August 12 Norm

"CAVETTESA YOU HIPPIE LOVER where'd you get that killer instinct?" 'Bama Sam says just to break the sleepless monotony, his big crooked grin a table of contents to the book of his dementia. We're up for a combat mission. Boring and agonizing--the way it is when you have twelve hours to go on the road to see a lost lover again and you're thinking she doesn't want you back.

He's picking his teeth with a scrap of wire to get a second chance at the frank and beans, his favorite C. Sam knows full well I'm "yella," but he's not convinced it's like the guys who just compulsively jitter and jabber about getting their balls blown off. 'Bama Sam is a fan of the kill. What he really wants to know is: if I'm not a fear freak why aren't I having a good time?

O'Hagan, hulk arms hanging over his sagging cot, calls attention to himself by a curt snore. He's the only one who can rest at a time like this, a real loony on patrol who doesn't mind danger mostly because he thinks he's already marked, cursed, sunk. I go over and balance an empty Bud on sleepy O'Hagan's boot. The good grunt hasn't removed them since processing.  Take aim from the empty card table, shut my eyes. "When I dream I see Granddaddy and his guns."

"My granddaddy had his shotgun," 'Bama Sam replies, always ready for a rapturous distraction.

"We're in the back lot behind his house," I continue, "and the thing he keeps reminding me is how easy it is to shoot a foot."

"Yup! Seen it happen."

I hear O'Hagan snore once more, then lay quiet. The can doesn't drop. He hasn't budged. "Granddaddy throws a can in the air. He never talks about his tour of France or the fact he used this gun to kill. He just says, 'Draw a bead on it Normy. Sight the flight path.' Then throws."

BOOM! O'Hagan's up and jumping, dancing around like a chicken decapitated, blaring "What the fuck what the fuck is RAID? RAID! RAID?"

'Bama Sam bounces on his cot. "That's a good story, Norm! Dang good story! Takes you back, doesn't it?"

It's usually ten days for unauthorized fire at the base. But as G. S. next up for patrol I guess they'll let me get away with it.

I was lying all the time. When I close my eyes all I see are Sun's buttermilk cheeks going powder white. A fleck of blood like confetti on her shutting eyelid.

Forty-three days until ETS.



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