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Marlin Jackson - United States Marine Corps

I stayed in Washington a few months but got pissed at my boss at the gas station, quit and moved back to Portland.  Even then, the God damned Vietnam War was on my mind all the time.  I couldn’t get it out of my head, and my propensity for violent behavior darkened my already unhappy life.  Everyone’s heard of the lone wolf.  Well, I was a lone wolf with an attitude, and it shames me to say it, but I was always on the lookout for trouble.  Anytime anything happened, I was right in the middle of it. What I thought at the time was fearlessness, of course, I now know was anger.  I needed the real world to be as violent as the world inside my head.  Stupid?  Yeah, I admit it, and I paid the price.  My self-esteem was in the toilet for years.  I can’t tell you how many televisions I hocked to pay bail bondsmen. 

Summer of 1970, I got involved big time with drugs.  Name the substance, and I abused it.  I smoked marijuana, snorted mescaline, consumed large quantities of speed, swallowed Quaaludes like jelly beans, did four-way windowpane – all the usual stuff.  I always said I never met a chemical I didn’t like, but somehow, even in a drug-induced stupor, I was clever enough to draw the line at needles.  Oh yeah, when I did drugs, I drank five times as much alcohol.

  • Marlin needed a mechanism to escape the flashbacks and intrusive thoughts.  Alcohol no longer enough, he found drugs.

One night, I got into a hell of a fight in front of a rock and roll bar.  Three big dudes, and the argument was about some girl I’d spoken to inside.  They approached me in the parking lot with all kinds of threats, and I told them I had things to do, put up or shut up.  The first guy made a move, but I went past him and put the other two down right away.  Then, I grabbed the first guy, threw him to the asphalt and worked him over pretty good.  I guess I wigged out, because I really kicked the living shit out of that poor bastard.   Then, he did something stupid.  To get away, he crawled under my car.  In two seconds, I was behind the wheel starting the engine.  I slammed into reverse and hit the gas pedal.  Lucky for me, his friends dragged him out, or I would have squashed him like a bug.  The next morning, I looked at myself in the mirror and said, “Marlin, what the hell are you doing?”  After that incident, I slowed down on the drugs a little.

  Excerpts:

1. "What the hell do you want in life?"
2. Marine propoganda
3. A surreal landing
4. Empathy for the enemy
5. Serious trouble
6. A messy situation
7. My time in Vietnam
8. Drugs and alcohol
9. Nightmares and Flashbacks
10. Beyond therapy
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