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The humid morning air was just the start of another scorching day at the junkyard. At lunch, the topic came up again – what people were doing after high school. Jack sat lifelessly on the old car seat with a wet towel on his head, and Leonard was carving up an apple when JW broke the silence.
“Jack, next year instead of sweating your ass off here, you’ll be in some rookie league,” he said.
“I hope to be, sir,” Jack replied. “Big Johnny, too.”
“No more hot sand and cars,” he added.
“What do ya mean, Johnny too?” JW asked.
“Big boy and me are playing pro ball or college on scholarship,” Jack said proudly.
“No, that’s not going to happen,” JW said. “When Johnny graduates high school he’s joining the Marine Corps for two years.”
“After that he’s free to try anything he wants,” he said. “There’s a war that’s going to happen.”
“His country needs him, just like me and Leonard in Korea,” JW boasted.
Jack woke up immediately.
“War? What war?” he asked. “That’s just a conflict over there.”
“Advisors,” he said, “not troops.”
“That’s how it starts, Jack,” said JW.
“By the time y’all are out of school, there will be U.S. troops there fighting Communist China,” Leonard said.
“North Vietnam backed by China, and we are in the middle of it,” JW said.
“Johnny, why didn’t you tell me this before?” Jack asked.
“You had your dream,” he said. “I didn’t want to screw it up.”
“It was your dream too,” Jack said. “What happened?”
“It’s only two years,” Johnny said. “I’ll still be in great shape.”
“This is your best window of opportunity after baseball season,” Jack argued.
“What if you’re drafted?” he pleaded. “What do you tell them -- No thanks, I’m going to play soldier first?”
“These chances don’t come along that often,” Jack said.
“Sorry, but that’s the way it’s gonna be,” Johnny said.

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