Why we're here...

Love and marriage are the greatest adventures in life, and they point they way to our relationship with the Almighty.

We're honored to be a member of the Christian Marriage Bloggers Association...click on their logo to visit them.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Jonah - A Story Of Viet Nam {#BlogBattle}

Time for #BlogBattle, the weekly keyword-driven flash fiction contest hosted by Rachael Ritchey.

The word this week is LEVIATHAN.

This story is the third part of a specific vignette...the first part was A Life In A Year, and the second was White Feather.


Smiley was under a cloud, and he knew it. A reputation of cowardice is a hard thing to shake

It didn't help that our sojourn at Oceanview was interrupted before it began, with an urgent callout to Con Thien, and our regular playmates the Walking Dead. Mr. Charles had been making like moles in the Z, and they wanted a bit of muscle around when they blew the tunnels, and Mr. Charles might object.

You can't say it was a silent ride up...tanks aren't even remotely quiet...but the IC chatter was at a minimum.

Smiley was riding chest-up in the loader's hatch, watching our flank, and The Dude tried to draw him into conversation.

"OK, we've got that Rome plow cut coming up on the left...see it>'


"Had a rocket team try to hide there, a couple of months ago...they didn't seem to realize that trying branches to their backs wasn't very good cammo for cleared ground."

"Oh." Smiley looked quickly at me, and he wasn't smiling. Then he looked away. "Well, I'll look for that." He put his hand on the grease gun laid on the turret deck for his use. His hand was shaking.

I looked back over my shoulder. Lollipop was following, its outline fuzzy in our dust. Strange, I thought, how many people in The World would believe that Viet Nam could be...


Lollipop vanished in an ugly black-orange gout of smoke, then careened off the side of the road into a Rome plow cut. New Guy TC was hanging half out of his cupola, and as I watched unseen hands in the turret pulled him back.

"Lollipop's hit a mine," I said into the IC, and felt Ship Of Fools grind to a stop. "Dude, reverse, let's get us closer, Smiley, eyes up on our flanks, Biff, front."

The Dude couldn't see where he was going, of course, since tanks don't have mirrors (or tape decks, for that matter), so I coached him, making sure we stayed in our own tread-marks. I was glad the road was dirt.

"Okay, Dude, halt. I think their radio's down, I'm gonna go see what we've got. Security, guys. We're kind of exposed." I really didn't like where we were. The NVA were pros, and it wouldn't be in character for them not to have some way of exploiting a mine strike.

This road was supposed to have been kept clear. This wasn't good.

New Guy TC had the same thought. He was growing up. He had Timex up on the sky mount fifty, and he had the XM-177 they'd been gifted, and which I envied. His gunner and loader were looking at the damage.

It was bad, but not hopeless. The front road wheel on the starboard side was gone, and the sprocket was mangled. He couldn't run, but we could short-track him and tow Lollipop ourselves.

Except we were really exposed.

I ran back to Ship Of Fools and, leaning into the turret, told Biff to give Con Thien a call and ask them to send us some security.

"They're not up on their push, TC." Biff's voice had an edge. "Can't raise Oceanview, either."

The Dude spoke up, "Biff, try Rockpile, see if they can relay to..."


There was a massive impact, and a shower of sparks soared over us. An RPG has hit the gun mantlet a glancing blow, and ricocheted straight up, a firework from hell.

"I see him!" Smiley's voice seemed to come from far away, and he fumbled with the grease gun. He was trying to point and unlatch the safety at the same time, and failing. "There, there...!"

"Oh, crap!" Smiley had gotten the ejection port cover open, and his finger was already on the trigger when the safety came off. He nearly took off my head, and I fell from the deck. I heard the grease gun offer a few more rounds, and then Timex, on Lollipop, joined in.

Timex must have been pretty accurate, because I was looking where the bullets hit, and a spray of blood came up, followed by what looked like a...

"Hey, that was a head!" Smiley yelled. "Did I do that?" He was ashen under his dark skin.

I was feeling dizzy and sick, and as I got to my feet an arm encircled my shoulders. The Dude had me. "TC, here, sit...you're bleeding."

I put my hand to my face, and felt wetness. "Jutht my nosth," I said. "Ith ok."

The Dude looked up at Smiley, who was watching us, and motioned for our new crewman to keep up security. Then he said, "Radio's gone. I think maybe the gun computer's gone, too...we may need to get everyone on board and deny Lollipop, get us out of Dodge."

I grimaced and winced. New Guy TC was going to hate me if we abandoned and blew up his tank. "Yeah. Tell Biff, and put a HEAT up the pipe. Then go over and get the guyth. Let'th get out of here." I wiped some gore from my upper lip.

The Dude disappeared into the turret, then popped out and ran to the other tank. I looked up at Smiley. "You did OK," I said.

He was shaking. "I didn't want to let you down. I...I mean, I almost..."

"Forget it. Happen to anyone. The thing is, you shot back." I tried to smile, but it must have looked pretty awful, through all the blood. "OK?"

Smiley nodded jerkily. "OK."

"Now go get the canister out of the tube, load up a HEAT, and let's make sure Mr. Charles doesn't get himself a tank, how about it? Toss me...no, just hand me the gun, I've got the watch."

Smiley carefully handed down the grease gun, pausing to snap shut the ejection port. He gave me a sickly grin and dropped down the loader's hatch, and the turret began to swing around. If the computer was really gone Biff was going to have to sight through the tube.

The Dude came back, frowning. "TC, we've got a problem."

"Well, he's probably not thrilled we're gonna kill his tank."

"It's not that. He thinks we've got a Jonah. All of them do. And they're going to talk."

If you can, please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links (they're 99 cents each). And if you'd like a free PDF, please email me at tempusfugit02 (at) gmail (dot) com, and I'll gladly send them


  1. A cliffhanger ending! Looking forward to see if the crew is rescued and what a Jonah is in Viet Nam terms.

    1. Cathleen, thanks for being here (I'm kind of working backwards on comments). There's more to this story...and to Smiley...yet to come.

  2. Ditto what Cathleen said. I'm on the edge of my seat, Andrew. I'm guessing Jonah = coward? I guess I'll have to wait until next week to find out. Praying a special prayer for patience, and single-mindedness for you tonight, my friend. Barbara, too. Blessings.

    1. June, it'll be a bit longer to find out! Thank you so much for being here!

  3. Definitely want to know what a Jonah is! I can't say enough how much I love these stories you share, Andrew.

    1. Rachael, thank you so much...and thank you for hosting #BlogBattle, because it was the incentive to share them, after so many years