General Trinh is delivering papers
by: Walter Guest
"We got a week, Steve. What you gonna do?" Hao asked.
They had showered and put on their civvies. Both were wearing a white shirt and dark slacks.
"I don't know," Kincaid replied. "I may catch a hop down to Saigon and take a room in the Majestic."
The Special Forces teams were given plenty of rest between missions. Kincaid had found it was a good idea to get far away from headquarters at that time. Anyone found nearby was subject to be recruited for emergency assignments.
"You feel like seeing how the natives live?" Hao asked casually.
"My village. Up around Pleiku." Pleiku was in the highlands, more than a hundred kilometers to the northeast.
"Sure. I'm game."
"Great. Are you packed?"
"I just have to throw a couple of things in a bag."
"We might do some hunting. Throw in your AK-47." Hao grinned at him.
Kincaid smelled a rat. "What are you getting me into?"
"There's lots of stuff in the highlands. Deer, boar, tigers."
"Then I better bring along plenty of ammo, huh? Extra clips?"
Hao shrugged. "Wouldn't hurt." His expression was innocent.
"And a hand gun? Maybe I better bring along a hand gun?"
Hao grinned at him.
Kincaid nodded his head up and down. "I know, I know," he said.
And they both said in unison, "Wouldn't hurt."
"You bastard," Kincaid said.
"Turn around," Hao ordered.
Kincaid turned his back to him. "This isn't going to work."
Hao smoothed out the brown berry stain on the back of Kincaid's legs. Kincaid was dressed in a loin cloth and a rough textured, brown cotton shirt.
"Sure it will work," Hao said. He stood back to appraise his work. "The stain will wear off in a few days but it won't wash off."
"I still don't see why we have to do this. Why can't we go visit your village wearing our regular clothes?"
"That might be okay. I don't know. I haven't been there for a long time. It might make trouble for them though. It's hard to say. I don't want to take the chance." Hao walked around Kincaid, examining him from every angle. "Looks pretty good." He turned to his sister-in-law to see what she thought.
They were in the home of Hao's sister-in-law. She was his brother's widow, he had explained. He had introduced her as ‘Thai.' The home was one room, about twenty feet square, with masonry walls, a dirt floor, and no inside plumbing. It was on the outskirts of the town of Pleiku.
Thai was small and dark, darker than Hao. She had very delicate features but her face was too round for her to be considered beautiful. Kincaid thought at first that she was a child. If her body hadn't been developed he would have guessed her to be twelve years old. Even so, she didn't look a day over sixteen. She didn't speak more than a few words of English.
Thai had made no effort to conceal her curiosity when Kincaid stripped to put on the loin cloth. She got as close as she could and stared in wide eyed wonder hat his nakedness. He was going to say something to Hao but then he thought, ‘What the hell.' After the loin cloth was in place, her attention shifted upward. She reached out and pulled at a few of the hairs on his arm.
Hao noticed. "Yeah," he said, "we gotta do something about that. You bring a razor?"
"That's good." He spoke to Thai in a language Kincaid couldn't identify. "Give her the razor. She'll shave you."
"I shaved this morning."
"She'll shave you arms and legs."
"Bullshit. What for?"
"So you won't look like and ape. You see any hair on my arms and legs? You want to look like a Rhade?" Hao's tribe of Montagnards were called Rhade.
There was electricity in the house, but it was provided by a single cord that came in through a window. There were no built in outlets. Thai shaved him while Hao mixed the stain. When she finished with his arms and legs, she said something to Hao.
Hao laughed. "She wants to shave you here." He gripped his crotch.
Thai giggled and covered her face with her hands.
"No way," Kincaid said firmly. Enough was enough. "If this thing will stay up," he indicated the loin cloth, "no one's going to see anything there."
After Hao finished applying the stain, he turned to his sister-in-law to see what she thought. Thai examined him closely with much laying on of hands, especially on his upper thighs. She giggled and said something to Hao.
"She likes you, Steve. She wants to lie with you. You want her?"
Kincaid looked at him in surprise.
"It's okay with me," Hao assured him. "Just don't make her pregnant. She's not on the pill."
It was a bit too bizarre for Kincaid. He had no feel at all for the situation. He didn't know what he would be getting into or what he would owe or to whom he would owe it.
"She's a great looking woman," Kincaid said, "but I think I'll pass." He didn't want to hurt her feelings. "Maybe when I know her better," he added weakly. He was conscious of the role reversal. It made him feel awkward.
"Hey, that's okay, Steve." Hao slapped him on the shoulder. He said something to the girl. It didn't seem to hurt her feelings. She giggled and ran to a chest in a corner. She brought back a circular straw hat about two feet in diameter. It was the kind all the coolies wore.
Hao fastened it on Kincaid's head. "Keep it down like this. "He tilted it to cover his eyes and most of his face. "Yeah, that's good, keep it like that," Hao said. "Now wait outside for a few minutes. Squat against the wall with the hat down like that. No one will notice you." He looked at Thai. "I'll be out as soon as I finish in here."
The girl giggled again and covered her face with her hands.