlie, some of the boys, we'd go off in the jungles intending to bag us one of those wild, exotic animals. Monkeys, I guess. They got no deer in Viet Nam. A hell of a thing.

So, one day, we're traipsing around that smelly forest, and by we I mean myself, CRZ, this fella from Oklahoma named Fat Tom (he wasn't really fat, pretty skinny, matter of fact), Ohio Pete, who before he got drafted was a mailman, if you'll believe that, and this guy Ted who never did button his shirt, and I swear the boy was either eight years old or he shaved his chest. Anyway, we're in the woods, looking for them little monkeys hopping through the trees, and Pete, he was tellin' some God awful long boring story about his sister's foot problems, something about warts, I believe, and none of us are listenin' to him, because Pete had a way of being the most boring son of a bitch you ever met. At least the most boring one I ever met, and I met a lot of boring guys.

So Pete's going on and on about how she wears special shoes and has to soak her feet in some foul concoction for forty-five minutes a night, and suddenly, Charlie's come up on us, must've been about thirty of 'em. Thirty, I ain't even lyin'. Thirty VC just to catch the five of us. I tell ya, they don't mess around. The Asians are a persistent and determined race. So they round us up, and we figure, God damn, we're done for. We're all gonna die, we're thinking. Especially Fat Tom, that boy was crying even. What a thing to do. What would his mother say? She raised a little crying boy, she'd probably cry herself.

So Charlie takes us back to the camp, I s'pose, and of course we'd heard all the stories about tiger cages and bamboo shoots and torture and what have you, but we must've had the good fortune to stumble our way into the only God damn nice Vietnamese in the whole war. Even those southern ones were a bit hard to get along with, you know. They've got a few other American fellas, sittin' in a little hut, even let 'em have a deck of cards. It was better than regular American camp, if you'll believe that. No beer and no barbecue, but also no God damned lieutenants. A man becomes a lieutenant and you'd believe he'd just been told he was descended from Julius God damned Caesar if you didn't know better.

Now, we played cards with those American POWs for a few days, 'cept ol' Ted who didn't know a single God damned card game, and to this day I ain't never figured out what was up that man's ass. Probably a whole deck of God damned cards, judging by the way he walked. CRZ, he won another fella's boots in a game of rummy, but damned if he didn't give 'em right back. Generous guy, plus they didn't fit 'em. After a couple days, one of them Vietnamese comes in, and he speaks English. He says his name is Ding Dong Sally Popcorn or something, I'll be God damned if I can even remember. He didn't speak very good English is my point. So he tells us the news, that there's supposed to be an American chopper comin' by shortly to drop napalm all over the whole God damned area, and that we should all get the hell out or we'll be burned alive. Well, he didn't have to tell us twice, so me and CRZ and Tom, Pete, and Ted, we all start on our way to, well anywhere. The other fellas went off someplace else and I never did see them again.

Eventually, we're all lost in the damn jungle, ain't got no map, and the compass is spinning around like we've all got magnetic north in our God damned underwear. So we're wandering around for days and days and days, and it gets to the point where Fat Tom tells us, out of nowhere, that if he dies, he wants us to eat him. Now, I'll tell ya what, I did a lot of nonsense things in Nam, but I wasn't gonna eat the son of a bitch. It was then we all realized we had to get the hell out of the jungle before we had to resort to godless savagery like they say the Japanese did in WWII. So not only do we keep walking, we start running, figuring the jungle's gotta end somewhere.

Finally, we're all tired to death of running, so we sit down. Nobody's saying nothing, since we're all pretty sure we're going to die. Now here comes CRZ, he starts talking, and he says, "Fellas, if we get out of the jungle before we die, I swear, when I get home I will start a God damn website where any son of a bitch can write whatever the hell he wants about professional wrestling and I'll put the things up for everybody in the whole wide world to read." Now, we all just stared at Chris like he was out of his mind, because of course none of us knew what the hell a "website" was. But I will be God damned if I'm not sitting here 34 years later, writing this God damn story for that God damned website. It's the damndest thing.

Well, I'll tell ya now, obviously we got out of the jungle, and eventually left Viet Nam. Not Ohio Pete, he got the cholera and he died not so long after. The rest of us, we went back to the States, and eventually I heard that Fat Tom was killed in a tornado, took his God damned house right off the ground. I never did see that movie about the tornadoes after hearing that. And Ted, well, here's the thing. Back in the 1960s, we didn't do much thinking about the ladies we did and did not have relations with, and, well, some of us, we didn't have relations with ladies so to speak. That's Ted, but I ain't one to judge. Eventually he got that HIV about fifteen years ago and he died pretty quick. Not like Magic Johnson.

And Chris, well, he's got the website, like I said, and you're all reading it so you don't need me to tell you that, I suppose. People still write him letters and he'll put them up for the world to see. I read 'em sometimes, but most of 'em's crap. I did like that what's his name, the Jewish fella, but he doesn't write anymore. I hope he didn't get the HIV. So congratulations, I guess. I suppose as websites go this one is pretty good, but I don't know from nothin' about websites.

Mike Lavieri
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