I waved one more time out of the train window before my family disappeared from sight around a bend in the track. It would be the last time I saw them for almost two years. I pulled my head back inside the car and slid the window closed. I sat down and pulled my AWOL bag from under the seat and pulled a James Bond paperback from it. I put it back under the seat and settled back with my feet up on the seat across from me next to my duffel bag. I’d taken this trip before, over a year ago on my way to basic training. Not much to do. Two or more hours to New Haven where I would change trains. Might as well read.
Two and one half hours later, I was dragging my duffel bag across the platform and onto the train to New York City. An hour or so more and I’d be in New York.
I climbed down from the car in Grand Central Station, and a porter asked if I’d like him to carry my duffel bag. I thought, “Hey, why not?” I’d be carrying it myself from now on, might as well treat myself.
“OK,” I said.
He picked it up, set it on a cart, and pushed the cart along side me as I headed down the street.
“Where are you headed?” he asked. “Fort Dix,” I answered. “To the replacement depot, and from there overseas.”
“No kidding,” he said. “Where are you going?”
“Never been there. Must be nice, an all expense paid trip.”
Year, if you don’t consider giving up three years of your life not paying for it.”
“I guess you are right. You need a cab?”
“Cabs are out this way.”
We went out through the doors and across the sidewalk to where a line of cabs was waiting. We walked up to one of the cabs, and I opened the rear door and stuck my head inside.
“Can I put my duffel bag in the trunk?” I asked the driver.
“Sure thing. Wait a minute and I’ll open it for you.”
He came around the back and opened the trunk. The porter put my duffel bag in the trunk and closed the lid. He came back to the cart and I handed him a tip.
“Thanks,” he said. “And good luck.”
“Thank you,” I replied.
I climbed into the back seat. The driver turned and asked, “Where to?”
“Port Anthony Bus Terminal.”
“Going to Fort Dix?”
“Yes I am.”
“Hang on,” he said, “I’ll have you there in no time.”
In a short time, we were pulling up in front of the Terminal. I got out and walked to the back where the driver was taking my duffel bag out of the trunk.
“Sure is heavy,” he said.
“Tell me about it.”
I paid the driver, picked up my bag, and headed into the Terminal. I bought a ticket for the shuttle to Fort Dix, walked over to the door from where it was leaving, and found myself a seat among a group of other guys in uniform. I pulled my book from my bag again and settled down to wait.
In what seemed to be a very short time, the shuttle to Fort Dix was announced. I hauled my bag out to the bus and stuffed it in the compartment underneath. I climbed aboard the bus, found a seat and settled down again, to wait. Soon the driver came aboard and started the engine. After several more minutes, he backed out and we were on our way.
Not too long into the trip, I feel asleep, and awakened as the bus was pulling up to the front gate of Fort Dix. The bus stopped, we all got off, and everyone dragged his own baggage from the compartment. I got a copy of my orders from my AWOL bag and got in the line with the other guys.
The MP at the gate was checking IDs and when I got to him, I showed him my orders and asked, “How do I get to the Replacement Depot?”
“You are in luck,” he said. “The Post Shuttle just pulled up.” He pointed to a bus parked just inside the front gate.
“When you get on, tell the driver where you want to get off. They’ll let you know when you get there.”
I picked up my bags and went through the gate. I was back in the Army.