The day before the army got me, Max took me out to get me drunk and get me laid. I'd just turned 18 and he believed if basic training didn't kill me, Vietnam would. The drunk was easy even though I was under age -- Max knew all the bartenders in all the bars though why he picked the bar he did was a mystery to me -- just as was his idea of whom I might get laid by since the only people he introduced me to were men and even then I thin he was only showing me off so he could bring me home to his place later. He kept telling me the whole night he didn't want to see me die a virgin. I kept telling him I wasn't a virgin. But in his eyes, I learned later, I was. I must have disappointed him when I got drunk, but not laid. that night instead went home to sober up for the sober ride to Fort Dix from Newark the next day. I heard about the riot even before Max wrote -- his letter full of guild at not being the one to have fought back -- a frail flower child who set lady bugs free -- could not raise his fist when other I'd men on my night with him did. On an after-basic pass, I I made the same trip with him to the same place to meet the same people only to find all of them had changed -- or what it me? Max was as proud as a rooster, and crowed over each, introducing them as the heroes they were, each wearing invisible medals of honor on their puffed-out chests, each having endured and enrured until they could endure no more. The drunk was different although the outcome was the same -- I took the bus home to Paterson alone. Max took up with some hero from Christopher Street and later he wrote me in Fort Dix that he had pretended it was me. "I love you," he wrote at the end of this one of his many letters. "I love you, too, Max," I wrote back in one of the very few I gave in return, "and I always will."