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given a weekend pass. He phoned Rhea and she suggested they spend the two days with friends of hers who had a house in Carmel. They did, and it was West-Coast-wonderful with horseback riding along the beach and into the surf at dawn each morning, and Bordeaux-and-steak suppers outdoors each evening. It was March but the sun was warm and boot camp had put Kenny into such great, high-keyed, physical shape that his vigor matched that of the sea. The beauty of nature in that area reminded him of the wilderness he had enjoyed in the Italian Alps. He hadn't felt so good in years, and now more than ever he knew he wanted to live for a while in northern California. "But first things first," he said to himself, thinking about the army.

When he returned to his barracks, he saw a notice on the bulletin board saying that the company had been formed and training was to begin in the morning. Bright and early it did, with a march out to a firing range where they sighted their rifles. Kenny liked to march. The cadence relaxed him and allowed him to think. He decided that the best time to pull anything was right away, in these first few days before they got to know him. He had brought half a dozen Dexamyls with him from New York and carried them in his pocket, intending to use them whenever the moment came to heighten whatever contradiction he would cause.

The right moment came two days later on another firing range. Kenny realized this while sitting in the bleachers and listening to an instructor rap about what not to do when firing a bazooka. The sergeant explained that the most important thing to worry about was not the shell itself, but the exhaust of the explosion caused by firing it. The concussion that burst from the rear of the bazooka was known as the back-blast, and he demonstrated its action on an empty orange crate. He knelt and another sergeant loaded the bazooka with a blank shell, telling the training class to keep their eyes on the crate, which he lined up with the tail end of the weapon. Then he tapped the instructor on the head and there was a loud, rumbled crack-sound, and the wooden crate disappeared into a puff of dust as the blank shell leaped across the field and curved down into the open turret of a tank target, eighty yards away.

It was very impressive and Kenny dropped the six Dexamyls with a gulp from his canteen in preparation for what he knew was going to happen. The instructor again cautioned the class to be aware of the back-blast and told them they would be firing two rounds from the weapon, using that same tank as their target. The first round [end page 224]


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