Run, Duty, Run!

~ Clyde Collins ~

     It was April 27, 1981, the first day of the 5-day Army Physical Readiness Test (APRT) at Tripler Army Medical Center on the outskirts of Honolulu.  Pvt. 2 Donald Duty, inspiration specialist, Poetics Lab, was one of many Tripler personnel between the ages of 17 and 25 attempting to run two miles under 17 minutes and 55 seconds ~ to continue being a soldier.

     Run, Duty, run like a rabbit, like a deer!

     The young feller's self-imposed training routine had petered out.  Lately his most rigorous exercise consisted of cutting his meat or waiting for an elevator.  Now he was sorry as his legs grew as heavy as a dead-end romance ~ and as his aching lungs burst into flames upon an endless road of lonely pain.

     Run, Duty, run like a sad musical note!

     The private still had a looooooong way to go when PFC Denise Daisy, ward clerk on Ward Pluto (where all the patients are always happy), passed him by.  Being a 19-year-old female, Daisy had to run two miles in 22 minutes and 14 seconds to continue being a soldier.  Duty's ears burned to a crisp with shame.

     Run, Duty, run like a ~ oops!

     Duty tripped and fell and rolled in the dirt.  A good soldier, passing by, yanked up Duty by the hair and set him on his feet again.  "Thanks," foamed Duty at the mouth, as this fellow and three more left him floundering in their dust.  He who was totally out of shape, was still running, but a lot slower than most people walk.

     Come on, Duty!

     Pretty soon his head was bumping along the ground in front of his slowly trudging feet, he was that bent over with exhaustion.  He realized how pathetic he was when he could not even catch up to a red Hawaiian centipede that was crawling in front of him.  A trade wind finally happened along ~ and this warm breeze from across the Pacific knocked Duty over.  He lie there and melted into the ground like a cube of butter under the sun.

     Two sergeants strolled up and peered down at what was left of the private who had neglected to stay in good physical condition.

     "We need a shovel to pick this guy up," said one sergeant.

     The other sergeant slowly nodded.  "And a wheel-barrel."


Gillian Welch

"Make me down a pallet on your floor"