o you remember me?"

The disembodied voice sparked some small hint of recognition as it drifted heavily through the haze.  At first, Beau thought he was having a nightmare of ghoulish dimensions.  Again he was dashed with water and he roused enough to lick some of it off his arms.  He shrugged his shoulder to enable him to suck the sweet nectar from the ragged shirt he wore.

He had no idea as to the length of time he'd been there.  He'd been drugged, beaten, shocked, hair and beard ripped out, and more things than he cared to remember.  He longed for death, and would have gladly used his last shot to render himself void of consciousness.  He had no idea one could endure such tremendous amounts of pain and still live.

A thought was mainstream in his head of which he could not loosen himself.  "Why haven't they killed me?  What could I possibly know that they would go to this much trouble to extract?  He was a nobody, a common mercenary soldier.  He had no rank outside of Gunnery Sergeant, had no classified information clearances, knew no one of esteem or fame.  He lost consciousness again.

He became aware of being carried, then placed roughly on a litter, then felt himself being lifted into the back of some big vehicle.  Someone was trickling something into his mouth that tasted sweeter than any liquid he'd ever tasted in his life.  Someone was wiping his face with a moist rag.  He reached up to grab that vessel holding that sweetest of all elixirs, but it was pulled away from him.  "Someone grab his hands" a stern woman's voice said.

"We must revive him or the deals' off" a man was heard saying.  Get him up as quickly as you can and get him cleaned up  In a fleeting glance Beau saw a small logo on his shirt pocket that he would not remember for a long time.

Beau lifted his right hand to brush his face and saw that it was wrapped up with dirty bandages.  He had no idea what was up with that, unless they were trying to stop the bleeding from where he'd lost the finger.

He felt the faintest of pin pricks and within a few seconds everything started turning dark.  "They've drugged me again" was his last thought as he once again submerged into the blackness of unconsciousness.  It would be another day before he would again experience light in his eyes.

His strength had returned somewhat and he realized he was in an actual bed, albeit with an old woolen blanket.  The single incandescent light above his bed was constantly flickering, dimming and going brighter again.  "The ambulance will be here within an hour sir."

"Good, make sure he's secure.  If he goes on another rampage, I'll put a bullet behind his ear myself" the second voice snapped.

"Yes sir" the first speaker said, then his voice trailed off as he followed the superior down the hall.

"I wonder what rampage they are talking about?" thought Beau.  Then "I've got to quit this line of work.  I'm getting too old for this."  And with that, he slept.

When he awoke again he was being wheeled down the hall on a gurney with square wheels that complained noisily of little or no lubrication.  It bumped and rattled in what sounded like a long hall, then a couple of big bruisers, one on each end of his litter, picked him up and loaded him onto some big vehicle with wire frame and canvas for a top.  "Oh great!" he thought.  A military five ton that has no springs.

Not only did the vehicle have no springs, but Beau was sure they were traversing the largest rocks that could be found.  He retched twice, and wiping his mouth saw large splotches of blood on the newer clothes.  Within an hour they pulled off the dirt onto a highway, then into what could be discerned as a MASH unit, or a front line medical station.

Another IV was placed in his arm and the bandage on his hand was removed.  "That's gonna take some stitches but should heal nicely a man explained to an attendant.  The Dr. was obviously an Indian who had come to the US to further his degree in medicine.  The Dr., like himself, was here but not by choice.  "This is gonna sting a little but I have nothing for the pain.  What is your name?" the Dr. asked.

"Beaumont Adams, most call me Beau or Gunny" he answered with his drawl.

"I see," mused the Dr.  "A southern Gunnery Sergeant."

The Dr. was good and he had a great bedside manner.  "You remind me of my friend Doc Wilson" Beau said.  "He's the best."

"This doctor of which you speak," the doctor spoke quietly, "was he from a southern state?"

Beau opened his eyes and looked at the doctor wistfully.  The doctor had an anguished look in his face as Beau nodded affirmative.  "Yeah" he said quietly.  I grew up with him."

"And I went to school with him.  And you are right, he is an excellent doctor."

Beau knew in an instant he had an ally, but he would be hard put to trust anyone in this distant arena of the unknown.  The doctor continued working and finished with some cloth torn into strips with which he placed the finger in a home made splint of tape flattened and turned sticky sides in to make a little plank.

"Whoever taped your finger back together must have done it immediately and with some knowledge.  You'll no doubt lose some feeling in it, but it should grow back healthy and strong."

"The only one there that night was the woman who captured me" thought Beau.  "She must have put the bandage on.  To be a moslem she sure was shapely" as he drifted off to sleep.  It was the last time he would see the Dr., but certainly not the last he would see of that beauty which roamed around in the darkness of his mind.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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Chapter III