|They weren't the kind we regularly get in here. The young ones I mean.
They come here to party, get away from it all, live a little. These guys
though, they looked like maybe they had lived a little too much. They
headed for the end of the bar and sat down, didn't say a word. Right over
Sally, that's the girl who does a little waitressing for me on the weekends, she's a good kid. Almost like a daughter to me. She's goin' to be doctor someday... Anyway, she comes over to me and I can tell she's already noticed the newest cusomers. She starts jibbering on about how handsome the two younger ones were, especially the blond. She likes that preppy look. You know young girls. And she's saying how the other one must be a pilot or something. So she turns to me and she says, 'Let me wait the bar. Please Al? Please?'
I usually can't deny Sally anything but I didn't think these guys would appreciate having her hover around them, flirting and all. So I told her to go finish up on the tables and headed for the end of the bar.
I tell you, it was eerie quite on that end of the bar. "What 'il it be?" It was the blond man who finally answered and I pulled out a bottle of my best scotch and three shot glasses.
They just sat there and stared at their drinks. They didn't talk and I could tell by their faces, they were lost in memories. I figured what some of those memories were. I had a few of those myself and it was then that it hit me. Who they were, I mean.
They were a legend back then. Now too I guess. I had heard all the stories. That they were invinsible, could read each others minds like their own, could stay out there forever and you'd never find 'em. Man, they were an inspiration. It was like as long as they were out there...I don't know. I had never put much credit into those stories myself, until... You know, I saw them once. Over there.
It was dark and we were out on patrol. Jimmy had just finished going over the plans for the next day's mission. We didn't even see them coming 'fore they had us on the ground at gunpoint. Our guns no less. Oh, but then they apologized. Seems they'd just escaped from some camp and hadn't expected to come across friendlies so far out there. They sat that night with us and when mornin' came they melted back into the jungle like they hadn't even been there. Like ghosts. Didn't even make a sound.
It was the pilot who spoke first. I could just hear them from where I was...
"Remember that time when he got stuck in his Gatorella costume..." A sad smile was on his face and he looked back down at his drink.
The big one put an arm on his shoulders. "As I 'member it fool, you put super glue on the zipper."
"I remember the first time I ever met him. He came into the cell they had me in and he said 'Kid, you have two choices. you can join the special forces and come with me and I'll take care of you. Or you can go with these nice two gentlemen - meaning the SPs - and they'll show you to your new luxury suite down the hall'" I could tell that he was trying hard to keep it all in, but I saw how his eyes glistened. "I was a real pain in the ass in the beginning. I figured he'd find out soon enough and then he'd leave me like everybody else always had." He looked out at the dance floor and then turned back and gave the big guy a hard look, "You know, I never expected him to keep his word."
Now the big guy had a hand on each of the younger ones shoulders. "I think sometimes he need us as much as we needed him, maybe more. We were his family. We gotta 'member the good times."
They sat there staring into their drinks for what must have been 15 or 20 minutes and then the blond raised his head and wipes his eyes. He lifted his drink and he says, "He liked cigars."
The other two watched him throw back the scotch and then the pilot held his up.
"He loved it 'when a plan came together'."
By that time I'd figured who they was drinking to. I think I'll always 'member that last toast. I watched the big one pause as he raised his glass again...
"He was like a father to me."
The other two raised their glasses and I could barely make out what the blond one said before they tossed them back.
He said, "to Dad."