Combat Patrol

I LAY ON MY BELLY IN THE DIRT, two dozen men attendant on my curled index finger. My feet are crossed to stabilize the shot. I have a perfect angle on the target, adequate blind, unobstructed line of sight: a sentry exposed and smoking, yawning beneath a low tree. The Major gently pats my ass. The sign to fire.

Above the sentry a crow explodes in a fury of leaves and feathers. The warm carcass drops from the tree right onto the sentry's head, one hell of a shot.

The earth is extraordinarily silent after the muffled report. The bird makes no sound, just the branch. The VC soldier stands bewildered for a second, looks up in the tree, regains his senses and ducks. I never get a second shot off. A hidden Marine laughs out loud. Guerrillas appeared instantly at defense posts and the surprise attack is a lost cause. But the Major is such a sick and bitter bastard he stands up and kicks my ass hard with the point of his boot, climbs over me and signals the patrol to go in.


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