He tried. He really tried.
They reached the barrack and Mitch was explaining the intricacies of the water heater and how to fix it. That's when Mac remembered his old bunk mate John Smith from Arkansas who could burp the national anthem. He had died in France at the Battle of the Bulge when the tail end of their aircraft had been shot. He pushed the thoughts away. He couldn't do this right now.
Mitch handed him a wrench and he started to twist a bolt.
"No, no, no," yelled Mitch. "Do you want to send us all to kingdom come. Aren't you listening?"
"I'm sorry. I'm not really feeling well today. My head hurts something awful," said Mac.
"Well pay attention 'cause I got kids and a wife to go home to," said Mitch.
"Me too," said Mac and he did too, a lovely wife and one very handsome, chubby son. He realized Private Van Tassell had no one, no wife, no children, no parents, no siblings. That was a bit of a relief.
Mitch broke into his thoughts, "Then pay attention boy because we don't want to make widows and orphans of them today."
Mac never wanted them to be that.
He turned as much of his attention to Mitch as he could but he couldn't help remembering.
Mac and Mitch worked on fixing the water heater, fine tuning the thermostat and Mac remembered things. Things that hadn't been there that morning. His parents had died during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Mac reached for the shut off valve on the water heater and turned it off. He was in his first year of college in California when it had happened. He handed Mitch a screwdriver. He'd spent two more years at school before joining the air force. He'd always wanted to fly. Mac checked the heat-out pipe for Mitch to see if it was hot. He was fresh out of basic training when he was sent to France as an air force gunner. He told Mitch the pipe was hot.
"Good, then we can go. It means we fixed it," said Mitch and he walked away in his no nonsense overalls with his keys clanging against his side.
Mac wished he could fix his head and his life as easily.
Check back tomorrow to see what else Mac might remember!