I quickly learned to play bridge in their company. Bill's parents were both Grand Masters of the game and he had been weaned on it. Our squad mates had played it extensively in their college fraternities. I, on the other hand, had been raised on gin gummy and poker. Bill taught me the rules. The Harvard grad taught me the odds. Mort taught me to cheat.
My first lesson in cheating came during a hand when Mort and I were partners sitting on the floor across from each other while Bill and Mr Ivy League sat on opposite ends of a bunk. They obviously held the better cards and looking for an appropriate contract while Mort and I sat passively waiting. As it became apparent that spades would be the trump suit, I felt a gentle tap on my leg. Looking down, I saw Mort's bare foot with three cards, all hearts, between his toes. I replaced them with three spades that I was holding. Thus, Mort had voided himself in hearts and on the first trick I led a heart and he was able to trump it. Our opponents grumbled at the bad distribution of cards that cost them their contract and awarded us the points. Bad card distribution plagued them the rest of the night and they never figured it out. I learned that the child of Grand Masters and Ivy Leaguers weren't as smart as they thought they were.
We played so much bridge during that eight weeks of AIT that we wore the spots off a deck of Kem plastic playing cards. Sergeants would walk over when we took breaks between classes to see if we were playing something more familiar to them, such as poker. They always wandered off mumbling when they found us playing bridge.
Not that it was all fun and games in AIT. We worked hard. We practiced the skills that we had learned in Basic until we mastered them. We were retested on our marksmanship with the M-14, and practiced close combat techniques until they became reflexive. We weren't taught how to fight. We were taught how to kill. There's no time for fighting on the battlefield.
He was right. It had a massive device in the stock to absorb the recoil that I had to control by holding the weapon tighter against my shoulder. It worked. On the next attempt, I placed all six rounds inside the one inch square target.
I went on to qualify as a sharpshooter on the M-60 and I am upset about it to this day. I should have fired “expert.” However, the temperature rose above training limits that day and we had to stop firing until it fell back. We played a few rubbers of bridge while we waited. When it did, heat rose in waves from the ground obscuring the targets at 800 meters that I had to hit to qualify as an expert.
Read Jack's novel, Rebels on the Mountain, the tale of Nick Andrews, an Army spy, who has Fidel Castro in his sights but no orders to pull the trigger. The mafia as well as the American business community in Cuba will pay a fortune for Castro's assassination, but Nick has his career to consider, his friends to protect, and a romance to sort out in the chaos of a revolution.