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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Two Shots - 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 INDISCIMINATE.

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

Two Shots

"Dude," I said, "I get it."

We were stuck on the road to Con Thien, with Lollipop broken down, Ship of Fools shaken up by a rocket hit, no help in sight...and Mr Charles was out there.

And The Dude had just informed me that Lollipop's crew was talking about Smiley being a Jonah. Great. Not only FNGs, but superstitious FNGs.

"I thought you should know, TC."

I could feel SMiley's eyes on me, and didn't turn around. "Well, what do they want me to do? leave him out here?"

The Dude hesitated. It was not a good hesitation.

"You're kidding," I said.

"They're thinking we're not going to get back, and he's the reason."

No, I wanted to say, if we don't get back it's because we've got one tank out of action, no way to get some support, and two crews to try to get behind the wire...and the NVA's out there, and they are not going to let us just walk out of here.

The Dude read my thoughts. "They know the rationality, and they're ignoring it." he didn't have to say how infectious fear could be; no longer indiscriminate, it now had a focus. Our new loader.

'Well, hard luck on them. They're the ones coming along from the ride."

The Dude shook his head. "TC, if we have to fight our way through..."

He was right. A single overloaded tank was bad enough, and with the new guys riding outside and not believing they were going to make it because of a stupid superstition.

It didn't play well not matter what. If we got hit coming out, we needed every man pulling, and we weren't going to get that.

I changed the subject. "Why just the one rocket team?"


"I said, where's the rest of our playmates? Mr. Charles isn't going to go to the trouble of mining this road and leaving a couple of guys with a B-40 to watch it."

"Yeah," said The Dude. "They're waiting to see what we're going to do. Right now we're kind of dispersed, but if we go in to try to tow Lollipop, or we blow it up and ride out together..."

"Easier target."

"We have the watches, they have the time," said The Dude.

I was trying to think of an answer to that when there was a sudden CRAAACK!, the loader-than-an-M-16 sound that could only come from the short-barreled 177 that New Guy TC had picked up...and then another

...and he was standing on the rear deck of his tank, holding the thing, and looking at our tank.

Dear God.

The Dude drew his sidearm, pointing it at New Guy TC, and yelled something unrepeatable and harsh. He thumbed back the hammer, and New Guy TC laid down the rifle.

I spun around, and saw Smiley staggered against the turret, blood on his shoulder, eyes rolling back in his head.

Biff was scrambling out of the cupola, visibly shaking, and as he reached to grab Smiley he stopped.

Mostly to vent my feelings, I yelled to Biff, "That idiot shot him!"

Biff looked at me, and then slowly, like an old man, made a curving, pointing motion with his arm, to the other side of the tank.

A dead NVA lay there, where the impact of New Guy TC's bullet had flung him off the deck of Ship of Fools, a grenade still clutched in his dead hand. A bullet had gone through his Adam's apple. He was kind of a mess.

"Dude?" I called. "I't's OK."

The Dude stepped up beside me, pistol still in his hand. "I'll help Biff get Smiley into the tank. We need to get out of here." His voice was shaking, and I wondered how close he'd come to pulling the trigger, knowing full well I'd never know.

"I almost shot the kid," he said.

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.

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  1. Been waitin' all week for this, Andrew. Thanks :)

    1. June, thank you, and please pardon the delay in responding.

      I've been waiting to tell this part of the story, because my narrative skills weren't yet up to the task. It's a tough one. But there is a bit more to come.

  2. You need to compile all of these into a book.

    1. Jan, that's the intention. I'm running low on energy to finish the narrative, but figure God will give me enough to get it done. He'd better!

      And, yes, to see it to publication. I owe that.

    2. I won't give up, Jan. I promise.

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks, Cathleen (and please excuse my delayed response).

      There's a bit more yet to come...