It felt as if the weight of the world was resting on his shoulders, and in a sense, it was, a thousand feet of the earth stood between him and the sunlight above. Even with his kerchief pressed against his nose and mouth the dust that filled the air around him managed to find a way in, coating his teeth and tongue with a gritty film. He’d made the mistake of opening his eyes as he tried to assess his situation, and a piece of grit had gotten into his right eye. Though it was tiny, it felt like a pebble had become lodged beneath his lid. Read the rest HERE!
She was too frail to carry her pregnancy to term, and the doctors had warned her that to give birth to the child growing in her womb would surely end her own life. What the doctors had not counted on was a stubbornness that ran counter to the frailty of her physical being. She was determined to have this child, no matter what, and William, who had pledged his fidelity to this child queen stood behind her every decision. Read the rest HERE!
The contractions came hard and fast, doubling Denise over as she tried to cross the small living room to the window. It was too damned hot inside, and she needed fresh air. Marvin had already gone down to get the car, and bring it around front. Living in the city, while it had its benefits, meant one couldn’t always find a parking spot where one wanted. Read the rest HERE!
They had come to him two weeks earlier with their proposal, arriving as the last of the days light fled to the safety of the west. Three men dressed in an a way he’d never seen before.
They all wore heavy denim jeans that appeared hand made, and leather vests over plain cotton shirts. The vests were covered with odd symbols that had been hand worked into the aged leather. Two of them struck him as manager types used to giving orders, and being obeyed.Read the rest HERE
Forget Me Not!:
When he arrived at the hospital she was alone in the pre-op waiting room, dwarfed by the medical equipment that surrounded her bed. Her face was drawn tight with a frightened expression that she struggled to keep hidden. Read the rest HERE
Till Death Do We Part:
Chuck awoke with a start, drifting in that shadowy zone just beneath the surface of full awareness, as the last vestiges of a dream faded to the periphery of his consciousness. In the other room his yellow lab, Brutus, barked again, driving him the rest of the way awake. He threw back the covers, and climbed out of bed. His back reminding him once again that he was no longer a youngster as he shuffled across the floor to see what all the commotion was about. Passing his desk he saw that he’d missed a call and was about to pick up the phone when Brutus barked again. Read the rest HERE
An Old Friend
A lot had changed since that summer. They had grown older yes, but wiser was still in question. They kept in touch with one another. Cards at the holidays, the occasional letter, and every so often he would get a call from one of them. But as would always happen they would find themselves with little to talk about aside from what happened that summer. For as the years marched on and they followed their individual path, they matured and grew further apart.
They had been inseparable the summer of sixty nine. Wilson had been the unofficial leader of the group and it didn’t matter that she was a girl. She was smart, she was tough, and if you disagreed with her she’d show you how strong she really was.
The guys didn’t care that she wanted to lead. After all, she always came up with the best idea for what to do at any given moment. It had been her idea to explore the basements of the abandoned tenement to see if they could turn it into a fortress.
She had been serious, leading them like a warrior queen through the many dark rooms. But they had behaved as eleven year old boys without adult supervision are likely to. Racing through the rooms whooping and hollering at the top of their lungs, their voices echoing throughout the shadowy depths of the vacant basement.
That is until they reached the older section. Here the darkness carried a sense of foreboding that dampened their joy and compelled them to pull together to draw strength from one another. They could sense unseen eyes in the shadows watching them as they passed through each room.
But Wilson continued on unafraid, her bravery daring each of them to follow her or else. Or else what? They didn’t want to know.
It was here they met death for the first time. Up close and personal. Deep within the bowels of the tenement they came across two young men in an argument over an amount of money. Everything happened so fast they had little time to react.
Illuminated by a fierce white light the men fought first with words, then with fists and finally with knives that flashed in the light.
They hid in the next room watching through the door as the victor plunged his blade into the others chest. The smell of blood and shit filled the room.
It was the smell of death.
It was the same smell that filled his nostrils now as he lay in the hospital bed, his life fleeing in time to the beeps of the monitors around him.
He had met this old man before, and he no longer feared him.
They called him Rat. A gangling nineteen year old who would have been more at home on the Kansas range than the jungles of Vietnam. He didn’t have the motivation or temperament of the typical soldier. He didn’t appear to have any motivation at all. He was too laid back, too mellow, and just too damned slow. Everything about him reminded me of my neighbor Lenny who had a learning disability, and who was probably still sitting in a classroom while I was out in the bush getting my ass shot at by little fucking yellow guys in black pajamas.
In the bunker where we stayed when we weren’t on patrol Rat usually kept to himself. Alone in his corner as he sharpened the survival knife that was nearly the size of a machete that he carried in a scabbard on his hip. While the rest of us performed our daily chores of kitchen patrol or cleaning the latrines, Rat would stay on his bunk sharpening his knife.
It wasn’t until my first patrol that I learned why he was given such preferential treatment. Rat was taking up the rear. Moseying along like he had all the time in the world. His head swiveling back and forth like a damned tourist as he gazed into the jungle around us. At that moment a small part of me began to really hate him for his indifference to the hell all around us. I started hoping one of those little yellow guys would come along and blow his fucking head off.
The point man called a stop and everyone, Rat included, slowly dropped into a kneeling position with our rifles at the ready. As such we offered a smaller target to the enemy, at least that’s what the Drill Instructor had told us in basic training. I sure as hell hoped they were right.
The word came back from the point. Sarge wanted Rat to come up.
Why would they want the slowest son of a bitch in the squad?
I glanced back and Rat accepted the news with a wide smile. As he passed me on the way to the point I noticed a look in his eyes that I hadn’t seen before. A look that sent a cold chill dancing along my spine. There was a primal glee in his eyes. A chilling expression of animal like expectation that was so out of place on his normally placid features.
Curiosity got the best of me and I cautiously moved up. In a small clearing I saw the platoon Sergeant along with several senior squad members standing around a small hole in the ground. Rat was nowhere to be seen. As I got closer I became aware of a hand gripping the side of the hole, and I heard them talking.
“Did you find anything?” The Platoon Sergeant asked.
“Just one,” Rat replied from the hole as he tossed out the head of a Viet-Cong soldier.