Catfish Charlie (Chapter 8, page 1 of 11)

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Chapter 8

After May Sue went home to raise his boy, Jim stayed away from women. He was not exactly what they referred to as a straight arrow around Army camps, but he was close.

He learned real soon the way a man kept out of trouble was to live by the book. Making up a decent bed was almost past him, so he took a blanket and wrapped himself on the floor to sleep. Once a week, he paid a girlish‑looking man a dollar to fix his bed so's it would pass inspection.

He lived a Spartan life more adventurous than his deer and rattlesnake hunt with Charles Ray. Instead of staying in the barracks sacking out on his days off, he hunted and fished.

Officers and other enlisted men were always surprised by what he brought into camp with him. Once he spent a weekend pass catching water moccasins in the swamps of Louisiana. He tried to tan the skin and make belts, but all he did was make a stench.

While May Sue was making love with his best friend, he spent extra time running obstacle courses. He learned quickly a soldier who read manuals was much better equipped than one who didn't. In some ways he had a better education than college boys who came into the unit.

On the way over to Korea on the troopship, he learned about the vast ocean they were sailing across. While other men were gambling or praying, he sat in some isolated space studying the horizon while he read books about the Pacific.

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