you really want to hear about it, the first thing youll
probably want to know is how I got to be this way, not
what my lousy childhood was like and all that other David
Copperfield crap. That stuff bores me. The truth is I
wasnt much of a fighter and maybe I was more that
a little yellow. Its not my fault, I didnt
want to be yellow, but I had arms like pencils. Its
hard not to be a little yellow when you have arms like
pencils. I wasnt yellow when it came to the Nazis
though. I was ready to fight. You got to give it to anybody,
even old Hitler, if they can make you feel like fighting
for whats right.
hes my roommate at school, hes a good enough
guy except he knows it, he was going down to the Army
recruiter to volunteer. I told him was going along.
What for? he says. To sign up.
You cant. Youre only seventeen.
He was eighteen, just barely
and exactly the kind sonofabitch to lord it over you
if you were seventeen. Stradlater kid, Ill
lie. He hates when I call him kid cause
he thinks hes old enough to be my father. The
truth is, if you want to
know, Im one helluva liar. I can really string
em along if Im in a mood for it.
down we went into New York and old Stradlater gets his
physical and Im sure they all made plans for him
to be a general right away or something because he thinks
he has this terrific build. Ill admit he does
have a great build. Im tall about six two but
hes almost as tall and weighs probably twice as
when its my turn they call out Rogers, Steven
and in I go. They only asked once if I was eighteen
and like I told ya I can be one helluva liar. This old
Doctor Spenser he had to be three hundred years
old and he asks me to strip down to my shorts. I sure
know a lot of perverts and they always seem to get perverty
around me. But old Doc Spenser he looks me over and
hmms and rrrmmms in ways that
dont make you feel like youre gonna be made
a General anytime soon. Turns out maybe he wasnt
a pervert cause he had me get dressed again right
away and tells me Im 4F. In case you dont
know 4F is army talk for too weak to go fight. Like
I told you before I have arms like pencils.
do I do now? I ask the old Doc. Go home.
Go back to school. He says without sounding sad
about it. At least he wasnt a phony, I hate those
kinds of phonies that would make you think you
came real close. Nice try. They might say.
I hate when people tell me nice try. What about
the Nazis? I asked him. Then he looks up
and kinda stares into my eyes a minute. The Army
will take care of the Nazis. He says.
now I walk out and Im thinking I cant make
it back to Pencey for any classes that afternoon and
what am I gonna do in New York. Im not gonna go
see a picture. IF theres one thing I hate its
Im too damn skinny. I was supposed to be on this
diet where you eat a lot of starches and crap to gain
weight, but I didnt ever do it. Then I hear Mr.
Rogers? and turn to see old Doc Spenser hurrying
after me. For a guy two hundred years old he could move
at a good clip. Now hes talking to me in hushed
whispers. You really wanted to go fight the Nazis
very badly didnt you? Yes sir
and he started
getting serious as hell. We have a new experiment
in the Army hospital
It might give you more strength.
You might not be 4F after our treatments. He had
a long speech about how it might be dangerous or even
deadly but all I kept hearing is I wouldnt be
was wondering if Id end up sent to the same troop
or unit or division as old Stradlater. I was in the
Boy Scouts for about a week. You spent a lot of time
staring at the back of the neck of the kid in line in
front of you. I figured the Army was like that too and
with my luck Id have to stare at the bastard Stradlaters
neck. But maybe the Army would have too much time for
us to stand around like the Scouts on
account of wanting us all to get over to Germany.
I told old Spenser yes and before you know
it I was in this hospital getting a shot of serum. He
called it Soldiers Serum I think.
It didnt do much but make me dizzy and give me
a headache so they
told me to go to sleep and I wasnt going to argue
because all of a sudden I felt like I could sleep standing
on my feet.
I woke up I felt great and all these Army phonies were
around me shaking my hand and congratulating me. All
like they were rooting for me all along when I never
saw any of them before this. Some of them were calling
me Captain Rogers. Old Spenser makes his way
to me and says it was a success and I had been given
the rank of Captain. He tells me I sleep about forty
years but I was in amazing shape. I should see myself
in a mirror. So two soldiers wheel over this mirror
and get this they salute me.
thought maybe it was some fun house mirror or maybe
that serum had left my head reeling because the Steve
Rogers in that mirror was built like a wrestler. He
about drove hell out of me. I moved my pencil arm and
he moved his arm full of muscles. I have to admit I
looked great, I really did. Except I was wearing this
skin tight suit with stars and stripes all in red, white
and blue that looked pretty flitty. It wasnt
too gorgeous. Whats with the get up? Wheres
my Army duds?
not just a soldier now Rogers. Youre a symbol
of America. This is your uniform. Everywhere you go
youll represent America. You are codenamed Captain
felt like a huge phony for a while but they gave me
this indestructible shield and dropped me in the middle
of Berlin and it turns out I was a goddam good fighter.