Books > Old Books > They Die With Their Boots Clean (1953)


Page 60

PART TWO
THE FOUNDRY

THE calendar says early August, but the sky says late September. The world is stuffy, like an unventilated room, and the clouds crawl slowly like melting grease under the dim sun. The brick and asphalt Depot has strange acoustic properties. It rings and echoes like a sore head. We shamble across to the Receiving Station. At this point we are neither flesh, fowl, nor good red herring. Clipped heads protrude from civilian collars; a bristly residue oi our first haircut still clings in the folds of our ears. Yet we are in the Army. We are in the Guards, rather, which represents a fate somewhat worse.
We have had our first Army bath, in sinks under showers in cubicles which to some of us seemed strangely familiar. It was Barker who said: "Where's the clurk to write out the tickets?" Those cubicles were very much like the ones they have in pawnshops.
We were a little shy. Thurstan, strangely enough, went to extraordinary lengths to prevent anyone watching him as he washed. Even Barker stood like the girl in "September Morn" ; while Dale seemed to suffer with a primeval embarrassment, and the WireHaired Boy from Widnes crouched under the shower like shamed Adam in the rain. He couldn't adjust the temperature of the water and struggled with the lever of the tap, while his body became red, white, and

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