The way I remember Korea in my dreams often differs from its reality, yet its recurring in its difference. Why is that? Why are these differences always there?
I had just arrived on base - at my dorm. A massive, multi-level structure. There were hundreds, maybe thousands of us. It was akin to a collegiate registration day. My bags were in my hands and we were filing through a single narrrow door. I was surprised to find a right-hand-drive military Jeep greeting us as we entered the small anteroom in, but then noticed a flight of Royal Air Force senior NCO's and young officers. They were making a handful of USAF personnel do push-ups, a long-lost practice in the States.
I realized that these few Airmen were assigned to the RAF flight. Two green-behind-the-ears butterbar lieutenants were holding their position on the floor, and two of the younger Airman had been relieved and told to sit. I leaned over and whispered to them, one an attractive blond girl who seemed completely overwhelmed, the other a Puerto Rican male with a Day One haircut who seemed equally surprised. I told them that I'd worked with the RAF before, and it was a blast, but they had to remember two things. Always be polite, and always be polite - that the RAF was a lot of fun, but they sure enjoyed their protocol. The Puerto Rican asked when I served, and I replied, "Seven years, 1990 through 1997."
The two lieutenants were relived, and wore matching white bathrobes over their Marine Blue Dress Class-C's. They joined the noisy throng trying to get through the narrow doors into the inner building and I caught up with them, wanting to tell them the same thing I told the others. An older woman, perhaps from my childhood church was several people behind us, and she was trying to get my attention - trying to tell me something, but I pretended I didn't see her.
I had my arm around one of the lieutenants shoulder, the other had been fast-walking and was out of auditory range. We made it to the main hallway - long, and ill lit, lined with inner facing doors - and realized I was back. Cue heavy sigh.
Someone running down the hall approached me in alarm - one of my present day coworkers had been found dead outside! "Where?" I asked, suddenly in a panic. I was told out front, and as I ran down four-levels of stairwells I knew it was impossible, that they had the wrong person because I had *just* been talking with her.
I burst out the front door, surprised to see snow on the ground. Standing completely naked in an icy pond was a girl, pointing at the seemingly lifeless body of another girl. I jumped into the pond and cradled the cold body of a girl wearing nothing but a bikini. I saw the stab wound, turned the body over and...it wasn't her! It was someone else. The naked girl was hysterical, screaming something about the medics being on their way, so I started rubbing the cold out of the bikini-clad girl who ultimately regained her consciousness, thanked me, and I started flirting with her.
The medics showed, along with everyone else in the building. We were still in the freezing pond and the girl's boyfriend was amongst those who arrived. It was Claude (Alec Mapa) from You Don't Mess with the Zohan. He handed me a baby and replaced me by the stabbed girl's side. The baby belonged to my real-life friend and ex-Air Force comrade who was stationed in Korea several years before me, but I knew his room would be on 3rd floor on the left, as it was in Germany where we met.
The elevator was barely accessible, being around a narrow corner in the far end of the building, and I had to slide a thin, cheaply gilded access panel to call it. Two large black people exited the elevator, dressed to the nines in prom wear. I moved out of the way best I could, but it was difficult to get out of the large couple's way while holding a baby in the narrow hallway. When I finally entered the small elevator, I was surprised to find an old leather desk chair at a small paper covered desk on which a an aging workstation was running. The buttons for the floor were once again through a side-sliding access panel, this one on the side of the car, and I had just opened it - reading the names of the different levels - each indicated through a different era of marking (white text on red labeltape, black permanent marker on cellophane tape) when the car began to move up on its own. It had been called from a higher floor.