I was being upbraided by a half-drunk ex-drill Sergeant in a smoky bar called the One Lucky.
"Stand at attention, Tortelli!" he barked.
I'd never been in the service, but I stood as ramrod as I could in my beer splattered dungarees and undersized T shirt.
"Tortelli, I want you to take down that Japanese machine gun nest, and I want you to take it now!"
I swung open the kitchen doors and put the collar on a short order cook named Eddy Kim. He was a fifth generation Korean with a couple of Irish grandparents.
"What, da?" he said as I dragged him back into the bar.
"I got this here Tokyo soldier, Sarg."
Eddy the PoW became more than incredulous; he was high blood pressure hysterical: "I ain't Japanese and there ain't no war going on, not for sixty years, for cryin' out loud."
'Beer Mugs' Moran was behind the bar puffing on a Tiperello while wiping clean shot glasses. He was famous for his non-plussed manner in a bar of bizarre delusions. "Sarg," he said. "The war just ended. Its VE Day, they announced it on the radio."
The Sargent looked at Eddy sideways. "You one lucky Tojo," he said. The heavy smell of Jim Beam left his narrow mouth. He pulled a lit corn cob pipe out of his pant pocket, and right out of the Andrew Sisters, turns around and staggers unsteadily through the open doors of the One Lucky.
"This is one crazy bar, Tortelli." Eddy Kim said.
"Yeah," 'Beer Mugs' Moran interrupted proudly. "Just like a Square Corner, straight--no chaser, with a little bit of life."
LIFE OF A POET - JOHN BUCHANAN
6 hours ago