We walked down the dirt road that led to the river. It was flowing in a slow cumbering way. It was low due the lack of rain up north and the dry season. We were soon surrounded by bushes and trees, plus tall grass weeds that embraced the river. It was beautiful and seemed like something out of a story book. At one point in a cove there was a small whirl pool, that told of its stillness and calm flow. The coverage surely provided the protection that we needed to smoke. Inside myself the fear of any Viet Cong lurking in the underbrush, this was running through my mind. The idea was remote, and I was to form a don't give a shit attitude. What more could they do,"send me to Viet Nam".
We had on cut off army fatigue pants and took off our boots. Soon we entered the river. It seemed that there was a place a little up river about fifty yards that was the ideal spot to smoke. Obviously this was one of the places unknown to me. It seemed the other guys used this place and kept it a concealed secret. Then the thought of poisonous snakes crossed my mind. This was just another thing that a person had to contend with in Viet Nam. There were many varieties and there were a good number of them. One such was a snake called the BAMBOO VIPER, or we nicknamed it the, "two step". That wasabout as far as you go if it bit you, before falling dead.
We were on our way to the cove where guys swam and smoked. On the way he stopped to take a joint out of his special tin. There we were and we had the same thought more or less in our minds. He fumbled in the tin for a second and came out with that white rolled piece of paper. Inside was that leaf that was the matter of concern to all. It was kept in plastic to protect it from the moisture and water of the river. It more or less took on the semblance of a person reaching for a pack of cigarettes. It seemed funny the ease in which the whole event took place. Inside was the rolled joint and a book of matches. It seemed in relation to the survival packets of helicopters being used.
With an easy motion he opened the plastic wrapping. It was dark tan in color. Inside was the joint and the release from the war and its pressures. There was a smile of joy on his face, with a funny smilewas common to his personality. With the sweeping ease of a professional the joint was removed fromthe plastic. It sort of gleamed in the broken sunlight of trees and surrounding tall grass. The moment had arrived for me and the experience. There was no turning back. Never more could I return to that security of the world telling me grass was bad for me and a detriment to my character.
The whole of the Viet Nam experience was to start to unfold for me. At his present moment it was the last thought that lurked within my mind. A new life was to start for me. That drug was going to alter my thoughts and give me a new perspective on the war and its affects on all of reality. At that moment the war seemed like the last thing that existed on the earth. It was as if the river and the shade of the trees blocked out the reality of all.
The joint was within his lips and the book of matches were in the left hand. With that secure stroke that told of security he lit the match. With a finesse the joint was lit. He seemed to cherish the joint with all of his life. There was something magical about the whole thing. He took a deep inhale from the joint. He held the smoke within his lungs. There was apparent a whole ritual associated with the smoking of grass. There was that trust that the other held for the other. Why it was against the law was puzzling. Then again I was a novice to grass and the social ramifications it had upon the person.
My time came to take a toke from the joint. It was half burnt down. There was an extension to the paper that was not burnt. Along with it came the odor of the grass that was familiar. It seemed to hang around like some mist cloud. I had never smoked cigarettes so the inhaling process was going to be something, that I was going to have to learn. "With that hope of change and finding, what I was looking for, I placed the joint between my lips. There was moisture from his lips. It seemed to crush from the nervous pressure of my lips. I took and inhaled some of the joints smoke.Trying to hold it in my lungs was almost impossible. There was that little tickling in the throat with some burning, and it made me cough. Then again, I tried to inhale a second time, with more success than the first. There was the burning in the throat and now my lungs seemed to burn a little. It was a real struggle to hold the smoke. But, the grass was now in my lungs and me also.
There seemed to be nothing different in me. Just seemed like it was before taking a toke. The fears of smoking were gone now. We continued to pass the joint back and forth. Finally inside myself there was a feeling of being part of something. Now one of he guys whole smoked grass in the company.
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