Outside and across the street, a man in a heavy windbreaker

stands idly. He wears a watch cap. You can see his breath. An

AWOL bag is on the sidewalk at his feet and a garment bag is

slung over his shoulder. He is looking at Billy's place and doing 

nothing more than that, looking at the window. You would have

to know him well to realize that he is smiling. The window of

Billy B's Bar 'n Grille displays two semaphore flags. This man

happens to know semaphore. The red triangle, white background

is Foxtrot. The red-and-white squares is Uniform. Foxtrot/Uni-

form. Fuck you. Good old Billy Bad-Ass.

Of all manner of men, the easiest to identify on sight must be

the Sad Sack. The Sad Sack appears incapable of having a good 

time, which is not necessarily true, but your idea of a good time 

is not his. Lined up shot of Jagermeister, sassy girls with bare and

pierced bellies, crowded dance floors and spectacular sound sys-

tens give him no joy. In fact, seen alone in the midst of all these

stimulants, and alone is his usual state, he becomes an object of

ridicule to you and your circle of laughing friends.

The man watching Billy's bar is a Sad Sack, even while he is

smiling, and, again, you wouldn't know he was smiling.

Someone looking at him curbside might assume that here is 

an unhappy man who has lost his way. Somewhere else, a person

might stop and offer to help him find it again, but in this neigh-

borhood lost people are left to their own devices, which are few.

It is not the eight years of hard time in a Marine brig that

have rendered him permanently blue. Simply, it is his way. If

anything, the brig put him in a state of suspension that he some-

times misses.

(From "Last Flag Flying")