“Sweet Jermone” by Dennis Jordan from Chelsea Station Issue 4. Edited by Jameson Currier.
The Vietnam War is raging and the narrator is in the midst of it, a member of the long range reconnaissance patrol (LRRP). The bright spot in his existence is found back at base, where he’s been befriended by the cook, Jermone.
Jermone is a true character and an amazing cook. He seems out. The story is careful to point out what a wild, dangerous thing that was in 1968, to say nothing of someone in the military at that time. The author does a nice job of setting the stage, explaining the allowable limits of their interaction while building the relationship between them, and alternating scenes at base with ones during missions. It’s an educational, enjoyable and heart-wrenching read.