Lynda owned the local, um, steak house in downtown Qui Nhon.  She was at that MACV audition gig, though I didn't see her there.  At the MACV show, one of her friends brought me a note asking me to come see her sometime. Back at the barracks, the guys teased me relentlessly about it.  Finally, I decided to go see what the Lyndabar was all about...

... I was still curious, though.  And I knew I'd never live it down back at the barracks if I didn't at least meet this Lynda.  She was probably some old, fat madame with warts and facial hair.

"I'm here to see Lynda," I told the waitress.  "She asked me to come.  I'm in a band."

I saw a spark of recognition in her eyes  – she must've been at the MACV gig too.  She scampered to the back.

I took a seat at the bar and ordered a Coke.

Soon Lynda came out.  She wasn't old or fat.  She was gorgeous.  Blue-black hair down her back, a heavy fringe of bangs over inky almond eyes.

Lynda sat on the stool next to me and crossed her legs, the slit of her skirt revealing slender calf to thigh.  I noticed her fishnet hose had a hole at one knee and the heels of her snakeskin stilettos were worn.  She held a long cigarette between her slim fingers, the nails ragged red at the tips.  I couldn't take my eyes from her.  She looked mysterious. Dangerous.  I wanted to touch her.

Trust no one.  Isn't that what Wash had said?

"I am glad that you came," she said, and I felt like I was falling downhill, not able to stop.  "I enjoyed your band very much at MACV.  I was sad that I had to leave early to get back to the business here.  That's why I sent one of the girls with the note.  I hope that wasn't too forward?"

My tongue felt stuck to the roof of my mouth.  I couldn’t believe it.  She'd liked our gig, she was beautiful, she spoke excellent English, not the fractured pidgin of most locals.  This wasn't what I'd expected at all.

Say something, Kohler.

"Forward?  Oh, no, it was fine."

"How old are you –  um –  " She laughed.  Not a coy bar-girl giggle.  A woman's laugh.  It sounded like a song.  "I'm sorry, I don't even know your name."

"I'm Dean."

"Dean," she repeated slowly.

"I'm twenty," I said.

She tilted her head and gave me a teasing smile.  "Oh, an older man."

I laughed.  It sounded nervous.  "Why?  How old are you?"

"Nineteen," she said, soft and low...


Rock 'N' Roll Soldier: A Memoir by Dean Ellis Kohler with Susan VanHecke, foreword by Graham Nash  •  © 2024