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For All Nails #191:  Mail Call

By Dave Barrington, Noel Maurer, and Johnny Pez

                                Denpasar, Bali
                                31 January 1975

Dear Pedro,

     I hope you are all right, and that this letter is somehow able to
reach you.  The Australian papers say that ground fighting has just
started on Tobago -- they're celebrating the "first blow against the
archvillains".  I know that cazadores are always in the thick of it,
and I worry for you.  If you get this, please write back if you can. 
I know they won't let you say anything about where you are and what
you're doing, but it would relieve me greatly to hear from you in any
way at all.

     I _can_ tell you where I am and what I'm doing. When the
Christmas Bomb happened my Order put together a relief team from
Quebec to try to help the casualties. I was picked to come for a month
or so because I know about radiativity burns thanks to the good old
AUSM, who wanted to be ready should the Tories throw any K-bombs at
us.  I'll miss a few weeks of classes but it shouldn't be too hard to
catch up -- second year is easier than first anyway.  We got here on a
CNA airwaggon two weeks ago.

     You've probably heard that it's horrible, and it certainly is,
but there's a lot of good we can do.  It sounds harsh, I know, but
nearly all of the worst cases have died by now, and we can get to work
on the ones who have a chance.  I'm doing primary care for burns,
mostly, keeping them alive while they have a chance to grow skin back,
sometimes grafting skin from one place to another, using implants and
things to make them look less disfigured. They _will_ get better, most
of the ones who have made it this far.

     Then there are the orphans, from families that weren't together
when it happened, or where some got cooked and some didn't depending
on where they happened to be at that exact moment.  The poor children
-- I can talk to some of them a little though I've only learned a
little Balinese, because they have English in a lot of the schools.  A
lot of them are going to the CNA to be adopted, and I can reassure
them a little about what that's like.

     I hate it when they say that all this is _your_ fault, and try to
punish your country for it.  It's the fault of fanaticism, putting an
abstraction above the lives of innocents. The madman in Coyoacán _I_
used to work for, the madman in London sending his armies against you,
all willing to kill for an idea.  We _need_ armies, I know that, but
to defend our countries or to clean up a cesspool like the place where
we met.  The rest is just pointless destruction.

     The people here see that.  The canguro doctors and nurses talk
with me about helping people, not about revenge like their papers back
in Australia.  Even the Tory officer I met on the airwaggon coming
over (with intel written all over him) – all the stuff about the
Britannic people standing together sort of went away once he saw what
real war is about.  Looking at all this death clarifies things.  I
don't know whether we'll be judged and sent to heaven or hell like the
Sisters say, or whether we'll be reborn as something else like most of
the Balinese believe.  But when you see enough people die you know
there's _something_ beyond this world, there has to be.

     Please keep your head down, for me.  I want to share another beer
with you in _this_ life.  And I know we will, somewhere, when all of
this is over.

Write back,
All my love,


					Somewhere in New Granada
					25 February 1975

Oh beautiful luscious gorgeous one,

Hearing from you, as always, makes my week.  No matter how tough
things are, or --- more to the point --- how bored I am, getting word
>from you makes it all worthwhile.

You know, the thing they don't really tell you about war is how
_boring_ it is.  You wait, and you wait, and you wait some more.  The
danger won't dissuade an 18-year-old idiot from signing up for a
chance at glory (and the hope of impressing a woman like you).  The
boredom, though ... that's enough to turn anyone into a pacifist.

The funny thing about letters is how much time can pass between the
writing and the receiving.  I'm sure that you know by now that the
main action wasn't on Tobago.  No, the limones snookered us but good. 
Tobago was just a diversion:  their main force tromped ashore on
_Trinidad_.  I've always thought that military intelligence was an
oxymoron; now I'm sure.

I can't tell you where I was, but I can say that the gringos' slick
little move left us high and dry and extremely bored.  All worked up
with nothing to do.  Well, that's not entirely true.  I did manage to
get myself grazed in a little dust-up with the limón equivalent of the
cazadores, whatever they call themselves.  Nothing serious, don't you
worry.  Right now I'm in a warm bed in XXXXXXX.

I can say that I'm amazed at the trouble the limones took to evacuate
their guys.  It wasn't anything we wouldn't do, but I was under the
impression that they just didn't care.  The things you'd hear from
Africa certainly make you respect the limones' willingness to take
casualties.  And they --- or at least the ones I ran into --- are very
good fighters.  Seems strange to waste your best troops on XXXX XXXXXX

One of the things I love about you is that you're so _serious_.  I
could just see your cute little nose scrunching up in that way as you
wrote your letter.  That little crinkle you get, between your eyes ...
God damn, I miss that.  Along with your smell.  Nothing has ever
smelled so sweet, and nothing ever will.

						Love, kisses, and much more,

						Pedro, planning on sharing
                                                   way more than a
beer with
                                                   you, babe

				Port-of-Spain, Trinidad
				25 February 1975

My darling Jo, 

It has been several days since I have been able to write you, but I
hope you haven't worried. As you must know by the time this reaches
you, we have traveled fast and covered much territory.  The invasion
was far from clockwork, but we had the dagoes completely outclassed. 
No one expects the British Expedition!

They hadn't expected us to start on Trinidad, thinking.  What they
didn't count on was British ingenuity, pluck, bravery ... and an
endless supply of German surface-to-air missiles.

We've got a German support battalion here, about 300 men.  They came
ashore after the initial fighting ended.  Pompous asses, but the
amount of material they can move is astounding!  Typical German
precision.  I don't like the Wieners any more than you do, Jo.  They
may be cowards for not putting up any infantry or armor or airmobiles,
for now they're our bastards.

The fleet took a much larger battering than anyone thought it would. 

I can't tell you where I am exactly, except that we're still on
Trinidad.  Sometimes we set up in towns; sometimes we are in the
field. But the weather is friendly, so in the field things are far
less bad than they could be.  I have more interesting experiences to
tell you than one could imagine. The first and most prominent thing we
noticed was the definitely hostile attitude of the Trinidadian people,
old and young. They stare at you sullenly, insolently, or just look
the other way. Some of the kids, unable to cover their fiercer
emotions, stick out their tongues, spit at you, or take mock pistol
shots at you. The situation is much worse that I had expected.  We had
all been told we'd be greeted as liberators.  Instead, it turns out
that most of the population here speaks Spanish and spits in our eyes.

Experience already has taught us that we will have to be on guard at
all times. It is a sad mischief that allowed the New Granadans to
become the despoilers of this big and beautiful land. And it is
beautiful -- in every way. But now those same descendants of the
ancient conquistadors are finding out that war can be tough.  When we
move into a town, we take over a section of the place and move the
people out. This plan works very well. I suppose they expected us to
be as soft, the way were back in the colonial days, but they are being
surprised. I have experienced a trying day, and so I must hurry
through this delayed letter. Will try to write tomorrow. Miss you and
little Billy very much.

Yours forever, 


                           Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England, UK
                           15 March 1975

Dearest Nigel,

I just received your letter from 25 Feb.  I'm happy to hear that
you're well and whole.  I was puzzled to hear you say that about the
fleet, according to the news the Navy only suffered minor losses.  Ted
Mason said in the Daily Mail that after the loss of Trinidad Colonel
Elbittar will likely see that he can't win and agree to surrender his
Mercator Bombs.  I do hope so!  I miss you so much, I hope the war
will end soon and you can come home.

You'd be so proud of Billy, his Youth Corps troop have begun holding
regular drills on the Green, and he looks so dashing in his uniform! 
Last week he brought home a drawing he did at school, it was of you,
shooting Colonel Elbittar.  It was so darling I had to paste it up in
the kitchen.

We both miss you awfully, we both pray you'll be home soon.

All my love,