Edited By Timothy K. Nixon
For Corporal John Pamper
The whole company called him “the Monk,” because he had no girlfriend in town and always seemed embarrassed when the boys discussed their sexual adventures. At times he would interrupt their filthy talk with a gentle but somehow impressive gesture: “Please! That’s enough!” The answer was, of course, a Homeric guffaw, but surprisingly, the conversation usually died down afterwards or became a trifle more discreet.
What was wrong with the Monk? Some of his roommates suggested that he was secretly married and faithful to his wife, although he claimed to be single. Others suspected that there might be religious reasons for his prudery, but he was not a church-goer. Was he just morbidly bashful? Or was it simply his advanced age that prevented him from having any fun?
He was indeed pretty elderly—at least thirty-five, if not older, and by far the oldest man in the outfit, which consisted mostly of youngsters in their teens or early twenties. His face appeared strangely shriveled—dried out, yellowed, and brittle, as if parched by a merciless tropical sun. There was something slightly Mephistophelian about his physiognomy—due, perhaps, to his restive, black, curly hair and dark, bushy eyebrows. But he also had the features of a melancholy clown, with his long, pointed nose; the absurd gravity of his gait; and his ever-crumpled uniform, which was much too wide for his ← 193 | 194 → lean, hairy body. His eyes were pensive...
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