I sometimes search on-line for news of old friends whom I have not seen in years. Decades, more than not. Sometimes I find them, sometimes I cannot. Occasionally I learn that they are dead.
Occasionally I learn that they are dead.
Dieter was a Marine, a Vietnam vet who went back to college after being discharged. He was around ten years my senior. I met him through the FDU SCUBA club. All of his gear was marked with his initials in the Military Phonetic Alphabet; Delta Echo Whiskey. Dieter picked up some extra beer money by working as a night security guard in one of the dorms on campus. In that capacity he sometimes used to catch Maria and me making out in one of the darkened student lounges. But since he was a friend, he just laughed and continued on his rounds.
Dieter seemed almost Vulcan in his imperturbability. Once a carload of us got stuck in unexpected early morning traffic on the Garden State Parkway and JUST missed the dive boat we were supposed to be on. “Just” means that we got to see it departing Manasquan Inlet without us. The fares were prepaid; no refunds for no-shows. We were all royally and vocally pissed. But Dieter, in his odd, whispery, husky voice, just said “Well, we get to have a nice leisurely breakfast.”
Dieter spoke that way because, at the end of his second tour of duty, he had been shot through the throat. He wore the AK-47 bullet that nearly killed him on a chain around his neck, a charm, a talisman.
A touchstone to remind him not to sweat the small shit.
A hyper-annuated wannabee scientist with a lovely wife and a mountain biking problem.