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Listen to Coronavirus Patient Zero
John Podlaski's encore Vietnam War novel brings back John ('Polack') Kowalski, the central character in 'Cherries', and introduces us to Louis ('LG') Gladwell, his irrepressible black friend. Polack and LG are a 'Salt and Pepper' team, best buddies and brothers in a way that only those who have fought side-by-side in a war can ever truly understand.The year is 1970, and the story follows the two soldiers - impressionable Detroit teenagers - during their long night in a Listening Post ('LP'), some 500 meters beyond the bunker line of the new firebase. Their assignment as a "human early warning system", is to listen for enemy activity and forewarn the base of any potential dangers. As they were new to the "Iron Triangle" and its reputation, little did they know that units before them lost dozens of soldiers in this nightly high-risk task and referred to those assigned as "bait for the enemy" and "sacrificial lambs".Sitting in the pitch black tropical jungle - with visibility at less than two feet - John's imagination takes hold throughout the agonizing night, and at times, transports him back to some of his most vivid childhood memories - innocent, but equally terrifying at the time.As kids, we instinctively run as fast as we can to escape imaginary or perceived danger, but as soldiers, men are trained to conquer their fears and develop the confidence to stand their ground and fight. Running is not an option.In 'When Can I Stop Running?' the author juxtaposes his nightmarish hours in the bush with some of his most heart-pounding childhood escapades. Readers will relate to the humorous childish antics with amusement; military veterans will find themselves relating to both of the entertaining and compelling recollections.
There are, I suppose, few places even on the East Coast of England more lonely and remote than the village of Little Sundersley and the country that surrounds it. Far from any railway, and some miles distant from any considerable town, it remains an outpost of civilization, in which primitive manners and customs and old-world tradition linger on into an age that has elsewhere forgotten them. In the summer, it is true, a small contingent of visitors, adventurous in spirit, though mostly of sedate and solitary habits, make their appearance to swell its meagre population, and impart to the wide stretches of smooth sand that fringe its shores a fleeting air of life and sober gaiety; but in late September-the season of the year in which I made its acquaintance-its pasture-lands lie desolate, the rugged paths along the cliffs are seldom trodden by human foot, and the sands are a desert waste on which, for days together, no footprint appears save that left by some passing sea-bird. I had been assured by my medical agent, Mr. Turcival, that I should find the practice of which I was now taking charge "an exceedingly soft billet, and suitable for a studious man;" and certainly he had not misled me, for the patients were, in fact, so few that I was quite concerned for my principal, and rather dull for want of work. Hence, when my friend John Thorndyke, the well-known medico-legal expert, proposed to come down and stay with me for a weekend and perhaps a few days beyond, I hailed the proposal with delight, and welcomed him with open arms.
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