We woke early the next morning. I felt fully refreshed, and I reflected that for a soldier, being able to get by on two hours of sleep a night could be the difference between life and death. We sensed each of us awakening, too, and soon Alex and James had slipped through the curtains to join me sitting on the middle bed. James turned the seat beside the bed around and sat astride it, and Alex curled up on the end of the bed. Her standard hospital-issue pyjamas were fighting a battle against sexiness, and being utterly routed. I raised my knees and hugged them as a sort of topological camouflage.
“So, Alex, why don’t you tell us about yourself? I mean, you heard all about us before we went under, but…”
“What’s a girl like you doing in a place like this?” I finished for him, in my best Bogart accent. She gave me a tolerant smile, and answered with a question.
“Did either of you two ever consider joining the army?”
“Yeah, sure,” James replied, “Join up, travel the world, meet interesting people, and kill them. Kind of looking like we’ve been drafted right now, in fact.”
“What about you, Will?”
“Well, when I was about ten… do you know the song ‘Army’, by Ben Folds Five? The first two lines of that song more or less describe it…”
“I think I’ve heard it before, but… remind me?”
I cleared my throat.
“Well, I thought about the army,
Dad said, ‘Son, you’re fuckin’ high’
He, uh, didn’t use language quite as strong as that, but that was basically what he was trying to get across.”
“You’ve got a really nice singing voice,” Alex told me.
“Quick! Get some eggs and a frying pan and we’ll do breakfast on his forehead!” James crowed. I threw my pillow at him, and he caught it nimbly.