For some reason as I was drifting off to sleep last night I had a a memory pop into my mind from when I was probably six or seven years old. It was the year my dad was in Vietnam and we lived in a small house near my grandparents. There was a little boy who lived next door and he was my age. His name was Lee from what I recall, but I could have that wrong.
This kid Lee had a father who was in the military. I only know this because he was in uniform the day this happened. The father had one of those old-school campers, the kind that slides onto the bed of a pick-up truck. When not in use, it sits on legs that extend out in. This one was parked in the driveway in front of the house.
My guess is that Lee was able to get the keys to the camper and I vaguely recall us going inside of it to play. I know for sure we had our pants down and were inspecting one another's privates when the door suddenly swung open. It was Lee's father.
We quickly marched out and Lee started crying even before the beating commenced. He knew what was about to happen but I had no idea. I stood helpless in the yard as my friend got his ass whooped by his father, in a military fatigues. What stood out most vividly in my memory was the black combat boots kicking Lee as he just curled up into the fetal position on the ground in the front yard.
There was lots of yelling but none of it comes through in my memory. Just the sight of that kid being kicked, and me standing there wondering if I would be next. I don't know how it ended. I don't know if my mom came outside or if the man just yelled at me to go home.
We never got in that camper again, that's for sure.