Collaborative Art

weatherized hooch
Our Weatherized Hooch and Shower

Thursday, August 22, 1968

The Admin run arrived with a large load of dry goods, and the cooks and mess men went to work putting the groceries away.  It was always an organized effort to rotate the stock and keep everything as fresh as possible.  Reb, who had just gotten up from his daytime sleep routine, focused on the bakery supplies and commented on the efficiency.  We had a good group of helpers and rewarded them with breaks and free time.  The Grunts on mess duty referred to the job as “Easy Money.”

We usually had some time for a nap in the afternoons, and today we relaxed in the hooch while Reb finished his R&R tale:  After returning from the cemetery, Reb and Margaret went to a late lunch.  It would be their last meal together before his return flight to Vietnam.

Margaret announced, “We can’t be a couple as long as you are in Vietnam.”  Reb objected to this thinking, but she set him straight, “I can’t go through losing someone again.”  There was no argument that would change this circumstance.  Reb finally said, “I can’t just walk away from this . . . I care about you.”  Margaret answered, “I have a plan.”  They finished lunch and went back to her flat.

Standing next to the bed, she pulled her T-shirt over her head, stripped out of her jeans and told Reb to do the same.  As both of them stood naked she said, “We are going to collaborate in art.”  Reb didn’t understand so she told him to lie down on the bed.  She said, “You sketch and I photograph” and went on to describe how they would overlap the images and “combine them into one.”  She lay on top of Reb and said, “I am the photograph, and you are the sketch.”

It still made no sense to Reb (although it felt good) until she further explained.  The images are of the same subject and proportionately matched.  We put a template on top and cut them in half, then bond the left side of the photograph to the right side of the sketch and make them match.  She maneuvered her knees up to his sides, and they became one body in motion.  It was humid, and they dripped in perspiration.  This was their last opportunity for sex, and it was finished with an understanding of staying together by collaborating in art.  When it was over she said, “Think of this when you sketch . . . remember the passion.”

Sumo and I were speechless . . . What could you say to that?

Margaret went to work alone Friday night, and Reb left in the morning before she returned.  At the last minute Margaret showed up in the airport terminal.  She kissed him goodbye and said, “Stay Safe Bubs!”

Sumo said, “Bubs?”  It was Margaret’s name for Reb and was an endearing reference to their age difference.

Next Edition:  The Workbench

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