Chapter 1: BASIC: January 24 - 26
How are you? Better not be still trying to enlist. And don’t be picking any fights without me there to save your sorry ass. Miracle you survived this long. Dope.
Basic’s rotten. Don’t make that face. It is. Wake up at the ass crack of dawn (shut up I can hear you laughing) and RUN and jump through hoops. Literal hoops, I’m talking about not metaphoric ones. All we do is stand in lines and they yell at us all day long. And they seem to want me naked all the time. See? You wouldn’t like it anyway.
Meet any foxy dames? Just tell 1 of them Bucky said hello and you’ll get her eating from the palm of your hand. Aint I generous?
January 26, 1943
If you think it’s a miracle I’ve survived it’s no thanks to you. You’re the one that wanted to go to Club Kelly and when the police came you’re the one who wanted to run even though we hadn’t done a thing. And that’s just one idiot thing we’ve done that’s your fault. Don’t make me list them all, I haven’t got the paper.
So I tried what you mentioned re dames. Remember Cindy? Such a nice old gal, told her you said hello. She spat in my face and burned your effigy and said a number of choice things I shan’t repeat lest your poor innocent eyes burn with shame & humiliation. I don’t think I’ll mention you next dame I meet, what do you think? Dumbbell.
Well I think Becca misses you but I can’t think why as you’re a moron. Guess she has to as she’s your sister. Sure glad we’re not related.
P.S. You don’t have to talk dirt about the Army. In fact I’d rather you not. Just because I’m 4F doesn’t mean I was born yesterday.
Chapter 2: BASIC: January 31 - February 2
You’re the one that picked a fight with Bernie DURHAM last year, Durham the one that gave us both black eyes in 3rd grade and if I hadn’t come along he would have knocked your teeth out, so don’t even talk to me about Club Kelly. You wanted to go too, you know you did. And I said I was sorry.
I don’t remember Cindy I guess. She must have been fired up about some other Bucky I guess. I honestly have no idea what you could possibly be talking bout. You know I’m killer with the dames.
Good stuff about Army? O.K.: I’m a swell marksman and I’m not exaggerating 1 bit. Me and my gun we are best friends. I don’t even know who you are anymore. Steve who? Me and this gun, we’re made for each other. I can take her apart and put her together again in under a min. and I always hit the target. When they need me I’ll be ready to shoot.
You wanted to know good stuff about the Army and that’s what it really is: we’re ready to do our part. I don’t want to kill anyone, but we have to, and we’re learning what we need to know and working real hard. We’re going to do what we need to and it makes me think I’ll do a good job. For the both of us even if a dipstick like you can’t appreciate it.
February 2, 1943
Figures you’d have to make friends with a gun. No one else there could stand you. Besides a gun knows it can shut you up when you get too annoying which is more than can be said for me.
I know you’ll do a good job. You always do a good job. And it doesn’t surprise me you’re a good shot since you’re a good pitcher. Don’t let all this praise go to your head. You’ll have to get it surgically removed & then you’d be no good to the Army at all. Club Kelly aside, you were the one who wanted to sneak onto that construction site on Pearl so you could fall down that pit. And why were you running from that dog anyway? They’re man’s best friends. Oh yeah I forgot how you’re friends with metal objects since things with brains don’t like you.
Well I know it feels bad to be getting trained to hurt people but you’re going to help people too. I know you can do it, you’ll be ace Buck. I just wish I could do it with you and help you too. Seeing as how you’re afraid of dogs and Bernie Durham and the like.
Your only friend with a brain but I guess I don’t have one since I’m friends with the likes of you,
Chapter 3: BASIC: February 14 - 16
Training isn’t bad. It’s great. The marching and food and stuff is stupid I guess, but I know it’s for a good cause and Nazis are scum. Dirty rotten scum. I’m glad we’re going to fight them. Just some of the guys say stupid things is all. Stop worrying.
Your drawing is highly inaccurate. Like I would get that fired up over a pistol. I’ll have you know Bessie is a M1 Garand which is a semi-automatic clip-fired shoulder-fired rifle, gas cooled. Have fun at the library figuring out how to draw THAT. Also my eyes aren’t that big, you always make me look like a dope. Can you draw something from home? Maybe you getting beat up or snoring loudly on the couch or something since that’s all you really do. Though I barely remember you now Bessie’s in my life so I guess I’m wrong.
Are you still trying to enlist? I think you shouldn’t. 1st of all it makes you a liar. 2nd there’s plenty to do you’d be good at, like getting people to donate. Just look disappointedly at them and they’ll feel so bad for your sorry ass they’ll give you loads of dough. That was a joke but I’m serious here.
Hope you’re spending Valentine’s with a wonderful dame, your friend,
P.S. Don’t forget that drawing.
February 16, 1943
Well here’s the drawing you asked for. The ZZZ’s are not me snoring; they’re me sleeping PEACEFULL now that you’re not stumbling around at all hours doing God knows what. Why did I let you convince me to move in with you I have no idea. I can actually hear myself think now you’re gone.
I’m sure you want to hear about all our riveting adventures back home. Hold onto your hat because Mrs. Lacey is getting a haircut next week. Will it be curly, will it be really short? ONLY TIME CAN TELL. That’s all for this week. Stay tuned for next week’s EXCITING conclusion!!!
Do you know anything about what’s happening after you get out of Basic? Mrs. Barnes says she asked you but you haven’t answered. I reminded her as to how you’re thick so sometimes you’ve got to ask things twice.
The Army is good but that doesn’t mean it’s full of good people. Doesn’t even mean it’s run by good people. In fact the idea of the military is something you’ve got to question; do we really need to fight each other in this day and age. But because of Hitler and Nazis doing those terrible things & the way they’re attacking places like England, & with the Japanese on their side attacking us, I really think the only choice is we’ve got to fight. So if there are bullies in the army and they’re saying stupid things, you’ve just got to stand up to them and tell them why we’re fighting and what’s right, remind them we’re supposed to be the good guys. I know you’ll do that but don’t let it get you down. They’re probably good people they just want to fight and since they can’t fight Nazis it makes them mean. I’m really proud of you Buck.
By the way you do look like a dope so even tho’ I got the gun wrong that drawing was otherwise spot on. I am a paragon of artistic excellence. If only the world knew.
Chapter 4: BASIC: February 28 - March 2
Strikethrough indicates things crossed out by the letter-writer. Text with a black background indicates things that were crossed out, cross-hatched, scribbled over, and made completely indecipherable by the letter-writer. Sadly, the black background looks like an official document with redacted portions. Many letters were censored in WWII, a fact which I'll be dealing with later, but the black background in this fic only indicates self-censorship, not anything cut out by a censor. If later portions are cut by censors, it will be indicated a different way. (Likely by white space, as the censors used actual scissors. Fun job.)
Training ends 4/16. I don’t know what I’m doing after that. Shipping out I guess but they’re supposed to give me orders. I don’t know if I’ll get leave and tell Ma I told her that already.
It’s not that they’re bullies. Well they are but you know I would stand up to them if they were picking on anyone. It’s just the way they talk it bothers me I guess. Anyhow it doesn’t matter. No big deal. I don’t care.
Just They I don’t They just really get to me are talk about scalping people. That’s what I mean. Or blowing brains out. And I know I’ve talked like that, stupid shit like that but I'm not we’re ACTUALLY going to fight. And they seem like that’s why they’re in it, as if they really want to kill people. And of course I want to kill some Nazis I guess but not because they’re people. Not because I actually want people to die because I don’t. This fella said he was going to cut a Nazi’s guts out and shove them in his mouth so he had to eat his own shit before he died and that was good, that was funny right, F-ing hilarious, except I am certain that this fella was serious. How can you be serious bout something like that? If I have to shoot someone it’s because I have to & they’re doing bad things & that’s the way it has to be to win the war. Not because I like the way it crunches when I step on someone’s skull.
I’m sorry I probably shouldn’t write to you about that I guess, but I can’t to anyone else and I knew you’d understand. They’d probably make you mad is all I’m saying. I don’t know it’s a comfort to me that you’d be mad and you wouldn’t laugh like all the rest do. I laugh too because you know me I guess. Everything is just a F-ing joke right. It’ll be better when we get to the front I guess.
Sorry about this letter. Your drawing is great. You should draw our drill sergeant next, he looks kind of like a camel. Don’t think I didn’t notice you didn’t say anything about not enlisting. Stop doing that you enormous imbecile. Respect the law and Uncle Sam. I don’t want anyone blowing your face off because you’re my best pal even if you are dumb.
Sorry about this letter. I almost didn’t send it but I wrote a lot so I guess I should. It’s not really a big deal, I just needed to get it off my back.
March 2, 1943
If you’re going to apologize for your letters apologize for your handwriting not your content. You know you can tell me anything, even things you can’t tell other people. Especially things you can’t tell other people, because you know I can keep a secret and you also know I’ve told you things I don’t tell other people. For instance about Dad.
Those guys who talk about scalping people sound afraid. They’re afraid of what might happen if the Jerries win. They’re afraid of Jerries killing them. And they’re afraid of killing Jerries, so they talk big to cover up their fear. Well you just have to have courage Buck and you already have loads as well as other things. You’re the best man I know. You’d never hurt someone unless they were hurting someone else, you’d never shoot someone without having a really good reason why. You would never turn into a bad guy, and you know what, the fact you’re there probably makes other people better too. People look up to you, just like I do, and don’t think of that as a burden, think of it as what you are deep down inside: someone who’s good. Who always looks out for people & tries to help people, and you can even help those men who say those asinine things. Just be the person you are, the person you’ve always been, & you’ll never be what you fear and neither will they.
Everything’s going to be O.K. You can always talk to me about anything and you should because it’s going to be hard. Well it’s supposed to be hard and it’s all right that it’s hard. I think of all the times you saved me & took care of me & stood by me & always stand by anyone who needs help and I know that you will show this country that we can win a war without losing our humanity, because you’re a hero. You always have been.
Miss your big dumb face,
Chapter 5: BASIC: March 17 - March 19
Let me tell you about Jersey dames. There’s this bar outside of camp and we don’t get a chance to get down there often, but last week we did. The gals here are so used to soldiers coming and going I guess they don’t even ask your name. They just want a good time, and they’ll have you dance all night long if you let them. Met this gal named Molly, so sweet and pretty makes you wish there wasn’t a war on. I’d ask if she had a sister for you but I figure you got the run of the Brooklyn gals and it doesn’t seem fair I’d have to give 1 up over here just because you’re yellow when it comes to women. What am I saying? Youll probably be up and hitched by the time I’m done with this war.
There’s a guy named Noam and another guy we call Cagney, and they’re all right. You’d like them. They’re the 1s who taught me that new card game and they don’t like the way Rex and rest of them talk either. We just shoot the shit and try to sneak out food—you’d come in handy with that—and get thru the day I guess. Noam reminds me of you a little because he’s smaller and he’s real nice but he doesn’t have a smartass mouth the way you do. So I guess he’s great.
Thank you for what you said in your last letter but don’t worry about it. I was just bummed out I guess but now as you can see I’m all right. It was just a spell. Just missed Brooklyn was all. Guess it’s strange having to make new friends.
P.S. Don’t think I don’t notice the way you keep evading the question about enlisting. Boy I wish I was there to wring some sense into that scrawny neck of yours. If you don’t say something about it next letter I’ll stop writing you cold turkey.
P.P.S. Your drawing of Sarge was a scream. Cagney almost got me in trouble with he wanted to show it to everybody including the Old Man (that’s the Co. Commander.)
March 19, 1943
Yes, I’m still trying to enlist. I didn’t see the point of writing to you about it as we fundamentally disagree on the matter, and it’s no fun spending whole letters arguing. Well there you have it.
Well I’m glad you’re feeling better. You can still talk to me about anything you need to. Sometimes you can’t talk to people that you’re with so distance is better, and they might not know you as well as I do. I mean to say I’ll always listen when you need someone to talk to. And I won’t be hitched when you get back from the war. I don’t think I’m ever getting married.
Tell me what Noam looks like so I can draw him. I assume Cagney looks like Cagney? Or is it a joke I’m missing? I know you like pictures from home so I’m sending one of your sisters and Mrs. Lacey (I just know you were on tenterhooks about that haircut) and the apartment which is clean now that you’re not in it. The self-portrait I sending is just something I was trying to do for practice so that’s why it looks like that, you can toss it, it’s just practice. But I thought you might want to see what I’m working on to get better. I’ve sent some pieces to magazines but no dice. Maybe one day. Or maybe I’ll inherit a fortune, I’m keeping my options open.
Glad you made new friends,
Chapter 6: BASIC: March 28 - March 30
I’m not going to stop nagging you, it’s for your own good. If you lie on your forms your lying to the U.S. government which means you could get someone else killed, if you’re 4F and you’re fighting anyway. Dumbo. In other news the drawings you sent are great.
Cagney looks like Cagney, but taller and blonder hair. And better looking. Part of why he’s called Cagney is the way he doesn’t settle down, always jumping around. He’s always got some harebrained scheme, kind of like you that way except his don’t get us beat up. Noam is thin and slight and has dark curly hair. He’s quiet and observant. I guess you don’t need that for your drawing but your drawings always have personality in them. He’s smart and real sensitive but sort of serious you ask me. You don’t have to draw them though, you should be practicing instead of drawing things for me. I don’t mind if you send me more of those practice 1s if you want.
Well I’m sorry if this is short but I’m real tired. Got to stand in lines and get yelled at again tomorrow.
P.S. Told Ma, but might not get out on 4/16. The Old Man hinted I need more training. I don’t know what’s up.
March 30, 1943
Your Mar 28 letter said you may need more training, please clarify. What does that mean? When do you find out? Maybe you’re getting a promotion. I know they need NCOs and you probably scored really well on that aptitude test. You’re probably one of the smartest people I know despite being a dingbat.
I hope these drawings of your friends I’m sending are right. You sound as though you like these fellas, esp. Noam, so I want to make sure he’s all right. I do have some other practice sketches but they’re self-portraits too. Just practicing, you know, different expressions or different parts of the body. The only person I have to look at for any length of time is me so that’s why that first one was like that. But I don’t want to bore you. Maybe I’ll try drawing your girl Molly next.
I guess Becca will probably tell you I’ve been a bit sick but it’s no big deal. Mr. Ramez two doors down had a stroke, he’s okay but he’s had some problems talking. I can walk & talk & draw so can’t complain. Anyway spring is finally starting to show in Brooklyn so the weather’s better and I feel stronger. The buds are starting up on the trees, I know how you love the pink ones even if you won’t say.
Not afraid to like flowers,
Chapter 7: BASIC: April 2 - April 7
You God damn idiot,
Don’t go outside if your sick. I hate the way you do that. I know it’s pointless and you never listen, but please since I’m stuck here an going to be fighting for our country & can’t do 1 God damn thing about it please just F-ing stay inside for once. Please just do it because I can’t be there. I’m not writing again until I hear different.
I wrote you a letter yesterday that is upon reflection disrespectful I guess. I was real upset I guess. I’d take it back but I posted it already and they sent it I guess. I just read your letter and Becca’s and I got boiling mad I guess. Just usually I’m there so I know what’s what and I got worried I guess because sometimes your reckless. But it’s not like I think you can’t take care of yourself. It’s just sometimes you don’t tell me when you get really bad and I had difficulty not knowing. Made me real upset I guess. I hope your O.K., only I guess you said you were so I guess I have to trust you. Just please promise you’ll tell me if it gets real bad.
I’ll write you a proper letter now as an apology. A nice long 1 how bout that so you can read it if your still sick. 1st of all I still don’t know about training. I’ve heard same as you, they’re promoting some fellas straight out of Basic, but I don’t know. Rex (he’s the main 1 I don’t like) and me have had some altercations you might say so maybe I’m in trouble.
Since I’m writing a proper letter I guess here are the history of said altercations.
1. I don’t like how Rex talks to dames and I guess I said so. You know I say lots of stupid shit bout girls but mainly it’s to you as you know I’m pulling your leg most of the time except when I’m serious. Anyway it’s not as if I go flapping my mouth at just anyone. So anyway I guess Rex got punched in the mouth a lil and I can’t say I’m sorry bout that.
2. Thru a series of events it’d be too difficult to explain Rex & me switched beds and then he didn’t make his so Sarge got highly ticked off. I took the fall which I suspect was Rex’s plan all along only Rex expected me to rat on him. Only I didn’t and I suspect that makes him madder.
3. So then Cagney & me short-sheeted Rex’s bed (which used to be my bed). It was a scream and I don’t regret it.
4. I finally told him I didn’t think it was appropriate of him to talk about scalping & skull raping and all that. Noam, Cagney and a bunch of the other guys were behind me and Rex didn’t like that 1 bit. I may have threatened violence.
Rex is that sort of fella people pay attention to because he’s big and orders people around but once anyone sits back and thinks they realize that’s not how it has to be. Guess you’d have seen that right away. Anyway I guess me n Rex are rivals now because Rex has his own followers. We’re not a gang like him, there are just a lot of us who don’t like him. If there’s a leader (besides Sarge, who frankly seems to be oblivious) it’s Cagney. Tho if I were to choose I’d choose Noam.
I’m sorry I cussed at you, particularly in a letter where you couldn’t see I didn’t really mean it. I hope you can forgive me and maybe you’ll send me more of your practice drawings. I don’t think they’re boring, as that way I can know you’re still working at being a great Artiste and your not mad at me. Also I’m not going steady with anyone. I met this gal Cathleen last week tho.
Hope this letter is long enough to make up for that other 1 because my hand sure is tired.
P.S. Forgot to say I do like when the trees bud. I’m man enough to admit it, but I’ll be damned if I can figure out how you knew as I don’t believe I’ve ever told anybody. You don’t have to draw them tho, you can stick to your practicing, it’s nice to see you working on it. I know some magazine will pick you up 1 day so you should just keep at it. And if you do self-portraits like you were doing, that way I know your well & not sick as a dog.
April 6, 1943
I had a cold, it wasn’t as tho’ I was dying. And it was unfair of you to write Mrs. Lacey. I wouldn’t write your friend Noam to take care of you even if you were sick because you’re an adult who I TRUST can take care of himself so please afford me the same respect. I feel like I deserve that no matter how mad you are.
Anyway you didn’t answer any of my questions about Molly & your training & how I drew your pal Noam. What else am I supposed to do when I’m sick besides read letters from you anyway. It’s not like I GET to be in the army so maybe you should get off just be glad for what you try to be more understanding. But I know you’re far away and you don’t have it easy either. But I’m not 12 and you’re still a knucklehead.
April 7, 1943
I got your letter dated Apr 3. Thank you. I got hot about it too, sorry I can’t take my letter back either. I know you were just trying to help. Let’s just forget about it.
Re: the end date of recruit training, I just can’t see them keeping mum because you’re in trouble. What are they going to do, court martial you? Whatever it is I’m glad you’ve stood up to Rex. He sounds like a real pill. Try putting petroleum jelly in his boots.
I don’t reckon you need followers, as you have a sergeant, but you’re the one I’d follow if there was no one in command. Others feel that way too I know. Of course I don’t know Noam and you didn’t tell me what he looks like.
Well I can also draw Cathleen for you if you tell me what she looks like. & you know I’m sort of forgetting what you look like too other than you have big dopey eyes and a duck mouth, so maybe you can tell me if you look any different as well. Did they cut your hair off?
I know how you like the tree buds because of the way you look at them, dummy. You just look like you like them. I suppose there are flowering trees in Jersey but I reckon it’s not the same so that’s why I’m sending this drawing.
Chapter 8: BASIC: April 16 - April 19
Sorry for the short note. We had our parade today, it was supposed to be the end of training, but then Sarge informed me I’m to be a corporal. You were right I guess. They say I got to do extra training before I ship out so I guess I got to go to MD. I liked the trees but could you send me some of your practice drawings. 2 Halls Cross Roads, Aberdeen MD 21001. I want to make sure you keep practicing and don’t get loosey goosey. Sorry this is short, more soon.
Your best friend,
April 19, 1943
Good job on making corporal! I knew it! Congrats! I just got your letter so I’m writing right away, but I’m going to tell everyone in our block. I reckon you’re not writing Cindy on account of her hating your guts like I told you, but I can tell her too if you want. Mrs. Barnes is going to be so proud! I know you’ll make a fine corporal. I think it's really fantastic even tho' we all miss you here. I hope you are learning lots & it's not too hard. I just knew you were going to be great.
I hope this letter gets to your new barracks. At least you don’t have to deal with Rex. Did anyone else get a promotion? Sorry about leaving your new friends.
Well I’m feeling better and everything here is right as rain, even if we’re nervous about the game without Pee Wee here. Maybe you’ll see him in the war. I still think Arky might pull through, but he just hasn’t been the same since he left the Pirates. There’s also Billy Herman to look out for. Feels strange to be talking about baseball in times like these but it sounds like you'll be missing the start of the season & I wanted to fill you in.
In other news I’m delighted to report that our toilet is broken again. Luckily sounds like you won't be back for a while I can just let it flood your side of the apartment. The mess will make it look quite homey, as if you never left.
Handy with a plunger,
Chapter 9: BASIC: April 25 - April 28
I don’t have time to write a lot. They keep me busy with this new training but it’s all good. I’m fine. I hear we won both games so I guess we’ll beat the Phillies again. I like your nice long letters, please keep sending them. And keep sending the practice portraits so when you get famous I can say I knew you when. I’m sorry this is short but I got to write Ma too so she doesn’t get worried. I’m fine, nothing to worry about. I’m an ace corporal but mostly it’s about my shooting. I never miss which is kind of tough. Don’t tell Ma. Everything’s fine.
April 28, 1943
Thank you for writing to me. You don’t have to if you don’t have time. You can write a letter to your ma, sisters & me all at once just to reassure us you’re O.K. I hope you know I am there for your family & I am very good at reassuring people. Everyone seems to think I’m very sweet & innocent, which you know isn’t true, but I suppose it means I provide an utterly
inocu innocuous & therefore soothing presence. In my opinion you have an even more trust-inducing face than mine but it’s true that you’re anything but soothing.
Well if there are things you need to tell me you can’t tell your Ma, you can write me. I know I’m far away but you can tell me anything. There is nothing you can say to me that I wouldn’t want to hear. Do you remember after my ma died & I came to stay with you, & I was on the couch but you came out & told me I shouldn’t have to be alone, & you let me sleep in your bed. You said I would never really be alone. Well you aren’t either. I understand it’s daunting if they hold you up to a higher standard. Just know that I think you’re the best & you can do anything you put your mind to.
I guess you were wrong about the Phillies but as we won the next one I have a feeling we’re going to win again. And I know you were real worked up about it, but I fixed the toilet so you can settle down and breathe again. All those buds have opened up, at this point they’re overblown and losing petals fast. They drift down and it’s just like snow everywhere. I know you’d like it because you have a poetic frame of mind. You always were a sap.
Toilet repairman extraordinaire
Chapter 10: BASIC: May 5 - May 12
May 5, 1943
Mrs. Barnes passed along the letter you wrote to all of us. Thanks for including me and I’m sorry you don’t have more time, I know they’ve got you busy standing in lines, shooting things & getting naked. You said you like letters from me so I’ll keep writing my own & I’m still working on my line drawing technique so I’m sending along sketches as well.
Well I’m trying to write a long letter in case you’re low and want someone from home to talk to, so this story ought to cheer you up:
Mrs. Lacey – Widowed Druggist. Employs 1 Steve Rogers. Elderly, kindly, except in the case of—none other than—
Mr. Goldman – beleaguered Delivery Man! Arch nemesis of Mrs. Lacey! Known for muttering various explatives in Yiddish while hauling boxes.
Steve Rogers – intrepid Shop Boy. Frequently innocent by-stander in heated exchanges between our other 2 main characters.
Mr. Goldman had just delivered a shipment. Among other
oddity oddities, gumballs! Steve, the Dutiful Clerk, filled up the gumball machine in front but there were gumballs left over in the box. This could only mean 1 thing . . . he must venture to the back! Where no doubt Mr. Goldman and Mrs. Lacey were engaging in yet another infamous Verbal Dual. Invective hurled right, left—shouting, mood swings, oh no! Would our poor Steve be caught in the crossfire?!???
The plot twist
But then what to Steve’s wondering eyes appear but Mrs. Lacey and Mr. Goldman . . . KISSING. With lips. & no doubt tongues and jaws and other implemants of impassioned necking!!! Oh no! What will Steve do?!? Should he slowly back away, risking being caught redhanded with a box full of gumballs?!?! Or should he use his skills of subterfuge and cunning to sneak around?!?! Stay tuned.
The plot thickens
As it turns out Steve has no skills of subterfuge and cunning. As a result he hits the corner of a table & the gumballs go everywhere. They roll right, they roll left, they roll across the floor . . . past the table . . . past the shelf on the left . . . right up to Mrs. Lacey’s foot! Which by the way is attached to a leg that is somewhat intimately pressed against Mr. Goldman’s! What will happen next? Mr. Goldman’s foot begins to move . . .
The dream sequence
All I could think was that Mr. Goldman would step on one of those gumballs and it would roll and slip right under his heel, flipping him back right onto the floor just like a B. Keaton film, except that Mr. Goldman is not B. Keaton, & as such would most likely perish. Permanently.
The happy ending
But then Mrs. Lacey just pulled him back and says don’t worry about it. & resumes said impassioned necking! Meanwhile I hightailed it out of there,
My hip is bruised & I washed my eyes out with bleach so now I’m maybe 5 or 6F. There now I told you my big goof for the day (tomorrow is another adventure) so please tell me if it’s rough and you need someone to talk to.
I am always here for you and if I could drink and laugh with you after a hard day then I would to make you feel better. I’d take you to a club so you could dance like I know you like, or we’d go on a walk and end up by the docks, or maybe you could just relax at home & read some comics and I would sketch you.
Remember that night we got drunk and sat in the fire escape and there was supposed to be a lunar eclipse but we didn’t see anything. Well since you’re there and I’m here we can’t do any of that (instead I’ll tell you more stories about gumballs and me being an idiot if you want), but luckily we have the U.S. Postal Service so you can still talk to me if you need me.
Please tell me what’s up.
Got your 5/5 letter. Funny story! Can’t believe you saw that! I would’ve dropped the gumballs too. That’s a riot. Thank you and I like it when you write long ones.
I guess I’d tell you what’s up but there’s nothing much going on here besides training. I’ve just been busy. That’s all. Nothing’s wrong. Everything is fine, so stop asking. I swear sometimes you’re just like Ma. I'm just a little
I guess the dames in Aberdeen are just like the dames in Jersey, and this makes me wonder are dames like this in Brooklyn, I guess I was just looking in the wrong spots? But I guess it’s the uniform. Ladies love a man in uniform and I can see why it’s understandable I guess.
I met this gal called Francine. She’s colored and she’s like you about music, she’s got really interesting things to say and then she likes the dumbest stuff. You got to give the Andrews Sisters a rest, pal. She’s really pretty and can dance like a demon, that’s not like you at all I guess.
Don’t worry about me, I’m a fantastic corporal and I can shoot for both of us.
May 12, 1943
Well I don’t know how to say this but I don’t believe everything is fine with you. You always talk about girls whenever there’s something you don’t want to talk about. Think I haven’t noticed that about you? I never say it to your face because I know you want to use it to change the topic, but over letters it’s harder to know what’s up with you, so it’s also harder to have you get shifty over what you really feel. And I know you’re not the lady’s man, whatever you say. Cindy was practically your only girl besides Heather and I’m not even sure Heather counts. I’m not trying to be an asshole, I’m just trying to illustrate I know you and you can’t pull one over on me even if I’ve let you think you did. I see right thru you all the way down to the bottom.
The way I see it you’ve got two choices. A. Tell me you don’t want to talk about it & I’ll leave you alone. B. Tell me what’s up. Either way I’m still your best friend & I’m sorry I’ve been so blunt but I can’t figure out any other way to be. If you choose A I’ll forget all about it and write something hilarious and if you choose B well I’ll probably still write something hilarious because well I’m a card.
Chapter 11: BASIC: May 19 - May 26
May 19, 1943
Well I didn’t hear back from you so maybe you’re busy, or maybe my last letter was pushy. I’m sorry I pried. You deserve to say what you want, and if you don’t want to talk about anything that’s fine. I don’t mind hearing about dames if that’s what you want to tell me.
Nothing much back home to report. Bums were on a real win/lose/win streak but yesterday we won so I’m hoping today we will too. I’m sending you copies of my stats cards because I don’t think it likely you’ve got time to listen to the radio. Did you know that the new all-girls league is going to start on May 30? I wish I could see them play but I spose they’ll all be far away, which I don’t understand as the papers say B. Rickey was a co-founder of the League. You think they could get some Brooklyn girls to play but I guess they got other things to do.
I spose I should tell you I got another volunteering job. It’s filing at the recruitment office. And no I’m not planning to steal their 1A stamp but only because it wouldn’t work. But they need filing done and I thought maybe if I could see how it worked I could figure how to play the system. No use howling at me, it’s already done.
Sorry this letter isn’t hilarious as promised but I’m fresh out of jokes. Everyone else is out too. I guess the price of laughs is sky-high when everyone wants a good laugh. That’s capitalism for you. (O.K. maybe I’m a bit hilarious.)
Intrepid Shop Boy
I’m not lying to you. I wouldn’t want you to think that, because I’m not.
I just can't There are just some bad things happening things it’s hard to explain. Guess what I mean is I’ll choose A: I can’t tell you about it. It's just hard to I wish I could tell you I'm just having a real tough I guess I can tell you that Rex is here after all. They promoted him to corporal too. Not a big deal because we get on fine now. But I hate It's not that I guess he’s still an asshole and I'm finding it hardbut I can handle it’s okay. I mean our 1st drill sergeant was real tough, but it was different, this new 1 is really God damn so tougher. I just mean he lays into you real hard and I guess they do it to make us tough, which is why they put me with Rex. They said 1 of us is going to make sgt. & it’s going to be the tougher 1 of us. I guess they wanted us to compete. But that’s just a game of who can be dirtier. I can play nasty but fighting like that is for war, you know? But Rex will do anything they tell him no matter how nasty. But I wasn’t going to play that game, so I made nice which I guess they didn’t expect Just what the f I just can't believe they I mean I get what they’re trying to do. But I just wasn’t going to do that which I guess means I lose. The worst part is pretending to put up with Rex because I just think he’s sick inside. Twisted up. I guess just the thought they put me against him disgusts me, because I’m not like that & would never be like that, killing just to kill. But our new drill instructor is real hard and I don't think I can I mean I get woken up all hours of the night and they rough you up for the littlest things and I know it’s an indoctrination of sorts, but it’s also like they want to torture you. And even torture Rex.
I don’t know if I’m even making sense but I wish you were miss you real bad. I guess I feel like they want to make me a killer, is what it feels like, and I don’t want to be a killer. Every day someone gets in my face and says you got to want to kill, you got to want to taste blood, or else you’ll be the 1 getting shot, they’ll cut you up and do nasty things to your remains. And I know it’s war and that’s how it has to be only I don’t want to kill anyone. They make me want to be worse and you always made me want to be better. I miss you so God damn miss you.
I guess I shouldn’t send this letter but I can tell your real mad and I’m not a liar. Don’t you think I’m a liar, because I can’t bear it.
I guess I did B not A.
Just got your letter of 5/19. I wish you wouldn’t try to enlist. Please. Please for me just don’t.
Your best friend,
P.S. Don’t send any more of those practice sketches because I’m afraid Sarge will find them and he won’t like them. I’m sorry because I thought they were real good and I’m so sorry if you wanted to keep them but I ripped them up and flushed them because he’d think the wrong thing about them. You know I thought they were swell and that’s why I flushed them, because I didn’t want him to look. Please forgive me. And you know what he might even take this letter before I send it but I don’t. I don’t give a fuck. Your my best friend. Sorry it took so long to write the first part I had to do it a little at a time.
May 26, 1943
Forgive me. I don’t think you’re a liar. I’ve never thought you a liar & I didn’t mean to accuse you of it. I only meant you seemed like you were trying to be tough & you don’t have to with me. I know you can handle anything. But I also know you got a heart, & it’s O.K. to share it with me because I won’t ever tell anyone. About anything ever, I hope you know that. No one at all.
I don’t know what to say about everything you told me, other than that I’m really proud of you & really glad to be friends with you. I wouldn’t want to be friends with someone who fought against someone on their own side just because some bozo’s told him to. I know the military is about following orders, but I hope soldiers go into it with a mind of their own and won’t do something they know to be wrong. Orders have to be followed but in the end the heart should be the ultimate authority. I know you already know that which makes you stronger than them—stronger than Rex, and your sgt. & the Nazis and anyone else who can stand in your way. I’m just glad I know you and glad that you’re my friend.
Well thank you for talking to me. I know it’s hard at this distance, but usually I can tell what’s going on with you just from your mood and expressions and what’s happening around us, but I don’t know what’s happening around you and I can’t see your face.
Don’t worry about the sketches. They weren’t important, they were just for practice. I’m surprised you hadn’t thrown them away earlier. I want to write you another nice long letter to keep you company but lately I haven’t dropped any gumballs.
Hang in there, Buck. You’re the bravest, smartest, best man I know and there’s nothing anyone can ever do to change that.
Chapter 12: BASIC: May 30 - June 2
I sure miss you. Thank you for your letter. It sure made me feel a lil better.
I had a lil time last night for once. Sometimes I look at your sketches but since I had to toss them I read over your other letters. Here are some questions I didn’t answer.
1. I don’t know how to say what Noam looked like as I’m no good at descriptions. But I guess he looked like you only more you know, Jewish. I guess he shipped out so I haven’t heard from him. Letters take longer overseas you know.
2. They did cut my hair but didn’t make me shave it like I thought they would. I don’t know if that’s regulation. Most of its grown back but now I have a uniform so maybe you wouldn’t recognize me.
3. Thank you for taking care of my family.
4. Thank you for describing the flowers. Can you say what Brooklyn looks like now? Maybe draw a picture. I don’t think Sarge would think that was funny; it’d be O.K.
5. I knew about the new girl league but I didn’t know it was official and I agree there should be a Brooklyn one. Thank you for the stats cards I looked at them a lot and you did a good job even tho I never acknowledged them. Maybe you could send an update.
6. I sure do remember that time after your ma died. You always try to be so tough and never let me help but that 1 time you did. You accuse me of keeping things from you but you know I always eventually spill. I never could stop myself. You on the other hand are like a steel trap.
I think I’m supposed to get done with training in about 2 weeks. Hopefully I’ll get leave so I can see you.
Your best friend,
June 2, 1943
You know you can talk more about what is going on with you. Not to beat a dead horse, but you don’t have to talk to respond to every single piece of my letters. You can talk more about troubles you’re having. But I understand if you’d rather talk about happier subjects.
Thank you for your descriptions. I drew pictures of Noam, you as a corporal and the park on Pearl. That was where I met you, do you remember? Remember when you me and Elijah stole those eggs Tom was planning to use to egg Larry’s house. I wonder whatever happened to Elijah.
I’m also sending our stats but well they might depress you. I just don’t understand losing to the Cubs. The Cardinals are good this year so I don’t blame them but I just find losing to the Cubs reprehensable. What do you think? But Arky’s doing a bit better.
As for being a steel trap, well I’m not. You know my secret.s. Well except wait, let me confess, looking out for your family is a real hardship. It’s not like they’ve ever been kind or generous or paid me the least heed. Your ma’s never once baked for me and your sisters never sit for drawings or compliment my art at all. It’s a real chore, I can tell you but I’ll make this sacrifice for you because I’m a saint.
Yep all this time I’ve been
faing feigning toughness when really the burden of looking after your family and tending the shop and fixing the toilet is SUCH a load I can barely stand the weight of it. I am in fact languishing away as I am a delicate flower and cannot abide the OVERWHELMING FRENZY of ACTION occurring in north Brooklyn. Why just yesterday I rearranged the shelves at the store, swept, and ate a ham sandwich for dinner and nearly fainted DEAD AWAY from excitement!!!! It’s no wonder with everything to tell you that I keep it all to myself, you might get too unsettled by all the hurly-burly I have to do with. But rest assured I’d tell you if anything REAL important happened. Like if I finally get all the hair out of the drain. (Most of it’s yours by the way. STILL.)
Well to be serious for a min. I would ask you for help if I needed it. Like when Ma died. But right now I’m not the one going through tough times, so it makes sense to trade off. Just tell me anything you need to and I’ll always listen.
Chapter 13: BASIC: June 6 - June 10
I’m coming home on the 11th! I already got leave but they didn’t give me orders yet. They might not come until I’m off. I wonder if it’s because they still don’t know which of us to promote. I don’t think they like Rex (I guess he’s too mean) but there are some others I think might get it. I just want to go home for a lil. The Stark expo is on the 14th I think. Do you want to go with me? I’ve been hearing about it even here, they’re supposed to have flying cars and color televisions and a state of the art juke box. I would really like to go with you.
I don’t have time for much more, but I did want to say in regards to your 6/2 letter: you might want to get that sarcasm checked by a Dr. I think it’s getting even worse than when I left and that’s saying something. Also you didn’t ask for help after you ma, I forced it on you.
I can’t wait to see you. and Ma and Becca & Ida of course and all the neighbors and the old apartment and everything. I can’t wait.
June 9, 1943
I’m so glad to hear about your coming home!!! Of course your Ma is going to be beside herself. Of course I want to go to the Expo with you! Do you remember the day we went to the museum of Modern Art? We rode the ferry & got sundaes & in the eve went to Central Park. But I guess it didn’t end well as I got so cold. I propose another day just like that, except maybe without the ending. I’ll be sure to have a jacket for the Expo even if it is June. Unless you think I don’t need one.
Well everyone in the building is going to be happy to see you. But I’d like to keep you all to myself. Remember that time we played Blackjack about 50 times in a row because you couldn’t beat me. And you just kept getting madder and madder. & we could get our favorite bread and those tomatoes you like from Gregory’s, and 1-2 bottles of that really cheap gin. & we could go to that jazz club in Bed-Stuy we went to that one time, Dale’s, do you remember? I just really miss you and there’s so much to do together. I know you’ll want to see your family too and you probably only got a few days, I’m just dreaming.
Well hurry home and then we can go to Roxy’s for breakfast & you can see what I did with the apartment (which is nothing) and we can go to the Expo & maybe just spend a lot of time just hanging out because that’s what I like about you best. Besides everything else.
I guess you may get this after I get back. I guess your really excited for me to get home. Don’t get too excited. All those dames you’ve been stepping out with in my absence will have to revert back to me. I guess I should see Cindy and try to get her to forgive me. I’m writing that down so I do it and so you know how things are with me when I get back.
They promoted me to Sergeant after all. I still think it was rotten, what they did.
I’ll find us some dames we can take to the expo. Maybe they can do some of that other stuff with us too. It would be nice to spend some nice time with a gal before I go off to war. Of course I miss you lots, but I probably won't get a lot of time so I wanted you to know how I plan on spending it.
End Part I
Chapter 14: WAR: June 15 - June 16
Thanks to my_daroga for some plot help, and to inv3tebrate for awesome fanart, which you can see here!
I’m writing this on the boat. I won’t even be able to post the letter until we get to port in England, but I guess there’s nothing better to do. I don’t like how we left things I guess. We didn’t even say a proper goodbye.
I guess you were mad about our dates for the expo. You didn’t like them I guess. I know that’s not why you went to try to enlist, but that made me mad. I just think 1 of us should stay home & not get killed look after things. Like my ma. I guess I should do that but since your 4F it just makes sense. I know you want to help our country but I think you can in other ways. Your always saying you believe in me but when I say it about you, you think I’m patronizing you. Your a dingbat.
There’s not much to say. I’m sick as a dog. The Army and the Navy don’t get on I guess. But you know me I get on well with everybody. I wouldn’t have thought I’d make a good sarge but I’ve stopped about 4 fights already. They’re all afraid I’ll throw up on them I guess. I’ll practice my projectile barfing, what do you think? It’s strange to have to give orders. Good thing I’m suave & debonare.
It was nice to see you on leave. I guess I’m ready to fight a war tho and it will be nice to fight bad guys, because it’s the right thing to do. Remember I’ll fight for both of us.
June 16, 1943
I imagine you won’t receive this letter for some time. Please understand then that by the time you read this it’s too late to change anything. & please keep an open mind as you read. I know you’re going to be upset but just take some time to think about it. I know you’re a reasonable person & I know you didn’t want this but please try to think about it from my point of view. Please just understand this is who I am.
They found a job for me in the milt. Well I’m a candidate for it, what I mean to say is I’m enlisted. But I didn’t trick them (even though I tried) & they know I’m 4F. It won’t be a dangerous job if I get it. Trust me they are not going to send an asthma-ridden weakling with a heart murmur out to the front & they’re not going to send someone half-blind & clumsy as I am on complicated missions so it’s not a dangerous job. I’d tell you what it is but it’s classified. I know that sounds suspicious but just think about it, they wouldn’t choose someone like me if it wasn’t something perfectly safe. Please just think it thru rationaly.
But I still have to do boot camp like an Army regular. I’ve worked out a deal with our landlord & Guillermo (remember Mr. Ramez’s son) is helping me move our stuff to storage, & I forwarded our mail to me at the camp. Don’t worry. I’ve handled everything & it’s all under control. You don’t need to worry about a thing, I promise I’ll be fine.
I hope by the time you read this you’ve made it somewhere safe and you didn’t get sick along the way.
Chapter 15: WAR: June 20
We made it to the other side. We’ve got new orders for what we’re doing next, but I’m not allowed to tell you. They don’t censor officers’s letters as much, but someone still checks them every once in a while. I can write your letter in a blue envelope if I don’t want it to get censored, but all that means is a CO (like a capt) will look at it. They’ll censor your mail too, you know. I don’t think they do them all but you never know. I’m just telling you in case you send drawings.
I basically puked my guts up all the way here. Guess I’ll be a regular bean pole when I get back, just like you, unless they happen to have good food along the way which I doubt, because even if where we’re going is supposed to have great food the Army has this preoccupation with powder. Powder eggs and powder cheese & I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s powder steak.
I wish I’d spent more time with you on leave. I guess I won’t see you again until the war is over unless I do something stupid like get my arm blown off. But I guess we’ll still be friends even then. I hope everything is O.K. at home and you’re not still trying to enlist.
Your best friend,
June 20, 1943
I’m assuming you made it to England as I didn’t hear about any troop carriers getting sunk. I know you can’t tell me where you’re going but maybe then I’ll start getting letters. Well I hope you’re not too mad at me on account of my last letter. I don’t know when you’ll get all these so I’ll just keep writing as tho’ we’re still speaking and you don’t hate my guts because I enlisted. I imagine you’ll get over it in 70 or 80 years.
Well we have a drill sgt., but my unit is the pool for that classified job which means there’s some milt. officials here, & one’s a lady. I’ll call her AC. I think she’s swell. She punched someone in the face on our 1st day! I’ve never seen a woman do a thing like that but I guess she has to in order to prove she means business. I wish I could draw you a picture because she’s really pretty. I suspect people don’t take her seriously which is something I identify with. If she read that she’d probably laugh her head off (well except I never have seen her laugh) because she & I are nothing alike & well she’s probably the last person who’d ever consider herself an underdog. That’s what makes her so great is she doesn’t even act like anyone might not take her seriously, as if there is no question in her mind she belongs here doing what she’s doing. I do take her seriously because she knows her stuff & she’s tough as nails & plus if I didn’t she might punch me too! She’s really amazing. Also she’s English which means she sounds really neat.
Whew I sure understand all those things you said about Basic now. I’m so tired I can barely keep my eyes open. I hope you’re O.K.! I hope I get a letter from you soon.
Chapter 16: WAR: June 25 - June 27
Still travelling. We’ve hit a couple rough spots but we did O.K. I guess you could say I had my 1st action but I don’t know if it counted. We got off a truck, got on a truck, got off a truck, walked around, walked back, and will you look at that we got on a truck again. The Army life sure is a scream, let me tell you.
I don’t know when I’ll be able to get your letters but I sure hope you’re writing to me. I don’t know if your getting these letters either but I’m trying to write regular. It’s easy to write long letters as we’re travelling but I guess that won’t always be the case.
I guess I’ll tell you a bit about the 107th. Alvarez (Al for short) is tall and likes acting. He’s sort of arrogant but real smart. Sowder is old (50s) grizzled and has had about 50 jobs. Smokes like a chimney, he’s real nice, even tho he can’t seem to get along with Al. Burnette is short and a lil unsure of himself but at the same time tries to tell everyone what to do. That said I might like him the best. He’s real young and neat when he’s not being a nagging nancy, and he stayed with me when I was sickest on the boat. Then there’s Ace, who reminds me a whole lot of Hank Taylor from the first floor, except a lawyer. Can you imagine?
I figured you could draw some pictures if you wanted. I know you kept saying nothing was happening at home while I was at basic but I sure can’t wait to get your letters. I just like to hear from you and everything happening at home. You could write me another story like the 1 with the gumballs. Even if you didn’t drop any gumballs this time it would be funny.
Your best pal,
June 27, 1943
I still haven’t gotten any of your letters, but I assume you’re writing them. Maybe you’ll stop once you hear I’m in the milt. now but I hope you won’t.
Well basic sure is tough but don’t worry I’m doing really swell. We had to do an exercise where we got a flag down from the pole and whoever did it 1st got to ride back to camp instead of run. I was real tired so I really wanted to get that flag 1st & well I managed to do it. So you see Bucky, I’ll really be fine.
All the guys are swell. Well there’s a fellow I’m not keen on. & there’s a col. (another milt. official, he doesn’t hardly ever talk to us just strides around like he owns the place & looks mean, which is I guess what you do when you’re a col.). He threw a grenade into the middle of camp! He did it just to test us! As it turned out it was a dud. I think I nearly pissed my pants. Now I know why you hated basic, they jerk you around.
But you know what was swell was AC. She didn’t know it was a dud & she walked right up to it! I think she was going to try to throw it away so it wouldn’t hurt anyone! I never met anyone with guts like that besides maybe you! & I think it’s really rotten the Col. didn’t tell her it was for a test. He should have since it’s she’s technically our officer. I wonder if she talked to him about that. She’s just the sort who would demand respect because she’s in charge but she’s also the sort who would just tough it out because she knows people are going to treat her differently & she knows she just has to deal with it. I wonder why she joined the milt. I wonder if it’s because she wanted to help her country like I want to help mine & it makes me think a bit about what you said about me having something to prove. I spose maybe I did, a bit. Maybe she does too. Well if she can do it I probably can as well.
I hope you’re safe. Maybe I’ll see you in the war.
Chapter 17: WAR: June 26 - July 4
Finally got where we were going or close enough. I guess if you thought life at home was fascinating you’d think the army was heaven. You sure are missing a prize experience let me tell you. 1st off there’s the travel, if you loved puking on all the roller coasters just wait until you’ve been on the Atlantic! Then there’s travel by land for 9 straight days. Remember that time we splurged on a taxi? Now imagine your in a canvas bag attached to the bumper of that taxi and your being dragged along behind it, that’s how bumpy these trucks are. Now imagine there are a dozen other people in that bag with you and you have it bout right. Great now you got there people are going to shoot at you. What fun and adventure! And you get to shoot at them just like at a carnival except if you win all you get is to shoot some more. It’s a laugh and a half let me tell you.
Here I am complaining. I know this is all you want. I guess you’re thinking that it isn’t meant to be nice, it’s not meant to be comfy and I know it isn’t. I just don’t want to complain in front of the fellas because I already feel like a coward. Shooting at people isn’t the funnest thing I ever done, you know. It makes me feel sicker than the Atlantic. I throw up as much as you these days.
I guess I was trying to write a funny letter like you do but then it got dumb. I’m sorry. I guess I feel like you’re the only 1 I can talk to, but I guess that means you get the shit end of the stick when it comes to letters. I should tear this up and write something good but I don’t have the heart to. Maybe in a few days I’ll be more settled in and can tell you some of the funny things that have happened.
July 4, 1943
Happy 4th of July. They’re not making a big fuss about it here but we did have some fireworks. Luckily no one knows it’s my birthday.
We’ve spent the week at the range. You should have seen AC. A fellow (H—the one that I don’t care for much) was bragging that he could put the gun together in under a min. (which I know you can do, but you wouldn’t have been a dick like H about it. I can’t do it yet because my coordination is the pits but I know I’ll get it soon). Well so H put the gun together held it up & said nothing beats raw natural talent, but he didn’t know AC was there. Well she walks right up to another fellow’s gun,
disasem disassembled, right beside H. She puts it together faster than you can BLINK & then shoots 3 of the cans right in a row. BAM BAM BAM. It was as tho’ she didn’t even LOOK even tho’ she must have. Then she puts the gun down & it’s UNDER A MINUTE. Then she says, “Correction” she says, in that British voice. “Two things beats raw natural talent. One is a bullet. The other is hard work” and then she looks around at all of us and we all feel about 3 ft tall. Then she says “get back to it, boys” & walks right out. WOW. Even the Sarge’s jaw was hanging open.
I don’t think ladies go to the front but I wonder whether AC has had to shoot people. It was a rifle not a pistol. Like she’d be at home in a trench or in a tank or at the front of an entire army. I wish you could meet her, Bucky. You’d like her so much. I’d draw you a picture except it’s not allowed.
Happy birthday! I hope your spending the day with my family although knowing you your probably working. You were an old fuddy-duddy by the age of 16, I hope you know that. I guess I know that at least you’ll see the fireworks, so you’re not all bad. Have a hotdog for me! Have 2 for Christ sake.
Remember that time we went swimming in the sink hole? That was pretty much the most disgusting thing I’ve ever done until now. But the mud was so squelchy. You looked like a sewer rat. We were works of art. I still remember how you looked, brown all over with just your eyes clear. And then it all started cracking as we walked home and it came off like flecks of paper. And then Frank busted the hydrant so we could wash. I remember how you looked then, too. I wish I had a drawing.
I guess not much has changed since my last letter only I’ve killed people. I don’t know how many. You don’t climb out and look at the bodies. Well it’s for our country right. Happy fourth of July.
Chapter 18: WAR: July 9 - July 11
After I sent my last letter I realized I was real mad. I didn’t mean to be. So if you get the 1 dated 7/4 just forget the last part and if you don’t, well just pretend I wished you a nice happy birthday. Happy birthday Steve.
Everything’s shit. It’s all just shit, Steve,
I wish I couldgo home you could be here I was stronger I wish I could see you. I don't think I can This isn't what I I wish I hadn’t complained so much about basic. This isn’t anything like something I can deal with This isn’t what I thought it would be.
I’m a coward I guess. That’s all it is. I’m a sissy fucking coward and you know what gets me is I thought I wasn’t. I thought I was brave because I stood up to people and I tried to protect people and I thought I could stand up for what was right. But it was easy then, I did it because it was easy, and you were there to tell me it was right, and I never would’ve been that without you.
I’m sorry about this letter. I’m sorry, I just miss you. I miss you and I wanted to tell you.
Your best friend,
July 11, 1943
I received 2 letters from you! One is dated Jun 15 & the other Jun 20. It’s so good hearing from you!
I’m so sorry you were so sick on the boat! I’d probably throw up my entire spleen. I know that was almost a month ago but I sure hope you’re feeling better! I know about the censors (are you reading this censor person? We know you are! Hi!). Alice Lilleness (from downstairs) was getting letters from her sweetheart Bill that were all cut up. He eventually learned & started being more vague but she was real broken up about it. We’ll just be careful not to talk about where you are which makes sense considering you’re fighting a war.
Well it was a long time ago now but I wasn’t mad about our dates at the expo. I wasn’t interested in going on a date so you might have asked before getting one for me like I've told you before, but I know you wanted to have a date & you didn’t want me to feel like a 3rd wheel and that was big of you. I hope you’re not mad I enlisted.
Well I can’t wait to hear more from you. I drew you a picture of my bunk, which is about all I can see if I have time to draw.
Your best pal,
Chapter 19: WAR: July 15 - July 18
I still haven’t gotten any letters from anyone. I guess they’re taking a while to find me. We moved again so maybe it will take even longer. God I hate not hearing from any of you.
Sowder died this morn. Remember he was the older 1. So far 8 of us have died which is pretty good considering. You know sometimes a reg. gets somewhere and there’s an action and then 1/2 of the reg. is gone just like that. Just a few shells and its over. But with Sowder it was just so fucking stupid, he had this cut on his leg and it wasn’t even bad, but it got infected, and now he’s dead. That shouldn’t happen. That’s really F-ing dumb. But I can’t decide whether that’s better or worse than being shot in the gut. I shot someone in the gut & it was right above the trench and he took 2 hrs to die. 2 hrs and I’m listening to him die. It’s just so F-ed up.
I can't It’s F-ed up. I don't know if I can It was just soI can't didn’t think I’d see who I'd see their faces. I don’t know how to handle do this. I just wish you could.
I want to send you a letter that isn’t whining or complaining. I can’t seem to stop doing it. It’s like the second I write the letters of your name it all comes out and all I can do is bitch & moan. God. Look at this. I just don’t want to talk like this to the fellas, I just don’t want them to know I’m like this, that I think these things because I’m the 1 who smiles. I’m the 1 who says well let’s do it because I’m convincing. I’m God damn convincing is what I am. I can convince people to have a good time and I can convince them to stand their ground and I can convince them to get their heads blown off. I can convince them to blow other people’s brains out. That’s what I can do for my country Steve. That’s the kind of person I am.
I guess you’d tell me it’s O.K. but it's not O.K. and I'm trying, but I don't think I can XX XXXX XXXXXXX XXX I am O.K. But I miss you. You always convinced me. I knew what was right because you were there.
You're the XXXX XXXXXX X XXXX XXX XXXXX I miss Ma and everyone and even the Ramezs but you most of I really miss you. God I miss yhome. Sorry bout this letter.
July 18, 1943
Well no more letters from you. Last week was a windfall I guess. I sure miss you, tho’. I could continue to regale you with stories of boot camp but well it’s all a bit dull in comparison & at night I’m so dead tired that I just don’t want to think about it. If I can stay awake at all I just think about you & what you may be doing, & when I write you I can’t stop thinking about how you are.
Well I guess if you get this you’ll still be wondering about me. I still don’t know if I’m going to get that job. There are a bunch of other great guys here so I think not. Tho’ I do have a friend that’s one of the milt. officials I told you about. He’s not strictly in the milt. I don’t think. I met him at the recruitment office, that’s how I found out about the job. I’ll just call him DE. He’s real nice & smart & talented. An older fellow with a salt and pepper beard. I think you’d like him. He thinks I have a chance at the job but he’s not in charge.
I don’t know what AC thinks of me. You know, she reminds me of you a bit. She’s not a card like you, she seems real serious, but she’s got a lot of gall & the way that she stands up to people is like you. She’s got brown hair, chestnut and wavy (except for the parts she curls), & even the way she walks reminds me of you a bit. I don’t mean you walk like a dame & she definitely does walk like a dame, I mean the way when you walk into a room everybody looks. It's confidence, is what that is, and people admire you.
Well this is a sappy letter. I still think you’re a dope if that’s any comfort to you. I just wish we could have done all this together is all. Everything seems harder without you.
Chapter 20: WAR: July 22 - July 25
Thank you to everyone reading and commenting on this. Y'all make my day.
Got a whole stack of letters. 6/16, 20, and 27. I got it 3 days ago with a stack of letters from Ma and sisters. I’ve been trying to write you since then, but I just feel so crazy
but I keep but it’s hard to know what to say. I keep starting over. Pretty soon I’ll run out of paper so I guess I just have to write it.
I just don’t understand how they can let someone who’s 4F into the Army.
How is that They can’t I don’t I know you said it was a special job and I believe you. I get that it’s top secret. But that just makes me nuts worried bout you. Do you know what the job is exactly? Is it code-breaking doing things with numbers or you know, reading files or that sort of thing? Would you stay in the States? Can’t those jobs be dangerous too, if there are spies. I know you can’t tell me but Steve that kills me. I just need to I can’t stand it if you Can’t you tell me what I think I’d die if Please just It’s O.K. I guess. Anything you do is O.K. by me Steve. Anything you do is O.K. Like you said its who you are and that’s why I I respect that. It just kills me not to know, that’s all. You’re someone who stands up for what he believes in and you need to do that because that’s why you mean so we’re friends. But that means I But I’m selfish. I’m just selfish. I need you It makes me feel better to know your safe I have a friend back home who is safe & sound. I guess with everyone around me dying all I think about sometimes is how you look when you think the war is about helping people. I guess it is but out here it’s hard to believe, but knowing your safe, and I can fight for you, that feels like something to believe in.
Please forget bout my other letters and just tell me everything you can. I’m O.K. Don’t worry bout me, please just tell me your going to be O.K. Please. I need I want I can’t stand Just tell me what you can, I understand if it’s not much but I’ll like anything, anything you can tell me even just a lil.
I keep re-reading your letters bout you training. I just don’t get it. None of the COs know what the secret job could be. They say usually people train up special to work intelligence. Not that I don’t believe you, just how top secret is the job? How did they pick you? Why would they? When do you know if you got the job? How many are they picking? I don’t doubt your sneaky,
wieldin wheedling ways but forgive me for saying so, that usually only works on old grannies and disloyal sisters. I don’t mean to doubt you. I don’t mean to say you tricked anybody, but did you trick anybody. I just mean if they know bout the asthma do they know bout the pnumonia? It’s recurring, that’s what the Dr. said and do they know bout your eyes? I’m not trying to nag or get you in trouble but sometimes you withhold info even from important people. And from me. Like that bum grenade, I notice you say what AC did but did you say what you did, no. You didn’t, and knowing you you were probably right there trying to get everyone out of the way instead of running out yourself.
I don’t mean to say you’ve been underhanded, what if they’ve been underhanded? What if there’s something they’re not telling you bout this job? Otherwise why would you have to go to boot camp if it’s not dangerous? If you’re going to be sitting at a desk why are they shouldn’t be throwing grenades. Doesn’t that sound fishy to you? I’m sorry to sound like I’m questioning you, just please, I’m trying to understand. Please just I want to understand. I just want to know my friend is going to be O.K.
I’m just curious I guess. I’m curious bout AC too I guess. You said she’s a milt. official, is she Army? Would you be working with her if you get the job?
How did Is she I’ve never heard you talk bout a dame like that. I I can’t tell whether you Do you I guess you like her. Do you know if she likes you as well, is she the one picking who gets the job? Would you like it if you got to be with work with her closer. You know I talk bout dames all the time so you can tell me. I’m just curious is all. You know I tell you everything so now its you’re turn. Please just tell me anything you can.
Your best friend,
July 25, 1943
I got your letter dated Jun 29. You said it was a bad letter but it’s not true. I don’t want you to be funny or pretend to be O.K. when you’re not. You may have to do that for your mother & sisters, but not for me. That’s what a best friend is for. You have to have someone you can tell the things you can’t tell anyone else, things that you’re afraid of or embarrassed about or think people don’t want to hear, you can’t keep them all inside. For many reasons.
A. Someone else might feel the same as you, & you’ll never know if you keep it all to yourself.
B. If you don’t talk about it it might all boil up at the wrong time.
C. Sometimes it helps to put things into words, put your thoughts in order.
D. The things you may hate yourself for are things another person might like you for. That may sound strange because you said you think you’re a coward, & I don’t like you for being a coward, but I don’t think you are one. What you think is cowardice I think is bravery. You’re afraid but you’re still there anyway, you’re still fighting & you’re going through with it. What’s more you’re keeping everyone else going too, I can tell. You might say I shouldn’t be able to tell from just a measly old letter but I can read between the lines. You don’t know how people follow you & are influenced by your mood but they are, it’s because you’re good & funny & generous & smile a lot & make the best of things, you’re strong, & people look up to you, so even when you’re down people look to you. & you’re trying to be strong for them & the only way you can do that is letting off steam to me. That’s something you’ve always done with me & I do it with you. You think I complain to other people the way I do to you? So tell me everything. It’s what I want and it makes me feel closer to you, like I’m special enough to hear your secret thoughts.
Please tell me everything. That’s what I want from you.
Training is still tough. AC is still amazing. I’ll tell you more about it in my next letter but for now I’m wiped.
Your best friend,
Chapter 21: WAR: July 26 - July 30
We’re doing a lot of fighting but also waiting around. At least it’s warm and dry so it’s easy to re-read your letters. Still only have the 3 (6/15, 20, & 27). Just kept thinking bout you in basic training I guess. Sorry bout my intearrogation letters, I’m just worried because your my best friend and I don’t want you killed. You don’t have to tell me anything you don’t want.
I was wondering about AC. Do you ever see her when you have time off? Me and some of the fellas would go to a bar sometimes on a Sat night, sometimes there were officers—do you do that? Does she come? Does she have good legs? I know you’re going to think that question’s disrespectful, but it’s not fair because you know how I am about women and I guess I don’t know how you are. You’d be able to tell just from my letters if I liked someone, you knew when I was in basic who I liked particularly, and that’s because you’ve seen me nuts over someone but I’ve never seen you that way. So I can’t read between the lines I guess. I know you said you don’t fall for gals real easy, but I knew that was because you’d never met the right 1. Is she the right 1?
I guess you’re going to say she’s an officer and it would be disrespectful, and you don’t like me asking I guess. You always get touchy when I ask, but if I was there I might be able to tell whether you liked her. So you see, you got to tell me things you otherwise might not. I do that too you know. If you were here I wouldn’t have had to say half the things I’ve said because you would just know. You’d look at me and know. So excuse the question bout her legs but please tell me if your what you think of her.
I guess knowing bout her would help to ease my mind I guess. If I knew more bout her I guess I could be less worried bout this job you might get. Been reading your letters and want to hear bout something besides the war. Please let me know.
P.S. I just thought of another reason you should tell me bout AC, it’s not as if we get any dames out here. So it’d be a real favor if I got to hear bout 1.
Went on a lil trip 2 days ago. Lost 6 men and got back this morn. Trying to think bout how to get spirits up but luckily once we got back mail had come in. Everyone had stacks of letters which does a lot for morale. 1 of the men was mine (Ace) so I had to write his ma & pa and he had a sweetheart. Pile of laughs. Tried to think what you would do, but I just couldn’t. I checked on everyone and they seemed good but I wonder if they’re all like me just waiting to break down.
Got your letter of 7/4, your birthday. Damn shame you didn’t even have a hotdog, but I remember that day so maybe our letters are catching up to each other. Don’t yet know if you’ve got any of mine. Your AC sounds like a real corker. You don’t have to shoot a gun for that job do you? I thought of AC as more of a secretary type but if she can shoot like that maybe she’s not. Could she be in special forces? Could she be a spy? It doesn’t make sense they’d have you be a spy. I don’t want you to die.
I guess tell me more bout AC, I want to hear everything. What color are her eyes? Please tell me if your in love with her.
I don’t think I’d mind if I got shot tomorrow. I should cross that out but you said you wanted the truth from me and that’s the God’s honest truth.
P.S. This is a stupid letter.
Chapter 22: WAR: August 1
August 1, 1943
I wanted to write something about how wonderful I think you are. Remember how they wouldn’t let me play ball because I was so short & scrawny? You twisted their arms until they let me. You were a hero then.
Remember when I got pneumonia & you worked my shifts at Gowers so I wouldn’t lose my job? You’re probably asking which time, because you did it 5-6 times. You were a hero then.
Remember Lisa Conway. And I wanted to fight Mark & those other jerks & you said there were better ways to handle things than sticking your fist in people’s faces, & you lost new bike but you got them arrested too, so Lisa never had to see him again. Guess what you were then.
I get angry sometimes. I want to hurt people who hurt others because sometimes I feel like the only way to stop someone is to fight, but then I hear your voice in my head and it's telling me to take it easy, there are better ways. It's telling me life is too short and sometimes you just got to laugh. I always thought that I could do anything if I put my mind to it, but you’re the one who taught me you can’t do it alone, and that's how people REALLY can do anything. It's with each other, with friends and other people. & you’re the one who makes me feel like I can have friends, I can be with other people, I don't have to be alone because human beings are great & life is FUN. I wake up in the morning & I think “Bucky would beat the hell out of this day” & then I try to beat the hell out of it too, because you always make the most of everything.
I got your letters dated 7/4 & 9. I’m sorry that everything is shit. I’m sorry everything is rough. I’m sorry war is the way it is & if I could I would have saved you from it. But Heaven help me if you call Bucky Barnes a coward again I’ll come over to wherever you are and wring your fucking neck. Don’t you dare. Don’t you fucking dare. You don’t get to call him a wimp or a coward or a sissy, because I KNOW HIM BETTER THAN THAT, and I swear to fucking Christ I will kick the shit out of you.
Well I know right about now you’re probably laughing at me but don’t forget I have a mean right hook & now I have a gun. & even if I can’t see good I can pull a trigger so you best stop bad-mouthing my best friend or the army will have a loose cannon on their hands & you don’t want that. STEVE ROGERS GOES APE. You don’t want it trust me.
Fear my wrath,
Your best friend Steve
Chapter 23: WAR: August 8 - August 12
August 8, 1943
I’ve been re-reading your letters. I got one from Jul 15, when your friend Sowder died. I’m really sorry about your friend. I’m sorry about everything. Well it probably sounds wimpy to say it but I’m not ashamed, you’re breaking my heart.
I know you haven’t gotten my other letters but I just want to reiterate I’m the person you can talk to. It’s why I’m here. You’re not bitching & moaning, you’re telling me how you feel which is important. It’s what you need & I don’t want you to be ashamed. I’m not. It just convinces me that much more that I’m doing the right thing. You haven’t gotten any of my letters yet (well maybe you have), but I enlisted so that I could help. Because I feel I have something to give people & that includes you too. We make each other stronger. You say you’re a convincer, well we’re all convincers. A nation is all just people convincing each other that we’re connected and we should fight for it. We believe in something because we believe in each other, & I believe in you. & please stop apologizing for your letters, you don’t know how much I value them, that you’ll tell me things you won’t tell other people, that you put that faith in me.
I haven’t had time for drawing lately, but please tell me about the men in your reg. & I can sketch them for you. I think you may have done already because you say you mentioned Sowder before but you haven’t. I probably missed a letter which drives me crazy. I hope you’re not missing letters from me because I want you to know how wonderful you are even if you’re an idiot who can’t see your own worth. I’m sorry I’m not there with you but maybe one day soon.
Your best friend,
It’s been a while since I wrote. Haven’t had the time, but now I’ve got just a lil. I got your letter of 7/11. Glad to read you started getting my letters, but like I was afraid of you just talk bout me instead of you. You always do that. I shouldn’t have complained so much. I just want to hear a bit more about your girl AC & everything else.
I guess you’ll be annoyed too if I don’t tell you what’s up over here, but I don’t know what to say. The food is terrible, I’ve got stomach cramps, it’s muddy where I sleep and I’m either shooting people or shooting the shit with a bunch of guys who have shot people. That’s bout all that’s going on.
Please tell me more bout you and whatever you can tell me bout what your doing. Anything at all. I don’t care if it’s bout doing your laundry in a bucket or how much your bunk smells because that means its normal basic which probably means they’re not special training you on how to be cannon fodder. But it still might be. You said we've got to question things. Well, given what I seen I guess I’m questioning everything. For all I know your special job is to get crazy science experiments done on you, did you know the Nazis are doing that? I know, what if they chop of your head and sew it onto a robot body?!? Like a cross between Frankenstein’s monster and Metropolis. Wow no wonder they want to keep it a secret. See if you don’t tell me things I come up with these genius ideas and then what if the censors see them, pass them along to their superiors, and then the President wants to use them? You just don’t know. Not telling me bout your laundry could cause the end of the world and you don’t want that. So laundry please and anything bout AC or that job.
Your best friend,
Chapter 24: WAR: August 15 - August 21
August 15, 1943
I hope you’re doing well. I got a letter from you, Jul 22, but it didn’t have much about how you’re doing. Well it seems you got some of my letters which is good. I just can’t tell you much about the job & I’m really sorry about it. I would tell you if I was doing anything unsafe, however.
Well I’m trying to think of what to tell you. It’s just like ordinary boot camp I assume except for AC & the col. & tighter security I spose, but that’s just because of this one job and no one’s got it yet. They don’t even know who they’ll give it to & I doubt it will be me so don’t worry.
Well I don’t know how much of this kind of thing you did in your training but for the last few days we have been doing tactical
asess assessments. This is a relief as we get to spend at least part of the day sitting down which is a huge relief. Also I’m a bit better at that sort of thing than I am jumping jacks & shooting & climbing ropes & well everything. Tho’ I can’t say the instructor approves of me, he says the ideas I come up with are too risky. But war means risk.
Well I don’t know what else I can tell you. I just hope you’re not spending your whole time wherever you are worrying your head off about me. You’ve got more important things to think about and you should focus on them. I’m going to be fine. Please tell me more about how you are. Remember, I’m still the one you can talk to, the one you can tell everything.
Your best friend,
How are you? No new letters but it’s only been 4-5 days. Thought I would write you as yesterday we had ourselves an adventure. I guess I can’t tell you details, but sneaking thru this field and Dum Dum (I guess I haven’t told you bout Dum Dum. I thought he was called that because he seemed dumb, but he’s not, he’s real smart, even if he is a Red Sox fan, which is another reason I didn’t like him at 1st) Dum Dum saved my life. I never did hear anything, we’re just walking thru this field, but then Dum Dum yells down and just mows me over. Now this hurt a lot as Dum Dum is roughly the size of a freight engine, but once I came to and realized I was still alive I also realized there were shots going over our heads. Dum Dum and me are behind a rock but the sniper’s just picking off the others 1 by 1. He was hidden in the trees and we were in an open field, so I guess you can figure we weren’t too comfortable. We’re both terrific shots, but as soon as either one of us looks above the rock we’re goners. So we’re both setting up our rifles, but then Dum Dum takes off his hat (he always wears the hat, I don’t know why, maybe he’s bald) and puts it on the end of his rifle and sticks the rifle out. So that draws the sniper’s fire and I can see exactly where he is and take the shot. Then I start to get up but Dum Dum pushes me, there’s more shooting and I realize there was more than 1 sniper. But I’m in the open because Dum Dum didn’t push me enough so Dum Dum just points his gun with his hat still on it, right in the open, and starts shooting, and I line up another shot. God, that Dum Dum! Standing out in the open like that, he was drawing their fire for me! And you know what, he made it! Only his hat didn’t. I took the other sniper out and Barry just got shot in the hip and another pal of mine got it in the knee, which I guess means he won’t be walking much, but it’s still pretty good considering. That’s just the kind of cockamam
yie thing you would have done, what Dum Dum did I mean, he reminded me of you which is I guess why I told you. And he just keeps making jokes like he don’t want to talk bout it which is also just like you. I guess I’m glad you’ll probably never meet him as you’d get each other dead within 2 seconds flat. But he’s neat and plays poker and probably could give you a run for your $. He’s started wearing this bowler he says he got in London, he says he’s got to have a hat and I guess if the Army won’t replace his uniform hat the bowler will stay. I hope it doesn’t as it’s hideous, but Dum Dum looks like Teddy Roosevelt anyway.
I guess I just wanted to tell you that story to make up for all the dumb boring letters I’m embarrassed to have written you. Please tell me more bout your training as soon as you can.
Your best friend,
I got your letter of 7/25. I think I may be missing 1 as I think you write on Sun and I don’t have a 7/18. Maybe you don’t write on Sun but the that’s what I did in basic if you recall. If you didn’t write me 7/18 I understand. Just I worry if you wrote more bout that job or AC or anything, I don’t want to miss out I guess. Maybe I’ll get it later. I keep them all and reread them lots. Please don’t stop writing them.
In your letter you said tell me everything. You should do the same. I guess you can’t because it’s a secret (B says even she hasn’t been able to find anything out which makes me think maybe they’ve just buried you in concrete), but tell me what you can. All your letters are just replies to me which is real nice, but I’d rather hear bout you.
As for me we’re still killing people over here I guess. But we don’t talk bout that. Killing people? Oh no that’s boring shop-talk, that’s what we do all day, no reason to talk bout that after hrs less your a pussy. And I’m not a pussy. Al isn’t a pussy and Dum Dum isn’t a pussy so they never talk bout it either, only you know what I think we’re all pussies. We’re all just too chickenshit to even talk bout it. Maybe Yo would talk bout it if I brought it up with him, but what is there to say? I mean what do you want me to say Steve besides we’re killing everybody, we’re murderers and I hate it? You said you want to hear it but it’s not useful. It’s not helping any. I just feel that much worse.
You said tell you everything. I guess I’m trying to think of what it would feel better to tell you. I miss you. I miss that stupid stain on the ceiling. I miss it when you draw. Not just the pictures but you just drawing, concentrating real hard while I did something assinine like play solitear. Remember that time you strained your shoulder muscle. Remember that time we went to the art museum and then we got sundaes, we went to the park and you got cold and I shared my coat with you. You said that in a letter to me and I acted like I forgot it but I hadn’t. I guess that’s a secret for you. I never forgot a single bit of it.
I don’t know. I’m fucked up I guess. I’m wrong in the head. I think if I was stronger in some ways I’d be stronger in other ways too. I know your going to say I’m strong but you don’t know everything bout me. But I don’t know everything bout you either. anymore. Please tell me more bout AC.
Chapter 25: WAR: August 24 - August 22
August 22, 1943
You’re an idiot. I spose I should be nicer to you, on account of you being at war & risking your life. But you’re just so idiotic I can’t bring myself to.
I received your letters dated July 26 and 30th. I don’t even know where to start with you.
1st: I said you could tell me anything, but I lied. Don’t ever again write that you wouldn’t mind getting shot. Just don’t ever write it. It makes me want to shoot you myself. It makes me
want to lose my mind. Instead write why you feel that way & maybe I can think of ways to cheer you up at least a bit. I have about 50 stories about gumballs, each of them more hilarious than the last. That’s worth living for if nothing else on earth is.
2nd: I’m not in love with AC. Don’t be a dingbat. She’s my commanding OFFICER. Actually she isn’t. She’s the commanding officer of my commanding officer or possibly somewhere even above that. She’s in eshelons I can’t even really grasp with my puny brain, but you know what, that’s not actually why I’m not in love with her, I’m not in love with her because I don’t KNOW her.
You think I would I haven’t fallen for gals I’ve known for ages, you think I’m going to suddenly go wild just because the person I respect most in my unit happens to wear a SKIRT?!? That’s not only disrespectful to me & her, it’s disrespectful to all women in positions like hers.
Furthermore, if I was interested in dating her I would tell you.
Furthermore Furthermore Furthermore, do you remember that day we went to the art museum & I got really cold & you tried to keep me warm with your Do you remember that day last October when we went to the art museum & then we got sundaes & then we went to Central Park. I got really cold. I tried to tell you something that night you didn’t want to take seriously. Well I was serious. I’m sorry you wanted it to be a joke, but I’m not going to change. So don't ask me about AC.
Well I don’t know how to wrap up this letter. I feel like I should cross out the parts where I called you dumb because maybe you’ll think better of me, but it’s not true. You ARE dumb. But I’m sorry if you think worse of me. My opinion of you is unchanged: you’re a dipstick & you’re obnoxiously loud. But at baseball you’re O.K.
Got a letter from you that says you’re coming out where I am to wring my neck. Are you sure your man enough? And well Steve all of those
explet explatives. Ma would have a heart attack. Maybe you best just sit down. Relax. Take deep breaths. Remember there are both uppercase and lowercase letters.
You don’t have to wring my neck or kick the stuffing out of me or any of those things you said. I’m feeling better and you don’t have to worry. I just wish I could have a picture of you with steam coming out your ears, maybe pawing the ground like a big angry bull. You get like that sometimes, you know. I wish I could see you. You make me feel so Thank you for your letter with those nice things you said bout me and yes I do fear your wrath so don’t go ape. You can be real scary, you know.
But I’m O.K. Steve. You don’t need to worry bout me. Please tell me more bout you, everything bout you and draw me some pictures, please just tell me everything bout you. I miss you lots and lots. Please with a cherry on top.
I just want to Guess I wish you could just come by and try and ring my neck; I’d put you in a headlock and we’d I guess I can’t remember the last time we wrestled. I just want We used to all the time but then I Guess I got afraid you’d beat me. Guess I wouldn’t mind taking a few punches now tho if your so mad.
Don’t be mad Steve, I’m O.K. Everything is O.K., you made me feel lots better Steve with your letters, I just miss home. I miss home so much, lots and lots, I miss it so much.
Your best friend,
Chapter 26: WAR: August 26
August 26, 1943
It’s very late at night as I write this letter.
I just wanted to say I got the job. I was going to wait until after I started it to tell you, but it’s 3am, I start tomorrow, & I can’t sleep. I wish that I could talk to you. There are so many things I want to say. Well I’ll be able to write you once I start. But just in case I get real busy there are some things I wanted to say.
I don’t know what will change when I start my new job. Or if you get my last letter. But whatever happens, I’m the person you always knew. You’re a great pitcher & I’m the one who signalled you what to pitch because I knew how to watch the batters better than our bum catcher. I drew you aliens & beat you at cards, you stood by me when I got beaten to a pulp and taught me how to throw a punch so I wouldn’t get my teeth knocked in. I helped you make up with Becca whenever you teased her and she got mad, & we sat out on the fire escape when it was too hot to breathe. You put ice on me because you thought the sounds I made were funny, I got you comics & you got me art supplies. I helped you find a job when your ma lost hers & you wouldn’t let me be alone when my ma died. Most important you’re my best friend. Whatever else happens that’s the number one thing you are to me and always will be.
And I know you. Better than you think. Even some of the things you think I don’t know I know, I know you better than you know yourself, and you’re O.K. Everything you are is O.K. Everything, even the parts you fear, or despise, because they’re yours. I know everything about you and I think all of it is great.
That’s all I wanted to tell you, but remember it for all time.
End Part II
Chapter 27: MIA: August 29 - September 3
Aug. 29, 1943
I don’t have a lot of time to write but I started my new job & just wanted say it’s O.K. I may even be able to tell you a bit about what I’m doing soon because things changed a bit so I’m not even doing what I thought I would be.
Well this is hard to write but my friend DE died. It was quite sudden and no one expected it. I tried to help him but I couldn’t. I feel like it’s my fault & I don’t know what I can do about it. The funeral is tomorrow & I’m supposed to wear a new uniform & it doesn’t feel right. That’s such a stupid thing to worry about, I know that you’ve lost friends in the War.
I have not received any letters from you lately. I hope that you are well and don’t mind those things I said in other letters. I was just nervous about this job but it’s not important. I don’t think I’ll be seeing you or helping you like I thought I would, but you were always fine without me I know you’ll do all right on your own.
Sep. 3, 1943
They said I could say a bit of what I’m up to. Remember earlier this yr you wrote I could make people donate, well I spose you were
clarevoy phsyckic presciant. They’re putting me with the USO & I’m doing things like selling war bonds. It’s not the job I thought, but it’s for my country & well there’s an important person who thinks it’s a job that needs to be done. & I spose it does, so what can I say. Well you see, it’s not dangerous at all just like I promised.
I wanted to tell you about DE’s funeral. He didn’t have any family, I can’t remember if I told you that. They were killed by Nazis. I wish I could do something to make all that he did mean more, he was a true genius but also a gentle soul. I miss him quite a bit. I didn’t make many other friends in Basic, but you know I’m terrible with fellows my age.
AC & the col. were at the funeral, I think they loved him too. I don’t think they have many friends either. I never see them laughing. I won’t really be seeing them anymore with this new job, I knew you were wondering.
I sure do miss you lots and hope to get a letter from you soon.
Chapter 28: MIA: September 8
Okay I'm no artist, guys. But this one was mostly text so I felt like it was relevant to Bucky and Steve's correspondence. Which meant I had to do some things with a pen.
This chapter is dedicated to my_daroga, who took the photo and cleaned it up in Photoshop and did things with layers and I know not what. Thank you so much for helping me in so many ways, from listening to me ramble to giving me books about homosexuality in WWII. (I read this excellent essay, guys; it was great.)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Sept. 8, 1943
I finally got a new letter from you! Glad because I think I’m to travel soon. My address will change a lot so I won’t get your letters as regular. When we make longer stops I’ll get mail forwarded.
You asked about laundry and killer robots with my head on them. Well we did do our laundry in buckets. As for the robots well I’ll ask Howar some people in the govt. if they have any intention of robot people & well I’ll let you know. Well probably not because they don’t seem to like it when I talk. What a joke!
Well they sure do keep me busy. The confusing thing is with what. I have to go to meetings but they seem to just want to look at me. I wish they would just take pictures. I never had so many people look at me in my life! & I never knew advertising was such work! I think they talked for a week about what I was to wear. Did you know that there are people in rooms who can discuss which typeface to use for 5 whole hours? I didn’t even know there were that many diff. typefaces, I spose I never thought about it.
Well you still sound unhappy even tho’ you’re making robot jokes. & I know there’s no way to make you happy because you’re in a war and war is unhappy. But I sure do wish I could cheer you up some. Well I don’t have time to draw you funny cartoons even though I’d like to, but in a meeting I tried to copy some of the typefaces so I’ll put them with this letter.
Better finish up before they need to stare at me again.
I tried to do alt text for the picture but I'm not sure it worked, so here's what the image says, in Steve's attempts at different typefaces:
Bucky Barnes has a duck mouth.
Bucky Barnes smells like cheese.
Bucky Barnes has big brown girl eyes.
Bucky Barnes loves blondes.
Bucky Barnes is secretly an alien from Mars.
Steve Rogers is the smartest person in the world.
Steve Rogers smells like AMERICA.
This is a long meeting.
Steve Rogers loves pie because it’s better than cake, obviously.
Steve Rogers likes Ella Fitzgerald.
Steve Rogers has great taste unlike some people.
BATMAN IS BETTER THAN SUPERMAN AND EVERYBODY KNOWS IT.
[sketch of a robot vs sketch of an alien, some doodles of robot parts, and Steve's signature, '43]
Chapter 29: MIA: undated - September 12
Got to write you quick as they keep me busy and will be flying off soon (on a plane!) I got your letter re: Dum Dum saving your life. Well, I have so much to say to you & hardly any time, but 1st is I’m glad you’re alive, I’d shake Dum Dum’s hand if I could, 2nd is your letters aren’t dumb, I’m sorry if you’re embarrassed but I’m not, I need you to tell me things otherwise I feel worthless worse about how I’m no help to anyone I wish I could help the war effort more, I don’t mean to make you feel guilty but it’s true, and 3rd, well I forgot what 3rd was but it’s damn hard to read about you getting shot at. If you died I’d lose my mind be real sad. So don’t die. Tell Dum Dum I told you not to die. Tell him that if he keeps you alive I’ll let him beat me at poker. That ought to give him incentive. I’d give you incentive too but I already let you win at poker (those times you won, that was always charity because I pitied you. I’m a real sport like that, this is why we’re friends, because I’m magnanimous, & extremely modest.) Please tell me more stories, but only the ones where you don’t die. I have no interest in the other kind. I wish I could help you, I wish I could be there. I feel so usel Please be careful. I’m glad you have friends to help you. Please keep them close by. Write when you can. I wish I could be with you.
Sept. 12, 1943
Well I’m on an airplane. It’s not as neat as we thought it would be, real bumpy as you can see by my writing. I didn’t get a chance to see your ma & Becca & sisters before I went, but I sent them a letter and I’ll send them more once I get to OH (we’re going to Columbus but will only be there one day, then it’s Cinncinatti, Indianapolis, and Chicago). In this new job they really control my time a lot but it’s not serious. It’s important, & like I said important government people want it, but it’s not serious.
I had to do my 1st real “job” yesterday, selling war bonds like I told you. It was awful. I’m really awful. You would laugh at me & I wish you would because then I’d feel better about how terrible I am. I just can’t recite things, & feel so awkward when I’m asked to smile but don’t feel truly happy. It’s not that I’m UNHAPPY, everything is fine & I have far more than I deserve or should ever ask for, I just mean it’s like smiling at a joke that isn’t funny.
Well it will probably be a while until I can write again, just thinking of you as I soar through the clouds like we used to talk about.
Chapter 30: HOSPITAL: September 14 - September 15
I’m in the hospital. Don’t worry bout me, I’m fine. Shot in the arm but it didn’t hit bone or major arteries, bullet went clean through, just tore some muscle and the doc said it’s just like a scrape I guess.
Happened 9 days ago but couldn’t get anywhere. We patched it up fine so it’s not bad any more I guess. Just stings a bit and itches like the dickens. Had a lil fever but it broke.
Ma should have got a telegram. Told her before I left to tell you soon as she could if anything happened to me, so you should find out in a day or 2. Sorry they wouldn’t send you a telegram. Tried but they know I don’t have a dad or brother and I guess I couldn’t explain.
I have so much to say but no clue how to say it. I’ll save it for another letter I guess. My big worry now is I don’t know what’s going on with you. I was in Basic 10 weeks and you started in the mid of June, so you should have got done at the top of Sept. Now I have 2 letters from early-mid Aug I was wanting to reply to before we took our lil trip, but I wasn’t thinking how you’d be ending Basic because I was stuck on your letters from a month ago I guess. Hopefully now that I’m stuck here for at least a few days I’ll get a big pile a letters and they’ll tell me all bout what your doing, but it kills me how I’m a month behind.
There is so much I should say but I’m real tired. Doc says it’s blood loss among other things. It was my left arm that was shot so I can still write fine, I guess I’ll write more tomorrow.
Your best friend,
I have lots to say. I guess I’ll start with your letters as I’ve been thinking bout them for weeks. Got these before we left, letters 8/8 and 8/15. 8/15 1st: you said you were doing tactical assessments. That made me bust up laughing so hard, when you said the instructor thought your plans were risky but war means risk. By that definition, Capture the Flag, baseball, blackjack, 5 card draw (all poker really), talking to assholes, and a literal walk in the park mean war to you. You take risks when you do all of them, you dope. You might as well have just said “me being Steve means risk.” Your the riskiest person I know. That’s how come you should lose more at blackjack, you don’t because your lucky. Then you say “calculated risk Buck!” and look so innocent like you really mean it, but there have been at least five times in the time I have known you when you should have got your jaw broke because you picked a fight, and you didn’t only because I just happened to come along, including when I was on leave! I was on leave for 4 days Steve! 4 days. And you couldn’t even stay away from a fight. I still wonder if my exact timing coming back from getting orders was part of your “calculated risk.” Geez, you are such a nitwit. I miss you.
A part of me wants you to never take any risks ever because then I wouldn’t worry so much, but then you wouldn’t be Steven G. Rogers. You made me take risks also, and even tho sometimes they were stupid risks they were the best times of my life. You made me feel like I could be a hero.
As for your letter of 8/8 you reiterated I can tell you anything. I really appreciate your telling me. A lot happened over the last 3 weeks and I guess I’m still trying to figure it all out. If you were here I know I’d just spill my guts, but your not here so I’m not even sure what guts I have to spill. I keep trying to think of the way you look when you make me talk but
then all I can think of is your I guess that just distracts me. You’ve always helped me figure things out, even when I was in Basic you picked until I told you how things really were and some of it were things I didn’t even realize. You make me want to tell you everything. I guess I have to figure things out for myself for once.
I guess I have at least a few more days with this sling, and I’ve written quite a lot. I have to write Ma again as well (I guess she’s losing her head), so I’ll send this off now and think bout what to
rig write you tomorrow.
Your best pal,
Chapter 31: HOSPITAL: September 16
I guess with me writing every day you’ll get sick of me pretty quick! But I figure this makes up for the past 3 weeks when I didn’t write at all, and getting to write you all the time makes me feel almost as tho I’m talking to you, and you’re here with me. Plus who knows where you are and what you’re doing, I don’t know when you’ll get these.
I guess I’ll start with Yo, because I realized last night when I was thinking bout it I don’t think I’ve told you bout Yo yet. Yo is a priv. in the 107th, and he’s called that for the way he yoyo-s. He can walk the dog and all round the world and everything, all those tricks we could never do. I didn't have much to say bout him before as he’s real quiet, but I’ll tell you a lil more bout him now. He’s a big fella but not loud and peppy like Dum Dum. A gentle giant you might say. Loves birds and knows all the kinds, the sounds they make and where they live. He wrestled when he was in school but now he works in a factory where they make sewing machines. I guess that’s what you need to know bout Yo.
The next thing you need to know is how I got shot. I can’t go into details, but the jist is we were going into a place we thought was Allies territory, but the Jerries had captured it overnight. We walked in without knowing and got holed up and we didn’t have much food and water. I guess in Dum Dum’s words we had on our hands a full on seige. What happened was we tried to hold position as we waited for reinforcements but we needed food so sent lil teams out back and 4th. I guess that might not make much sense without the details, but that’s the jist.
1 of these skirmishes was when I got shot, but there wasn’t much I could do bout it as we were behind enemy lines. I could still walk and even use my arm tho it hurt. But it was the last such skirmish when they got Yo.
They blew his leg clean off. When I say clean I mean the opposite. I got blood all over me and his leg hit me but the worst part was he was just standing there, standing there without his leg. He’s such a big guy, real strong, such an awful thing to see. Then he falls and that was when I was sure we were going to die. Yo was like the heart of the unit at least to me. He’d point out the bird song in the silence between shells.
But Yo didn’t die, and I dragged him in a store (it was a candy store) and tied up his leg above the knee (it got blown off below). I didn’t know where anyone else was and he was too heavy to pick up or drag for long, so we stayed in that candy store. We stayed there 18 hours, Yo kept falling asleep but I made him stay awake and gave him candy, and I didn’t know what to do but I stayed with him and sang to him and checked the door to see if anyone was coming. I didn’t know what I was doing but I kept singing and checking and making Yo eat candy. He liked liccorice the best.
Then reinforcements came and Allies took the town. They found us in the store and that’s when they put us in a truck and got us to the hospital. 4 days ago I guess. Yo made it but of course he lost the leg, so he’s going home. That had to cut more off so I haven’t seen him, but they promised me I could tomorrow.
I guess that’s it for now. I have more to say but that’s what happened. I miss you.
Chapter 32: HOSPITAL: undated - September 17
Just got a note from you ma. She sent along a telegram. You’re in the hospital shot in the arm but you’ll be O.K. I called the bank to send her $ so she can wire me if anything else happens. I wish I was there. I wish there was something I could do. I told you you would never have to be alone but that was
obviously a lie a promise I couldn’t keep. All I can hope is someone else is there taking care of you the way you always took care of me. The one time I could help you, and I’m not even All of my thoughts are with you. You’re strong. I know you’ll make it. I pray someone is there with you. I’m praying for you with everything I am. I am with you in spirit. Please get better.
Another day in the hospital. None of the nurses speak English but they’re real nice. You wrote me once that I talk bout women when I’m afraid to talk bout other things. I guess you were right, so I won’t even tell you bout them.
I guess I still have so much to say without a clue as to how to say it. In the letter I wrote yesterday I wrote how we got trapped behind enemy lines. I was just so sure I was going to die, the whole time we were in that town. Even Dum Dum was terrified, then I got shot, but the culmination of 10 days not knowing whether we would live or die was Yo and I bunkered down in that candy store. I still had my bum arm and it was just me and Yo, the smell of blood & piss & vomit & candy, and nothing but the sound of shelling. And my stupid singing.
Whenever Yo was out all I could think bout was things I hadn’t done, things I wished I’d got to do, things I never said and impulses I never acted upon. This was different than all the other times I thought I was going to die; I knew deep down in my gut that I was going to, and I was ready to, cept for all those thoughts running thru my head bout lies I told and things I should have said.
And Yo, he told me things, and I told him things, and I’m not sure I’ve ever talked to anyone like that before. Not even you, because it’s different when you’re going to die. And now that I made it out, I don’t know what to think. All I can think is it’s a miracle I survived. All of life’s a miracle, I’m a miracle and your a miracle and Yo’s a miracle, life is a gift. I guess it makes me feel like all of those regrets I had when I thought I was a goner, all of the things I wished I’d done, I should do them now. But at the same time I wonder whether I was just crazy, just temporary insanity because I was so certain I was going to die.
Boy I wish I had you here to talk to. At the same time I think that might make it harder. Sometimes I justify the things I do with the thought that I’m protecting people, but other times I know I’m only doing it becomes I’m selfish and afraid. When I think bout your face the answer seems so clear, but if you were here I don’t think I’d have the courage.
I know I’m not making any sense, but you said that I could tell you anything. I guess I just need to get these thoughts off my chest before they smother me, and eventually I’ll find the words I really want to say.
Your best friend,
P.S. I just got to visit Yo and he’s doing O.K. I told him he could be Long John Silver now. That cracked a smile. I should have sung Yo Ho Ho at him instead of those other things. I guess you would have thought of it, you always keep your head while I always lose my wits. But Yo gets it. He gets everything, he’s O.K.
Chapter 33: HOSPITAL: September 18
This chapter has been a little confusing for people. Maybe I just didn't do a good job with it, but maybe this will help to clarify a bit. Or maybe not. If not, I'm sorry! This is an excerpt from "Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women In World War Two", by Allan Berube:
"[...] lesbians and gay men writing letters to their lovers and friends faced the special problem of wartime censorship. Military censors, of course, cut out all information that might aid the enemy, but this surveillance made it necessary for gay and lesbian correspondents to be careful not to expose their homosexuality. To get around this, gay men befriended sympathetic censors or tricked others by using campy phrases, signing a woman’s name (like Dixie or Daisy), or changing the gender of their friends. Sailors became WAVEs, boyfriends became WACs, Robert became Roberta. There must exist, hidden in closets and attics all over America, a huge literature of these World War II letters between lesbians and between gay men that would tell us even more about this important part of American history."
I received your letter of 8/22.
The 1 where you call me all sorts of disparaging names due to me asking bout AC’s legs and so on.
I’ve read this letter bout 8 or 9 times since I got it this morn.
You said remember the time we went to the park after the art museum, that day nearly a yr ago and you got cold. In your letter you say I wanted it to be a joke.
I didn’t want it to be a joke.
Steve I wanted
It’s O.K. I’m O.K.
I don’t think your It’s all right if your serious. I wanted What you said
I don’t know how to write what I want to say to you.
What you said was O.K.
I’ve been thinking about
I’ve thought about it before I guess. What you said in the park, I’ve thought about it. I mean in my case.
I mean I guess I'm I’ve crossed out so many things in this letter I guess I should throw it away and start over. But I’m not going to. I feel the
I’ve just read your letter again.
I’m sorry if the following doesn’t make much sense. I hope you’ll understand it anyway.
I don’t care for AC either.
What I mean to say There’s nothing wrong with her, she’s always been a great gal and I’m incredibly fond. I just I guess my tastes are like yours. A lot like yours. exactly like yours. just the same as yours. I think you knew that, you must know that, you always did, didn’t you, you knew we liked the same things. That we were had the same taste in women.
I guess I knew, but
I tried not I guess I didn’t want things to be hard. I didn’t want it to be hard on me or anybody else. If I got overly particular about who I liked I mean. I thought there was just no use being overly particular because it would be harder.
But I think about it different now. You think bout it different when your bout to die. I guess you don’t because you’re the brave 1, your always truthful and you would never settle for anything that wasn’t true and honest. But I’m a liar, I’ve been a liar, I’ve been a liar to you and everybody including AC and that was the 1 thing I’ve never wanted to be.
And it’s not fair to AC because AC was a real sport. Real good to me and I never could complain. I never did complain because I did like her, I liked her lots. But I didn’t prefer her I guess. Or maybe I liked her just as much. I don’t know, but I told lies bout it. I lied bout it.
And I wanted you to lie as well. I wanted you to like her because I thought I did and I thought if we both did then everything would be O.K., I’d settle down with her and I guess someday you’d find a nice girl too and that would be that. It wasn’t honest.
I told lies to her and I told them to you. It’s all been a riddle. I feel like my whole life has been a riddle and now for once, it’s finally not, it’s finally untangled. My whole life is untangled, and yet I still can’t come all the way clean, I don’t have the words I guess. It’s like I need a new language. A different language that doesn't let in lies or omissions or 1/2 truths, something where the truth won't get cut out.
I’ll learn 1 if I have to. I’d learn 1. I’ll make 1. And then maybe I could write another letter, and say all the things I really mean.
Chapter 34: HOSPITAL: September 20
Just a reminder, to keep things clear:
strikethrough- indicates something the letter-writer crossed out.
2) spoiler text - indicates something the letter-writer scribbled out to the point of illegibility, unless the letter-reader worked really hard at deciphering (and even then, sometimes it would still be illegible).
3) [ ] - indicates something cut by a censor. So far nothing has been cut by censors, and I have to say probably nothing will be. Censors cut out information about locations/weapons/troop numbers/etc. Some letters that contained graphic language about sex were confiscated. If a censor read a letter that contained indications of homosexuality, they'd probably just confiscate the letter and report the soldier.
I got your letter of 8/26. You got your job, why does it feel like goodbye?
You said you know me. Better than I knew myself. Do you mean you knew bout me, what I told you in my last letter? It would kill me if you died and didn’t know. God, I couldn’t stand it, the thought of you dead is bad enough but the thought of you gone and I was just too weak to tell you the truth, that kills me.
I didn’t even tell you everything, I have more to say, specific things. I was thinking I had to think bout it, I had to find a way to talk bout it, but I don’t know what your letter means, I don’t know what your job is. What if I never get a chance to tell you? Maybe you know. You can’t say goodbye without knowing. But maybe you know.
That night at the park in Oct. I think maybe you were going to say more as well, but I stopped you, I think you were going to give me specifics as well. Maybe you weren’t. But I thought you were. Even if I’m obnoxiously loud, and good at baseball.
Steve I wish I could I guess I thought of something to say, we should not have gone to that expo with the people we did. Also, you asked whether you should bring your coat and I should have told you no. Looking back on it I realize what the weather was like and I should have told you no, because you would not have been cold. Steve Steve I guess if you ever ask again I’ll make sure the weather is warm, so warm it would be like summer Steve. You’d be so hot you’d sweat. Steve. and I wouldn’t invite those people.
I guess your letter isn’t goodbye even if it feels like it. You told me it wasn’t dangerous and you wouldn’t lie. Your the most honest person I know, you make me want to be more honest,
you make me want to I knew they’d pick you. Anyone with any brains at all should always pick you, even out of 1,00000000000. But I hoped they wouldn’t, I hoped they wouldn’t see your value just like so many people don’t. I hate how 1 of the few times someone finally recognizes how special you are it may just be to get you killed, if they’re taking advantage of you because your so brave and so willing to give everything you are. Sometimes I wish you were just a lil more selfish. But then of course you wouldn’t be you. and I wouldn’t feel
Please write to me. The second you get this please write and let me know it’s not goodbye. Let me know you got my message. Please tell me you got it and you understand, and answer. I need you to answer even if it’s just to say no and your O.K. I know you can because your horrible at baseball, but like you said your secret signals always won the game.
September 16, ‘43
I’m on the train to Chicago. Yesterday we did Indianapolis, and before that Cincinatti & Columbus. The idea is we travel from city to city with a specific routine, which is basically a sales pitch for people to support their country, donate, enlist, buy bonds etc. It’s not what the job was originally, but that didn’t work out so they cooked this up as an alternative.
There’s a team of ladies who perform in the routine, as well as a couple actors, & a band. I’ve talked to the band a lot, there’s Joe who plays bass and Charlie and Dobson on trombone, and Puffs plays trumpet. I’ll sketch them for you when I have time, they’re all real nice. The ladies seem nice too but you know me & women. They’re dancing tho’ is real good, you’d like it a lot. They sure can kick! & did you know that they can’t just do that naturally. Well of course they can’t! I just never thought much about that kind of dancing before, but they have to work at it just like any ballerinas would. They stretch before each performance & practice before-hand & wrap their legs up so they don’t get hurt, it’s amazing what goes on back stage. Compared to them I barely have to work at all.
Got the telegram re you in the hospital yesterday night. Wrote you a note about it but I had to go to work today but all I could think about was you. The telegram says you’re O.K. but I just wish I could talk to you. Feels like you’re a million miles away & your letters will never get to me because I just have to keep moving. But I don’t want to move at all, or rather I do just so I could be there. I could do so much now & yet I can’t do anything at all.
Sep 20: I was writing you this letter about the things I’m up to but it just doesn’t seem important now.
I know you’ll say you want to
I was afraid you might think differently of me. Because of my job or because of that letter I wrote you, or because I’ve changed. But thinking about it now I realize that was so stupid. Everyone else looks at me different, but I know you wouldn’t. I know you wouldn’t because you always saw who I was, even when no one else did. No one else believed in me or even gave me the time of day, except for you. Your ma & sisters, because of you. And then there was DE, & now he’s dead. DE was so much like you in that he didn’t seem to see my weaknesses, only my strengths.
I should never have thought that you would think any less of me. And I know right now you would want to know what I’m up to and who I am & everything I’m doing. But right now you’re all I can think about, you’re all I & it’s hard to focus on anything else when I know I could have been there beside you & probably would if only I’d been faster and stronger.
I need you to get well & recover. I feel like I can’t breathe until you do. I don’t mean asthma, I’m fine. It’s just how I feel. Just get better. I’m still praying every moment of every day.
Your best friend,
Chapter 35: HOSPITAL: September 22 - September 24
Got your 8/29 letter, thank you for writing so fast after you started your job. Guess you knew how bad that other letter sounded, like you were going to die. Very sorry bout DE, how did it happen? Does it have to do with the new job? Is it still dangerous? You said it’s not like you thought, does that mean it’s less dangerous? I guess you don’t know if you can tell me yet, but you have a new uniform, are you a private? I guess I just don’t understand whether you graduated basic, whether your a soldier. You said at 1 point in another letter “maybe I’ll see you”, did you mean your coming overseas. Where are you now, is it still where you were at basic? I never even knew where you were since you wouldn’t give me an address, just had mail forwarded, I knew you had to keep it secret but oh God. How did DE die? But whatever happened you couldn’t have done anything. Don’t do anything to get you killed just because you feel guilty. You always feel guilty over things you can’t help and then you tell me not to feel guilty. Listen to your own advice. I bet DE wouldn’t want you to feel guilty.
I’m real sorry bout your friend. I know sometimes you feel awkw distanced from people so I know how much he probably meant to you. But don’t feel guilty, remember you have other friends. And I know for a fact there’s someone who’s sweet on you, who would do anything for you. I guess you’ll have to wait for another letter if you don’t know who that is. My guess is you can since you always knew things, like exactly which pitch would strike out a batter vs give them a homerun. I bet if I pitched I could give you a homerun.
I’m sending you a particular letter all bout baseball without all this boring talk of catcher’s signals but you’ll have to wait a lil to get it because of how I’m going to send it. I just hope you aren’t doing something stupid like getting yourself killed before I can get it to you. Jesus Steve. Don’t die. Not before you get my other letter.
Write me more and I’m sorry again bout your friend. I wish there was something I could do. Remember where you slept after your ma died, you can sleep there again. Every night if you want to, after I get home, if you like it. I really miss you.
September 24, 1943
Sorry I don’t have time to write much but I’ve been trying to get out between working to put together this little package. Sorry it’s so small. I was working on the sketchbook for your birthday but then I thought it would be nice for you to look at in the hospital, that’s why it’s not full. It just has things I think you’d like, I’ve been working on it here & there all year. There shouldn’t be anything your old sarge from MD would think was funny but t There are a few self portraits. & I finally ended up making a comic of the gumballs story. I’m worried to send the whole book in case it gets lost but I thought it would be nice for you to have it all in a book. & I can always make another.
As for the rest, I read the Agatha Christie, it’s good. I’m sending Captain Future because I know you like it, but at times I wish it was more realistic. I know it’s science fiction so it’s not supposed to be, but well the real world is so different. Well anyway I hope you like the gum & paper for battleship as well. Tell me anything you need & I can get it for you, I get paid a bit extra due to this job. I know you were only shot in the arm but I keep thinking of your friend who got an infection & died. Please stay alive, Bucky, you said you’d fight for both of us & you’re my best friend. I don’t want to be in a world without you. Please get well. I’m still praying for you.
Your best friend,
Chapter 36: HOSPITAL: September 24
This is your friend Bucky. I bet your wondering why you got a letter from me from someone named Thomas Slothrop from a civilian address. Well, Thomas Slothrop is Yo, who I hope you read about in other letters. He lost his leg so he’s going home. As a favor to me he agreed to carry a letter and send it once he got home so the censors wouldn’t get it. You see I had to find a way to talk to you without the censors as what I’ve got to say would get me in big time trouble. Maybe you already know from my other letters but I hated not saying what I really meant. But I can’t because of the censors. Yo knows but he’s the only 1.
I’m a queer. I’m a queer the way Buddy Arlen was a queer, remember that kid I made fun of. I’m a homosexual meaning I like men. I never kissed 1 and I never slept with 1, but in my head and heart I imagined it. I thought it couldn’t be right because I like women. I liked kissing them and touching them, all parts of them. You know I slept with Cindy and you know how I liked it. I didn’t dislike it, so I thought I had to be normal. But sometimes I wanted something, I just wanted something and it wasn’t her.
I love you. I love you. I love you, I love you, I love you. I don’t love you like a brother and I won’t ever love you like a brother. I’m in love with you, like Alice Lilleness is in love with her sweetheart, like Mrs. Ramez loves Mr. Ramez, like Clark Gable loved Carole Lombard. I’m in love with you the way a man loves a woman or a woman loves a man, it doesn’t matter. I’m in love with you. I love you.
Maybe you don’t feel the same. I guess I could have misinterpreted. I hope I didn’t and forgive me if I did. I guess you should just stop reading if you don’t feel the same because it gets worse, and don’t think less of me altho I know you won’t, but don’t read any more if it’s not what you feel like because I can’t bear it, I simply can’t bear it, and this is the only time I’ll be able to talk to you, the only time I’ll be able to tell you what I feel.
I want to touch you. Christ, Steve, I want to touch you. I ache as I write this, I ache for you, I need you. Do you remember when you hurt your shoulder and the doc said to rub that cream in. I could hardly stand to touch you. I could hardly stand to look at you, because touching you felt so good, because I wanted to touch you everywhere, because I want to put my mouth on you.
I want to kiss you. I want to kiss you everywhere. I want to put my lips on your throat and taste you, pull your body against mine
Your body Steve I can’t
it’s so Your so beautiful. Your gorgeous to me, Steve, honey, and I want to call you things, say things to you that you could never bear, you would never stand for, things like my darling and my baby, sweetheart, things you’d say to a woman but you’re not a woman to me, Steve. I don’t want you to be I just want you to be mine.
Oh God everything bout you, I love everything bout you. And forgive me if this repulses you and you can’t feel the same, I know you’ll understand but I hope you feel the same, I feel like you must feel the same, like I couldn’t feel this way without you feeling it too.
But even if you don’t Steve know that someone loves you. Someone loves you like that. Someone finds you beautiful and desire-able and worthy, so worthy and so perfect, someone wants to touch you and hold you and kiss you and I know you think that no one does but I do. Maybe you’ll think it’s not the same because I’m not a girl but someone loves you, someone lusts for you Steve, because I do. I do, I do, I do, I lust for every part of you, mind and body and soul. I love you. I love you, Steve. I’m in love with you.
There are other fruits in the army, everyone knows there are. We even know who they are because they often
congra congregate. The army tolerates it because they need men. But if they get proof then your out. & not just sent home, they can send you to a hospital to get fixed or to the nut house. When they asked at the recruitment office whether I ever had a homosexual thought I looked them in the eye and said no. But it wasn’t true because I’ve had them. And every single 1 of them was bout you.
If I had had the courage I would have told you how I felt because I’ve always felt this way. I always have, ever since I kissed my first girl and had these flashes that weren’t her but you. Just those flashes made me so hot under the collar I couldn’t even stand to think bout it. I refused to think bout it, but this must mean I felt this way since then. I was in love with you since then.
And maybe I could have had you, had I had the courage to make myself think bout it, I could have known how you would look, how you would taste, how you would feel in my arms. It drives me crazy the thought I could have had everything, if only I was as strong as you. That was what I realized when I thought I was a goner: I thought I was being strong resisting you when really my whole life I have been weak. I’ve been so weak running away from you, and I think what a real man would have done was rush into your arms. I want to rush into your arms.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t feel the same because I love you, Steve. I’ll still love you, for all time. I’m stronger now and more honest, more like you and I’m a better person, I’ve been through a crucible of fire and it made me see that life is too precious, love is too important, you can’t run away from it. And it makes me feel like this war I’m fighting is something good, just like you said, something where I have to live with all the ugliness because it’s worth it so people can be free and safe & with the 1s they love. And when we win I’ll come home to you, I’ll come home to you, I love you Steve. I love you. I love you.
Yours, forever yours,
Chapter 37: HOSPITAL: September 26 - September 27
Got another letter, 9/3, they’re coming in fast now, guess they know where I am (the hospital still). Your in the USO! That’s great! I did say you’d be good at it! See, there’s lots of help you can give. You said the job was supposed to be different tho. Can you tell me now what you were supposed to do? But it does make sense you said you might see me! Will you do a tour? Just be careful, as things over here are still rough. But you’ll see Europe! Or Japan I guess. Who is the important person who said you had to do the job? Was it the col.? Or AC? But I guess if it was them you would have said. Are you doing a diff. job because your 4F? Don’t feel bad. We all do what we can and you’ve always done your best. I’m glad this is what your doing! I think it’s really great. All you have to do is look real disappointed at people and they’ll buy all the bonds ever invented. When you lower your lashes and the corners of your mouth turn down. People will do anything for you, Steve.
Yo left yesterday. They’re carting him away and then he’ll go on a boat back to the USA. I’ll miss him a lot and his quiet ways. I gave him something to give to you that I could not send by mail, let me know as soon as you get it. Even if you have no response you want to make to it, just let me know you got it. If you don’t get it let me know by Thanksgiving, just say you never got anything and I’ll try to find another way to send a similar thing. It’s real important that you get it. If you do have a response try to find a way to answer me. I don’t know how but I know you can give me some indication, even just a lil. Just a lil yes or no, that’s all I want.
I’m sorry again bout DE. Sorry bout the funeral. Sorry you won’t work any more with AC. Sorry I said all those disrespectful things bout her and all those questions I asked. Sorry it made you feel I hadn’t listened to you in the past even tho I had, I just didn’t know how to believe you. I was jealous I guess. Jealous and afraid. Maybe you don’t want to hear about it, but it’s the God’s honest truth and I’m trying to be truthful now: I was so afraid my sweetheart might fall for someone else before I get home.
I guess I get out of the hospital soon. I won’t be able to write as much or such long letters. Not really crazy bout going back to war but I’m going nuts shut up in here specially as my arm almost works perfect now (a lil stiff and still itches, but otherwise A-O.K.!)
Miss you lots,
Got another letter from you, this 1 with typefaces. Gee you must have been bored! Why are you in meetings like that? Why were they talking bout what you’ll wear, aren’t you in uniform? But I guess I still don’t know whether you’re a private. What exactly is your position? How do you know people in the government? I’m confused I guess. And it sounds like you’ll do a tour after all, where to? I’m bummed you won’t get my letters but I guess when you do get it forwarded you’ll get whole stacks! Specially as I wrote you so much from here.
But today is my last day! They’re discharging me tomorrow with a clean bill of health. I’ll have a fine scar now on my left bicep once all the red fades away. I guess I could get a tattoo to cover it up, but I don’t think I will. I want to remember it, everything that happened, the way that I felt when I was certain I was going to die. I realized things due to that that I don’t think I would ever have realized otherwise, and I don’t want to forget. That scar can just be a reminder.
I guess I’m ready to go back to the front. I don’t like it but I’m willing & able. And I’m still fighting for you, since it sounds like your not fighting. I can shoot enough for both of us, and I hope that means the war will be over soon, and I’ll come home.
What I really want to talk bout is baseball, how much I love it and miss it, how I love to watch it and would like to play it. I’d love to learn to play it really well and make 10 thousand homeruns. But I’ll wait to find out whether you like it too.
P.S. I do think it really depends on the aliens whether aliens or robots would win by the way. You always argue that the technology it would take aliens to get here would make them automatically superior to whatever humans could invent but what if humans brought them here, did you ever think of that? Anyway Superman is the best, I really like Clark Kent, and your a dunderhead.
End Part III
Chapter 38: USO: September 30 - October 3
Sept. 30, ‘43
Your ma just wired to say you got out of the hospital. I’m so glad. Tho’ I’m not particularly keen on the fact that you got a clean bill so you can go get shot at again. I thought I was O.K. with you being in the war because it has to be fought & I couldn’t fight, so someone needed to. But with you in the hospital it got harder to believe in.
Especially since Well I wish I could be there. & you’re still doing the right thing, I’m just really worried for you. I feel like such a sitting duck. If I could take a bullet for you I would.
Well I’m sending you some socks. This is a long (& embarrassing) story so I’ll try to tell it quick. Last week when I went to
sneak well I didn’t have to sneak out, but whenever I do something on my own time it feels like I’m sneaking because they regiment our time so much. But anyway when I went to mail your package I ran into Gloria. She’s one of the USO women I’ve been travelling with. Well like I said in another letter I haven’t talked to the women much because you know how stupid I get. But she saw me & then I had to tell her why I was mailing the package & it turned out she was mailing a package to her husband in the war. She asked if I was sending socks & I said no. Gloria was very disappointed about this. She says all men need socks but they never ask. I told her I don’t need socks. Then she asked to look at mine! I told her no but she insisted! What else was I supposed to do? Gloria Sanchez is a very forceful woman & I think I was about as red as a tomato. Well anyway overall Gloria is doubtful of my ability to properly assess foot attire & she says I have to send you socks. She said she would go with me to get you some because her husband needs more too so we did & here they are. I’m sorry if they’re itchy. They look itchy to me.
I spose they can’t hurt & at least your feet will be warm for the war. You said you were somewhere warm but I don’t know if you’re still there. I don’t like to imagine you cold. You were always such a wimp about it.
Your best friend,
I guess I’m back in the saddle again, just like the song. A lot of the 107th was on leave. I guess the hospital counts as leave, but it didn’t feel like it. I would have liked to have seen pictures and gone dancing like some of my pals. But I would have missed you something awful. You were always so fun whenever we were on the town. If you weren’t making trouble. Which could be fun as well. That was something most people never realized bout you: your the funnest person I ever knew.
I sent some letters from the hospital and I sent something with my friend Yo to take back to you. I mentioned it before but will just mention it several times in case you miss some letters. I need to know if you got what I sent with Yo so I can figure out if I should try to send it again, so let me know. I really want you to get it.
There’s some fellas I never really talked to before in my unit as I guess I’ve been a coward my whole life. But I’m not now and I’ve determined to talk to them. I know you would, you always treated everyone equally. If you had known Buddy Arlen you would have treated him equally, so I’m trying to speak to these fellas. I just want to know what life is like for them and what they think bout things and I guess I have questions. I feel like everybody’s looking at me funny but at the same time I’m not sure anybody’s looking at me funny. Dum Dum talks to everyone just the same. He’d take Hitler out for a beer if he didn’t put a bullet in him, so I guess he’d take out Buddy Arlen as well. Brave new world, I guess (not like the book).
Your best friend,
Chapter 39: USO: October 10 - October 14
Well here’s another package. It’s embarrassing really & I’m not sure I can explain. Gloria told Gladys about my soldier friend who was injured in the war. & Gladys told the Ferucci sisters, who told Mimi. Now the whole company knows I have a friend who’s injured & they keep telling me what to send. Some of them have sweethearts or husbands or brothers over there but some of them are just nosey. & I don’t know why, because they didn’t seem interested in me at all before, in fact I thought they were a bit aloof, but I can never tell, I spose all girls seem aloof to me. I think Gloria told them I need taking care of, or maybe you need taking care of, because suddenly everyone is interested. Well of course I showed them pictures (I have a few drawings of you) & you’ll be pleased to know everyone finds you very good-looking. I tried to tell them about your big dopey eyes & duck mouth but Ingrid thinks you’re a dream. I said that’s because you haven’t heard him speak, but she remains unconvinced. So you have a whole slew of admirers over here, if you want some.
Well so they convinced me you needed other things like a hat & scarf & this romance novel Olga loves (sorry) & scissors & pens & soap (can’t you get soap over there?). But something good came out of it because Kya (sp?) likes science fiction as well as she’s bored with Captain Future too, so I’m putting in this book she recommended. It’s by someone named C.S. Lewis & she says it’s pretty good.
Hope you enjoy & sorry if I sent too much. Blame Gloria!!!
Sorry I haven’t written in a while! I got 2 letters from you. 1 is undated, I think you were in a hurry. It’s the 1 where you threaten Dum Dum, this was really stupid of you. It’s so dumb in fact that if you do ever meet I won’t try to protect you. I’ll just let him have at you because I’m not the 1 who goes and picks fights with fellas I’ve described as being the size of freight trains. You nincompoop. And you didn’t let me win at cards, sometimes I do have better cards than you even if you’re always lying thru your teeth bout whatever you got. Steve I miss you. Let me know if you got my letters from the hospital, I sent something with my friend Yo so let me know if you got it. I say that every letter, I just want to make sure.
I remember the way you look when you
Your other letter is 9/12 and your on a plane. I guess you already made it to Columbus and Chicago and all those C-cities in between. I’m envious you got on a plane but it sounds bout as exciting as travel here so maybe I’m not too jealous.
Anyway you can’t fool me, you sound unhappy. You say very expli
scitly that your not but that means you probably are. Don’t be unhappy, Steve. Every person is different and has different qualities to offer the world. You may be different but your not lesser. If I could show you what I think your worth, you’d feel like the strongest man on the planet. Or on any planet. And you may be unhappy Steve but I’m not. I’m not unhappy, read my other letters, I’m so happy. I might be fighting a war and it is gruelling, but it’s worth it, everything is worth it, it’s all worth it. And I wish I could tell you again why, but it has to do with those drawings you sent me when I was in basic. Do you remember, and you said they were just practice. I ache to look at them again. I ache to see the real thing—flowers in Brooklyn, you drew flowers in Brooklyn, and I know it’s fall now but in the not so distant future it will be spring. I love those flowers, and 1 day I’ll get to see them, to touch them and they’ll be the real thing. They’ll be real and I’ll touch what I only imagined touching in those drawings. Steve I love those flowers so. I’m man enough to admit it.
Chapter 40: USO: October 17 - October 29
Oct 17, ‘43
For once I’m not sending you a package! I want to say the gals lost interest but some of them still ask about you. Except for Bettina, I think she doesn’t like me.
Well, I’m still not in one place long enough to get mail forwarded. We might go to L.A. in Dec. or Jan. & stay there a while, but it’s not set yet. If I knew far enough ahead where I was to be I could just get it sent there and pick it up, I’m just so worried a big bundle of letters would get lost. Let’s see, we’ve been to Columbus, Cincinatti, Indianapolis, Chicago. Then we did Lansing, Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, Boston, NY (I didn’t get to visit home, sorry, but I’m writing your ma & sis’s), Philly, Baltimore, DC, Richmond, Charlotte, Durham, Raleigh, Lexington, Louisville, & now we’re in St. Louis.
Oct 19: Now we’re in Springfield. Sorry I got interrupted in the middle of writing. Frankie found out I could sew & well there are a lot of costume changes for the ladies & a lot of sequins. That sounds so dumb. But they’re expected to keep everything in tip top shape and no one helps them, well except the chaperone Mrs. Reltz, & I don't think she's much help to anyone unless it's to tell some mighty fine & honorable women they're indecent. Anyway well the girls have to do all the patchwork on their own, & Chaya (that’s how you spell it) & Brooke & Olga don’t even sew! Everyone assumes girls sew I guess. & there’s other unexpected work, including photographs and shaking lots of hands among other things.
Well anyway I was going to tell you how I mean to write more, only we got a bus & it sounds just like those trucks you mentioned overseas. Well of course not as bad as we’re not at war. I just mean they’re bumpy.
(By the way we’re in Kansas City, took me a while to write this.) I was going to say it’s hard to write on a bumpy bus.
Well here I am at the crossroads of the country. Some would say the world. I know you don’t approve of my taste in music but that’s just because your narrow-minded. All you like is swing but there’s more out there. Just think this is where Count Basie is from. If only I could go to one of those clubs you hear about. But I have to work. (I think Puffs & Joe are sneaking out, if only I could.)
Oct 22: Well it’s Topeka now & one of these days I’ll end this letter. They’re still talking about sending me to L.A., that would be great as I could finally get mail there. Well you’re out of the hospital, but I can't stop thinking of how that only means you can get hurt again.
Bucky. Bucky, I’ve made some new friends, but I still miss you more than anything. I Sometimes I don’t feel right in my own body, as tho’ it’s not my own. Even holding a pen feels not quite right, as tho’ it’s someone else’s hand. You’re the one thing that feels familiar. When I think of you everything feels the same, even tho’ you’re far away.
Oct 26: Tulsa now. We went to Witchita. I’m going to sign this before I get called away again.
I got letters and a present from you! Thank you lots. I love the sketchbook. Your right, our drill sarge wouldn’t think it funny. I wish I could get some comic relief, if you know what I mean, but I guess comedy wouldn’t be saf appropriate given the circumstances. I love everything in it, however. The 1s of the USO girls and AC are particularly good.
I wonder if you spent so much time on them for my sake or for yours. I’m not trying to be jealo I just mean they look really swell. I love how you drew the water stains on the ceiling. I love how you drew dinosaurs, triseratops is my favorite. I guess you knew that. I also love the motorcycles. 1 day we’ll get 1. Most of all I love
Sometimes it feels like walking a tightrope trying to write these letters. I never know what to say due to the censors. bout where I am or what I’m doing. I guess they can cut out anything but you know what I mean. (Let me know if you got letters I sent when I was in the hospital, and I sent a something with Yo to send when he got back to the States.)
I like all the other things as well. The book and mag are great because sometimes it’s too difficult to write but it’s O.K. to read and I guess you know how I like gum and battleship, it’s a perfect present. And I really do like the sketches, I wish I could say how much. It’s like a treasure to me. I miss you Steve.
The other letter I got was sent on 9/20 I guess but begun on 9/16, it bothers me because you mention a note you sent when you got a telegram bout me being in the hospital but I never got it. I don’t know how many other letters I missed, do you have a list? I guess you were worried but hopefully you got my other letters so you know I’m fine, just a scratch on the arm, sorry to worry you. God I miss you, Steve.
You said in that letter I wouldn’t think differently of you because of what you said in that 1 letter. Well, of course I don’t. I guess by now you’ve read my other letters so of course I don’t. Jesus Steve.
Steve I think I know what you were saying and if I think differently of you, it’s only because I’m I don’t think differently of you.
I find it frustrating to write what I want to say. Damn this war., only I’m glad I’m fighting it. I’m glad I’m fighting it because I never would have been holed up in that candy store otherwise & without that I think maybe I would never have that scar on my arm remind me of something. I hope you know what it reminds me of because I wrote it in another letter. Tell me if you got it.
I guess I’ve written the same thing bout 10 times. I’m so frustrated. I’m not frustrated with you, Steve. Of course I don’t think any differently of you, I always think the same of you, I always thought the same of you. I’m sorry you were worried but I’m O.K. I’m really O.K. Better than I’ve ever been. Sorry bout your friend DE, you never told me how he died. I’m sorry and I’m O.K.
It’s neat you get to travel with dancing girls.
Do you like any of them Just tell me bout you, all bout you, what you feel like, whether you I feel like I know 1/2 of everything, 1/2 of what your doing, 1/2 of where you are, 1/2 of what you might have told me last October had I let you. God I feel crazy. I feel so crazy. Just tell me how you are.
Chapter 41: USO: November 4 - November 11
Thank you to everyone who is reading this, particularly those of you who occasionally tell me your thoughts about it. I was sad when I started posting this and feel a lot better now--partly because y'all really cheer me up. Thank you!
You sent me socks. Your hilarious. Steve your frigging hilarious. You sent me socks, you know Ma has sent me 2000 socks. 20000, Steve. You know some girls aren’t as sympathetic as my sisters. You should watch out because if those USO dames discover they can just bat their eyes at you and you’d be a puddle of goo they’ll walk all over you. And I bet they got high heels. Smash you to goo-y bits.
Boy that used to drive me nuts. The way you’d blush and stammer whenever a girl remotely your age talked to you.
I used to think you were I wanted It’s just the way you are I guess, but now I wish you knew how fun it could be. I bet you still never been dancing. And you with a whole contingant of dancing girls. Steve it’s fun. I can teach you how—I don’t mean anything funny, just you need to know. When I get back we can do it, I’ll show you. It will be hilarious. It will be so funny. Steve. I want Damn it. I guess by now you know what I want.
Tell your pal Gloria I said thank you I guess. Your such a dope. Next send me a hat and mittens and a lil box of cookies, maybe a teddy bear, all right? Gee I hope Gloria’s hubby got his socks. (But actually they are warm.)
I’m back to shooting people up I guess. Still don’t like it but now I have this scar on my arm and that reminds me that it’s worth it. Everything feels worth it and I’m not scared to talk bout it anymore. I feel like I’m not scared of anything, like nothing can hurt me. Specially now I got . . . These Socks!!! HA HA HA. Steve your a treasure.
I’m in Texas. Dallas to be exact, they don’t all wear hats & cowboy boots. Loretta’s a TX gal & she has an accent that gets thicker the farther south we go. Just writing to confirm we ARE going to be staying in L.A. so I’ll get letters forwarded there. It makes me anxious not to hear from you. Do you know this is the longest I’ve never heard from you since we met? Well it’s my own fault but I should have found a way to get mail along the way.
Nov 4: Abilene now. I have a spare hour for once (whole lot of nothing out here), so let me tell you a bit more about my friends. I told you about Gloria, she’s got a husband in the war & I think she’s the oldest female performer. She thinks she’s in charge, well I guess she is, except for Bettina doesn’t like her, but I think maybe Bettina doesn’t like anyone, esp. Chaya. I don’t know why because I think Chaya is really neat. She likes things we like like science fiction and battleship & cards. & she likes boxing, which I don’t like but you’d say I like getting beat up. There is a chaperone & she’s named Mrs. Reltz, but she really ISN’T in charge. Thankfully.
Puffs on the trumpet is an older fellow. He was in the 1st War in the Harlem Hellfighters just like Bill Bojangles, can you believe it? But he says he didn’t know him. He likes poetry & when I asked for reccomendations he just wrote one down from memory.
There’s also a girl named Honey. At 1st I thought they just called her Honey, but she says that’s what most people always call her. I think she’s very sad & Chaya says she thinks Honey’s grandfather is in the war, but she never talks when we talk about soldiers. & that seems sort of old. I’d like to ask but I don’t want to pry. And then there’s Ethel—well I’ll tell you about her another time.
Nov 7: We’re in Tucson now, a very long journey on the bus. But it was beautiful. I wish you could see the desert Bucky. I think you’d like it. Well actually you’d hate it. You’d do nothing but complain about it, & I don’t know why but that makes me miss you more than anything. I can’t wait to get to L.A. & get your letters. I already talked to the post office & hotel where we’ll be staying, just so none of my mail gets lost. I really want to hear from you. (I’ll be there in about a week.)
Just being in this desert makes me think of you, the nights are so emp skies are so empty & so big, with nothing under them, going on forever & you & I have never been under a sky like that so well, it shouldn’t remind me of you. But it does.
Happy Armistice Day, but I guess you know there’s no armistice here. Now that I wrote that out it sounds depressing, but I’m finding the bright side. Since I’m telling the truth now and talking to everyone bout everything, I went ahead and told Dum Dum bout something that happened yesterday. It wasn’t much, just a lil thing, but it was grusome: I saw someone’s eye hanging out of its socket. Did you know your eye is only connected by a nerve. He was already dead I guess but it was just that eye that got me, and I told Dum Dum how I never talk bout those things because no 1 else does, but they eat me up. They eat me up every time.
Dum Dum said sure people talk bout those things, you hear it all over. And I said the 1s who do that are the cowards, but I don’t think that. I guess what I mean is I have to be looked up to, not just because I’m concieted but because people have to have something, they have to have some1 who will be strong for them and hold them up & I’m their sarge so I have to be the 1, at least for my men, but also with other officers so they can be strong for their men. That's what I meant when I said I'm a convincer, I just don't like letting anyone down. And Dum Dum said that was great, only I could talk to him because he doesn’t need a sarge, and as well he knows I’m not a coward as I saved Yo. He said furthermore sometimes he can’t un-see things he sees either, so it would be a relief to have someone to tell.
I thought bout that and it’s like this. You can choose who to talk to. I talk to Burnette all the time but I would never tell him bout that eye hanging out of its socket. I don’t think Burnette is a chicken or pussy or any of those things. I just think he gets upset and doesn’t like to hear it, can’t think bout it. But I have to hear it and think bout it or I go crazy, so it’s a matter of talking to the right people at the right times, the people who are stronger for talking bout it, the right people who can hear me break down a lil or can themselves break down a lil and come out stronger for it, instead of breaking down completely.
I guess I can tell you bout that eye in that socket because your far away, but do you know what if you were here I’d still tell you anyway because you always listen. But your not
hear here and I need another you, several you’s or I know I’ll feel again like I’m drowning. Not that any1 could ever take your place, but what I mean is telling everything to you has made me realize the truth isn’t always bad like you think it is. Sometimes when you finally say it it can be beautiful, and I don’t mean that eye was beautiful what I mean is talking bout it made it not as bad.
I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m open now. You were always telling me to open up and I thought I did, but I was open like a window and now I’m like a door, and your the 1 that turned the handle. I thought that if I opened myself up wide it would be unsafe, the lightning could come in and rain, but I realize that I’m stronger now. They say a doorframe is the strongest part of the house because it has to stay up when part of the wall is gone. I guess my wall is gone and I’m still standing. Waiting for someone to walk through.
Maybe some gorgeous blonde with knockout eyes and a killer smile, what do you think? You know anyone like that? Maybe 1 with gorgeous shoulders and a kissable neck, hands I want all over me,
legs I want to with a body that fits perfect against my own. It’s a pity if you don’t know a 1 like that but I guess I’ll find 1 when I get home, that’s all I need right now or my life would be perfect. With me being so honest n all.
Chapter 42: HOLLYWOOD: November 14 - November 15
I’m in L.A., I got your letters. I’ve read them all—a lot from Sept & a few from Oct. I read them over & over.
Yes. The answer to your question is yes. I didn’t get anything from Yo. I’d really like to. But I know you, I know what you’re saying, & yes. You don’t need another language. Even tho’ I wish there was one.
You ask whether I always knew about your side of the story, at times I thought so but other times I had no clue. When you came back on leave was a time when I had no clue.
You were so I knew I pushed too far. In my letters. Well I guess you’re over the cliff now, Bucky. You can’t take it back. (Well you could if you really wa Actually I won’t let you.
I share that feeling of having too much to say without enough ways to say it. & I’ve never been as articulate as you. I’m glad you’re O.K. & I’m glad your friend Yo made it. I might have liked girls like AC had I not already been in love with someone else, I’m not even sure about that. Sometimes I had thoughts. Sorry this is disjointed, I’m just going back over your letters.
It’s 3am & I have work in 2.5 hours, I just needed to write to you. I’ll write you more tomorrow, & I’ll think about that language. This letter feels formal, I’m not as good at writing about this as you are. I’ve been pushing things down for so long, trying not to let a single bit of it loose. Let me think about that language, but Bucky, the answer is yes. It’s always been yes.
Just a brief note to tell you I have an idea about the language barrier. Well it’s not optimal, in fact it’s depressing really, but it’s better than not speaking. I’ll work at it a bit (got to get the vowels and consonants in order) & then I’ll send you some letters & you see what you think. If you can’t stand it I understand, but it’s my idea & I’m O.K. with it.
I wish we didn’t have to Maybe one day things will change.
I didn’t get what you sent with your friend Yo, but it’s not Thanksgiving yet. If you sent it in the 3rd week of Sept he’ll take a while to get to a boat & then another while to get here, & once he’s here he has to get where home is so it’s understandable it would take this long. But I’m impatient.
Well I’m sort of working 2 jobs right now, so I’m afraid it may be hard to write as much as I’d like. Don’t worry, neither job is dangerous. They’re really not. 1 is still with the USO trying to sell bonds etc. The other is—well it’s the same job really, just with different people & more money trying to sell a war. It’s sounds disgusting to say like that but sometimes it feels disgusting, it’s just everything is very commercial here, I didn’t realize how much. & I think what I’m doing is right, it’s just hard to see from behind the scenes.
Sorry this letter doesn’t contain much about baseball, wait for another letter & tell me what you think. Oh, but since we’re speaking of baseball language, I’ll just let you know that offense isn’t really that important, terminology-wise. It’s defense that’s relevant, the pitcher & the catcher. You even said I sent signals to the pitcher & honestly I thought you knew, but then in later letters you started talking of pitching me homeruns, & that's not how it works. You don't want to pitch a homerun, you want to pitch it straight into the catcher's mitt. Or I hope you do, at least sometimes, tho it would also be fine if you caught, so long as you know I've never pitched a game before. Well now that I think of it, I spose the batter is relevant if he's both right-handed and left-handed; that's called a switch-hitter. That’s the terminology that’s important for our kind of baseball. Unless you’re talking about something I’m not aware of. Which I doubt.
Quite knowledgeable on the subject of baseball,
Chapter 43: HOLLYWOOD: November 18 - November 21
Boy do I like these USO girls. Boy do they make me smile. You sent me a romance novel from a gal named Olga, Steve. You are hopeless. Hopeless. I love every single thing in this package. It’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen. I can’t even begin to describe how much I like it, this right here is the physical manifestation of Steve Rogers’ soul: romance novels, pens, science fiction, soap, and a fuzzy hat. It’s like a genius made this package. All it needs is a punching bag.
1/2 of me always wished more dames would notice you because your special and deserve attn. (1/2 of me didn’t wish on account of me being so goddamn selfish. I’m still waiting on whether you got something I sent along with Yo, but I guess you’re not getting any mail with you travelling.
I guess you have a whole contingant of girls now tho’, so that ought to entertain you. If it’s like I imagine they probably dote on you and meanwhile you protect them. You probably get into fights in bars over them don’t you, and they patch up your wounds, but you wouldn’t tell me any of that would you. Your always honest but God, you can be such a liar Steve. I hope at least 1 of those dames is quite tough and can back you up if you get too stupid for your own good. What am I talking bout your always stupid. God I wish I was
w back home. Stop trying to take on the whole world Steve, it’s not good for your constitution. No wonder they cluck like hens over you.
But hey I hear you’ve got sketches of me. Can you tell me what these look like? Can you tell me how good-looking these dames think I am, I mean you mentioned it but maybe you could wax eloquent bout it a lil, maybe you could tell me how well you drew me. Cuz even if I do have a duck mouth I think maybe I could make 1 of those admirers I got at home really happy with it, what do you think Steve? This mouth has got to be good for something, I mean I got to use it for something, I don’t know, maybe I could make 1 of those poor souls lusting after drawings of me really quite happy with a lil serious necking, what do you think? Or I could use it for other things, in fact there are all kinds of uses I can think of for a mouth like mine. What do you think, Steve?
I guess maybe not. I sent something with my friend Yo, just in case you didn’t get my other letters, I need to know whether you got it.
P.S. This romance novel is pretty good.
Well, I bet you’re wondering why you got a letter from you good friend Steve! Well it’s because I heard about the jam you’re in, and want to help. My sister Susan told me all about it: how you’re in love with her, and she’s in love with you, only our uncle does not approve. This is a real shame as she can’t send you the letters she’d like to and you can’t send letters you’d like to, so here’s what I propose: you can both go thru me. I’ll send her letter in my envelope, as I’ve done here, so all Uncle sees going out is just a letter from me to my good friend Bucky. Then when you write to my sister Susan you just put it in an envelope addressed to me and I’ll give it to her.
I want you to know I’ll still be writing you, as of course we are good friends and well I wouldn’t want you to have to write things that say “tell Steve this” or my sister Susan to have to write things that say, “Steve says this”. & I’ll include this brief explanation in all the letters from my sister Susan just so EVERYONE is clear & knows what the real deal is. But how does that sound to you?
I hope it is O.K. as my sister Susan would really like to get some letters from you. (She still hasn’t got the letter you said you sent thru another friend.)
Well my brother Steve put together a deal so that we could send each other letters without our uncle knowing. So that’s why this letter is with his.
Well I spose now that that’s settled I can say something I’ve always wanted to say. But I don’t know how to say it like this,
it’s so. Well Bucky, I love you. You know that, but I mean I'm in love with you. I'm real sweet on you, I spose they say. And I was going to tell you that night in the park, after we went to the museum and everything, and it was such a good day. Your arm was around me, and the way you kept on touching my leg, I thought well you love me too. So that’s what this letter is about.
I feel like I should say more, something else. I spose I should be romantic & say it’s a love for all time or something poets would want to write of, but honestly they’d think my side of it was fairly boring really. You’re still my best friend. Really the truth is you’re my best friend in the whole world, you always were & you always will be, plus I want to make love to you. That’s it, really. That’s the only part I never told you: I want to make love to you, and wished you wanted to make love to me. & frankly I was fairly obvious about that as well, with my drawings & my little hints. & the way I never could take my eyes off your body.
Well and I hope making love is what you meant by your messages because if it’s not well these letters will sure be off-putting for you. But I think it’s what you meant, even if you haven’t thought that far yet. Sorry to be so blunt when you’ve only just realized how you feel, but I can’t think of another way to say it. All out of signals, I suppose. I’m tired
I love you. And I’m glad that you love me in the way I always wanted, but it’s not because that other kind of love was any lesser, Bucky. I’m only so glad because this means I get to touch you, and you’re going to touch me, & we never have to stop if we don’t want to.
I’m sorry this isn’t a good letter. I’m not poetic like you. This is just what I feel, and it’s a load off to finally say it.
Chapter 44: HOLLYWOOD: November 24
I guess tomorrow is Thanksgiving. They don’t do it over here of course, but me and some of the boys are going to try to do a lil feast. I was so anxious for this holiday because by now I think you’d have what I sent with Yo, and I was so anxious bout it I didn’t even stop to think bout how I won’t know you got it til Xmas maybe. Jesus that kills me. I’ve been on the lookout for someone else to take something to you just in case you didn’t get it but it’s a hard thing to explain and I feel like the circumstances have to be specific. I guess just let me know if you got it.
I did get a letter from you, written over 10/17 – 26. You sound busy, even busier than me and I’m the 1 in a war! But I guess money is sometimes an even bigger war than a war itself, they say that’s what most wars are bout anyway, I guess that’s the way the world works. But I don’t know if this war is bout money because I think these Nazis are bad news. Even if they didn’t start out that way that’s the way they ended up and you have to pay the consequences. I don’t know, do you think it’s bout money? I guess you don’t or you wouldn’t have wanted to fight so bad.
I do like imagining you sewing sequins tho that cracks me up. Sorry they work you so hard. You sound real tired and unhappy, is that why you don’t feel like yourself? How bout you have a real big dinner with mashed potatoes & gravy, & corn & beans & lots of turkey, if I was there I’d keep making you those mashed potatoes because I know you like them, but I’m not. Maybe give me Gloria’s address. But I’m glad she’s there because maybe she’ll make you eat, but make sure you sleep enough, you’d always be tired but then you’d never go to bed, just “I’m fine Bucky” in that cranky voice, I don’t want you to get sick. God I miss you. Don’t get sick now it’s getting cold and don’t be an idiot bout going outside. Sorry. I know you hate nagging. I just remember how you look in the cold rain like a drowned angry cat and I just want
to keep I guess I want you to keep warm. Really warm by a fire, if I was there I’d make sure there was something hot as a fire right next to you. Christ I feel like I got a fever just thinking bout it. So obviously stay warm and don’t get sick like me.
November 24, 1943
Hello this is your friend Steve. I explained this in another letter but I am sending this on behalf of my sister Susan, who’s letter is enclosed. Our uncle disapproves of your laison, but I am sympathetic so will pass back & forth your letters so our uncle doesn’t find out. I spose that’s all I have to say in this letter.
I received the communication you passed along via Yo AKA Mr. Slothrop. Jeez Bucky. I don’t even know what to say. Jeez.
I feel the same. Only I can’t write like that. I don’t know how to say those things. But I feel them too. If you were here I’d show you. I’d show you with my body everything I feel, I’d use my hands & mouth to say to you those things you said to me. Then you’d know how I love you & how I want you & that I always have.
Well perhaps I should write more about that but I don’t know how. I want to address some other things that struck me, namely 2 things. The 1st is you can call me honey or any of those other things. In fact I’d prefer you to. You’re right I’d probably make fun of you for saying it aloud, but it’s much better than Susan. Honestly anything would be better.
2nd is—I haven’t told you this, but I’ve changed a bit. I put on a bit of weight for one thing. Actually quite a lot of it, I can’t wear my old clothes. So when you say you like my body—well it’s different. I mean I’m glad you like how I used to be, because that’s really who I am & I want people to like me for who I am. So it feels really good to have you say that, but
I regret don’t want to disappoint when you say you want to hold me in your arms you should just know that it’s different, I’m different. Inside I’m the same but outside is different. I wish I could say more about it but that’s all I really can say.
Well I’ve read your letter nearly 50 times. I’ll probably read it 50 more. Thanks for what you did to get it to me, I’m so glad you made it out alive, I’m so glad Yo made it too (I’m writing him a letter of thanks). I’m glad you feel this way, I don’t know how to tell you how glad I am, but don’t feel guilty about how it was before. It was enough for me, you were always enough for me, all I wanted was to be by your side. I did get jealous of
dam other girls, but I always thought if I could just be near you it would be enough. That’s how much I love you, Bucky. Just having you by my side would make me happy for all time. Please stay safe for me.
Chapter 45: HOLLYWOOD: November 30 - December 1
I hope you had a good Thanksgiving. The fighting hasn’t been too bad round here lately, there’s been a lot of sitting around. I guess Dum Dum’s always up to something, he’s a lil like you that way, and sometimes I get roped into his shananigens, but when we don’t have to fight I’ve mostly taken it easy.
I’m still talking to Dum Dum bout seeing things in the war and he still talks to me. We’ve got a lil group going I guess and sometimes we just talk bout things like things we see or things we have to do in the war. Sometimes I hate talking bout it but I guess I’m the 1 who got the group together so I sit tight thru it and then I do feel better at the end I guess. We only do it sometimes and it’s just a lil group, but I guess it’s a big relief.
I’ve also been talking to those other fellas I told you bout, the 1s that remind me of Buddy Arlen. They laughed at me for a bit but they’re sympathetic & helpful. There names are Wisnowsky, Saroyan & Flint. Flint in particular is interesting, he has a sweetheart back home. He’s blond & freckled & broad shouldered & moody sometimes. Saroyan is Arminian, tough and jokes around a lot and Wisnowsky is more the Buddy Arlen type if you know what I mean. I don’t mean that in a bad way because I can’t judge anyone now and they’ve been really swell. But talking to them bout some things makes me
wish want to try things I never tried. such as card tricks & a new poker game & such. But your the only 1 I want to play cards with so I learn all these things & all I can think is tryi playing them with you. Steve.
I guess I keep switching the games I talk bout every time I write but I feel like each time it was never good enough, it wasn’t close enough to what I meant. I just want to do everything I guess. God, I miss home. I ache for it. Physically I mean. I guess in other ways too, but what I mean is at times it’s actually painful how I miss home, I just want it so bad I ache. Relief of that pain only makes me miss it more.
I guess you should know I started telling people I’m sweet on someone back home, and I confessed it in a letter and I’m waiting to hear a response. I haven’t given details, it’s just nice to talk a lil when other fellas are talking, bout how I miss those blue eyes & slim artist hands. Things like that. Do you think it’s O.K. to talk like that?
This is a dumb letter, me just talking bout talking bout everything. Sorry just getting everything off my chest I guess. There was tons just sitting there.
Your best pal,
December 1, 1943
This is a package from my sister Susan. Well and from me. I’m sending it from me so our uncle doesn’t find out you two are sweet on one another and I’m including this note just so everything is clear. Well I have a few things to tell you so I’ll just write them.
1 – I had a very nice Thanksgiving, but missed you. A lot of us in the USO had no one to spend it with, except of course I had Susan & Uncle but we didn’t have anywhere to go. Ingrid has a sweetheart here & initially she thought we could all come over but later she decided we wouldn’t fit so we didn’t have anywhere to go. But then we got together in one of the hotel banquet rooms with all the girls & almost all the band & the othe actors. It was a wonderful get-together, very racous & you would have enjoyed it.
2 – By the time you get my other letters you should know this, but because you tend to get doubtful, I’m not sweet on any of the USO girls. Or anyone else. I only love one person that way, I only ever loved one person that way.
3 – You asked at one point for a list of letters so you know if you got them all. Well you know how I take notes so here you are.
Jun 16 – Montague St; 20 – Fort L; 27
Jul 4; 11; 18 ; 25
Aug 1; 8; 15; 22; 26 – Brooklyn; 28 – D.C.
Sep 3; 8; 11; 12 – plane to Columbus; 16 – Chicago (this is the one you probably missed); 21; 24 – Detroit (I sent you that sketchbook)
Oct 1 – Manhattan (I sent you those socks); 10 – Charlotte (I sent you all that junk); 26 – St Louis
Nov 7 – Tucson; 14 – L.A.; 16; 21 (I sent you a letter from my sis Susan); 24
Dec 1 – Today!
I know how you DON’T take notes, but if you have a list too I’d like it.
4 – Merry Christmas. Doesn’t feel like Christmas yet but as we’re sending you a birthday gift we might as well be saying merry Christmas too as that’s around when this will get here. I will be in L.A. for Christmas.
Well I spose that’s it.
Your best friend,
This package might not reach you in time for your birthday, but happy birthday. I wish there was a way to send you music but I assume you have no way to play it. To me these paintings are jazz in picture form. One is by Jacob Lawrence whom we saw at the museum that day, the other is an artist a fellow in the USO band Steve works with told me about, William Johnson. Well anyway I think they’re beautiful & I got small prints so you can just look at them if you feel low.
Well Bucky I got your letter of 10/29. You were very frustrated about things you couldn’t say. As you can see I found a way for you to say them, or well some of them. But if I was there with you I’d take that frustration away.
I think I could do a fair job of it. Well at any rate I’ve been thinking for years & years how I’d pin you down & kiss you, if I only got the chance, of how I’d make you crazy. I’d touch you & tease you until you’re at the point of no return, & that’s when I’d let you go & you could do whatever you wanted. Whatever the hell you want, & I don’t know what that is but I’ve always wondered. I always wondered what you’d do if you did want me & you just had free rein of me.
You’ve told me a few times how you are with other women, but I could never figure out if that’s how you actually are. I don’t mean you were boasting,
just that you sometimes you tend to well I guess I do mean you were boasting. I’ve imagined you with other girls. It felt wrong but I did it anyway, I imagined you with Cindy, how you kissed her & how you touched her. What you did with her. How you looked when you did it, & in my mind I pictured you . . . just more hesitating. & more gentle. I’m not trying to imply that you lack confidence, what I mean is that you are careful. Because you are kind, & you never want to hurt anyone, you never barge on into things like I always do.
But I always wondered if you wanted me, would you be freer with me because you can be certain of me, you can always be certain of me, you know that you can’t lose me, you can never lose me. What if you didn’t have to worry about whether I liked it, what if you could just assume that someone wants it all, everything you have to give. Then what would you do?
I just never could decide. Would you be fast & passionate with me, or slow & methodical? Would you take the time to touch every part of me or would you just want to have me as soon as you possibly can? Or maybe you would just want me to touch you, I can’t tell you how often I imagined that, that you would be fine with me just touching you, making you feel good. Would you talk? Or would you get real quiet like you do sometimes, you chew your tongue when you concentrate & I imagine you concentrating on me, the way you get so focused, & all of your attention is just on me. & if you’re looking at me while I touch you would you smile, or would you bite your lip because I make you feel so good, would you open your mouth, lick your lips, your eyes go wide—is that what you look like when you release? Don’t think I haven’t imagined that, that I didn’t go that far in my dreams of you, that I didn’t push us to the edge & over. I’ve done it so many times in my thoughts of you.
Well my friend, does that relieves some of your frustration? I hope it doesn’t. I hope it makes you feel more frustrated than ever because then you know some of what I always feel & I believe everyone deserves to be equal. It’s only fair. & as you know I’m the fairest of them all.
Just remember how annoying you can be, consider it payback.
Chapter 46: HOLLYWOOD: December 6 - December 7
I've added a whole bunch to the tags just in case anybody has any issues with some upcoming things. Please take a look.
I got your letter of 11/3 – 7. Your going to LA and your going to get letters there! I’m excited about this. Sorry if the letters aren’t what you care to read. I guess I should have made myself wait to get a response from you before sending all that but I just couldn’t. Tell me if you got something from Yo.
Your travelling so much. It’s strange to imagine you in all those different places. I guess it must be strange for you to imagine me here in Europe, us 2 boys who never even left home before. You wrote from the desert and of course you like it there. You always like nature, even tho it’s always trying to murder you. 1 day you will learn that nature is nothing but itchy wet & cold. The weather here is terrible, snow & sleet & rain. I guess it makes me want some desert! Maybe you could draw me some, maybe you could incl. a few practice drawings, they don’t have to be funny. I do have some in that book you sent but it’d be nice to have more. Just because it’s been a while. I still have the drawings of your bunk you did in basic plus your screwy typefaces. You never told me what they made you wear. Maybe you could do a sketch of you in your uniform. Or maybe you could do 1 of you without your uniform. Just dreaming I guess.
!!! In 1 letter you said they were doing photography? Are you in any, maybe even just in the background, do you get to keep any? I just want a reminder of home that’s all.
I really like hearing bout your new friends and I’m glad you’re talking to the gals.
I’m not I truly am glad because you deserve whole packs of friends and armfuls of dames. I hope you have gone dancing, Steve. Remember my offer to teach you, it still stands.
December 7, 1943
Per usual I am sending a letter from my sister Susan in order to avoid the scrutiny of our uncle, who does not approve of any hanky-panky between the two of you. Now why my uncle should have any business in your hanky-panky is a mystery to me. I wish he was more like the forefathers of this country who thought people’s personal business should be their own. Except for the part about how they all had slaves, well they weren’t so great either, just the ideas sound good. I hope that with this War people such as my uncle will realize the importance of those ideas, we’re fighting on the side of right, I know we are, & I have to believe that good will come of it.
Well Pearl Harbor was 2 years ago today. I still can’t believe it happened. I’m glad you’re fighting for us Bucky, & I’m trying to do what I can. I hope it is good & useful. Do you remember Ken from our bldg. Your Ma said Freddie White just got home, do you remember him? By the way Mrs. Lacey lost her son, I don’t know if you heard. It happened when I was on my way to L.A., I wished I could have been there to comfort her. I hope Mr. Goldman was there! Well speaking of our Brooklyn friends I heard Guillermo enlisted. I still think of him as just a kid.
Well things are fine here just really busy. I work from 6am – 6 or 7pm at one job and then from 8pm to 12am or later we do the USO shows here in town. We don’t really get weekends except sometimes bits of Sundays. When I get home sometimes I Well that’s all I have to say.
Your best friend,
You should know that sometimes you’re all I think of. I get home at night & get undressed & read your letters over & over. Sometimes they comfort me, help me go to sleep, but other times they keep me awake. You mean them to keep me awake. You want me to be bothered. Well I’m bothered, Bucky. I am significantly worked up.
You make it
har difficult to sleep at night, that’s what your letters do to me. Especially that one letter you sent thru your friend Yo, but all of them really, even tho’ you’re not saying outright what you mean. Well, I’m suss susceptible to you, is what it is. Well I’ve always been susceptible. Kudos. You’ve been doing this to me my whole life.
But it’s different now.
You know how I said It’s not the same It takes me longer to cool down. Sometimes it takes I thought you might like to hear. I don’t mean that you’d be happy that I’m uncomfortable, but I thought you WOULD like to know you’re not the only one who’s restless. It takes hours to Sometimes it feels like it takes hours, wishing it was you touching me. Your hands on me, anywhere. Everywhere. It’s like torture. Maybe it’s only so excrutiating because I know you WOULD touch me if you could, but meanwhile I just can’t get this body to do what I want it to. Well that’s nothing new. I shouldn’t complain.
Well you sent me a letter about dancing & I meant to write something about that, something very sweet regarding leading & how you would hold me & how I would put my hands on you. Then this is what came out. Well I’m not a very pure individual. I spose Uncle would be horrified. Well plenty of other people would be too. But I don’t actually give a damn.
Chapter 47: HOLLYWOOD: December 14
Your in LA! Got 2 letters from you!
Everyone thinks I’m crazy, I keep messing round, you know how I get, I keep being a real smart aleck, singing and whistling and everything, you know how Mrs. Ramez and everyone found it so charming, like when I got that bar job, only no 1 over here is charmed they’re annoyed out of their minds, because we’re supposed to be hauling some doing some heavy work. But I’m doing my share, more than my share in fact! I’ve just been in such a good mood I guess. Dum Dum says I look like a cat who got the cream. I guess I am! I’m a happy cat. I knew it all along, by the way, that the answer was yes, it was just so good to get an answer. So good to get an answer. Even if you’re a smart aleck just as much as me. Baseball! Baseball terminology! You ass. You’re such an asshole. I wasn’t thinking bout that! I didn’t even know that. What you said bout switch-hitters I mean. Or if I knew I wasn’t thinking bout that! And anyway how do you know Steve? You been studying up on this? You been reading bout it? You been asking people bout baseball? That makes me wish we could play a game more than anything. It really does, it lights a fire under me, I just want to play with you all day. Besides, the offense is relevant, I know things too, for instance when I play you I’m going to get to first base, then second base, then third base, then a run. & I could do it all at once & score a homerun. That makes perfect sense, I know how to play, I just never played baseball with your team before. Oh God. I really want to. I’m over the cliff. I’m so far over the cliff you have no idea Steve. Steve you have no idea. God I feel so good.
Your best best best best friend ever in the universe,
This is your friend Steve forwarding along a letter from my sister Susan so our uncle doesn’t find out you’re sweethearts. Nothing new much up with me, just working.
I got your letter of 11/11. This was your letter re: talking to people, namely Dum Dum, about experiences in the War. I am very glad you are having those conversations, as I think it is very important to talk of things that bother you. It’s important to be honest.
I’ve not The truth is
At the end of your letter you ask if I know of any nice blondes who would fit into your arms. Well I don’t.
I’m I’m sorry. I’m not the same as I was.
Sometimes I feel like a whole nother person & the one way I know I’m not is I’m still yours. The part of me the longs for you & loves you & lusts for you is exactly the same & when I imagine us together sometimes it’s with my old self & the way you touch me sets me on fire. But sometimes it’s with my new self & it’s just as good, because I want someone to touch all the new parts of me & I want it to be you. You make me feel like me.
But I know what you like. I’ve seen all the dames you were sweet on & they were a certain type. I know there was someone you had a crush on in Basic, I knew it even if you didn’t. It was the one you said looked like me, only dark-haired & Jewish. That one’s name started with an N. Well I’m not like those gals & I’m not like N any more, I’m not small & slim. I’m not the same, I’m not me & I can understand if it’s not what you want.
I know you. You’re going to think I’m accusing you of being superficial. Well I’m not. Different people are attracted to different things, that’s just the way that people are. I believe there’s something deeper in all of us beyond the physical, I do believe that, but that doesn’t mean we’re sexually attracted to that. I’m in love with your soul, but I want to have sex with your body. & that’s O.K. I have to believe that that’s O.K., because that’s what I’ve always lived on: the fact that I don’t get much choice regarding what my body wants or what arouses me, God made me that way & He didn’t do it to make me wrong. It’s just a part of who I am.
So when I say you might not like me this way I’m not saying you only care for outward trappings or that you need to look beyond my body. I’m just trying to give you as much truth as I possibly can. Trust me when I say that I’m different, & you might not like it, & that’s O.K.
I’d walk through that door if you want me, Bucky. But if you don’t you could be with someone else, and I could make myself content to live beside you. As long as it’s forever.
Chapter 48: HOLLYWOOD: December 16
Your a genius. Your an actual genius. I mean bout sending letters to your sister Susan thru you because of how your uncle disapproves. I’ll just make sure that’s clear every letter, that the letters addressed to you are for your sister Susan. This is a swell idea and I’m so glad you are A-O.K. with it. Thank you. Thank you thank you. Steve.
I love you. God, I love you. I just needed to say it again, write it down so you could see it and I could see it and we could both know: I’m in love with you.
You wrote You wrote you want to make love. Of course I got that far. S. I got that far and then I set up camp. It’s not blunt I guess it is blunt, that’s what drives me wild bout you. You always just come out and say it,—things other people won’t say, things other people want to say but are too afraid. You always find a way to just say it. Christ I want to touch you everywhere, I want
I guess I could pour out all over you and just never stop. But instead I’m going to take a systematic approach, this is going to be a love letter, a real good honest to goodness love letter, the kind that will make you blush, the kind that makes you so hot you can’t think straight. I want to tell you what I’d do to you if you were here in front of me, and maybe you could just imagine it. Maybe you could just lie back and imagine me doing it to you.
1st I just want to kiss you. God I love your mouth. I love everything bout it. I used to get distracted by it & tell myself it was because it reminded me of
a some other girl. But then once I kiss your mouth I’d have to kiss your everything, your nose & your eyebrows & all of you, I love everything. Everything bout your face.
Then I’d move on to your neck.
St God I want I want to I want to leave a mark. I don’t want to hurt you, I don’t ever want to hurt you, but I know you bruise easy and is it wrong I want to see my kisses on your skin. It’s probably wrong. But I want it on me just as much, just as much or more—would you kiss me like that? If you kissed me like that, then I’d let every1 see. I’d wear my shirt just a lil open at the collar so they could see and you would like that wouldn’t you. Oh God I know you would. You said you were obvious, the way you looked at me that it was obvious, I guess I never once let myself think bout it but now I am and I know. I know how you looked at me & I know what those looks mean. I know how you looked at me when I left the collar open, Christ when I was wearing less. And I liked you looking. Some part of me knew you were looking and I let you, I wanted you to. Sometimes I’d do it on purpose, I tried to make it so you would look, it wasn’t fair and I’m sorry but I’m not sorry you were looking. How would you like to look now, how would you like to look at me when its your kisses on my skin? And anyone else who’s looking, if your uncle was looking they’d think it was just some dame who had been at me, but we would know it was you. I’d know it was you on me and you’d know it was me on you, if I left my kisses on you. If every person on earth could see I’d kissed you. And how.
Guess I got distracted. Are you imagining where my hands would be for all this necking, you’d be surprised how much I want to touch your waist. The spot where your shirt tucks in. Can you believe I’ve been annoyed by your shirts before, the way you do it so neat, tucks up gainst your skin so I can’t see or touch and I just want to touch it, pull your shirt out and slide my hand underneath so I can touch all that pretty skin, your waist and stomach. God S. just thinking bout that lil strip of skin gets me so worked up I can’t even see straight. What sort of person do you reckon I am? That gets so worked up over something like that. There must be something wrong with me. There are so many things wrong with me, I don’t fucking care.
I want to take your shirt off. Can I write that in a letter? I want to take it off you & the 1 underneath, but here’s the part that’s really screwy I want you to turn over so I can kiss your back. That’s my favorite part of you & I know that’s screwy. But I just love how—God I love your shoulderblades. I know that’s dumb. I just love them. They’re sharp the way they stick out and I want to stroke them I want to kiss them I want to trace them with my tongue. God I don’t know why. I’m sorry but I have to tell you. Your back just drives me wild.
It’s because your Your just Here it is I guess, you may think that you're too skinny, but your exactly what you need to be to make you who you are, & I love that bout you, the way there's nothing extra, nothing wasted. I know every line of you & it gets me going the way there's nothing just for show, the way you're only what you need to be, just the bones & muscle & tendon needed to make you what you are. & God I love your bones. Your elbows & your wrists & your knees, your shoulders & your hips, the way your sharp & lean. I want to trace every part of you with my fingers then my tongue, all the angles of you, all the sharp corners & everything between.
Then you would roll back over—in fact I truly doubt you would have just laid there for that long, but I’d want you to just once, just once so I could see & touch & taste what I been missing for so long. But with you on your back again I want to fit my fingers between your ribs, I want to drag my tongue between them because I love them, I love each 1 of them better than the last, your skinny
S S but its perfect, your just perfect, the way I can see every piece of you & it gets me so fired up, God it gets me so hot I’m I guess I’m fit to be tied.
I want to lick your belly button, I want to keep on licking down
and then your I don’t know how to I want I want to pull what your wearing on the bottom off. Honey I can’t and keep licking you and my hands on those sharp hipbones and I’d I’m so I just want to touch your legs. That sounds so goddamn dumb. I want to touch your thighs. Is that too explisit? I guess this whole letter is, I just want to run my hand up your thighs, narrow & lean just like the rest of you & Jesus H. Christ I want you. God I want to taste you.
I want you, all the way, so close we’re a part of each other, I’m you & your me. and
your your flowing into me & I can’t get enough. God I can’t get enough of you. Is this what you meant when you said you wanted to make love with me? Guess you didn’t know you’d get a treatis. That’s what I want. I wish it was real and I was there. Sorry bout I don’t know how to
Please tell me if you imagined it & what you felt and what you imagine back. Please send 1 with you touching me. if you can write it. I understand if you can’t. I’ll like anything. I hope you liked this but if you didn’t it’s O.K. Tell me what you like. Tell me & I’ll imagine it.
I’m sorry I didn’t face the way I felt sooner. I at least could have kissed you good bye.
Chapter 49: HOLLYWOOD: December 19
I will not update for the next two days, as I'd like to clean up a few inconsistencies and historical inaccuracies. (These are extremely minor changes that shouldn't affect anything else.) After that, I should be back to regular posting.
If you like this story, you can help me share it via my tumblr, letteredlettered. I sort of suck at tumblr and am trying to get better, so I'm posting chapter updates there. If you want, you can reblog an update or two so other people can read this story if they want! The post for the previous chapter is: here.
I’m very sorry that I won’t have a letter for you from my sister Susan. Something happened & well it happened to me so I should tell you of it rather than her.
Here is what happened. Remember I told you my friend Ingrid had a sweetheart in town. (She’s from L.A.) Well I started noticing she was roughed up, not blatantly, but you know. Well I tried to talk to Ingrid about it & she pretended nothing was happening. I talked to Gloria because Gloria looks out for everyone & I thought she might have more info. Well she didn’t but she was concerned like I was & said to keep an eye out.
Well last week this sweetheart, Nick is his name, he shows up after one of the shows & so I went to talk to him. Well that made Nick angry, but that was all that happened. I didn’t think much of that at the time, but I’ve been thinking over it so much over these last few days.
I haven’t got in any fights since Basic. I thought it was because I’ve been trying so hard to live up to certain people who believed in me, people like DE who didn’t realize how meddling I am. But I’ve not actually been doing any better I realize now. I’ve not avoided fights, people have simply avoided me—they walk away from me now & they didn’t before. It didn’t occur to me because it’s not as if I’m trying to be threatening, I never intend to hurt anyone. But people walk away now & they didn’t before.
(I know you’re going to a double-take when you read this and say WAIT SINCE BASIC, so yes. In the interests of being perfectly honest, yes Bucky I got into 3 fights at Basic. I read your letter where you tell me I lie & I didn’t lie. I omitted. Which yes I know is actually lying, I’m sorry.)
Well last night Gloria rang me in my room & I went over to hers & Ingrid was there & she was beat up real bad & she was afraid to stay there because she said Nick would come find her, so I told her I’d go talk to Nick. I thought maybe I could talk some sense into him, just talk to him, that’s all I meant to do. So I got his address & I went over there & well I guess Nick had been boozing. I tried to talk but it seemed pointless
but he was very well I can’t make excuses for myself. We got into it & I broke his nose & knocked him out.
There was blood everywhere & I had to try to stop it but he was really knocked out, he wasn’t waking up, I kept shaking him but he wouldn’t wake up. Well no one on that street has a phone so I had to find one & call a hospital, & I got back but Nick still wouldn’t wake up. They sent an ambulance & I went with him & he woke up on the way & the ambulance men asked him questions like the year & the president. At the hospital they put a bandage on his nose & said he should rest but he was fine. I told the dr. how long he had been out because it was not normal & the dr. said he likely got concussed because with the nose & amount of bruising it looked like he’d been hit with something very hard like with a brick.
& well that’s what I did. I mean I didn’t use a brick but it was like I did. I don’t know how to explain. Just understand I wasn’t thinking right, I didn’t realize that I was going to hit him like that, but I SHOULD have. That’s the whole point. I SHOULD HAVE realized what it would do, but I didn’t think. It was like I was holding a weapon & used it without even thinking of the consequences. I can’t explain, but that’s what it was like, Bucky. That’s what happened. I could have killed him.
You’re going to say it’s not my fault, Gloria keeps trying to tell me that & other people. But Bucky, you understand me better than anyone ever could. Everyone I ever knew either thought of me as nothing or some kind of saint & I was never either one. You knew I was never either one, I was just me, you called me a liar in your last letter because you KNOW I lie, even though I’m trying to do the right thing, you know I want to help people but that sometimes I just get in the way & you tell me. & you help me & you calm me down, you help me think things through, you make me believe that we can fix things, you & me. You know me. You're the only one who does. & this time I DID do something wrong, you have to believe that, that what I did is not O.K.
I’m not the one who deals out justice, I don’t get to decide. I thought I went there to defend someone but it’s like I went there with a weapon, & once you have a weapon you shouldn’t use it unless you have to, & I didn’t have to. It was just convenient, I should have found a different way. I keep looking at these hands & thinking that the point was to be better than this.
Do you remember Lisa Conway? You told me I shouldn’t try to fight Mark her boyfriend the next time he tried to hit her so I didn’t. & you lost your bike but we got him arrested. Bucky you play dirty, but you are humane & you are decent, you are good. You are so, so good, and you were always wiser than me.
I’m sorry to have burdened you with my whole sordid tale because I know you are dealing with much worse things & in light of everything you’re facing this is really petty—not knocking someone out, but the fact that I just want to feel better by telling you how guilty I really am. But I have no one else to tell. You’re the only one who really knows me, the only one in the world, & I have never missed you quite as much as I do right in this moment. I just really wish you were here, Buck.
Chapter 50: HOLLYWOOD: December 21 - December 23
Please note that I changed the rating and added more tags. I don't really get the difference between explicit and mature, but idk there's graphic discussion of sex in future chapters. I didn't really edit the previous chapters like I planned, so that will still happen, but now back to regular daily posting.
Thanks for passing letters from me to your sister Susan so your uncle won’t find out about our top secret affair. You’re a real pal Steve, you know that? What would I do without a friend like you? Merry Xmas, Steve!
I got your letter of 11/24, you got my letter from Yo, you said I could call you things like sweetheart. I agree Susan is a terrible name. I mean what were your parents thinking! Just whenever you see sweetheart you can think of that as your name. Long with dummy and dope by the way, don’t think I’ve forgotten how you can be a complete knucklehead.
As for the next part of your letter you said you gained weight.
I just don’t I can’t tell, you think that will change my opinion of you? What are you finally over 100 lb? You have been trying to put on pounds for years, I’m just glad you did it! So what if your different? A few days ago I sent you a letter bout how much I loved your ribs and your bony hips and everything, and now I’m going to send you a letter bout how much I love that lil bit of cushion in your stomach, or whatever else you got. I love your body St because it’s yours, it makes you who you are, and you can’t get new eyes, you can’t get a new heart, you can’t get a new skeleton and I told you how I love your bones. I just love them. Right down to the marrow. So just keep your bones please and I’ll love anything you add on em or take away.
Also in your letter you say you can’t
ri write things like how much you love me, and that’s O.K. But I think you can. I have your letters and some of these are love letters. You didn’t write them like they were but they are. This 1 here bout how I’m a hero, it says you’ll wring my neck but it’s a love letter. And this other 1 here right before you took your job, you say you know all the parts of me, even parts of me I didn’t know. I wonder did you know the taste I had in girls, the taste I have for you in particular?
I guess you can write all kinds of sentimental things bout how wonderful I am, but only if you think I’m miserable. That’s just like you, shining like the sun but only when you notice it’s dark. I don’t care. I don’t care, write me anything. Write me anything you want to, write me a list of the objects you can see out your window, I don’t care. I just want to hear from you, everything bout you, anything. I just like you, did you know that? We’re still best friends, just like you said.
I hope you have a merry Xmas, I should have wished you 1 sooner. I don’t know where you will be but I sure wish I was with you.
December 23, 1943
Happy birthday. I sent along a gift a while back but today is the actual day so I’m thinking of you.
If you got my last letter I was upset. I’m sorry if I was confusing at all; I just surprised myself with how hard I hit Nick. He will be O.K. and please don’t I’m sorry to have sounded so upset. Partly I just felt I let people down. My job, selling bonds, it’s a bit like representing America
and. Anyway, I never used to win in fights, so it never occurred to me I could become a bully.
I have a new friend, Ethel.
Well We were friends before, as she is one of the USO ladies I have been telling you about, but we have grown closer over the past several days. I used to think that she was quiet, but as it turns out, she is just selective whom she speaks to. Ethel is the best dancer of the ladies, or I think so. She said she wanted to do classical ballet, but wasn’t allowed because she wasn’t “the right sort.” I don’t know what that means, but she continued to dance in spite of it, because she says that when she dances she feels like she is the one in charge. She is the one who gets to make decisions about her body, she says.
I know you’ll laugh, but she said she would teach me a bit of ballet. I think this is a good idea. I went through Basic Training, but after I got this job I never did any kind of physical training. And I’m still in the Army, so I should keep it up. And besides, I think there are certain reflexes I should unlearn and ballet will help. Well you said I should learn to dance.
I’m sorry I don’t have a letter from Susan. I wanted to write you one from me and I didn’t have time to get you one from her. I miss you. Everything is fine.
Chapter 51: HOLLYWOOD: December 25 - December 26
Dec 25, 1943
Enclosed is a letter from my sister Susan, sent by me so our uncle doesn’t find out.
It’s Christmas & I have the day off. We are having another big dinner at the hotel. I checked on Nick who obviously doesn’t like me very much, he’s still O.K. Ingrid is much better and spent Christmas with us. I’m glad she’s all right as that was the point to begin with.
Well that’s it.
December 25, 1943
I miss you. I just miss you. I don’t feel like myself. I sometimes worry if you were here, would you recognize me? Would you still know me the way that you did? But I would know you no matter how you changed, it’s unfair of me to think you know me less.
But I miss you. We’ve come so far & each of us is doing our best, trying to give something back to the world, but selfishly I think of you & me back in Brooklyn. With your ma & sisters on Christmas Eve & Christmas Day, with your ma’s decorations. Well now you’ll understand why my favorite part was when we left, hardly anything in town would be open, the whole world was still silent & I’d make that terrible hot chocolate. It was just you & me. Here there are always people & I miss being alone with you more than anything else.
I’d like to say something to get you hot & bothered, because I think you probably like those kinds of letters, but right now I’d hardly mind if you never realized how you feel. Later I’d mind quite a bit, but right now we wouldn’t be any different than we ever were. All I want is just to sit beside you, listen to the radio, work on sketching (or most likely darning socks). My favorite thing was the way you’d just flop down on that ancient sofa & put your head on my thigh like it meant nothing to you, you don’t know what it did to me, & I’d ache to put my hands in your thick hair. But after several minutes of that your head would feel heavy & I’d be annoyed enough at you to get over it, & I’d sketch again, & you would offer commentary on how dumb “Buck Rogers” is, & we’d argue over the characters
and you’d I love you. I just love you.
I pray that you are well & warm & safe & the War is over soon.
Just a quick note to say happy Xmas again. I wish I could’ve written you on the day itself. The weather here isn’t any better. I thought I might get a letter from you and Susan but I guess not. Could be held up because there’s more mail for the holiday or maybe it’s just the weather. And I sure do miss Susan but also I just want to know bout you and what your doing. What are you doing with those USO girls? Lord I bet they make you blush sometimes don’t they? The way my sisters do. But you learned to deal with my sis’s pretty well, you made them all fall in love with you. Even tho they do treat you too much like a kid sometimes. I guess it’s because they never seen you get angry the way you sometimes do, you get all tight & tough like you could take down someone 10 ft tall. I guess I just like imagining you with those USO girls, they’d take care of you and you’d take care of them. You and those girls are like my lil radio holiday special.
Things are depressing here, we’re not getting anywhere and everyone was feeling really bummed out. Even Dum Dum. But not me! Remember those pranks we used to pull? I started pulling them just because I was tired of everyone being so bummed and it annoyed the shit out of everyone and they all hate me now, and we were all feeling much happier, then we had Xmas which made everyone downright jolly. I’m like a Santa Claus I’m telling you, I spread joy. These folks better keep me around, to be frank I’m not sure 1 of them besides me knows how to tell a joke. Cept for maybe Dum Dum but you know what I’m not sure he’s trying 1/2 the time.
Guess I just wanted to say merry Xmas and I hope I get out of this hell hole soon.
P.S. It’s not a hell hole, it’s not that bad. Also I thought I wasn’t going to, but I just had to write your sis Susan and I’m sending it thru you so your uncle doesn’t know.
My dear S,
Thought I wasn’t going to write you but I got to the end of writing another letter and all I want to say is I love you. God, I love you. How come I didn’t know before? When everything I write and everything I think just makes me think of how much I love you, how much I want you, just to hold you in my arms and kiss your pretty mouth. Lord do you have a pretty mouth. And shoulders, but I already told you what I want to do with your shoulders. I just want to kiss you everywhere. I want to make love to you, do you understand, I want to fornicate, have relations, copulate, honey I want to be intimate, take you to bed, hit a homerun, fool around. Christ but do I want to fool around with you. I want to do much worse with you. I want to sink myself inside of you, do you take my meaning, I want to drown in you, I want to fill you up, do you want that? Me inside of you. Have you thought bout that, do you think that it will hurt, are you afraid? But do you know what, I’ve never done it before either. Have you thought about it like that? I haven’t done it like this. Neither of us has done it, so we can just figure it out, just do whatever we want, the 1st time for both of us, you and me, and we don’t have to do anything we don’t want to do. Don’t be afraid because I haven’t done it either. I just picture you and none of these thoughts will leave my head. I just wanted to say merry Christmas but then I think what I would do to you for Xmas, the way I would touch you, God it would be real inappropriate, think bout us going home after dinner and you could make that shit chocolate you make, that stuff is really crappy you know that right, and God it would just be you and me and I’d make love to you, I’d make love to you, because it would be you and me and just us for the first time and I love you
baby. God I love you like a hurricane.
Want you so goddamn bad,
P.S. I’d just like to say I was drunk when I wrote this. Dum Dum had some whiskey he got for Christmas. The signature was real embarrassing. But I meant it all so I’ll send it anyway. Plus it’s good for a laugh.
P.P.S. Upon reflection the whole thing is embarrassing. But you know me I get real worked up.
Chapter 52: HOLLYWOOD: December 31
Still haven’t got a letter from you or your sister. Feels like we haven’t budged an inch in a month. I checked and I guess we haven’t! But today is new years eve, and I want to write to you. I guess I want to write your sis too, I can’t figure out which as I have things to say to both of you. I guess I’ll just write a letter to your sis Susan, it’s sent to you so your uncle won’t know.
I guess that’s all Steve but I miss you, and long to hear from you.
Guess I’m feeling thoughtful since it’s new years. I just want to write bout how I started in basic at the top of this year. I was writing you and I sure missed you, I missed everything bout you, most of all how you’d tease me and give me a hard time. Something bout that made me feel real tough. And then basic was so awful, with that fella Rex and everything, and I couldn’t tell you because
I knew you wanted I knew you wanted to be with me. And I felt I couldn’t complain, and I wanted to be tougher and the way fellas talk shouldn’t bother me. But it did because I didn’t want to kill anyone, I never wanted to kill anyone.
And then I got promoted and you started sending those sketches. Christ those sketches.
You don’t understand, you have no way of Well Christ. Of course you understood. You sent those sketches to torture me. You must have known. You knew how closed up I was to you and you sent those sketches anyway, you were trying to torture me, weren’t you. Christ. I guess I was tortured. Jesus Christ, was I tortured, you rat bastard, I was tortured. Honey I went to bed with those sketches. I stashed them under my pillow and then I—I guess I did unwriteable things. I did unwriteable things, thinking of you but pretending I was thinking of something else and there was that 1, that 1 that was like a study, a figure drawing, I have seen you do them before, like a nude but it was you and it was the line from your shoulder to your waist, with lil shading for your ribs and your chest and I’m getting hot just thinking bout it. Christ. I didn’t even think bout how you purposely made them that way. You son of a You’re slick.
Then I went off to war and I didn’t hear from you for a long time. Then once I did, I found out what you were up to and that terrified me. It didn’t terrify me cuz I don’t think you can take care of yourself, S. It terrified me because I couldn’t lose you, I didn’t want to lose you. And yes, I was jealous of AC. I was so jealous I could barely see straight, and I was still so afraid that I could lose you. I still don’t know what all your up to? What your job was supposed to be, and you keep looping round how DE died. Don’t think I don’t notice how you do that. I just know that if I’m to get a straight answer out of you that would have to be my whole letter, because then you couldn’t just loop round again, and now I’ve conceived of that plan you could loop round anyway, you could just say you didn’t get my letter. I don’t think you would but if you were truly hiding something big you might. I don’t know. I’m not trying to accuse you of lying.
And then we got trapped behind enemy lines and I got shot and then I was in that candy store, and after that it was all clear. It was clear how I loved you and I don’t care what anyon your uncle says. I don’t care who I am or who you are. I don’t care how I’m made or if I’m made wrong or if I should fight it. I thought I was so brave, fighting the way I loved you, I thought I was so strong and so good for both of us, because I made us both miserable. I just don’t care. I may be fucked up and I may be a criminal and I may be condemned to hell but I just don’t care. Nothing has ever made me happier in the whole entire world than being able to tell you how I love you and want you, and your a good person. Your a good person, better than me, 1,0000 times better and you think it’s O.K. to love me. You think it’s O.K. to love me physically. You said you wanted to make love to me, I read that part over and over again, the part where you said it so straight forward as if it’s just a fact of life for you. I guess it’s a fact of life for me too.
But anyway after I realized how I loved you I had to wait for an answer from you. That was agonizing, I know, not as agonizing as everything has been for you as you knew so long before me. And I did know the answer cuz I thought you were going to say it in the park that day. I was thinking of it that day in the park, I remember that, how I had my arm round you to keep you warm and I kept touching your leg. And I kept doing it because I love your legs, not just because I didn’t want you to be cold. I guess I didn’t want you to be cold but I just wanted to touch you everywhere, all over, but I thought I could get away with it because it was so cold. I just thought I could get away with it. But then you started talking and I was annoyed, I was pissed off at the way you had to put it out in the open because then I couldn’t have that and I had to take my hands off you so you wouldn’t get the wrong idea, but I was the 1 with all the wrong ideas. I was always the 1. That night I thought you ruined everything, but it was really me. That night was when I 1st started thinking bout enlisting. I knew I should do it for my country, I knew you wanted to, but I didn't want to. The night was the 1st time I thought bout it seriously, and it was because I was a coward.
But I did the right thing. I signed up for the wrong reasons but it was right, coming here. I’m still the best shot in the 107th. That’s nothing to brag about, being able to kill people, but I help my friends & allies & people who are trying to do right. And the 107th is like a family, these are real good friends, Dum Dum and Burnette & Al, plus Wisnowsky & Flint & Saroyan. The latter 3 aren't all off to the side these days. They're with me now and that means we're all together now and there's still that group of us that talks. And I play real good pranks, the best ones because of you S, and we talk bout our sweethearts back home, and we have moments for our lost friends like Sowder. We are a good bunch and it's my bunch.
I guess this letter isn’t saying much, but I guess what I wanted to say is this is the most important yr of my life. I hate myself in some ways for things I’ve done but I’ve stood up and fought for my country and I stood up to how I feel for you. It’s like this terrible war had to happen to make me into someone who does what’s right. I’m going to do what’s right now and forever and if anyone wants to stop me they’ll have to kill me.
I guess that’s my new years resolution. I’m going to do what’s right and never be afraid. Oh and I'm going to smooch you til you can't breathe. This is going to be a good year.
Soon as the weather clears we’ll be moving more and I won’t be able to write as much. My hand is tired so I better wrap it up. Oh and I want us to get a motorcycle if possible, that’s another resolution.
End Part IV
Chapter 53: HOLLYWOOD: January 1
Jan 1, 1944
Happy New Years, Bucky. I assume you’re making another list of resolutions. Good luck with that. (I don’t mean that sarcastically.) (Well maybe a bit sarcastically.)
We did not do much for New Years. Well, I had to attend a party, I should be grateful because important people were there. They were people I would have been impressed to meet under different circumstances, but it all felt like just glitz and glamor. I feel impatient with everything, I just want to cut right thru. But I don’t know what to cut thru.
Well enough of my complaining, I just wanted to say Happy New Years, and I have a letter from my sister Susan that I’m sending so that my uncle doesn’t find out that 2 consenting adults are in love & would like to have a physical relationship in the privacy of their own homes without anyone else butting in or acting like it’s their business who sleeps with whom or what makes anyone feel good. Jeez. As you can imagine Susan gets very ticked off over it.
Jan 1, 1944
Haven’t gotten letters from you in a bit, perhaps the holidays are causing a bit of delay. I do have this letter from Nov 18, in which you begged me to speak of your appearance. In fact you told me to “wax eloquent” on it. Well, O.K.
1. You have this big wide mouth with such pronounced lips that if they’re not hanging open you’re pushing them together in concentration which makes them protrude. Really just like a duck.
2. But be thankful for you do not have duck eyes, for ducks have beady eyes and yours are not. They are quite large, with droopy lids & dark dark eyelashes that go on for miles and miles. These are not duck eyes at all! No, they’re just like . . . a cow’s. You have cattle eyes.
3. You have a big forehead. Around Connecticut sized. Maybe Denmark?
4. Your hair is brown but not a plain brown. It is a very rich brown, just like . . . dirt. You have dirt hair. & it’s horribly dense & thick & to the point of veritible unmanage-ability. No wonder you put so much pomade in it.
5. You sway when you walk. A swagger that should be illegal & in fact is in more than 20 states. I keep telling the authorities something may be wrong with your hips just so you don’t get arrested over it.
6. You have skinny legs.
Well, that’s it for your GOOD features. Don’t even get me started on your bad ones, the unsavory ones, the ones I can’t even mention in a letter. I could go on about your backside for ages. I could write a pamphlet condemning it. I have studied it in detail and found it HIGHLY inappropriate. You really should consider doing something with it.
But I know you don’t care about your appearance. You’re not the type to spend a year in front of a mirror, fiddling with a comb. You never put on 3 different shirts in the morning trying to decide on the perfect one. It’s a good thing too, one wouldn’t want you to become VAIN.
I mean, just because you’re the best-looking man on Earth doesn’t mean you go around fishing for compliments. You never strut, knowing how stupidly handsome you are. You never purposely leave your collar open, your shirt untucked, your suspenders off just because you know that people will look at you. Oh no. You’re always unsure of yourself, you must be because you’re always ASKING, does this look good, do I look all right S, what do you think, S? Will girls back home like my mouth, S, what should I do with it?
I’d tell you what you could do with your mouth, Bucky, only someone else is going to read this & then my letter might get confiscated for graphic lewdness.
& I’d tell you what you look like when you dance, how I think of your body when your arms are full of another dame, but I wouldn’t want you to think I’m a WANTON HUSSY.
& I’d tell you what I think of your hands, Bucky, how arousing they are to me when I imagine them touching me, only then I’d have to tell you about your arms and shoulders, and I know you don’t want to hear all of that, because you are so modest and retiring. It would be such a shame to lose that, such a shame for you to become a cocky devil who likes to be told how handsome he is over & over & over. It’s a good thing you’re not a bit like that, because then I would want you so bad it would be unbearable, as I have an extreme soft spot for dark-haired men who want to be told they’re handsome, especially when they’re too gorgeous for their own good.
Whew. Good thing I dodged that bullet & got stuck with someone so demur & humble & mediocre-looking. Otherwise you’d be the death of me.
Chapter 54: HOLLYWOOD: January 5 - January 8
There’s a hold up with the mail. I can’t tell you what we’re doing. or I guess I could but they’d just cut it out. Anyway we won’t be getting it for a while, but we can still send it out I guess. There’s just a hold up.
We’re all fine. Cold & wet & mighty dirty at times but other times warm we are O.K. I guess it’s safe to say we haven’t really moved forward much, so tho I’ve shot a lot I haven’t been in the position to kill a lot I guess. Of course this is not a good thing but I guess sometimes I would rather be stagnant than successful. I guess its dreary but we’re closer together, maybe we need to lose to learn. I would never say that to anyone else, I don’t mean we should lose the war because we can’t. I just mean we went in thinking we’d win, that’s probably why we’ve gotten nowhere.
Steve I just wish I knew how you were and what your up to. You’ve sent me along 2 letters from your sis Susan, which is great, fantastic, fine & dandy, but your notes with them were quite short and I guess
I don’t just want to I don’t only like you for your sister, Steve. We were friends long before I ever thought bout getting so up close n personal with your sister. There are things only you can tell me, such as how your making out with those USO girls, and what your uniform is like, and what your 2nd job is, you never really told me.
And you haven’t said how you are. I guess you learned your lesson that 1 time in basic you told me you were sick and I jumped down your throat. But you can tell me if you have a cold or are feeling under the weather, I will behave. Maybe don’t tell me if you got scarlet fever and are next to death because that would kill me, but tell me anyway. Now is around the time you always start feeling sick and you may think it’s boring to talk bout but really I just need to hear bout my friend.
Really Steve the only reason I write so much to your sis Susan is she’s just such a dish. Maybe if she wasn’t so good-looking I wouldn’t get so hot for her, do you know what I mean, God she’s a real stunner that 1, boy, the things I’d like to do to her. Gee, is that hard at all Steve, passing letters back n forth, knowing all the lewd licentious things I would like to do to your sister. I think it must be hard, it’s not fair, if it wasn’t for your uncle we wouldn’t have to do it this way at all but hot damn. Sorry for talking bout your sister in such lecherous, unchaste terms. Gosh you must be so embarrassed. But Steve, don’t worry bout your sister’s virtue. I am as faithful and loyal as a dog. Now I know how in love I am there can never be anyone else in the world.
Your best friend,
Hey Susan, tell your bro Steve to tell me more bout what’s going on. I’m suffering from a true derth of letters, which is bout to drive me crazy, but I don’t want him to think I don’t want letters from him as well. I need them just as much. I have to get a complete picture of your life in L.A., so both of you have to contribute to the Bucky cause, O.K.?
And hey Susan, all the guys make fun of me due to how bad I have it for you. They are teasing and jeering all the time bout how I don't shut up bout you, but you know me I rarely shut up. It's fun teasing, it's hilarious, I keep them on their toes, my life is much more interesting than theirs, I got someone back home who loves me which is more than can be said for half these sorry sods.
Hey Susan did you know that Susan is a dumb name. You should think bout changing it. I know you don’t like it, which is why I’m telling you I agree. Solidarity, sweetheart! I just wish I could send my letters to another name, 1 we both like more.
Hey Susan. When I get back, this is what we’re going to do. We’re going to go see a picture, some dumb 1 with Ginger Rogers or someone, and we’ll sit in back. Then I’m going to put my hand on your thigh. Then you’re going to put your hand on mine. Then maybe if we’re real sure no 1 can see us you’ll lean over to me and we’re going to neck until the film ends, and my hand will keep going up your thigh, what do you think of that? I think that would be a real great picture and we’d see it 4-5 times within a week. I’m all for that picture with Ginger Rogers, what bout you?
Please tell your brother Steve to
Jan 8, ‘44
I got a pack of letters dated Nov 24, 30, & Dec 6. From some of what you say I have guesses of where you are. I wish you could tell me more about it, but I know you can’t.
Well we’re getting close to done here in L.A. Just wrapping things up, but I think they’re going to keep us here for a while as the show is successful & we sell a lot, but after that there will be another tour I think. I told them we need more time & notice of where to go. I hope we get it so we have enough notice to get letters forwarded.
I’m really roped into this. We’re working with the gov. & there is a lot of money involved & a lot of contracts. & I don’t really care for money, I mean of course I do because I know it’s important for there to be money to win the war. (For what it’s worth, I don’t think this war is just about money. But it’s true that $$ always plays a bigger role than you’d hope or expect.) But I care about the contracts because I signed them & it’s my word & I won’t break it, & it also has to do with work that DE did. He did some amazing things & in order to protect his work there are just certain things I have to do & certain things I can't do. Just like you I spose, only Bucky you are a true hero while I am basically a salesman.
Enclosed is a short letter from my sister Susan so our Uncle doesn’t find out she wants to get married and have your babies and then eat your children and sacrifice you to a pagan god. Or you know, whatever my sister wants to do to you, how should I know. I’m just the messenger right.
P.S. I don’t have time to draw the sketches you asked for but here are some doodles of some of the girls. I’ll draw you that desert next chance I get. Sorry I don’t have more.
In one of your letters you ask whether it is O.K. to tell your friends you have a sweetheart back home. I spose that I will allow it, as it’s true. Just please don’t say anything in regards to my child-bearing hips.
I wish I could tell people there’s a man I love in the War, but I don’t spose that would go over very well. Well, I could probably say it in such a way where my uncle wouldn’t know I was in love with YOU, but that would just make me angry. Having to pretend you’re someone you aren’t.
Do you know what, this whole country makes me angry. It’s as if
of I’m just tired. & it’s selfish to complain while you fight this War. I should be able to do more, I should be able to help. Listen to me, I sound just like my brother. It’s like we’re the same person! Well when you’re raised in the same household . . .
This is meant to be a love letter. Well I’m terrible at writing love letters, because love isn’t something separate I can pin down. It’s part of me, it’s all of me, it’s not something that should be hidden, designated to these tiny strips of white space between these lines. Bucky, my world didn’t shift when you told me you loved me because I already knew. I wasn’t sure that you wanted my body & now I’m still not sure, I can’t be sure until you see me. But I know that you love ME. & I love you, I love your sense of humor & your cleverness & the stupid way you refuse to check your contractions when you write letters, I love your cockiness & your uncertainty. I love the way you always TRY, you never give up. Every single ounce of you is effort.
I used to be someone who could stand up for what was right, but now I’m afraid that I’ll do more damage than good.
What’s the point if I can’t There has to be something I could be
I’m just missing you Buck, & treasuring every word I get from you about how you are. Please stay safe.
Chapter 55: HOLLYWOOD: January 10
I bet your wondering why there isn’t a letter for Susan in here. A quick skim over this letter will give you an idea, but I’ll explain. We joined up with some other reg.s and I met someone else who’s queer. Don’t ask how I knew, I could tell by the way he looked at me, and I looked at him, and then 1 night he came up to me but I told him I had someone back home, and he asked how that was going and I said tough because I missed you. And he asked well do you write, and I said yes but sometimes it got me so hot I couldn’t think straight. He laughed and said I wasn’t straight, and I said I guess not! And he said he could help me and I said no because I thought his intentions were not good.
I guess this sounds real bad so far but this fella is truly swell. And real good looking too. I honestly don’t understand how I didn’t admit I was such a raging homosexual before. I guess I do know how, I would have thought that he looked a bit like a dame, and the thought of him as a dame would have fired me up, and then I’d convince myself I was thinking bout a dame and not bout his ass. That was how I did it. I did it with you something fierce, only I never thought bout you as a dame. I guess cept for your mouth. But Christ, what I would do was think of you and your mouth & your shoulders & your ribs and get myself hot, and then I’d think of Cindy, or Heather, or 1 of those dames and pretend that I was kissing them, and fucking them, and that was how I did it. I hate myself for doing that, for using them like that. But sometimes I still wonder—should I be doing that? Is that just what someone like me is supposed to do? Is that what God wants of me? Is it that he wants of you? I don’t care. I think love is more important, and I love you. I love that you have a dick. Christ I can’t believe I just wrote that but I do, I love that you have a dick. I think about it all the time. You and your dick. I don’t give a fuck bout God or anyone else.
I guess if you’re reading this straight thru you’re wondering how you got this letter (Christ I hope you get this letter), or you’re wondering if I’m arrested or court-martialed or flogged for indecency or whatever the fuck else, sorry to worry you, I didn’t write this in order. I should have explained 1st. And I guess I might be all those things by the time you get this letter, I guess I could be in the nuthouse, if Willis turns out to be a lying shit, but I think he’s not. Even if he is a good-looking & smooth-talking son of a bitch.
Here’s the thing, Willis is a Captain, Duncan Willis is his name, and he’s a flaming fairy, except only in certain company, and he knows how to hide it and has been hiding it for years. He’s been eyeing up and finding fellas like me for years. And when I said I got a mister back home and the way it kills me not to talk to you like I want, he said he’s an officer and he can stamp my letters saying they’ve been censored. He says he thinks it’s real sweet that I’m faithful. He says people say queers aren’t faithful but it just depends on the person, he says he’s not faithful but that’s just how he is, and I said I guess I’m faithful because that’s how I am. I would never be with someone else now, Steve. I never could, knowing how I feel bout you. And Willis said he understood and thought that it was nice, people like us are nice, we should be able to do what we do and he’ll do what he does (which I believe is to suck any cock he can get his hands on, I don’t know, he just likes it). We should be able to so he said he could send my letters, he says he’s sent dirty letters before and they didn’t get him, no 1 got him. So I hope they won’t get me.
He said he won’t read this as long as I promise I won’t write anything bout the Jerries. And of course I’m not writing anything bout the Jerries, I don’t care bout the fucking Jerries, all we talk bout is fucking Jerries and Christ I can talk bout them any time, but this 1 letter is for you. And even if Willis reads this I don’t care. He knows how badly I want to fuck you. Shit everyone knows. They all know they just don’t know that you’re a man and I want your cock. How is that for blunt. I want to suck your cock. I write you sometimes and my mouth waters for it. I want to suck your cock.
I don’t know how that’s possible. 1st of all how can I want it so much when I never even had it. 2ndly I don’t want it the way I want kisses, I feel like I need it. I imagine my lips around you and you filling up my mouth and I get so horny I can’t even breathe. Jesus, Steve, on my knees looking up at you. And the thought of your face gets me so riled up I just have to touch myself, sometimes I can’t even write you a letter because I got to stop and touch myself instead, do you know that I wish that I could write 1-handed.
Christ I’m filthy. I’m 1 nasty son of a bitch, do you know that? But I bet you do. I bet you always knew and I bet you like me dirty. Steve people just think your so angelic but I know you. Oh God I know you and I bet your as filthy as me. I bet your filthier. Christ I bet you’ll come up with things I can’t even dream.
It drives me crazy writing letters to Susan. Susan isn’t who I want. I don’t want you to think I want a dame. I don’t want you to think I wish you were a girl. That’s not what I think about, even if it sends me straight to hell. It would be worth a millennium of hellfire just to have you the way I want.
And let me tell you what I want. In a letter to Susan I can say things like I want to be inside of you, but I can’t talk bout how I want you inside of me. Even tho Saroyan says a lady could do me like that with the right equipment, but telling Susan that would probably get my letter confiscated for sex talk. I know a fella who got a talking to because his letter to his wife was “too explisit.” His wife!
But Saroyan told me how you’d do it, I mean I knew kind of but it was good to have someone just lay it all out there, the way you’d get me ready with your fingers. Would you do that Steve? Is that revolting to you, the idea of putting your fingers in my ass, or does that turn you on? Lord Jesus. Writing it out like that just looks terrible, but I don’t care, it gets me hot. It gets me so hot, Steve, your fingers inside my body and we’d use some slick, some kind of slick like the
vasa vase vasaline you keep in the—
Steve. Steve Steve Steve.
WHAT IS THAT VASALINE FOR STEVE.
Why do you keep it in your Christ your so I can’t
Baby did you ever do it to yourself, get yourself ready and pretend that it was me Oh God. Holy shit. Please tell me that you did. And if you didn’t please tell me that you’ll do it. Please honey you just got to.
Please honey here is what you do. Just get that vasaline and lay down on my bed. Please do it on my bed Steve I’m going wild with this. This just makes me wild. Lie down with your clothes off and touch yourself a lil, just a lil Steve—touch your neck and collar bones, I love your collar bones, and your ribs or belly or I don’t care if your fat or what, if you think your fat or you really are, just touch your stomach for me. Read this letter and do what I say. Please. Please if you want.
Then your hand will go down and you’ll touch your dick. I can’t imagine what this is like except I’m imagining how I do it, I’ll do it too, O.K., as soon as I’m done with this letter I’ll read it and do just what I’m telling you to do. Steve. Christ.
And then you’ll get that vasaline and slick your fingers up and you’ll touch yourself, Steve touch yourself between your legs, underneath your balls, just
I’m stroke, and slip your finger to your hole. I’ve done this. I’ve done this thinking of you.
And then—then you got to push your finger in, do it slow for me honey, a lil at a time oh God, real slow, please do this. I want you to do this. Have you ever done it? It’s going to hurt a lil but not that much if you go real slow, just like a burn Steve. Steve, please do it, and when you got it feeling good inside you can you
just just add another finger. God. That’s so good. That’s so so good, do you like it? Tell me whether you like it Steve, I know you can’t send me an uncensored letter like this 1 so please do be careful, but tell me you did it and how you like it. I want you to Please can you move those 2 fingers inside of you, slowly in and out of you and and and pretend it’s me inside of you, and if it doesn’t hurt at all you could add another 1, it could be 3 and thick inside you stretching you and you could pretend it’s me and I pretend it’s you when I do it, oh God, it feels so good. It feels so so so so good Steve you have no idea, maybe you think it could hurt but who the fuck am I shitting. You’re never afraid of anyone hurting you and I can’t decide whether that makes me want to do you harder, I could do you so hard would you like that Steve, I could fuck you, I could fuck you, or maybe it makes me want to go real gentle, like you want me to pound you just really pound you and you beg me for it but instead I go so slow and sweet inside you, please do that honey, move your fingers slow inside you and pretend its me, me being so gentle with you because I love you so much. I love you.
And then you take your other hand and you wrap it around you and you stroke yourself off. I know you do that. I know you do that. I’ve heard you twice and it killed me. It killed me and sometimes we talked bout it, just joking I know but afterwards I was such a mess, such a mess thinking bout you touching yourself and I rubbed myself out over you, I was such a mess over you.
God I’m going to come so hard after this letter. I’m going to come thinking of you, what do you think of that. Jesus Steve. Next letter I write I’m going to do it step by step and tell you what I’m doing, what do you think of that. And you’ll read it knowing what I was doing when I wrote it, how I was touching myself, what do you think, do you like this kind of thing?
I just wanted to write this letter so you knew, so you knew the kinds of things I think bout and want, so I can tell you everything and be honest bout everything. This is my only chance to tell you all of it, you don't have to want it like this. That's O.K., just tell me what you like instead. I want to do things you like, but it's new for me, it's new for us, so all you have to do is tell me what you want I'll pleasure you, I'll make you feel so good I swear. Just tell me everything. No matter what I will remain still,
Chapter 56: HOLLYWOOD: January 14
I’m sending you this letter from my sister Susan so our uncle doesn’t know about your relationship.
I received your Dec 16 letter. The first letter you sent me using my brother Steve as a go-between. Well this is a steamy letter.
You wrote things for me to imagine. I imagined them. You asked whether I liked them and well I liked them
fi I liked it a lot.
I can tell that you didn’t yet receive some of my letters that would indicate you could no longer count my ribs & my shoulder blades don’t stick out the way they used to.
I’m so There are some other things you probably couldn’t do either.
I feel like even just writing this is going to make you mad, you’re going to say, THAT’S NOT THE POINT, and I know. I know what the point of this letter is and you don’t like it when I get hung up on details. But they ar Well I just had to mention it. As the fact that I am not skinny renders more than half of your letter moot.
I'm not missing the point of this letter. I know what you meant by this letter, you meant to get me all fired up with nowhere to go, & now you want me to write one back to you?
Jeez, Bucky. Are you a fan of torture? You should have told me sooner, I could have tied you up. You’re probably imagining that next I’d do something Medieval like put hot pokers on you but there are other forms of torture. I could torture you real slow if that’s what you want. I don't know what you Is that the sort of thing you want me to write about? I know you want details—you’re a big fan of details when they’re not in your way, I spose—but I hesitate to write of it when someone else can Someone else is Did you know they read Jeez Bucky. I don’t know what the hell you want. Do you want me to tell you how I want you to lick my ribs and shoulders & every goddamn inch of me, because I do. And your bruises all over my skin, well I did. But you’re too la I wanted I still I wanted to give you all of it, everything I had, I thought it was maybe something I could offer that other people wouldn’t—the fact that nothing you could do would be going too far, there’s not a single line that you could cross with me, when it came to you I would be lineless. I just don’t have any limits when it comes to you, do you get that, Bucky?
But I’m different enough that I don’t know what you want,.
and there were other times I thought that if you just lay back and closed your eyes—you could pretend I was You could pretend If you don’t want like There are still things we could And if you want me to write what I want well it doesn’t feel equal, I know your body & you don’t know mine, & besides I don’t know how to write around it like you do. What I want is too well Bucky it’s pornographic. & I suppose you know this of me, you know what my morals are like, that I would never have any problem with free expression as long as it hurts no one, but some people do. I don’t know how to write it for you Buck, I just know how I would do it to you.
I want to take off your pants & put my mouth on you.
That's it. That's my whole letter for you.
Well so I got a new sheet of paper & made a list. This is just a list of things for you, it’s not good like your letter but it’s just things I want or you might want. It’s not everything (that list could go forever), just things I could write down. I thought you would like it.
I want to rewrite this letter but I’m not going to. I would give you everything if I could, this is as much as I can right now.
Yours in every way,
P.S. I’m a real fan of #7 and #22.6. If you keep this list we can start crossing things off of it after the War if you still want to. Feel free to add anything. Anything your crude brain can dream up. Remember I have no limits. when it comes to you.
1. I want to put my hands in your hair. Not casually.
2. I really do want to take off your pants & put my mouth on you.
3. I want you to put your tongue in my mouth.
4. I don’t want you to wear shirts.
5. I want you to hold me so hard you bruise my wrists.
6. I want you to use your nails.
7. And your teeth.
8. I want to lick your teeth.
9. You could be rough. I wouldn’t mind.
10. You could be really rough. I really, really wouldn’t mind.
11. You get this look when you want other dames, I can see it from across the room & so can other people. You could look at me like that.
12. You could call me all sorts of names. The sweet ones & the mean ones.
13. Especially the mean ones.
14. You say you don’t want to hurt me but you could hurt me if you wanted to. I’d say yes.
15. If you didn’t want to I would also say yes.
16. I want you to sleep in my bed.
17. I know that you said yours, but my bed is better.
18. But any surface is good really.
19. The kitchen table.
19.5 I don’t mean for sleeping.
20. I’d make love to you in the morning, before you woke up all the way.
21. Strip poker
22. The surface doesn’t have to be horizontal, it can be vertical
22.5 The walls
22.6 The fire escape
22.7 The shower
22.8 The floor
22.85 I guess that’s horizontal
23. On my back
24. On my front
25. Standing up
26. Any way you want it
27. Talk to me while you do it.
28. I bet I can make you howl
Chapter 57: HOLLYWOOD: January - January 20
So recently I had a medical emergency and as a result fell a little behind with this fic. I'm going to be taking about a week hiatus from posting, during which time I'll finish most of the writing and hopefully post daily after that. You may notice that I finally posted how many chapters there should be; I know exactly how many more letters there will be, but how many chapters may change a bit (+/- 2). Also notice that yet again I added tags.
Thank you all so much for reading, kudos, and in particular your comments. I love hearing what you think, and it's certainly made me feel better over the past two days!
Willis still says he’ll censor for me so I’m going to keep writing these. I don’t know if you got my last letter but I have a friend Willis who’s a capt. and he’s a fruit and he’s stamping my letters so no 1 else will look. Sorry I got kind of crazy in my last letter, I just really wanted to say those things to you. Partly so you would know how serious I am. Bout being with you, I mean. I’m really serious bout it Steve. I don’t have a space to myself right now so I won’t write another letter like that just yet, but if we stay with Willis’s reg. I’m just going to write all the 1s I can (I mean I’m not going to write a racy 1 now because it gets me too worked up and even tho some of the fellas just take care of it right in front of everyone I guess I get too mortified.) I just mean I’m going to write all the really dirty 1s I can without waiting to see whether you like them, because who knows how long I’ll know Willis and who knows when we’ll get mail again. You can just burn the dirty 1s up if you don’t like them.
(Honestly I’m a lil disturbed by how easily all this comes to me, the way I could just talk bout all those things. I guess it embarrasses me to write them here with people round me, but I mean the things
like such I things like cock-sucking. I mean I just wrote bout it, it felt like I just had to, and then I couldn’t stop, the things I had to say to you and wanted to do to you and want you to do to me. I guess I better stop right now or it will get out of hand, I just don’t believe how easy it was for me. I mean I don’t really talk like that. I guess you know I can swear up a storm, I just mean I never said things like that before, I couldn’t even talk bout it with you, I couldn’t even admit it and now sometimes it’s all I think about.
Saroyan talks bout it all the time. Sometimes he doesn’t even make a distinction whether he means cocksucker in a good way or in a bad way. Sometimes I don’t think he knows either! But we talk a lot about it. I don’t mean bout that in particular, but I asked him & Wisnowsky to tell me bout everything and they were very thorough. They told me bout things you do with cloth or a rope or belts maybe. I guess I’ll save that for another letter. I mean obviously I had heard those things before but I just never thought bout doing them. Specially not with you but not at all. But honey if you wanted to tie me up I would let you. I would let you do anything you want to me, do you understand what I mean?
I hope these things I’m saying are not awful to you, I feel like I’m putting so much on the line but then again it feels like nothing, absolutely nothing, cuz whenever I get scared I think It’s Steve. And I know you won’t think I’m terrible or immoral because of the way you always say “hurt no one,” that’s the only rule, and “help who you can,” that’s your other rule. You always say those are the only things that really matter, I just don’t want you to think I’m sick, I don’t want you to be repulsed. But then when I think bout the fact that it’s you, I think maybe the worst that could happen is you might laugh. I wouldn’t mind if you laughed, Steve. Just please don’t think I’m a bad person.
They say there are places we can go. Saroyan & Wisnowsky I mean. I guess we know there are places to go! I’ve always known where all the fairies hung out. There was a map in my head: Places That Are Trouble. I just didn’t know that it was Places That Are Trouble Specifically For Me.
You used to ask me every once in a while if I wanted
Did you know? Steve. Sweetheart. You knew, I know you did. You knew those places were for fairies, of course you did everyone knew. And that was why you asked. You asked me to go to those bars with you and I would say no because I knew they were for cruisy places for queers and I just told myself you were a dope and you didn’t know.
I told myself you were a dope all the time.
I told myself
But I knew you knew. I knew you knew, that day in the park, I knew what you were going to say, I just didn’t want you to.
You were pushing and I’d let you push, I’d let you push me until it was too much and that’s when I’d turn off, I’d just start denying up and down.
I wonder if I knew that you were asking me to go to queer bars because we were a couple of queers or whether I thought you were asking because just you were, or maybe
Who knows what I thought. I’m a dickhead. I’m sorry I said no. I’m sorry you never got to go to any of those places, you should have got to go.
I want to go. I want to go to 1 of those bars with you, and everyone would know that I was with you, that you’re mine, and I’m yours, and you’d kiss me right in front of everyone. And no 1 would think it was wrong they’d just think it was nice. The way a man kissing his dame in a club would be nice.
Do you think they’re like that? Just like a normal bar or club would be, except with people like us? Can you imagine it? I freeze up a lil thinking bout it, I still freeze up sometimes and think what am I doing. What can I be doing thinking bout all this? But then I think of you and it’s like I melt. I just melt.
I’d kiss you in front of everyone. I’d want to. I’d want to so everyone could see I was yours and no 1 else can have me. God no 1 else can touch me, not anybody, not any dames and not any boys & no 1 else. I’m all yours, Steve. I’m yours.
I got to end this letter because we’ve got work to do. Sorry if it isn’t interesting I just need to tell you, I want to talk to you bout these things. My best thoughts are with you.
Jan 20, 44
This letter is from my sister Susan, postmarked from me so that my uncle won’t see her sending mail to you.
I received 2 letters from you, dated 12/21 & 26.
I don’t know how to say this to you. In the letter from 12/26, you said you had whiskey, but I don’t know how much you think about this otherwise,
whether it is important, or whether it was just Obviously it is important to you. I don’t know what I can do other than tell you the truth.
You said that it could be our 1st time, but it wouldn’t be the 1st time for me. I didn’t mean to make you think it would be. In a letter I said I hadn’t done a certain thing, but I didn’t mean I hadn’t done the other. Well I was purposely cagey but I wasn’t thinking what for,
I was only trying to tell you
The truth is I lied. I’m lying all the time,
but that but I didn’t want this to be a lie. I just I wasn’t trying to hide it from you, I just didn’t think it relevant, not when you’d only just figured out
Bucky, you didn’t want me. I thought I had made it clear on several occasions how I felt for you & you had made it clear you didn’t want me physically.
I needed I wanted to know what it was like.
Well at least in this instance I can tell you the whole truth: I slept with several men. I didn’t love them, they didn’t love me, but they were kind and I was willing.
I didn’t think you would I don’t know how much you want to know, probably not anything, but I just tried it. I don’t feel that it was wrong, I wasn’t trying to hurt you, I don’t know if this hurts you. It probably does. You just didn’t want me to even speak of it, you shut down when I tried. I’m not trying to put this on you, I’m just trying to explain. It was before I got letters from you about how you It was a while ago, long before, yr before last, in ’42, well also in ’43, when you were at basic. It was only a hand-full of times. You just
A part of me wants to beg you not to think less of me, but I’m not ashamed. But I don’t want you to think that I love you any less, I just wanted to see what it was like.
Regarding your letter dated 12/21, you received at least one letter re: my weight gain, but I don’t think you received the 12/14 letter in which I explain the situation in a bit more detail.
The important thing is that you Well Bucky you have to trust me. And I know I must not seem so very trustworthy just now, je I don’t even trust myself that much. I’m not really proud of anything just now, I feel like not only these letters but my whole life has been given to being something I’m not. I am not myself right now. But Bucky, you have to trust me, you’re the only one who knows who I am so trust me when I say that you DON’T KNOW about my body, you can’t tell whether you would want to hold it in your arms. I don’t want reassurance, I want you to believe me. Please believe me, this is the only truth that I can give. I don’t mean to harp on the subject, only feeling like I’m living in so many lies feels like it’s slowly killing me.
I’m sorry if I’ve hurt you. I love you with my whole soul.
Chapter 58: USO: January 26
Thanks for your patience, and for your well-wishes! This fic is finished, and I'll post everyday until it's over. Please note changes in the tags one last time.
Haven’t gotten to write in a while, had some big action. Wasn’t too great, but I promised Willis I wouldn’t write anything a censor might want to cut so I won’t go into detail. But I don’t think it’s too revealing to say it was fucking awful, it’s been just fucking awful, this thing we’re doing right now, we lost Burnette among so many others. I’m real broke up bout it. I think that might’ve killed me before, but now I think of you and what I’ve got with you, and parts of it I haven’t got to have yet and I can carry on. But Christ what a mess.
Steve if there’s a God why would he be so A-O.K. with humans fighting wars? He must be O.K. with it, he’s let so many of them happen. And we’re supposed to be his children right, or some shit like that,
so I don’t know what
I mostly do believe in God I guess. I think he hates us. I’ve been terrified of him my whole life, been running from him my whole life, I never felt his love but Christ Almighty did I fear him, because I wanted to be good. I wanted to be good, that was the main thing. I guess I didn’t want people to hate me and I didn’t want them to spit at you, I wanted to have a job and I wanted you to be able to walk down a street without getting kicked down, but in the end I didn’t want us to be faggots because I wanted to be good, I didn’t want to be the 1 to make you to burn in hell, Steve. I thought I could take it but God the thought of you there. The thought of you there, because I wasn’t strong enough to resist you, wasn’t good enough to show you the straight and narrow. That killed me.
But not you, you love God. He’s always on your side, isn’t he. And you haven’t said anything bout it but I guess he’s on your side still, even tho your queer. That’s just like you, isn’t it, believing God will love you even if everyone else hates you, your always so positive, your always so sure your right, so sure you know what’s good. But you’d think if God loves you for being queer he’d hate everyone else wouldn’t he, shouldn’t he condemn them for being so unloving, for not accepting and understanding? But no you think he loves them too, you think he loves them and you and me and why, I don’t know, because we’re human? But that’s not right either. You believe he loves all the deer and antelopes and I don’t know the kangaroos, you believe he loves every blade of grass.
But if God loves everyone so goddamn much then where the hell is he. And I told you I didn’t understand how much I want to suck your cock, well did he make me that way? I’m serious here Steve, did God make me so I want to suck your cock? Or did the Devil do it? And if the Devil did it, why would God let him, why would it be harder for some people, what just to give them burdens so they can carry them and defy them and prove their love for God? If I never suck your cock, does that mean I love God better, I worship him better? I mean its just not natural, loving the idea of cock the way I do. There must be something wrong, there’s got to be something wrong cuz even if there is no God, humans are supposed to pro-create, right? But you know what, girls can be cocksuckers too and it’s not like that makes babies. So what is it for? This need I have. This desire. I don’t understand how I can want it like this, why I’m built like this.
But then I think bout it and I’m glad. I’m glad I’m unnatural and perverted. I’m glad that you are too, I’m glad for all the things I think bout doing with you and the joy that fills me up is just so fierce I could fight a war, and I am. What’s that about Steve? If I am twisted up and wrong, with people dying all around me, how can I still be happy? They say that God is joy and loving him is joy and if it is, how can the way I feel be the Devil’s work? When I think bout all that, it seems to me that neither can exist. There’s no 1 looking out for us, it’s just us, and if it’s just us we should do what we want, and what I want is to love you. That’s all I want. I want to love you. and suck your cock.
But then I think bout your God, the 1 that’s made of love, and I guess I think your right again. There could be a God, if its your God, your God who loves queers and ladybugs and every blade of grass. That’s a God I can get behind.
I don’t know. Sometimes I resented you, the way you always seemed to know what was right and good, the way you were so sure. Sometimes I just thought you were so wrong, that you made things worse, for instance I thought you trying to say you loved me made things worse, I thought you fighting in back
allies alleys makes things worse. But there’s a line. There’s a line between being peaceful & sensible & reasonable and being a coward, and now I know I’ve been a coward. You were right, and I was a coward.
I wish I had you
hear here to talk to. I want to put my head on your leg and your hand in my hair. Oh Steve I do love you. I love you so and want you with me just to talk to. I think of you and I know why I’m here, and God and all the rest they don’t matter, because I know what you would do and you would fight and I’m still fighting for you. I’m fighting for you and everything that’s right and good because even when I can’t believe in it, I believe in you, everything you are and stand for. I hate this war but I love you, I love you so I can fight it. God, you are so beautiful to me. I think bout kissing you all the time.
P.S. I guess I got really philosophical with this letter. Burnette was a real
devote devout Christian which made me think bout it more than usual. I miss you Steve.
I have left L.A. and we are on the road again. We will be going up thru the state & back down again. It’s meant to be a month-long venture & we will be back in L.A. at the end of it. I wanted to be able to get mail forwarded but I cannot get a guarantee of what our schedule will look like, & I would rather wait to receive letters than miss them altogether. Luckily I can bring my sister Susan & Uncle with me on these adventures so that she can still send you love letters thru me, so that our uncle doesn’t know of your secret romance, but sadly
I she won’t get the letters you send to her thru me until a later date.
My second job
wrapped a few wrapped up a few weeks ago. We expect to see the results of our labor very soon, perhaps March. It was a silly project & I’m glad it’s over, but it was interesting to see how these things work. It was just a fundraiser, really. & a way to keep spirits up.
How are you? I miss you a good deal.
I feel that I’ve sent you a number of depressing letters lately. It should be my job to keep your spirits up, you’re the one off at war, & yet you’ve been the one making me feel like I can do anything & I’ve probably been bringing you down. I hope you can forgive me.
Well I have no reason to feel sorry for myself, at least I’m helping at least a bit, & my health is excellent. Really Bucky, I’m not lying about this, I feel better than I ever have. Plus I’m looking much better with meat on my bones, it’s not that I don’t think I look good or that I’m not grateful for it. I know you would be thankful that I’m so healthy. I just know what attracts you, that’s why I’ve been warning you.
Well I tried but I can’t think of anything to cheer you up. I just miss you, I miss your cocky smile, your arm around my shoulders, your big laugh & your dumb jokes, the way you always know what I’m going to say or what I’m going to do, the way you smell. I never realized how much I like the way you smell.
Well you asked so I drew you what I can see outside my window. I didn’t draw him because he wasn’t there before, but now in that balcony with the flag in the upper left there is a man standing with suspenders and no shirt. He’s got a huge beer belly, long stringy gray hair & a long stringy beard, but he’s just standing there. Comfortable & unconcerned, he doesn’t care who sees him. It’s his apartment maybe. He just had a great big meal maybe. He just made love to the mother of his children maybe, he just killed a guy maybe. He just loves the cold maybe, he wants to survey his kingdom maybe. Bucky I don’t know why, as he is not beautiful at all, but I love that man standing there. I love everything to do with him. (This is the point at which you would look at me fondly & ruffle my hair & call me some kind of name. You’re a dipstick.)
Chapter 59: USO: February 4
They gave me leave! Just 2 days but we’ve done some hard things and I’ve never had any and they let me have it. And yes Steve I did have a real nice time, had lunch and everything, but I turned in at 9, 9 do you hear me, because all I really want is to be alone in a bed and writing this letter to you. And doing a few other things I guess but you know what I mean. I guess maybe you don’t, I have my friend Willis still and he will stamp this letter so I’m going to write you the dirtiest letter I can possibly write. I have a bed and it’s all mine, it’s all mine Steve and I’m going to think of you. I’m going to think of you all night, and I want you to think of me, Steve think of me here writing this letter and how I’m going to touch myself thinking of you, I’m going to spend all night touching myself pretending it’s you and it will be like you made love to me. And I guess there’s something real lonely bout that but right now I’m not lonely, even tho I haven’t got your letters in a while, because I’m here in this bed for you I’m doing this for you and I’m going to tell you all about it, like something I can make for you. If you want it. I’m going to make something filthy hot and sweet you can read at night to know I’m thinking of you and love you and there is someone who is so hot for you Steve. There is someone burning up for you, on fire for you, and I’m just going to keep
strok stoking the flames higher and higher because you’re the best thing in the world to me, you keep me alive out there.
I don’t know where to start.
I’m not sure I’ve ever written a letter naked before.
I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to kiss you,
I’m going to I got olive oil for this Steve. I’m going to think of kissing you and get some of this oil on my hand and touch myself. That’s what I’m going to do, wrap my hand around my cock and think of kissing you.
Steve I want to kiss you. I want to taste your pretty mouth.
And then I want to suck you. I guess get undressed 1st.
O.K. Here’s what you do. If you want, don’t think I would do any of it if it’s not what you want. I’m just dreaming. O.K. I’m on this bed and your on a bed—I put in my other letter you should get in my bed but I was just dreaming because I want you to do this right now. Or I guess not the second you open it! What if your in the middle of the post office! That would be a sight.
I’d just like to kiss you and undress you and I’d climb on top of you and maybe my dog tag would be hanging in your face and you’d hook your fingers thru em and pull me in closer, deeper, and I could kiss down your chest and down and down and then I want to kiss your cock. I want to put my lips on it and kiss it, are you hard yet Steve? You could brush your fingers over yourself and pretend that’s my mouth, kissing you gently, and then I want to put it in, open my mouth and taste you. Lick your hand honey and wrap it around your dick, that’s my mouth on you hot and sweet and you taste so good.
But I can’t decide What are you doing? Are you making noise? I can’t decide whether you’d go at this slow, a lil shy maybe, like you get round dames, I don’t know I’m not a dame but maybe that’s how you feel bout sex. I can’t decide whether you’ll be red and breathin hard and choking on my name shaking all over or whether you’d put your hand in my hair and squeeze tight, forcing my head down and my lips round you pushing down my mouth Steve, I want to take you down my throat, and you say filthy things to me absolutely filthy things like about how much you know I want it, you know I want to suck you. What if you say things like that, because you know sometimes you talk that way, I don’t mean bout cocksucking but you can be pretty cocky you know, I mean I know I can be cocky too, but the way you get when you get riled up, you bristle up and act like you know everything and say you know what’s what. What if you were that way bout my mouth, what if you act like you know how much I want it, what if you told me that was what my mouth is for Steve and you just make me take it, would you make me take it Steve. Or would you lie back with your arm over your face and let me have it. Jesus I can’t decide.
Steve I’m hard, wet for you, Jesus Christ honey half of me, 78% of me wants to stop writing right now and beat off to you, I want to beat off to those thoughts of you, red and sweating and so embarrassed you can’t stand the sight of me or cocky and maybe a lil angry, pushing me around, either 1, I can’t decide. But I’m not going to stop writing this letter to you. I hope your touching yourself Steve.
I don’t want you to come in my mouth (I guess I do. Wisnowsky says you only swallow if you love a guy, but Willis says that isn’t true. I want you to come down my throat Steve, I want my mouth round you while you go wild (I’m not sure how that works I guess. I guess I just got to be real careful not to bite?) but not this time. Not yet, Steve, I want you to save it because I want it inside of me.
God sometimes I think bout the look on your face if you were reading a letter like this. Do you blush, have trouble reading it, or do you get real wound up the way you sometimes do, you can get kind of intense, do you know that? Oh honey. I love you.
Next I’m going to get ready for you, after I stroke my cock a lil I’m going to put some of that oil on my hands and get my hole ready for you. I want to talk bout how this feels, in case your nervous or think you don’t want it, it’s O.K. if you don’t want to but here is what it feels like. A lil pressure at 1st, maybe uncomfortable or maybe disorienting, like it’s not supposed to go. But it’s a muscle Steve, you got to stretch it, you know how when you stretch and it burns but after a lil you can stretch a lil more? That’s how it is, and you could stretch me, Steve. You could stretch me out and you would be so patient. You can be impatient Steve but at the same time your the
patients most patient person I ever met, like you are with old people or with kids or people you think are hurt, the way you just wait and your eyes get real soft and you just say things like I’m here and what do you need and I got that for you. What if you were whispering those kinds of things with your fingers in me Steve, you tell me you’ve got it for me and you’ll make it good and just a lil more, just a lil bit more. You could get me I could be You could get me hot and wet for it. Sort of like I guess it’s like a girl. I don’t know. I don’t know sometimes it hurts girls too or so they say. I never I don’t think I ever hurt 1. At least she didn’t say. I don’t know Steve, I don’t know how it would feel, you inside me. I know that I want it, but I’m I don’t know. I could get You could put me on my hands and knees. And I would go for you, I’d get on my hands and knees, and you could kiss my back some, just a lil, the small of my back, just calm me down a lil. I get real worked up over this, I don’t know. Nerves I guess. I can’t quite imagine it. But I want you Steve, I want you inside of me, I want you to feel good. I want you to feel so good.
Now if you want to
just just just I guess make sure your hand is real slippery and wrap it around your cock real tight, and you pretend that’s me, pretend that’s me hot and tight and wet around you God it will feel so good for you, I’ll feel so good for you. I want you in me Steve and you can do it harder, please do it harder and stroke yourself but pretend it’s me asking you to, asking for you inside of me, I want you. I want your come inside me. That’s what I want. I want you so worked up you can’t contain it and you can’t think and your crazy, your just crazy for it, I want you to come. I want you to come reading this letter Steve. I want you to come with your hand around your dick and my words in your eyes and you imagining me here in this bed, what I’m going to do pretending it’s you. Come when you read this Steve, please just lose it for me all over this letter baby I know you can. I love you. I really love you.
I hope you did it. Please tell me whether you did it. But you don’t have to Steve. I know it’s a lot. Flint says he and his beau (that’s what he calls him, his beau) never even
have s I guess they There’s not penetration is what I’m trying to say. And they’ve been together near 8 yrs. I guess I’m pretty wild. I don’t have to We don’t have to do things like this is what I’m trying to say. But you know me when I do something I like to do it all the way. Just like you I guess. We were never half measures, you and I.
It’s the next morning. You keep me alive, did you know that?
Chapter 60: USO: February 5 - February 8
February 5, 1944
I wish I knew where you were. I’ve been very worried about the news lately. I read in the paper about the landing at Anzio. Everyone keeps trumpeting it as a victory Well it worries me. As those men are surrounded on all sides & I suppose it is selfish but I hope that one of those men is not you. I wonder if this is why you have not been getting my letters? But that can’t be, you haven’t been for a while. Is there something wrong with the mail service I wonder?
I also can’t get mail from you as I am now on the road, but we will return to L.A. in approx. 1 month so I will get them all forwarded then.
I thought I might write a story to entertain you, in case you are cold & wet & need cheering up.
Do you remember Chaya, Well let me write it in a good way. One day I will draw a comic for you.
Chaya - one of the USO dancers, likes comics & science fiction & wrestling. Has brown hair. She looks like a glass of milk.
Bettina – beautiful & feisty! Looks like Rita Hayworth with dark volupt
iuous hair & make-up on her eyes just like a cat! Does not like anyone, particularly humans, particularly humans named Chaya & Steve Rogers
Gloria – De facto head of the USO dancing team. Strong, no-nonsense, maternal, possibly the toughest woman in the world after AC. Will one day conquer the world & demand warm socks for everyone.
Steve – Bumbling bond salesman
The setting is mid-afternoon in a Sacramento dance hall, where the dance team rehearses the number for that eve. (It is the typical number, with a great deal of kicking.) In the midst of a glorious leap, Chaya tragically falls. She is rushed to the nearest hospital, but the show must go on, so the alternate (Loretta, the Texan) steps in. Meanwhile, Chaya’s leg is broken.
The Plot Thickens
The night of a big show! Shockingly, Bettina ALSO falls, but doesn’t seem to break her leg. Instead, she disappears! Is the troop cursed? Is Lon Chaney in love with one of the dancers & killing off the others one by one?!!?? Stay tuned!
Bettina shows up the next day for rehearsal, unhurt but mad as a hornet. She won’t say where she’s been, but she WILL say a number of choice cuss words to make your ears burn!
The next day, the USO troop makes ready to leave for Sacramento, of course they can’t bring Chaya with them & she will have to return home to NJ. & yet, when the troop makes to disembark, Bettina is missing!!! Nowhere to be found!!!
The Suspense Is Killing You
Gloria, slightly omniscient & ever efficient, dashes off in search of the renegade Bettina, while Steve, Bumbling Bond Salesman Extraordinaire wonders what to do. 30 min later, it is announced at the hotel that there is a call for The Bumbling Bond Salesman. Who could it be? Why, it is none other than . . .
Bettina. Who is at the hospital with Chaya & Gloria. Bettina says, & I quote, “I ain’t leavin’ this shithole without her.” Who, you ask?!? CHAYA. Yes, Bettina fell because she was distracted & worried for Chaya, then she ran off to the hospital to check on here. WHAT FOLLOWS IS A TRUE STORY: Bettina secretly loves baseball & wants to run off & join a team & thinks Chaya would be great at hitting. Chaya didn’t even know!!! But she is amenable to the idea because she can bat both right- & left-handed! I bet you never saw that curveball coming. Bettina called me b/c Chaya told her I would take their side against Gloria & of course Chaya is right. I love baseball.
The company is down 2 dancers, but Loretta is back to alternate as Gloria says that even #s are better. Our manager has been informed but for the time being we will make do. Gloria says this is all your fault. (For the record, she initially thought my drawings of you were very handsome but now she is a bit fed up with you. & me.) My uncle would be most disapproving of these lovely young ladies haring off to play such a sport but I think it charming as baseball is healthy & all-American & anyone who wants to should be able to play. If they are old enough.
I hope I have entertained you a bit, if you needed cheering. After all I am meant to entertain people in my job (that’s part of selling bonds, didn’t you know). My sister Susan does have a letter for you but it is quite long as is this so I will send it for her another time in case something gets lost.
My friend Willis is MIA.
Christ I just I don’t know Steve. He was just real swe ell and. I don’t know. I guess we weren’t the best of friends, I mean me and Burnette were better pals, we knew each other better, but Willis. Willis knew everything, you know, Willis was like me and with him I could be truthful. I just want to be truthful Steve, I just want to be a good person. At times I miss my friend Yo. I only knew him for such a short time but I feel like a different person now and it’s partly because I knew him. Do you think that people can change Steve? That they really can become a whole new person? I wonder sometimes whether I truly have or whether I am living in dreams because it is the only way to live out here. When I dream there aren’t any uncles and I’m not afraid and I’m with the 1 that I love and there are no obstacles, but of course that is what you dream when bullets fall like rain in the springtime.
I guess I’m back to writing your sister Susan. That letter is not nearly so depressing as this 1. I’m sending it through you so that terrible uncle doesn’t find out just how deeply I dream.
Your best friend,
I lost a friend. I’ve lost so many friends, and every time I do it reminds me that I love you. I love you S because you are my dearest friend.
And I have written so much bout touching you and holding you, and I want all that, but what I want most of all is to be with you. I want to be with you the way we’ve been before, going on trips to parks & museums & plays & talks. I always found us the good deals but you always shared your thoughts and they were just a lil different than everyone else’s, just newer more original, you always had such interesting things to say. And we went to diners & clubs & dance halls and I love how you loved the music, I think your taste is stupid and non-discerning, you just like everything don’t you, but I love the way you love it. Baby I could watch you close your eyes and listen to the radio for hours. I guess I couldn’t because you know how antsy I get but you know what I mean. God your face when you—you just get thrilled. That’s what I love bout you, you get thrilled when you hear something new. And then you won’t shut up bout it.
And then those nights when it was just us together, all night playing blackjack or battleship, or when you draw and I listen to the radio, I don’t get antsy with your hand in my hair. I just want us to fix dinner and talk bout our favorite books and practice card tricks.
I guess w What I really want is for us to be a couple. I want to hold your hand & kiss you & dance with you & take you out nice places, I want people to see you with me and know I’m yours, I want to neck with you in movie theaters and parks, I want to put my arm around you when we go to a fair. I want I want us to pretend like we are I just want to be with you. I want you carnally but I also just want you. I used to tell you our situation was only temporary, that eventually I’d find a some other dame, but I only want to live with you. I only want it to be you, for keeps. That’s the way that I’m in love with you. I just wanted you to know.
Chapter 61: USO: February 10 - February 14
I hope you are O.K. We have all been reading of things going on in Italy & I don’t like how it sounds. I would have done things differently. Well I say that, but who knows what I would do. The news is acting like the landing at Anzio is a victory, but it seems to me they waited, they should have Enclosed is a letter from my sister Susan, sent by me so our uncle doesn’t learn of your affair.
Last time when we travelled I found it very difficult to find time to write you. This time, I decided to keep a running letter, so whenever I had time I could just write a bit. It’s sort of like a diary or journal, they’re just thoughts I have of you or things I want to share with you over time.
Jan 27 – California is really beautiful. I know you’re a miserable street urchin who only appreciates greasy spoons & sweltering dance clubs but even you would be hard-pressed to deny the beauty of this coastline. & you do like swimming, I know you do. You could wear swimming trunks & get your hair wet, I wouldn’t mind. I wouldn’t mind at all, it’s not as if I ever stared at you when you got out of the shower & walked around in a towel like an uncultured heathen, I never traced the droplets of water with my eyes as they ran down your back, dreaming of following them with my mouth. I would never do that on a beach with you in California, I would be totally appropriate. You could get a tan.
Jan 28 – Are you at Anzio? We’re only just hearing of it here. I reckon you can’t answer me but damn I’d really like to know. I mean tactically, that makes a lot of sense, if it’s a surprise, but it’s risky. That takes a lot of balls, they need to push on thru or you could get holed up there. That could be murder, that could be I don’t know what I’m allowed to say. It’s not as tho’ we know more here than there. Well I know what I would do. I wish I was with you. I hope you’re not there,
it just sounds like suic
Jan 30 – It’s difficult pushing on when you could be trapped or hurt. Tho’ now here I am complaining. Our manager has informed us sales are up 10% in every town we visit. This is meant to make us feel better about our efforts but I still feel that I’m not doing enough. I wonder what you would say to that. On the one hand you always said you believed in me, anyone could be anything if they only set their mind to it. But on the other you said it’s important to be realistic, to understand what you can accomplish.
Jan 31 – I spose if you’re at Anzio there’s nothing I can do besides my best. That’s what I’ve been trying to do for you, & others like you, & for our country. I just hope you’re warm & safe & well-fed & not hurt & near people who will help you. And if you’re not at Anzio, well I spose you’re up against the Winter Line which doesn’t sound much better. Well I can’t say much to help you, but I can pray.
Feb 1 – I’m still concerned for Nick, the man I hurt. Last I got word he was A-O.K., but it still bothers me. I wish you were here to give me advice. You’re still the best man I know. Did you know that? I’ve met so many people over the last 8 months, scores & scores, 100s probably, but Bucky you are the one who would save a kitten from a tree, who would help someone just because they are hurt or small, who would look for the most compassionate way to stop a fight.
Feb 2 – Terrible thing happened today—Chaya broke her leg. More later.
Feb 3 – We think the company might be cursed!
Feb 6 – Well I wrote you a long letter re: what happened with Chaya & Bettina & the curse. We’re not actually cursed but thinking of it makes me think of baseball, & now that I’m thinking of it, I never told you how brave I think you are for so many of the things you’ve said since that letter you sent by Yo. I want to be like you are, open & thoughtful & just so true. You’re going to think this is stupid but that lights my fire just as much as anything to do with you, just as much as your ridiculous mouth & your devastating hair, just as much as all the sweet & steamy things you’ve said to me. It’s your bravery & kindness that gets me worked up, the way you try so hard & search so deeply. I’ve always loved those things about you so it doesn’t seem strange to me that those things get me going, but I don’t think that’s the way it works for most people. But it’s the way it works for me.
Feb 7 - That 1st letter you sent to me thru my brother Steve. The very racy one. The one in which you said you’d lick my back, & undress me, & give me bruises from your kisses—I reacted badly. I know I reacted badly to that letter & maybe one day you’ll understand why, but I want you know that I’ve read that letter so many times. I read it at night & I imagine everything you say. As you can see by now I can’t write a letter like that, but you better be glad I can’t. You’d die of want, like I do every night.
Got a few letters, finally. They worked it out with the mail service. Thought I’d get a whole stack from you but I only got 2. I’d worry something happened to you but I only got 3 from Ma and none from Bec & co. which means they’re still a mess with sorting and not that something happened or you haven’t been writing. Still I worry. The last 1 I got was a 11/24, and these are 12/23 and 12/25, Christmas. I know you wrote in-between because this 1 letter says, “in my last letter I was real upset” but your not upset in your 11/24 letter.
It says you hit some1 and your upset bout it and you let people down & you could become a bully. You said you hit him hard, you hurt him? Bruise him up? Is that why you were upset? I could see how that’d be real upsetting, because I know it was an accident. Even if you meant to hit him, you didn't mean to cause true damage. How could you? You've punched plenty of people and they kept on going. Hell I've punched plenty of people who kept on going. But I could see that would get to you, your con
scientious, and I guess we both know fighting isn’t the best way to solve a problem, but I don’t think you could become a bully Steve. I just think you could get hurt. I guess anyone could get hurt, that’s the problem with fighting, but Steve some fights need to be fought. Your the 1 who always said that and I don’t want you to get down on yourself too hard when you were just trying to do what’s right, because I know that’s what you were trying to do.
I guess the number of times you say it’s all fine in this letter is upsetting, your a liar Steve but generally not a very good 1.
And your I hope your I guess this is all I have to write. I’m going to write a letter for your sister Susan now and send it thru you so your uncle doesn’t find out about us.
I can’t make out your letters. You said will I recognize you and of course I would recognize you, I’d know you anywhere.
You sound I can’t get over the fact you sound unhappy. I mean this letter where you say you want to spend Christmas darning socks is really sweet (I mean it you dope it’s heart-warming) but I just can’t get over something’s wrong. Is it what your brother did to this fella Nick? I just can’t make this out.
I just want to be with you. I talk over everything with you and you talk over everything with me. Eventually I guess. Eventually you tell me everything. When I let you. I guess you’ve tried to do it even when I stop you! Don’t try to be strong for me. Not for me, honey. It would be nicer to know if your hurt and upset because then I’d know you can trust me,
and I could. You’re not sick are you? Please just tell me. I love you, I love you so much. Today is Valentine’s Day.
Today is Valentine’s and I was going to write you a nice letter, but you know I love you and I just want to know how you are. And I’ll tell you how I am and that’s worried for you, longing for you, aching for you sweetheart, other than that there’s heavy fighting but Dum Dum and I are sticking it out and Al is still alive, we’re in this holding pattern and I guess there’s not much to say. I don’t know how to say it, it’s real tough Ste S. But we keep slogging on and I keep loving you.
Chapter 62: USO: February 17 - February 20
Feb 17, ‘44
I’m sending some things from my sister Susan so our uncle doesn’t find out about you two. Still reading the news & I don’t like any of it. I read an article on the Italian front the other day & it said it was like digging a hole in your backyard while it’s raining & sleeping in the hole, then carrying a suitcase full of rocks while falling over into the mud every 3 steps because someone is shooting at you, & sleeping on rocks is nicer because they’re dry. & that’s not even the worst because you might die. I think of you all the time. I hope you are O.K.
P.S. Do you remember me mentioning Honey? She is one of the USO girls. I never really talked to her that much as she keeps to herself. I told you she seemed sad. Well, do you remember Ken from our building? The one who kept being mistaken for someone else after Pearl Harbor. Honey showed me a picture of her grandfather & he looks a bit like Ken, but he is actually the person Ken was being mistaken for. Do you get what I mean? Honey doesn’t look like Ken but her grandfather looks like someone people thought Ken was. & we were coming back down south by way of Fresno & we had a day off & Honey wanted to visit her grandfather, that’s why she showed me, because she wanted to visit but didn’t want to show anybody else that picture (besides Ethel. Now that I know I think Ethel’s parents or grandparents might look like someone too—Grace Henderson, I’m fairly certain one of them looks like Grace, but I never realized it until Honey showed me that photo & I realized lots of people might look like someone else without you realizing it. I wonder if that was why Ethel said she's not the "right sort" for pro. ballet.).
Well Honey’s parents are Honey’s dad is fine. Her mother tho’ Her mother is fine too, but they live in Chicago because that’s where Honey’s dad is from and he met her mother in San Francisco for business. They are fine & Honey is fine, but her grandfather, well he is not fine.
We went to visit (Honey, Ethel & me). Honey was afraid but I said I wouldn’t let anything happen and I don’t know why she trusted me, she trusted me even tho’ I’ve done nothing. I knew where her grandfather was. I knew where he was this whole time & I never did anything or said anything of it, nothing at all. & here I am selling bonds
God damn it just makes me mad. It makes me mad & I’m mad I wasn’t mad earlier & sometimes I just want to tear everything down Well this letter is a bit like your letters about baseball, I want to say a few things but I can’t say them in a letter. I just needed to rant & it’s not fair to rant on it to Honey. Or Ethel. Or Gloria. God damn.
P.P.S. Hi doll and thank you for Steve.
–Honey J ♡
P.P.P.S. I showed this letter to Honey because I didn’t think it right to share a story of her grandfather when she herself can’t share so many stories. She says she doesn't think anyone will care too much about a chorus girl. She also says this letter makes no sense and is this the kind of letter I always write. (She says "I thought it was going to be juicy" & I said well, how could it be, she said well you could work around it & I said maybe I do. Then she winked & said & I quote "Tell that boy whatever you feel like, tiger." Let me tell you Honey is SAUCY when you get to know her.) She wasn’t supposed to write on the paper.
I’ve been doing something like a diary for you since it’s hard to find time to write a whole letter.
Feb 11 – San Francisco is more like NYC than I thought it would be. Maybe it’s the way everything is jammed in such a small spot. I’ve heard of several very interesting clubs I wish I could go to with you. I don’t know if you would like to go, I know that you love me but I don’t know how you would feel being in a club with our arms around each other. I don’t care either way, Bucky. I’m just as happy with the idea of your arms around me at home. I just know you like to go out. We could go to our regular dance halls and you could dance with other women. I wouldn’t mind, I like to watch you. As long as I just get you some of the time.
Feb 12 – Do you remember the night we saw The Invisible Man Returns, & went to Ray’s after, & we didn’t want to go home because it was cold, so we went to another diner & then another. I think of that night all the time.
Feb 14 – I was going to tell the story of when I fell for you for Valentine’s Day, but I don’t have a story. You’ve always been a part of me, deep in my soul, & I don’t know how to catalogue the moments between wanting you as a friend & as a lover. Even when you had your 1st kiss, you were 13, it was Eileen Strong, you told me all about it, do you remember? Even then I was happy for you, I was thrilled, I liked that you had met someone who realized you should be kissed. I knew you should be kissed, of course, I just never thought I could be the one to kiss you.
Feb 15 – I don’t know what it’s like over there. You hear such varying reports. Sometimes you write of how tough it is, but other times you write of your friends & the way you talk to them & you spent Christmas pranking everyone, which sounds just like you, to get other people’s spirits up. You never let me feel sorry for myself even when I was sick. But I feel like I don’t know simple things, whether you get enough to eat, whether you are cold, whether you are dry, whether you are afraid, whether you have bad dreams. You always took care of me, you looked after me when I was sick, & I just wish I could look after you. I wish I could keep you warm.
Feb 16 – I wish you could meet these girls, Bucky. These girls are wonderful.
I never had Well you know I was friends with boys. Well I spose that makes me sound easy. It’s tough being a girl named Susan!
I’m sending this letter for your sis Susan thru you so your uncle doesn’t find out about us.
P.S. Your just so Steve sometimes you drive me crazy.
Why don’t I know when your lying you know. You mentioned a fella named Nick in your other letter, what does he have to do with this, you say you hit him hard—is that what you mean? Did they make you stronger? Is this your new job, did the military give you chemicals? Please write.
I don’t know what to say to you. I can’t figure you out. I’ve got 2 letter from you, 1 12/14 and 1 1/1. The latter is bout how good-looking I am and the former is bout how bad-looking you are. I don’t get you,
your just so
Why don’t you say what you mean? Your not saying what you mean. I can tell your not,
because your. You talk bout being an open book but you joke bout it, your sarcastic bout it, like when you you always just joke bout how you got nothing to tell.
And I do love this letter, I cherish this letter, this 1 where you talk bout what a cocky dickhead I am because it sounds like you, it sounds just like you. It sounds just like you’ve always sounded which is funny & teasing & clever like you. “My mistresses eyes are nothing like the sun.” I can b.s. real good bout all those literary classics but your the real poet, you know.
But is it now the case that I made you hide for too long, and now you can’t say what you mean? I wouldn’t wonder, I don’t wonder bout this letter, this sarcastic-Mr. Shakespeare letter, I’m not wondering bout that. It’s this other letter, this other letter that tells me I can’t talk bout your body, your shoulders and mouth and everything, and why?
You tell me I should trust that I might not like you, but you’re talking bout a “new” you and and “old” you like you traded in an old suit.
It doesn’t work like What did you
You say I have a type, S, your my type. Don’t you know that every dame I’ve ever looked at I have secretly thought “lil like S”, “not enough like S”, “too much like S”? I knew, honey, some part of me always knew. I patterned after you.
And then I read this letter bout my looks and I can’t help but wonder if your teasing because of the way you feel bout your own self, your own body, like you can’t come out and tell me things straight, you have to tease, because your nervous bout yourself.
You never used to be I don’t mean to 2nd guess you, I don’t mean I think your lying bout whether I look good or not, Christ I don’t give a fuflying flip. Hey you know what, I look different too, I’m all skin and bones and Saroyan says my eyeballs have sunk in and I vary between yellow and green in color. And you know what, S, if you reject me on account of my looks I will not be content to live beside you, I will not forgive you, you will not pass Go. This thing we have it is deeper than skin.
You weren’t the 1 who worried bout how you looked, I knew sometimes you wished you were
st taller but you accepted what you had, didn’t complain. But now you got my head spinning, what’s got you so goddamn worried? I don’t know if your O.K.
I’m over here fighting a war, please stop hurting my heart. Please tell me your O.K.
Love forever even if your a giant assh dope,
Chapter 63: USO: February 23 - February
February 23, 1944
My last letter to you was about my friend’s grandfather who is Japanese and living in a camp where they have sent a large number of Japanese people because
the US is they’re suspected of being spies. I didn’t say this in my last letter because I didn’t want my friend’s name to be connected to direct comments about it in case someone found out her ethnicity.
I’ve got to do something about this but I don’t know what. I wrote a letter & sent a telegram to a senator I know but I doubt it will pull much weight. It’s not as if I matter much. I wish I had you to talk to. You are a thinker while I always rush in.
I don’t know if a censor will cut any of this, it’s not as if it gives the Jerries any info. I just wanted to tell you what’s on my mind. Meanwhile I’m sending along another note from my sister Susan so our uncle doesn’t learn of your affair. My uncle is pretty goddamn stupid, wouldn’t you say?
Your best friend,
I have some more diary entries for you. Not much time for letters on our trip but we’ll be back in L.A. soon & I’ll get some from you. I love you.
Feb 19 – Weather here is so mild I don’t think I’ll even notice spring when it comes. Everything here is so green. Makes me miss you, and Brooklyn. I loved spring. Even if the Dodgers are still no good. What is it like where you are? I hope if it’s been cold that it is warming up. The papers all said Italy was so wet this winter, maybe spring will be dry?
Feb 20 – There’s this part in a small speech of my brother Steve’s USO show. It goes, “Every bond you buy is another bullet in the barrel of your best guy’s gun.” It’s such a stupid line. But every time it comes to the part, “your best guy” I think of you. I feel like a nincompoop saying that. But it’s true. I remember when you 1st got your gun, & you were very proud of it. Maybe that’s a sore point now. But Bucky you should still be proud. Even if War is ugly & you have to do things you hate, you are fighting for such a good cause. You are heroic & brave & I look up to you with every fiber of my being, I always have.
Feb 22 – Sometimes I have this dream where I go back to Brooklyn and nobody knows me. You come back & the war is over & you don’t know me either. DE is there and he says “Would you like to start over?” I say yes, but then we lose the war & everyone I know dies anyway
Wow, that is very morbid. Well but you know I’m morbid because you know me. I miss you. I wish I knew how you are, where you are. We’ll be in L.A. at the beginning of next month, I can’t wait for your letters.
There’s a letter for your sister Susan so your uncle doesn’t find out.
I got this letter. 1/20. You said you’ve been with other men before. I guess you think I’ll be mad at you. I’m not, as you said you
have a right you can do whatever you want. I guess I’m
I’m not disappointed. That would be hypocritical. I was with Cindy, you know I was, and before that there was Heather.
And there have been plenty of other And I guess you know I did some necking with some other girls. I wasn’t in I though I was in love with them tho. I mean I thought that I was. That’s the difference. I wasn't in love with someone el How can you I just don’t get I’m not upset, I don’t blame you, I don’t judge, I’m just fundamentally different I guess. I don’t think I could
I love you. You could be with anybody you want to be with and I would still love you, I would still want you.
Just when did you I guess I wish you would have
It’s my own fault you never told me. I told you of all my escapades but of course you didn’t tell me bout yours. I was an F-ing ass to you and you did those things alone, you didn’t have your friend to talk to, maybe you didn’t want to talk to me bout it but I always wanted to talk to you, I wanted your opinions and advice and if you wanted mine I wasn’t there for you. I wasn’t there and I wish I was. I wish I could have been. That’s what’s got me so turned around, is there you were going thru things & doing things & I didn’t even know. I didn’t even know what you were doing,
behind secretly, secretly from me because you had to, because I wouldn’t let you talk, but now I just don’t know how much was a secret from me and I don’t mean it’s your fault. It’s not your fault, I’m not questioning you, my best friend, I’m questioning me. Because I didn’t know you, I didn’t learn who you really were. I assumed so much about you, even after I realized the truth bout myself. I assumed you were as lost & ignorant & clueless as I am, but you weren’t. You never are.
At the bottom of this letter you say again that there’s no way for me to know your body, and O.K. I don’t know. I don’t know bout your experience or your body or your jobs, you never talk bout your jobs, not really, you never told me what really happened to DE, you never told me bout men you slept with and you haven’t told me what you look like now, you could have drawn me a picture, but you haven’t.
So O.K. S. O.K. I don’t know, I don’t know anything, I’m an idiot, I’m a fool, but I don’t care. Teach me. Teach me all about you, every line of you, tell me how other men have touched you, tell me the ways that you explored, tell me your skin is green and you have scales, tell me every detail bout another man inside of you, and I’ll only love you more. I’ll love you more for who you are without me and all the ways I never knew you and how much there is to learn, I want to know it all, just tell me. I trust you honey, you just got to give me something here.
Chapter 64: USO: February 28 - March 1
I did something tonight which might get me fired or even arrested, I spose. But no one boo-ed & it might have had some effect, tho’ never as much as I wish it could. Some of the girls rolled their eyes at me (including Honey!) but Puffs took me out for drinks after. He said “That was real stand up.” I don’t think it was much, but I feel a lot better than I have in a long time.
I usually do a bit of a speech—to sell bonds & everything, you know, but tonight I changed it up and I told a story of a woman in a Japanese camp (not related to anyone I know, I met her when I visited with my friend). She only knows English & she was going to Berkley & she knows no one else who is Japanese besides her parents, and she grew up American & considers herself American, just like Italians who immigrate here & Irish who immigrated here in the 1800s & English who immigrated here even before that. Well & I said they could write their Congressmen. & I gave them addresses.
Who knows what anyone will say to that. Our manager (his name is Rick) only drops by once in a blue moon so maybe no one will even tell him. Altho’ there’s always Mrs. Reltz the chaperone.
I don’t care. It’s not fighting a war but it’s something, it’s the best I can do. Over here we’ve been reading of Operation Avenger on the Italian front. I don’t know if that’s where you are but I keep thinking of you. I pray that you are safe.
P.S. I’m sorry I don’t have a note from my sister Susan. She’s been writing notes to you but not many as I have been pestering her with thoughts of how to stage a miniature revolu protest. She says she loves you though, she says she wants to kiss you everywhere & make you pant for her. Wow, my sister’s a real wildcat Buck, you better watch out.
P.P.S. We should be back in L.A. inside of about a week, and I’ll get your letters!
Got your letter bout you & Nick & Ingrid. I still don’t get all this, you say I know you but in other letters you say I don’t. I guess specifically you say I don’t know what you look like.
I don’t care. I do know you. I know you deep down past everything else, and if you say you did something wrong I guess I believe you. I know you got a temper and I know you rush in and I know you don’t think things thru. And if you want me to blame you for that, I guess I will, and I’ll tell you you didn’t do the right thing, and you should have thought bout it, and if I’d have been there maybe we could have worked thru it. And I’ll tell you to think it thru next time, and learn a lil patience, and do what you need to in order not to hurt anybody. But I’ll also forgive you Steve, because sometimes I just sit on my ass instead of doing the right thing because I can’t figure out how to do it, so I don’t do anything, and I let things slide, and you never let things slide, you never let things happen so I forgive you. You need forgiveness Steve, you got it.
You say I know you I just don’t get what you mean. You didn’t hit him with a brick. Right? I don’t know what you mean. I don’t understand how you put him in the hospital? Did he have a condition? Was he sick when you punched him? You knew he was sick and you punched him anyway?
But your saying people back down from fights. I don’t know. The thought of you in fights, Steve.
I can’t I guess I tried not to think bout it, try not to think bout you being sick and you being in back allies and you not keeping your mouth shut, I just try so hard not to think bout it because how are you even alive? How are you even alive Steve, with the way people toss you around—but you say they back down? Is this what You know you said you were going to get a job, and then you got it but it wasn’t actually the job you thought. Are you maybe Do people back down because your somehow an official? Like maybe you could get someone in trouble. You could have things done to people. Or did they do something to you? I joked bout how they could do something to you. Steve Steve did they do something to you? I don’t know what they could have done, did they do something to you hon Steve. Please, I don’t know, you sound like you can’t explain. I can’t blame you for not explaining but then I can’t forgive you either, please just give me a lil something, please. I don’t know what I know any more when it comes to you. I feel like you’ve changed into another person with all these letters and I don’t know why, I don’t know why, it’s only been a year, a yr and 1 month Steve. Please. You know how I love your sister Susan, I love her so much, I love her so so much, Steve. I would die for her Steve. I would do anything. Please tell me what is up.
I’m sorry to be so demanding but this is all I have.
Your best friend,
Chapter 65: USO: March 5 - March 7
Here’s a letter from my sister Susan sent by me so our uncle doesn’t know about you.
P.S. March 6 - I’ve been saying unscripted things at my job about people writing to Senators and such. Manager finally got wind but I’m not going to stop. I think I might get fired but I won’t stop.
I’m in L.A. I got this letter from you.
I got this letter from you
I don’t think I’ll ever be calm enough to write about this letter from you. Your friend Willis helped you with this letter.
Bucky. Well, this letter contained a list of instructions. I want you to know that I followed these instructions very carefully. Several times. I will follow them many more times as they are extremely helpful instructions. Tho’ I have to look at them every time I do it, I have to read the exact words each time. I like to look at the letter while I’m following these instructions to make sure that I am following them precisely. Oh God, Bucky. Just writing this letter I want to follow those instructions again.
Oh God I love you. I need you I love you,.
A part of me is glad you aren’t here. I think that I would smother you, I’ve just always wanted you, so much, the thought of you here, doing those things with me. I don’t know how to write this letter.
Well, I can’t follow one of these instructions. Well actually 2, because they have to do with things that are in Brooklyn & I’m in LA. But I did everything else. To answer all your questions Bucky, yes, I like that sort of thing. Just a tiny bit. A smidgeon. A hint, just enough to make me like a train wreck for the last 5 hrs. Several train wrecks. I’m not sure you would believe the # of trains that have been wrecked over this Bucky. I’m tired.
March 6 - I think your letter might be killing me. I read it over because there were questions I wanted to answer but all I want to do is follow your instructions again.
-I think God wants you to love whomever you damn well please
-We can be faithful. I am faithful to you now
-My mouth waters for you too
-I can think of SCADS of things you haven’t thought of yet.
-You have guessed one of the uses of the jar on the small blue table
-I have done it before
-I was thinking of you
-Yes I like it
-I use 4, sometimes more (you only said 3)
-Hard & fast as you can
I also got your 1/5 letter. You asked me brother Steve to tell you of his life & I believe he has in his other letters. I never thought you didn’t care for him as well as me. But then you said you would take me to a movie theater & we would sit in back & neck. Do you by any chance have that numbered list I sent of things I dreamed of doing to you. I would do the 2nd one to you in a movie theater if you would let me. I don’t care. You’d have to find your own way to keep quiet I would be busy.
If I could say the things I want even you would be embarrassed. God this letter. I’m on fire.
Here is a letter for your sister Susan. I sent it to you so your uncle won’t find out about us.
Got another letter from you, 12/1. These are all out of order, I keep going back trying to put them in order to make a story of you. I guess I’ve been a lil mad, or confused, or mad and confused I guess, because I don’t know what’s up with you. It’s been more than a yr since I been with you and I know people change. I guess not quite a yr because we had those 4 days in summer, & I F-ed them up, I FUBARed them S because I could have spent time with you & I was afraid with how much your letters wanted me & how needful they made me feel, you mentioned that night in the park in 1 and I got scared, and spent those 4 days with too many people who aren't you.
Your not a story, I can’t predict our ending. Won’t know it til we see it I guess. But I will see you again, my best friend. And even if I don’t know how everything will turn out, I still love you, and you love me.
This is a really good letter, S. You say you’ve imagined me with you, but don’t know how I would be. I don’t know how you would be either, and furthermore I don't know how I would be. You list fast & passionate or slow & methodical as choices. I think I’d like to be everything with you. I still can’t believe sometimes that we’re talking to each other this way, that I get to dream of touching you openly
and (or almost openly) and it’s you, you who I love so much but never touched. Least not the way I want to. So I would have to learn, because I’m new, I’m changed and your changed and your new too, we’re both new. Maybe you've done it before with other guys but not with me, S, and we can just be together and find out who each other are.
Here there’s a lot of mud. A lot of running in mud and slipping in mud and lying in mud and sleeping in mud. Everything is heavy, and there are constantly people trying to kill me.
Did you know But I can do it, I can still do it. I love you S with all my heart.
Chapter 66: USA: March 10 - March 17
March 10, ‘44
I saw a ridiculous film last week. You would have laughed & laughed. Enclosed is a letter from my sister Susan I am sending you so our uncle won’t see.
P.S. They’ve suspended future shows. I’m worried that members of our company won’t get paid and it’s my fault. I’ve kept on changing the script—I still encourage everyone to buy bonds, but I’m also telling them what they can do to help Japanese Americans. Still haven’t been arrested yet but I guess I’ll see. People are still buying bonds but there’s been a lot of complaining about me. I guess the company is a bit miffed with me but I don’t blame them. Well Puffs sat everyone down & talked to them & then everyone felt a bit better but that’s Puffs for you. I can pay them from my pocket for a bit if necessary.
I got another letter from you, sent with help from your friend Willis. Well after the last one I have to say I sure am looking forward to getting more like it. Buck I keep on following your instructions. Everything you tell me to do I’ll do it.
You say the same to me, that you would let me do anything to you. Well I want to, I’d like to try.
Sometimes I feel like a kid passing note in class, writing these letters to you. Except I never wrote notes to anyone but you, & they were never like this. I just mean it feels almost like a dream, so separate from everything else I’m doing, except you’re the real thing in my life & all the rest of this—it’s surreal, like something you read in a comic book. Do you remember Gus Lexington? The way he’d always say “This can’t be happening this can’t be happening” whenever he got in trouble? I never got where that fellow was coming from, of course it’s happening, no matter how bad it is you can’t deny what’s there. But now I think I understand it maybe a bit better: you know it’s happening, it just doesn’t match the world you remember or imagine.
But you are what I remember and you are also what I always imagined. And Bucky I have been to some of those clubs you’re probably thinking of. Some of them are like places we have been to only with more baseball fans, but others are racier than places you and I have gone. & yes I asked you to go with me because I wanted you to see that there was nothing immoral or disgusting in any of them. But I didn’t ask you as a date, I may have dreamed I was seeing you secretly but I would never have put you in a position where you had to be with me. It was always up to you. But I’m glad you chose me.
I miss you. There will be flowers soon in Brooklyn. I think of touching you all the time.
It’s been a busy last few days. I’m going to Italy. They wanted to have me fired for what I was doing (encouraging peaceful protest) but some of the people involved said our show was too valuable. Realistically I think 1) they know if they fired me I would just protest more. I mean I’m only being so polite about it because I’m trying to respect my occupation & employers, if I really had my choice I might stand in front of the White House with a sign. Well maybe not because I don’t want to disrespect our boys at the front either. But really if we’re to fight a war in the name of freedom we should do it for a place that’s FREE. & 2) I think if they arrested me other people might protest, not because I’m so great or anything but because of our show, some people know the name I guess & it would look bad
for the coun.
So I think what they’ve decided is to just get rid of me. Not that I think that cheering up troops (that’s what we’ll be doing, we’re going to do some shows for the troops just like Bob Hope. Well not as good as Bob Hope. Well I think Gloria thinks we’re as good as Bob Hope. But Gloria thinks a lot of things. She was pissed at me for causing a ruckus & now I’m her best boy again because she might see Luis when we go abroad. Most of the girls are coming.
Well that’s a whole other)
There’s a whole other story of how they had to renegotiate all of our contracts. Ingrid isn’t coming. I worry she’s to stay with Nick. This means Loretta can come but Mimi & Gladys won’t be coming either so they have to hire other girls. & the band isn’t coming because they say we’re going to join up with another company, so they might hire dancers from that. I don’t know. My friend Harry isn’t coming—I don’t think I told you about my friend Harry. He’s an actor, he plays Hitler. Remember that Charlie Chaplin movie we saw?
I meant to say above, not that I think cheering up troops is an unworthy goal. I actually think I’ll feel much better doing that than selling bonds. I just want to help and this is the best deal all around. There was some debate re: where to send us as we were in CA (we’re in VA now), they could easily ship us to E. Asia but they decided Italy. I rejoiced as I’m 99% certain that’s where you are, where else could you be. I doubt I’ll get to see you but Bucky. I hope I see you.
I don’t know how I can take my sister Susan with me. Maybe she could become a chorus girl? But if she does her uncle won’t be with her & I guess I won’t have to send her letters? But perhaps he’ll insist upon coming as her chaperone? I don’t think it works like that. I’m not sure how she’ll keep sending you letters, there might be a bit of a pause while I figure that out.
And these past few days she hasn’t had time to write! But I will say for her that she loves you and hopes to see you sooner rather than later.
Your best pal,
Chapter 67: ATLANTIC: March 22 - March 30
This will be a long boatride and I won’t even be able to post this letter until after we land. But I appreciated the way you wrote to me when you were in the boat even tho’ you were so sick, & I wanted to write you. So I’ll just write a bit everyday.
Mar 23 – We went out of VA so I didn’t get to see anyone, but I would have liked to see your family. I am still writing so they know how I am & I know you are still writing them as well. I spose you know Becca has a fella, which is hard to believe. I still think of her as a little girl but well she’s 18. I would have liked to see the Ramez’s & even Mrs. Lacey. But I am so glad to be on this boat.
Mar 24 – I’m not seasick. I think I might have been, at one time. But I do think I might go out of my mind. To think that before I complained about never being alone—here you are NEVER alone. It makes me think of you, you don’t like to be alone, you like to be around people, but you still need privacy from time to time. Everyone needs privacy, it’s a basic human requirement. When is the last time you were alone, Bucky?
Mar 26 – You’re right that the army & navy don’t get along. Jeez, no one gets along here. I think some of these people think they get along with the women but not all of the women want to get along with them. I remember you said when you were on the boat you felt like you were always breaking up fights. I know what you mean, & there are Germans out here! You’d think everyone would have something better to do. Well I guess I was no better in Basic. Well I spose I wouldn’t be any better here! All I say these days is “back off”. Well the girls can handle themselves but I can’t stand watching them get harrassed. Don’t worry tho’ we have a signal in case they want to be harrassed. Well I guess it’s not harrassing if you want it. Wait I don’t know. But anyway Frankie made up this signal forever ago, it means “this one’s O.K. Steve.”
Mar 27 – I’m trying not to think of it & mostly doing O.K. It wouldn’t be a good idea to think of it too much surrounded by these other people, but late at night I can’t help it, I just keep thinking, “what if I see you?” Then contracts etc won’t really matter. It’s not as if you can avoid looking at me. Bucky you found all these ways to talk to me, your friend Yo & your friend Willis. I never found a way to tell you everything. My sister Susan talked to you a lot but it’s not the same. I just imagine if I could see you, everything would at last be in the open, and I could finally feel like myself again.
Mar 28 – Honey & Ethel & Gloria say they want to meet you as well. Honey sends kisses. I was afraid things I was doing might endanger Honey but she didn’t get in trouble. But she never worried about it either, just rolled her eyes & called me dollface a lot. I never told you how my dancing went with Ethel. I’m very acrobatic now—Ethel says too acrobatic, I should be in the circus not ballet. But I figure if you can do it you should. I miss Chaya because she was the only one (besides you) to make fun of Capt Future with me (and I don’t want to waste my letters to you on that. Tho’ Captn Future might be the 2nd most ridiculous captain on the planet.)
Mar 29 – Think we’re almost there now. Just read over that previous part & thought of Ingrid. You know sometimes I think fighting is the only thing I know how to do, & I didn’t even do it well most of my life. I don’t even want to do it, & yet I’m always seeing things I feel like no one else is fighting or not enough are. I feel like these past 6 months I’ve in a box, selling bonds I was trying to fight for something good & right but it didn’t FEEL like enough. I worry that if I’m not causing a disturbance or getting my teeth smashed in or now smashing someone else’s teeth in, I don’t feel like I’m doing enough. & what if it’s not enough? I told some people to write their congressmen about how we’re putting our own citizens in concentration camps, but is that enough? I don’t know. I can’t tell. The only time I felt like I was doing enough was when I was lying on the ground bleeding & you had to help me because then how could I POSSIBLY do more? I don’t know. I miss you.
Mar 30 - We’ve landed in Casablanca. We’re hitching rides with different units til we get where we’re going, which is the Italian front. I hope I get to see you. I miss my best friend.
Chapter 68: AFRICA: April 2 - April 6
April 2, ‘44
I’m in Casablanca, like the movie. I know you didn’t get to see it but it was swell. I liked the ending. But I won’t spoil it for you. Well, I guess that movie was made a while ago now. Everyone here seems tired. Especially all the people who lived here before all of these people started coming in & out. Well but I bet some people here have been tired longer than that. Do you know there are people here who want independence? Well of course they do. Who wouldn’t?
We’ve done our show here a few times & people seem to like it O.K. Well I think they like the ladies better. Again who wouldn’t. I’m not sure of my part any more. Before I understood I was supposed to tell people to buy bonds, but what I’m doing now sounds very much like, “chin up son.” I hate it when people tell me chin up son. My chin always WAS up & it wasn’t doing much good, it just kept bumping into things!
Not much time to write, but I miss you.
We’re in Algeria, closer to you now. I’ve asked around but even though strictly I’m still milt. personnel they won’t tell me. Well they probably wouldn’t tell me anyway. Where the 107th is I mean. Now we’re closer I’m hearing more, tho’ I spose I still shouldn’t write anything of it. If you’re at Anzio I spose I won’t see you, but if you’re at the Winter Line we definitely will. I think we’re to travel up & down the front.
I’m glad to go closer to you & where I might do some good, but I wish I could see more of this country (& Morocco). I never would have thought that I would be travelling to places like this. Sometimes I wonder what I ever did. But it wasn’t really me, it was DE. He saw something in me & I was grateful because I wanted to help so badly, & I feel like I’m hardly ever the help I want to be & he gave me the chance to do it. I still don’t know if I’ll be of any help here—I thought so, but I see these folks, these men & women working so hard & facing so much, & I feel like a clown.
But it’s beautiful, Bucky. The countryside is so beautiful, stark in some ways but clean in other ways (well, it is quite dusty where I am, but I mean clean as in the colors feel very precise, well-chosen, I mean I know they are not chosen. I spose I just mean it’s a different palette than Brooklyn but also than CA, I don’t know. I like it. I never wanted to draw any landscapes really, but it’s beautiful). Once again I’m looking at the stars, and wishing you were here with me.
I hope that you are warm & well & safe.
Your best friend,
Chapter 69: EUROPE: April 10
I did try to warn everyone that this was how this fic would end. To answer questions I'm already getting, there might be a sequel, but there might not. I'm not going to promise anything. Thank you for reading. :o)
P.S. ....This is the actual end of this fic. I updated the number of chapters some time ago, and I guess I didn't notice that somehow it didn't save. Must've forgotten to press the final button. But anyway, this is the end. THE END.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Apr 10, ‘44
I’m finally in Italy. Sicily to be exact. I wonder if this means my letters will reach you more quickly? I’ve been asking around for the 107th but still don’t have info yet. I’m sure you would like to hear from my sister Susan. I’ve been thinking she could send letters to me, so that our uncle doesn’t find out about you 2, & I could just forward them on to you. Like we were doing before, only the dates would have to be a bit screwy, since it would take her letters a while to get to me. But I’d send them right on. Do you get what I mean? Somehow I’m making this more complicated than it is. Honey could just send letters to you, she wouldn’t mind. & then you could have 2 sweethearts. But Honey would probably put her perfume all over them knowing her. She thinks it’s funny! But so did Chaya & Ingrid. But they weren’t as much of a tease as Honey.
I don't know what will happen with the letters you've been writing me. I'm sorry to miss them, I don't think they'll forward them back here. But once you get word I'm here, maybe delivery time would be shorter? I don't know, I just know I long to hear from you, Buck.
The weather isn’t so bad here, but I know you must be farther north. I have only been in Italy 2 days but I feel like maybe I know a bit better what you’re going thru, tho’ no one is shooting bullets at me (just throwing tomatoes mostly). I’ve always wanted to come here & see all the art but so many places are ruined. But tiny flowers are springing out around the rubble. Nature waits for no man.
I feel like I should be doing something to help, but I don’t know how to break out. I’d be letting people down if I didn’t keep doing the show, well & the Army has it’s plans so what else can I do? Where are you, Bucky? If only you were here, I would know what to do, & we could do it together.
We're making our way north, doing our bit for the troops. I keep thinking what if I see you, but I don't know where you are. I don't know where you've been. Bucky, I don't know what you suffered. I read all your letters, all your stories, all your secret thoughts and fantasies and dreams. But I feel I didn't know you, couldn't know you. Not as I do now.
How could you have written the rain, the slant of it, the endless days of it, & how could you have written the mud, the slow suck of it, the weight of it when more clings to each boot, & more, & more. I don't even have to walk in the mud that much, but I know the sound of it, the squelch of it, the embrace of it. I see it merge with men, the slow congealing of it, like another flesh, like blood they haven't shed yet congealing on the outside. & I see their eyes, the ghosts in them, the death. They are empty eyes, and they make me fear to see you. They make me fear what I might see in you, what I might not see in you.
I would have given anything to you, anything for you to stay safe and sane & for you to stay the Bucky that I knew. My letters never gave you enough of me, I never gave you enough, I didn't know how to give you myself & my sister Susan when you weren't there & you couldn't know me & couldn't see me, when I was perhaps someone different than what you wanted or what you needed. But Buck if I'm a stranger to you, that friend you loved & the sister you wanted they're still there, you can have it all if you want it, & if you don't well I know the ghosts inside your eyes. I know who they were & we'll never lose the dreams of who we once were. Even if we go on to something new. I'll always be here for you, Buck. I'll always be your best friend & Susan will always be in love with you.
In the depth and darkness that is this War, that's a promise you can count on.
Your pal Steve
I would like to dedicate this fic to my_daroga, who listened to me yammer on about it ad nauseam.
I'd also like to thank everyone who read this and especially those who commented. Y'all made me feel better at a time when I was feeling blue.
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