March 14th blog

Furthering my research into the field of creative writing, Dr. Collins and I have continued to look at successful short stories, publishing, and creative writing. I hope to submit several stories for publication within the next few weeks.

Here is a story that I have been working on for a few months.

 

                                                                                Red Eye

               The plane readies for liftoff. We sat on the tarmac for forty minutes while the crew checked on one of the engines. I must have dozed off. The cabin lights are off. There’s a lot of sound, but it’s muffled. It sounds like the lady upstairs is running a hundred vacuums at once.
There’s something clenched in my hand. It’s my boarding pass. It’s a 10:00 pm flight. The red eye. We’ll be in Topeka early. At least, I think its Topeka, somewhere in the middle of the country. A fly over state. I have a meeting at 9:00 AM. Fred said there will be a car waiting.
The engines rev up and we move forward. The seat next to me is empty. I slip back into a long blink and jolt forward as we leave the ground. I look at my boarding pass again and read the fine print. It’s March 8th. That’s somebody’s birthday. It has to be. I run through my family and friends. Nobody stands out. My eyes close as I search for the relevance of this date. Just before I doze off, I remember it’s the day I started boot camp. Nine years ago.

Garcia was with me, and Jaws. Garcia tells me to check the rifle locks and I tell him to fuck off. We argue, he calls me a turd. Garcia plays the part of the Puerto Rican street tough. I don’t buy it. We are on fire watch. It’s the midnight shift. Each of us carry a flashlight, “moonbeams” we call them, with a red lens. They say the red lens preserves night vision, but I think the color should be rusty. Like a street light.
Garcia tries to make Jaws check the rifle locks. It’s Garcia’s duty, he’s fire watch number two. I’m number one. Not because I’m special. That’s just how it worked tonight. I fill out the log book and stay on the quarterdeck. Fire watch number two roves the deck. Fire watch number three roves the head. Jaws tells Garcia to “fuck off.”
Garcia tries to muscle me into doing it. Jaws tells him one more time, “fuck off.”
I fill out the logbook. Jaws moves into the head. Garcia begins to check rifle locks.
Somebody keeps yelling, “aye sir,” in their sleep. I hear Garcia locate him and shake him. Moore walks past me in his skivvies. He’s half asleep as he turns into the head.
The rear hatch opens up. A silhouette approaches. The footsteps are even, and heavy. I sound off drill cadence in my head, left, left, left right, left.
“Who goes there?” I say.
No response. It’s the duty. I’m certain of it.
It’s one of the Drill Instructors from lead series. The short Spanish one with a frog voice. The short ones are the worst, especially to tall recruits. At just six feet, I stood a full head above him. I report my post. He waits for me to fuck something up. I don’t. Not after the last time.
I reach for the logbook. 1237: Duty NCO Sergeant Lopez tours post. Sergeant Lopez off post at 1240. All secure at this time.

           The cabin bell rings, cruising speed. There are a few reading lights on towards to front of the plane. I try to pop my ears by yawning. The flight attendants bring the drink cart down the aisle. I blink.

Jaws and I have the 0200 shift. I never fell asleep standing up. Not until SOI. There’s a moment of confusion when you fall asleep standing up, less than a second, where you forget where you are. Reality only takes a moment to settle in. Then, everything sucks again.
We are at a range in Camp Lejuene. It is August in North Carolina and at this hour it is still at least ninety degrees. The humidity never goes away in August. Tonight, it’s extra dense. I wake up our relief and then wake up Jaws. He almost falls down as he wakes. Jaws could sleep for a while standing up. I never saw anything like it.
“Let’s go smoke,” he says.
“That’s not a good idea.”
“Who cares,” he says. “Sergeant Merritt is asleep, look.”
We turn our heads and look towards his sleeping bag. There is no movement. We have to wake up in another two hours. We’d only bedded down two hours before.
“I mean,” I say.
“Don’t be a pussy,” he says.
SOI offers only a handful of moments to look forward to. It looks really cool in a commercial, and using every sort of rifle, gun, and grenade that our beloved Corps equips should excite us. It would, I’m sure, if only we weren’t pushing exhaustion to the brink each week.
We get some libo on the weekends. Usually only enough time to get a haircut and hit the PX. Sometimes we get a full weekend. I say I’m going to catch up on sleep. Instead, four or five of us pool in some money and load up on beers at one of the local motels. Everyone will talk about girls they’ve slept with back home. After that, we’ll try to find some nearby. That never really works out. Marine corps towns are filled with two types of girls, dependents (trouble), and whores (more trouble). The strip clubs offer consolation to those willing to ignore the C-section scars.
A cigarette, a piece of heaven from the pack that we carry in our crotch to avoid detection during random pat downs, one that soaks up the sweat and all the rest of the fun stuff that lurks in the crotch of a Marine in the field, is more gratifying than a blowjob.
Jaws and I walk away from the camp a ways. He lights up first and smiles. He hands me a smoke. I light it. I stare towards the camp and shake. Jaws smokes slow. My anxiety rises. The nicotine high hits me hard, and the fog starts to feel like clouds. I finish while he’s halfway through. The Sergeants at SOI have all recently returned from combat in Iraq. Few things exist in the world that they hate more than they hate boots. Even fewer things exist that give them the amount of pleasure they get from catching boots fuck up. Once a week, First Sergeant gives us a talk about hazing. Each week, approximately zero of the dozens of incidents get reported to him. My eyes haven’t left Sergeant Merritt’s sleeping bag, but it’s almost a hundred yards away. Humidity lingers over the camp of sweating bodies.
“I can’t wait to get back home, man,” Jaws says.
“We don’t even know when that will be.”
“Reckon it’ll be around Thanksgiving. I just want to see Stacy again.” Stacy is the sometimes girlfriend that Jaws talks about. Sometimes, her name is Wendy.
“She the one with big tits?”
“Huge tits man. I’m talking double D’s. I just want to stick my face in them.” Jaws never describes a girl that he’s been with as anything short of a movie star, big tits, slim waist, pretty face. His jawline is massive. It sticks out and hangs there below his face, the rest of which is relatively small. He has beady, dark eyes that sit real close to each.
“Keep your voice down,” I say.
“Hell, nobody can hear us. Calm down.” Jaws never shuts up.
Something stirs to the left.
“Whose there?” Jaws says.
Through the fog a figure appears. I recognize the slight hunch.
“What the fuck are you two doing, huh? Blowing each other?”
“No Sergeant,” we say. Our hands instinctively cross behind our backs.
Sergeant Merritt sniffs twice. “Smokes, where they at?”
The age old dilemma, deny or comply?
Jaws speaks. “No cigarettes, Sergeant.”
“Give them to me.”
Jaws, that pussy, reaches for his pocket and pulls out the pack.
Sergeant Merritt opens the pack slowly. He puts one in his mouth and pulls out two more. He hands them to us. He puts the pack in his pocket. “Hit the rack soon,” he says as he turns around, “early morning gents.”
Sometimes, even Sergeants aren’t in the mood for bullshit.

           The stewardess asks if I want a drink. I ask for a whiskey and hand her my card. I ask her if she can give me two. She nods. I ask how long we’ve been flying.
“Not even an hour yet baby,” she says. I can’t make out her face, but I know she’s older. “Something to mix it?” she says.
“Seltzer is fine,” I say. She cracks a can and places it next to the two mini bottles of Jack. I drink the first. I plan to mix the second. I down the second as well. I take a sip of seltzer. It’s a cheap brand. My head slides to the window and I watch the wings pass through grey clouds.

Twentynine Palms, California, is a shithole. People say there is beauty in the desert. Maybe there is. It’s hot. I lean against my pack and brush my rifle off. The sand sticks back on it the second I stop. The entire company is packed under cammi netting. Corporal Twigg tosses me an empty canteen. I hate him.
“Take a buddy and fill up the squad’s water,” he says.
“Aye Corporal.”
I look at Jaws and Eubanks. They look at each other and argue. Jaws grabs his rifle and stands up. We grab water bottles from everyone in the squad and head to the water buffalo.
“Fucking bees, man,” Jaws says.
There is some kind of African bee that wound up in the Mojave Desert. They hide in the ground or something. They swarm the water buffalos.
“That’s why I tell you dickheads not to let any drip,” Gunny says from behind us.
“Aye aye Gunny,” we both say.
The spickets on the water buffalo leak on their own. The bees leave you alone if you don’t swat at them. Jaws and I fill canteens.
“I can’t believe we got to run this god damn range three more times man,” Jaws says. “I swear, I was about to pass the fuck out.”
“It sucks,” I say.
The water is hot to the touch. Bees swarm the spigot.
“Why the fuck is second platoon always the assault element?” Jaws says. “And why the fuck is first squad always the assault element for second platoon?”
“Because Sergeant Deptola is the best squad leader,” I say.
Jaws says nothing, for once.
“You think they could get us some ice someday?” Jaws says.
“Gunny said its coming.”
“It’s been coming for three days. This shit is about to evaporate out of the canteen. Look at this, man. There’s fucking steam!” He holds a canteen to my eye level and squints. “I tell you, buddy. I can’t wait to hit Vegas next weekend. Me and you, we’re going to be swimming in pussy.”
“You and all of this pussy,” I say. “I never see you pull anything.”
“I just pulled some in San Diego two weeks back.” I was on duty that weekend.

“Yeah, but nobody saw her.”
“I don’t give a shit, man. I got no reason to lie.”
Jaws and I are the only two still together from our boot camp platoon. I figure he’s some kind of punishment for past sins.
We bring the canteens back and hand them out. I give Sergeant Deptola his canteen.
“Did you get stung by a bee?” Sergeant Deptola says.
“No Sergeant.”
He holds out his arm and nods to my rifle. I check the chamber before I hand it to him.
“What are we about to do?” he asks.
“Range 401 Sergeant,” I say. “Our platoon is the assault element. After first and third platoon set in, they will provide support. Before we leave our insertion point, the 81’s are going to fire four mortars at the target. After the fourth mortar, we are assaulting from the west.”
Sergeant Deptola looks up at me. He nods. “Dust this off a bit more around the barrel. You eat chow?”
“Yes Sergeant.”
“Good,” he hands me my rifle. “Go away.”
Outside of the MOUT towns there are a bunch of FOB’s with hooch tents set up. They provide shade, but keep the heat in. The CO gave us two hours of downtime. We are on the last leg of our workup. We deploy next month.
Mojave Viper is the last part of an infantry unit workup. Thirty days in the Mojave Desert. The idea is to live like you are on deployment already.
In the hooch a few guys are sprawled out on their iso-mats. I tried to sleep, but I woke up after thirty minutes covered in sweat and feeling nauseous. Sergeant Deptola is reading a book called The Gates of Fire. Eubanks is fiddling with his flak jacket. Jaws is running his mouth outside somewhere.
I step outside the hooch and get blasted by the sun. There is a breeze. It feels good against me sweating skin. There’s a few guys playing spades. Jaws is one of them.
“I’m telling you guys,” Jaws says. “Gunny is definitely plowing that Staff Sergeant chick from Motor T. He’s going to be the only one getting his dick wet on deployment.”
“That Staff Sergeant looks like the bottom of my fucking boot,” Leone says.
“Bro, over there what’s it matter. Shit man it’s only been three weeks out here and she’s already looking like Giselle. I want to sniff her asshole,” Jaws grins. “I’m getting hard just thinking about it.”
“Shut up, man, ain’t everyone into that nasty shit like you,” Paxton says. “It’s your turn.”
“Paxton, you telling me you wouldn’t eat that ass up right about now?” Jaws says.
“No, man. Shut the fuck up, and go,” Paxton says.
“Whatever, man. Paxton, you’re just a fag,” Jaws says.
Banks, the cook, passes by. “There’s coffee in the chow hall,” he means the ten by ten wooden shed where he warms up the rations.
“Aint nobody trying to drink no god damn coffee when it’s a hundred and three, Banks. You stupid fuck,” Jaws says.
“Well, its there is all I’m saying,” Banks, the cook, says.
I head to the chow hall for some coffee. Sergeant Deptola is in there. He fills his canteen cup with coffee and takes a sip, stepping aside so I can pour some.
“It’s the little things in life,” he says before taking another sip.
Outside, Jaws is still running his mouth.

The plane seems empty in the dim light. No flight attendants are in the aisle. No reading lights are on. The plane dips through turbulence. I feel it in my gut.

Cornfields hold a lot of heat. We’d been in them for two weeks straight clearing out the northern fields. It’s where the Taliban hides its poppy fields. Second squad is getting ambushed to the east. Sergeant Deptola has us pushing North-east to cover their flank. Can’t see shit through the fucking corn. Eubanks is behind me with the SAW.
Sergeant Deptola holds us up to get a sit-rep. We take contact from the North. The top of the corn plants are getting shredded above us.
Jaws, in front of me, starts laughing.
“What’s funny?” I say.
“Man,” he says, and points to the shredding corn. “Is this why they call it the shit?”
“What?”
“The shit man! We are in the shit!” he says.
“Jaws, you stupid mother fucker,” Eubanks says as he laughs. I laugh too. We shoot blindly into the corn to the north. Sweat pours into my eyes. I reach for the hose of my camel back. It’s almost dry. Eubanks lights up the Saw behind me. I can’t hear Sergeant Deptola right behind me. He grabs my shoulder and motions me to peel off, back towards the east. Sounds like he says we’re getting flanked.

The plane jolts. I wonder what Eubanks is up to these days.

“You know why God made Marines?” Jaws says to me.
“Why?”
“So soldiers can have someone to look up to. Check out this one, a Marine is deployed and his girl sends him a Dear John letter right. So, in this letter she asks him to send the picture of her back because she’s with some new guy and he’s a jealous prick. So the Marine goes around to his platoon and asks them for old pictures of their wives, girlfriends, sisters, whatever they got. He puts all those pictures into an envelope and sends it back with a note that says: ‘Sorry, I forgot which one you were. Please take your picture and send the rest back.’”
“Nice.”
It’s dusk. My eyes are playing tricks on me.
“What do you think we got for chow tonight? I hope it’s not franks and beans again,” Jaws says.
“I bet it is.”
“I’m going to shove some franks and beans up Banks ass.” Jaws looks at his watch, “He’s late again, fucking 1800.”
We are two hours into a four hour post. Might get eight hours of sleep tonight.
“LT gave third squad the night off again,” Jaws says.
“Are you serious?”
“Yeah I heard Sergeant Gideon in there asking him, and he said ok.”
“Does Sergeant Deptola know?”
“I don’t know.”
Jaws and I were on the ECP. Three other posts that are manned by one guy are up around the perimeter of the FOB. Jaws still hasn’t shut up. Him and I, we’re still stuck together. I don’t mind him so much when we’re on post. Even though stories are bullshit, they usually entertain. Banks finally shows up at 1830 carrying two hot trays.
“Y’all two sleeping?” Banks says.
“Fuck you, Banks. What the fuck did you make tonight?” Jaws says.
“Chicken parm, with homemade marinara. What do you think? Just be happy you eating.”
“Suck my dick, Banks. Piece of shit cook,” Jaws says.
Franks and beans again, over egg noodles and a dinner roll on the side. Jaws dips his into his tray and scoops up a frank before shoving it in his mouth. He talks with his mouth full. The last of the light is fading away and there is a thin orange line on the horizon in the west.
“My recruiter never mentioned this shit,” Jaws says as he finishes his roll. “Infantry, he says. The baddest motherfuckers ever to have existed. He never said I would stand the fuck around for most of my career. Never mentioned getting stuck eating Banks’s bullshit neither. I fucking hate Banks, that piece of shit.”
I step away from the bunker to light a cigarette. Jaws shifts over and stands behind the 240. He drops his NOD’s and looks down the hill at the village. A handful of lights are on, but it’s quiet.
“Aint even shot at us for over a month neither,” he says. “I can’t wait to go to college. I would have went there if my old man didn’t have a hard on about me continuing the old Jaworski tradition.” He tells this story every day at dinner, like clockwork. “Every single god damn war there’s been a Jaworski. It’s like Lieutenant Dan, except Jaworski’s never been killed. Not one.”
“That’s crazy, man.”
“Man I would probably have banged a hundred of them little sorority girls by now. I would have one for each day of the week.” His deer eyes scan the village below. “My buddy goes to Arkansas. He says he bangs chicks all the time.” Jaws had a lot of buddies. All of them are at big schools around the country. Most of them play football too.
“He plays football,” Jaws says. “He’s going to get me tickets.”
My cigarette is almost finished. I pull it down to the filter, and it burns my fingertips. I walk over to the gun. Jaws steps back to go light one.
“All grunts?” I say.
“Who?”
“All of them Jaworskis?”
“Yes sir. Only one who aint seen combat was my Uncle Pete, he was in the Gulf. Had an Uncle Tony who fought at the frozen Chosin.” Jaws says. “He always brought it up at Christmas when someone complained about the cold weather. He was a piece of work, man. I wish you had met him. My old man was in Nam. He don’t talk about it none. Always said the ones who talk about it are lying about it.” This story had always remained the same.
It’s completely dark now, our relief should be out in an hour or so. Jaws and I will clean our rifles for about twenty minutes, and then we will try to get some sleep. We will be back here from midnight until 0400, and after that we’ll prep for morning patrol.
“So a Marine is taking a piss in a urinal and there’s a sailor sitting next to him,” Jaws says. “They both finish pissing and turn to leave. Sailor stops by the sink and washes his hands. Marine just walks on out. Sailor says, ‘in the navy they teach us to wash our hands after we piss. Marine turns and says, in the Marines they teach us not to piss on our fucking hands.”
I laugh.
In the plane I reach frantically for my rifle. My heart stops for a moment before I remember I’m not there. I think about all those Jaworskis.

My grandfather was a Marine. He was in WWII, Guadalcanal. He fought with John Basilone. He told me that when I graduated from boot camp. That was just before he died. He never spoke about it to anyone. Not even my grandma or my old man. He wore a red beret and a red sweater at my graduation. It was one hundred degrees in the South Carolina summer and he stood up the whole time. He shook my hand that day and looked me dead in the eye.
My old man dropped me off at my grandfather’s house the summer after my mom left. He said my grandpa need a hand with a few things and that he would come back in a week. It turned out to be two months. My grandfather woke me up at 5:30 each day and we ate the breakfast that my grandma made. By 7:00, he would give me a task to complete, and I had to complete it before I could go play. I would clean gutters or rake the garden most days. Once, he took me out by the big tree and told me to dig a hole as deep as I could. I dug for about two hours. When he came back, he told me to fill it in.
One night, one of his friends came to visit. They knew each other from the war. They stayed up all night and drank beer and smoked cigarettes on the back porch. I stood by the window and listened for as long as I could. I heard my grandfather laugh harder than I ever had before. The next morning I asked him what they were talking about and he told me to eat my eggs. I think I decided then.

I’m a few feet behind Jaws. He has the metal detector. My rifle is ready and I watch the corner in front of him. He’s looking at the dirt and walking slowly. Our engineer, Curtis, got switched over to second squad two weeks ago. They lost a few guys, and needed a new sweeper. Jaws and I take turns now, sweeping for first squad. Today was my turn, but Jaws insisted.
“Let me do it, man,” he said before we stepped off. “I’m on a streak.” He found an IED yesterday.
Jaws talks as he sweeps. The EOD guys taught us to do that. Always stay calm, they said. Not that anyone had to tell Jaws to speak.
“Remember that girl I used to bang back home, man. Cindy, back in SOI?”
“I thought her name was Wendy,” I say.
“What? Oh, yeah there was a Wendy. She had big ass tits. This one, Cindy, she had regular tits. Nice and perky, just not that big.”
Sergeant Deptola calls up from behind in the patrol.
“Hold up,” I say to Jaws. I turn and step back a few steps. I look at Sergeant Deptola and nod my head. “What’s that, Sergeant?”
He halts the patrol. “What?”
“You call us?”
“No.”
I shrug. I turn back towards Jaws. He continued on a couple of yards.
“I called Cindy up last night. Tell her I’m coming home so—“
I don’t see Jaws anymore. I see the tree that stands in my grandfather’s backyard. The big one. There’s no noise. The space around the tree is reminiscent of my grandfather’s backyard, yet different. I can’t tell what about it is different. I’m really focused on the tree. It’s so tall. I crane my head back and follow it up. The tree looms over me until I can no longer tilt my head, and still I can’t see the top of it. It’s peaceful here.
Something starts dragging me back, away from the tree.
Sergeant Deptola’s face hovers above mine. His fingers are on my neck. My pulse, he’s checking my pulse. He sees my eyes open.
“Look at me,” he says.
“What?”
He stares into my eyes. Doc is beside him, he’s looking to. Sergeant Deptola steps back and holds his radio to his mouth.
“–affirmative. He’s ok. It’s just Jaws.”
“What’s wrong with Jaws?” I ask Doc.
“Relax. You know where you are?”
“Yes, Doc. Where the fuck is Jaws.” I sit up. We are inside a compound. Eubanks and Leone are up on the roof. Corporal Twigg is shouting to somebody outside. Everybody’s faces are pale.
“Just relax right now,” Doc stares into my eyes. “What’s your name?”
“Fuck you, Doc.” I hear my voice quiver. “Where the fuck is Jaws?”
“Relax,”
“Fuck you, Doc! I’m not concussed. Where the fuck is he?”
Through the window the sun cracks the horizon. The captain says we are landing soon. I have a meeting in a few hours. I’m a salesman for a company that sells hotel furniture.

I’m spending post deployment leave with my grandfather. He picks me up at the airport. My dad says he’s going to get in to see me soon.
At my grandfather’s house, the fridge is stacked with beer. Good beer. For the occasion, he says. We grill up steaks and sit on the back patio. The big tree sits in the corner of the yard, near the fence.
“Remember when you made me dig that hole?”
He grins. “Yep.”
“Why did you do that?”
“You know why.”
I nod my head.
“You know, we had a guy—over in the pacific—this guy Briggs. This guy Briggs never did shut his damn mouth.” He says, pausing for a moment to chuckle. “Always talking about some Susie, or Bobbi-Jill who he had back home. He could never keep the god damn names straight in his stories. He never shut up.”
I look over at him. We each take a pull and finish our beers. The sun is all but set, and it’s a peaceful summer evening.

“Old Briggs, he was the kind of guy who starts a conversation right smack dab in the middle of a firefight. Damn good man.”
“You need another beer, Pop?”
“I’ll grab them,” my grandfather says. “You relax, son. You earned it.”
I light a cigarette as he heads inside. I stare out at the big tree. One or two lightning bugs fly near it. They light up together.
My grandfather walks back out. He has two beers in each hand. He places two in front of me.
“Let me grab a cigarette,” he says.
I toss him the pack. He pulls one out and lights it. I crane my head back and follow the big tree all the way up to its peak. The branches near the top poke out in defiance against the dark blue sky.
“Let me tell you, Pop, about a guy named Jaws.”

December 14th blog.

Dr. Collins and I have been continuing our work with completing a short story.  Along with that we have been exploring the current writers market. I have been working on a collection of stories that transcribe one man’s journey through the Marine Corps and into civilian life. I have attended events/workshops with Jesse Eisenberg, and, Ana Bolzivek within the past two months.

Attached is part of the story that I am currently trying to wrap up.

“You know why God made Marines?” Jaws says to me.
“Why?”
“So soldiers can have someone to look up to. Check out this one, a Marine is deployed and his girl sends him a dear John letter right, so in this letter she asks him to send the picture of her back because she’s with some new guy and he’s a jealous prick. So the Marine goes around to his platoon and asks them for old pictures of their wives, girlfriends, sisters, whatever they got right, he puts all those pictures into an envelope and sends it back with a note that says, ‘sorry, I forgot which one you were. Please take your picture and send the rest back.’”
“Nice.”
It’s dusk. My eyes are playing tricks on me.
“What do you think we got for chow tonight? I hope it’s not franks and beans again,” Jaws says.
“I bet it is.”
“Fucking late,” Jaws looks at his watch, “fucking 1800.”
We are two hours into a four hour post. Might get eight hours of sleep tonight.
“LT gave third squad the night off again,” Jaws says.
“Are you serious?”
“Yeah I heard Sergeant Gideon in there asking him, and he said ok.”
“Does Sergeant Romeo know?”
“I don’t know. Probably does.”
“That whiny little fuck, so we are back out at midnight.”
“Get fucked.”
“Get fucked,” the unofficial motto of first squad.
Jaws and I were on the ECP. Three other posts that are manned by one guy are up around the perimeter of the FOB. Jaws hasn’t shut up since he learned how to talk. Usually drove us nuts, but on post it is kind of a blessing. Some guys, like Dixon, like standing post alone. Probably because he cracks his stick out there. Sergeant Romeo shows up at 1830 carrying two hot trays.
“Y’all two sleeping?” Sergeant Romeo says.
“No Sergeant. Hey is it true about third squad?” Jaws says.
“That they got a night off? Yeah, that’s true.”
“Shit. Tell you what Sergeant maybe I’ll step on an IED so first squad can get a week off of post,” Jaws says.
“Shut the fuck up. One of you dicks step on an IED I’ll keep you on post for a week straight.” Sergeant Romeo leaves the trays and walks away.
Franks and beans again, over egg noodles and a dinner roll on the side. Jaws dips his into his tray and scoops up a frank before shoving it in his mouth. He talks with his mouth full. The last of the light was fading away and there is a thin orange line on the horizon in the west.
“My recruiter never mentioned this shit,” Jaws says as he finishes his roll. “Infantry he says, the baddest motherfuckers ever to have existed. He never said I would stand the fuck around for most of my career eating shit.”
I step away from the bunker to light a cigarette. Jaws shifts over and stands behind the 240. He drops his NOD’s and looks down the hill at the village. A handful of lights are, but its quiet.
“Aint even shot at us for over a month either,” he says. “I can’t wait to go to college. I would have went there if my old man didn’t have a hard on about me continuing the old Jaworski tradition. Every single god damn war there’s been a Jaworski, it’s like Lieutenant Dan except Jaworski’s aint never been killed. Not one.”
“No shit?” I say.
“Man I would probably banged a hundred of them little sorority girls by now man. I would have one for each day of the week.” He has the jawline of a silverback gorilla and tiny deer eyes. “My buddy goes to Arkansas and he says he bangs chicks all the time. Lucky ass.”
My cigarette is almost finished.  I pull it down to the filter and it burns my fingertips. I walk over to the gun and Jaws steps back to go light one.
“All grunts?” I say.
“Who?”
“All of them Jaworskis?”
“Yes sir. Only one who aint seen combat was my Uncle Pete, he was in the Gulf.
My grandfather was a Marine. He was in WWII, Guadalcanal. Fought with John Basilone. He told me that when I graduated from boot camp. That was just before he died. He never spoke about it to anyone, not even my grandma or my old man. He wore a red beret and a red sweater at my graduation. It was one hundred degrees in the South Carolina summer and he stood up the whole time. He shook my hand that day and looked me dead in the eye.
My old man dropped me off at my grandfather’s house the summer after my mom left. He said my grandpa need a hand with a few things and that he would come back in a week. It turned out to be two months. My grandfather woke me up at 5:30 each day and we ate the breakfast that my grandma made and by seven he would give me a task to complete and I had to complete it before I could go play. I would clean gutters or rake the garden most days. Once he took me out by the shed and told me to dig a hole as deep as I could. I dug for about two hours and then he came back and told me to fill it in.
One night, one of his friends came to visit. They knew each other from the war. They stayed up all night and drank beer and smoked cigarettes on the back porch. I stood by the window and listened for as long as I could. I heard my grandfather laugh harder than I ever had before. The next morning I asked him what they were talking about and he told me to eat my eggs. I think I decided then.

“Had an Uncle Tony who fought at the frozen Chosin.” Jaws says. “He always brought it up at Christmas when someone complained about the cold weather. He was a piece of work man, I wish you had met him. My old man was in Nam. He don’t talk about it none though. Always said the ones who talk about it are lying about it.”
It’s completely dark now, our relief should be out in an hour or so. Jaws and I will clean out rifle for about twenty minutes and then we will try to get some sleep. We will be back here from midnight until 0400, and after that we’ll prep for morning patrol.
“So a Marine is taking a piss in a urinal and there’s a sailor sitting next to him,” Jaws says. “They both finish pissing and turn to leave. Sailor stops by the sink and washes his hands, Marine just walks on out. Sailor says, ‘in the navy they teach us to wash our hands after we piss, Marine turns and says, in the Marines they teach us not to piss on our fucking hands.””

October 19th blog

For the 2015-16 undergraduate research program , Dr. Collins and I have been working on a series of short stories. The goal is for me to get a few of these stories published in literary magazines. In addition to working on some short fiction stories, we have been looking at different ways to get them published by exploring the current writer’s market.
This past Saturday, I attended a writing workshop for veterans at NYU’s Creative Writing House. As a veteran of the Marine Corps and the war in Afghanistan, this workshop was quite helpful. I met several other veteran writers as well as some NYU creative writing graduate students. I plan to continue to attend this workshop that is held weekly.

Attached is a short story I have been working on,

Battle Damage Assessment
Patrick McCarron

I had a good view of the valley from the rooftop. The compound was on top of the ridge. They used this spot to shoot at us about once a week. It wasn’t until we spent some time out here recently that they stopped. The river was only a few clicks to the north.  It serpentined up from the Northeast down into the southwest. Green vegetation sprouted up a couple hundred meters from either side. The green lines stopped abruptly and gave way to the dry, brown stretches of sand that rolled on until they hit the lifeless mountains.
I watched Sergeant Romeo trying to piece together the bloody puzzle just below me to the east. BDA’s were a shitty job. First Squad got them all the time. I don’t know if there was a reason for that, maybe we were just lucky. Pug was right behind me with the 240. He had his eyes to the west, by the bazaars.
“Can you tell how many there were?” Pug said.
“A few,” I said. “At least four.”
There was a team of insurgents here last night trying to place an IED in the opening next to the compound. The area was no more than a half-acre. It was surrounded by homes that were hidden behind tall dirt walls. We walked over it two days before. Our eye in the sky spotted them last night. Someone in Nevada pressed a few buttons and sent a predator missile right into them. Sergeant Romeo was trying to see if we got all of them.
“You got dip?” I said.
“Just smokes.”
“Same here.”
“Paul has some cope I think.”
I looked down at Paul. He was holding security for Sergeant Romeo with Bender. They were saying something about a severed leg that lay a few feet from them and laughing.
“Fuck it, he’s too far away,” I grabbed a cigarette from my shoulder pocket. Pug did the same.
“Guess Company finally got some intel that didn’t suck.”
“I’d say so,” I took off my glove and lit my cigarette. “Guy probably sold out his boys here for twenty bucks.”
“What a bargain.”
The Sun beat down on us. The blood had all dried already. There were deep red marks around the bigger chunks of flesh. Assorted bone fragments and muscle were littered around the opening and it smelled like pennies. The rot was coming on.
Sergeant Romeo’s voice rose. I couldn’t make out the word. By his tone, I knew he was telling the Lieutenant to fuck off. In a nice way, of course. Lieutenant probably doesn’t understand why we can’t get an accurate count. Just count the bodies, I could hear him saying.
Down behind me, Corporal Mac was in the compound talking to the homeowner and his three sons. Doc was a few feet to his left. He was squatting down and looking into a little girl’s mouth. The wives were off in the corner by the family cow. They peeked out occasionally and stared until we made eye contact, then they darted back behind a wall.
“What does he fucking mean he doesn’t know anything,” Corporal Mac spoke to the interpreter. “It was right next to his fucking house. Tell him I don’t buy that shit Salim.”
“Neeshta” the father said. “Taliban neeshta, bomba neeshta.”
“Well they just put a fucking bomb next to your house, at least they tried,” Coporal Mac said. Salim translated, but Corporal Mac turned and walked away. He sat down against a wall and reached for a cigarette. “Tell him I said fuck you Salim.”
“Mac, I no tell him that.”
“Whatever,” Corporal Mac lit his cigarette. “Fuck you,” he held up his finger to the father, “asshole.”
The father spoke in Pashtu to his sons. One of them looked up and stared at me. I flicked my cigarette towards him. Pug and I sat on the roof of the main house. There were two smaller mud sheds on either side of the compound. The door was on the far side. The walls around the compound were about twelve feet high. In the center, where the men stood, there was a mud table that was about ten feet long. The two younger sons sat on it.
“You hear that bro?” Pug said. “That guy said there’s no Taliban around here.”
“No bombs either, guess this shit next to us is just an optical illusion.”
“Happens when you’re in the desert too long. Our brains are getting fried man.”
I saw a bunch of kids chasing a soccer ball by the edge of the blast zone. They stopped and called to Sergeant Romeo.
“Marine, chocolate.”
“Go away,” he said.
“Chocolate. Chocolate.”
“I said fuck off.” The kids chased the ball off to the west and I lost them behind the walls.
Sergeant Romeo yelled for his element to move back into the compound. The four of them peeled off and headed towards us.
“Got any Barbecue sauce bro,” Paul said when he was within earshot. He was staring at part of a ribcage. They got back inside and sat down near Corporal Mac.
“Too late to move out,” Sergeant Romeo said. “We are bedding down. Salim tell this guy we are having a slumber party.”
“Romeo what is this word mean?”
“Just say we are staying tonight.”
The Father protested with Salim. It made no difference. After he spoke to his sons. They began to round up supplies. Within fifteen minutes they had all left to go stay with someone else.
I volunteered to stay up on the roof for the first few hours of watch. So did Pug. Over the north end of the compound I saw the same kids from earlier chasing down the soccer ball. A man with a long grey beard sat by a small shop and watched them. When the evening prayer call sounded he pulled out a blanket and faced southwest, towards Mecca. Some of the older boys did too and the younger ones used the chance to grab the ball.
There was movement down the ridge to the north in the main part of the village. A couple of motorcycles were whizzing up and down the winding alcoves. To the west the sun was settling between the mountains that lined the wide valley. It turned the sky orange and purple. The old man started closing his shop when the prayer ended. He handed a bag of chips to the children. In exchange they carried his boxes inside. He yelled something at them when they finished and waved them away. The children took off in different directions.
The guys were tearing through some MRE’s with the last of the light. Paul leaned back against the wall. A cigarette hung lazily from his lips and his head leaned back. The cigarette fell from his mouth and burned out on the ground when his eyes closed. Sergeant Romeo and Corporal Mac had a map opened up at the table and pointed to various spots on it. A puppy had run out of one of the rooms and Griggs called to it. The puppy licked his face when he lifted it up. Griggs poured some of his beef stew on the ground and the puppy lapped it up. Doc had his shirt off already, he was wiping his abdomen down with baby wipes
“Take off your boots Paul,” Doc said as he kicked him. Paul nodded awake and looked around. He moved to untie his boots but fell back asleep before they came off.
“You guys ok?” Sergeant Romeo said.
“Good Sergeant,” Pug and I said.
“NVG’s good?”
I reached into the pouch on my utility belt and pulled out my NOD’s. I flipped them on and saw the green light inside light up. “All good.”
Sergeant Romeo nodded and moved across the compound to speak on the radio.
The view in the west kept pulling my gaze away from my sector. It was quiet now. Pug had gotten off of his stomach and leaned against his pack behind the 240. We both looked out over the sprawling village. The mud and sand rooftops reflected the orange hue that was in the sky now. I leaned back slightly and looked up. If I did that I could block out everything on the ground and just see the sky. Then, for a few moments, I could imagine I was somewhere else.

I don’t know why first squad got it. First squad had all the shitty jobs. It was hot. The heat rising off the ground reminded me of the air above a barbecue. In Corporal Mac’s team we usually held over watch. I was the radio operator. I was up on the roof with Kozor. He had the machine gun. Corporal Mac was on the ground with Doc. Sergeant Romeo’s team was doing the BDA with the Lieutenant. I saw Paul and Bender down there with them, they were laughing at part of a leg. You had to laugh sometimes.

Mac and Doc were speaking to the guy who owed the house. He had ordered his wives to stay covered and put them all in the barn with the animals. They used to get beat for looking at us. The man was asking Doc for medicine. Doc gave him some sugar pills. Mac kept asking me to relay what I saw. I spoke to him between the Lieutenants transmissions with Company.  Two of the younger men started burning their trash and the smoke blew up in my face. I yelled down at them and they flipped me off. Mac cursed at them and made them put it out.

The bodies, or parts of the bodies, were already cooking in the sun. It smelled rotten, like old meat, and copper. Paul kicked part of a torso over and revealed an exposed rib cage. He asked Bender if he had any Barbecue sauce. Sergeant Romeo was trying to count the pieces to get a full body count. A couple of the local kids stood on a ridge above them. One was holding a soccer ball. They yelled down at the Marines and asked for candy. After some time Romeo told them to get lost. They disappeared below the ridgeline. I heard them giggling.

I never knew why these things took so long. We had orders to hold our position so we held it. Corporal Mac came up on the roof and I asked him to take my spot. He did. I moved over towards the west side of the roof, near Kozor. From there I could look down at the “abyss.” The mountain had a sharp decline where it opened up into a wasteland. There were no homes or fields down there. Only mountains far off on the horizon.

Sergeant Romeo brought his team back. He decided it was too late to move out and told us to bunker down. I volunteered to stay up on the roof for the first few hours of watch. Over the north end of the compound I saw the kids from earlier chasing down a soccer ball. A man with a long grey beard sat by a small shop and watched them. When the evening prayer call sounded he pulled out a blanket and faced southwest, towards Mecca. Some of the older boys did too and the younger ones used the chance to grab the ball.

I listened to their laughs and looked again to the west. The Sun was settling now between distant mountains. It turned the sky orange and purple. The old man started closing his shop when the prayer ended. He handed a bag of chips to the children. In exchange they carried his boxes inside. He yelled something at them when they finished and waved them away. The children took off in different directions. Long shadows now engulfed the Sangin Valley. They spread over the mud bricked villages. All the way in the east I could see the green fields contrast against the far brown mountains. The squad sat around each other on the dirt below. They were eating MRE’s and smoking cigarettes. They spoke very little. They stared through the dirt walls around them. I asked Paul for a cigarette and he threw one up to me. I lit it as the last traces of light lingered. If I kept my eyes up I could imagine I was somewhere else.

And then I was there. On the shore of a quiet beach looking up at the purple sky. For the first time all day, everything was ok.

Blog 2 – Short Story

This month I worked on creating some flash fiction. Flash fiction consists of 1000 words or less. This piece’s working title is called, Next Week.

The sun woke Ben up when it hit his face. He held his hand up to block it. He heard a girl’s voice speaking quietly to someone in another room. The room smelled smoky and stale, but unfamiliar.  Beside him a girl lay. She was topless and on her stomach. There were blonde highlights in her dense, dark hair. He saw Tommy snoring in the far corner with his head tilted sideways.
An empty whiskey bottle lay beside him. He had no blanket or pillow. The girl beside him rested her head on a shoe. It wasn’t his. He had both of his shoes on. He looked behind him and saw a folded pizza box that he had used for a pillow. Four more people lay across the room. Three of them were girls. One was topless and on her back. The sun shone off of her chest. She had dark hair and caramel skin. The other two girls were cuddled in the corner across from Tommy. They were clothed. One was spooning the other. There was a guy Ben didn’t know sleeping on the couch.
He heard the girl in the other room again, but couldn’t understand her. He decided she was in the kitchen. He put his head down on the pizza box and rubbed his temples. The last thing he could remember was meeting the girls from accounting at Harry’s. Tommy had set it up. He felt something in his ear. It was a half smoked joint. In his pockets he found a pack of cigarettes and slid the joint inside. His jeans were unbuttoned, but on. The boxers felt wet around his groin. He had on his wife beater. He looked around for a shirt but saw none.
His right nostril was plugged. He scratched it with his finger. There was a white residue under his nail. His head pulsed harder. The girl was still speaking in the kitchen. A male voice responded this time, but it was low. A moment later he heard a door open, then he heard it close. The voices from the kitchen seemed to follow it out. He waited for a moment and heard nothing else.
He got up and walked through the archway. The kitchen counter was lined with red solo cups. There was nothing in the cabinets. The sink was full of dirty dishes. At last, he picked up a plastic cup. The cleanest one he could find. There was a dry, dark ring of beer on the bottom. He held it under the faucet and rinsed it three times. Then he filled it and took a long gulp. The water smelled like sulfur, and tasted like it too. He looked through the cabinets again for an aspirin. He found nothing. He walked through another archway and into the hallway. There were three closed doors down it, and one half opened. He pushed it open fully and found the bathroom.
It smelled like puke, and he saw why when he looked into the tub. He unzipped and urinated. There was no soap, but he ran his hands under the cool, smelly water. He looked up at the mirror. It was dirty, filled with toothpaste marks and pimple pops. His eyes were hazy and they had bags. The side of his face was swollen, starting to bruise. He rinsed his face with the cold sulfur water twice. There was no towel so he held up his shirt to dry his face.
In the hallway again he looked down at the closed doors. He turned from them and walked to the front door. It was humid out. The sun was high, late morning. He squinted and stepped outside, shutting the door behind him. He saw his car parked in front of the house. The windows were down. His mouth was dry, but he lit a cigarette anyway. He pulled down on his cigarette and exhaled. He looked beside him and saw a tipped over white plastic chair. He sat it up and dropped into it. He took another drag. His squinted eyes tried to recognize the neighborhood.
The trees were too short. The air tasted salty. He was near the ocean. He didn’t live near the ocean. There were Connecticut plates on two cars across the street. He could feel his wallet in his back pocket against the chair. He felt his front pockets and found his keys and his phone. The phone was dead. Halfway through his cigarette he heard the front door open. Tommy stumbled outside. He had found his jeans, but not his shirt. He looked over and saw his friend beside him.
“Look who it is,” Ben said.
“The hell are we?” Tommy said, laughing under his breath.
I don’t know. The cars over there have Connecticut plates, but these ones have New York plates.”
“We’re by the beach,” Tommy said. “Are we in Montauk?”
“I don’t think we took a ferry. I think we’re out east near Rhode Island.”
Tommy pulled out a cigarette and lit it. His other eye had opened and he looked around. “Maybe.”
“Those aren’t the girls from accounting.”
“Nope.”
“You know who they are?”
“We found them at a bar. I think.” Tommy said.
“Your phone got juice? Mine is dead.”
Tommy reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone, “nope.”
“Fuck. Was anyone else awake?”
“Some blonde chick was looking at me when I got up. Her head was on a shoe,” said Tommy.
They finished smoking without speaking.
“I can’t believe we drove,” Ben said.
Tommy laughed again.
“The fuck is wrong with me,” Ben said.
Tommy leaned forward into the yard, “I need to puke.”
“Hurry up, let’s get out of here.”
Tommy held a fist to his mouth and nodded with his eyes closed.
“Can’t keep doing this shit,” Ben said. “Next week I’m going to church.”
Tommy threw up on the front lawn. Ben looked over at him and shook his head.
“Next week,” he said.

Short Story: The World They Deserve

I’ve been working on short fiction over the summer, here is a story I wrote over the past few weeks.

Post two was warming in the sun. Archer placed his face between the sagging sandbags to feel the breeze. The sweat on his face felt cool in the wind as he lit his last cigarette, and he decided the short relief was a fair price to pay. The post was not big, he could pace it with three steps. Sandbags were stacked in a 180 around him. There was a plywood ceiling that kept the sun out but the heat in. He sat on a stack of ammo cans, and paced his eyes from the left to the right. In front of him there was a sprawling green landscape. There was a lot of corn, with some poppy and hashish sprinkled in. He fought the urge to look at his watch, and instead started counting the workers in the fields. From the ridge he could see a good distance, and most of them looked like ants, still, he was able to count thirty four of them.
The paved road ran alongside the fields, and it stood as the border for the green and brown zones. Behind him a dusty city of dirt stood. He liked post two, because if he squinted at the green fields he could imagine he was home. The sky was bright blue today, and it rode down in the west towards the faint lines of the barren mountains. Sergeant Huff told him that those mountains were in Pakistan. Archer didn’t think that was correct.
There were footsteps behind him, and he could tell from the uneven pace that they belonged to Sergeant Huff. He turned as Huff entered the doorway. Huff had a stocky frame, with a small, concise dirty face that contrasted with his light hair.
“The fuck are you doing.” He said when he entered.
“Watching my post Sergeant, vigilantly.”
“Vigilantly my ass.” Huff said. He had a canteen cup in his hand that he placed next to Archer. There was black coffee inside. Archer sipped it. It was fresh, and hot, and even so it felt lukewarm in the heat. Huff pulled out a cigarette pack and offered it to Archer. Archer pulled one. They were Marlboro Red’s, from America.
“Amen.” Archer said. “I’m about sick of Pines.”
“So what you got?” Huff said. “You see him?”
“No sergeant. I would have shot him if I had.”
“Yeah you would huh?” Sergeant Huff was the first squad leader. For eighteen months Archer served under him and for eighteen months he heard him yell. They were almost done now though, and Huff had shown some leniency. “I bet you miss him by a mile too.”
“I qual’d expert.” Archer said.
“On paper.” Huff said.
Archer looked back out across the corn. “I’ll shoot one before we leave.”
“Like hell you will,” said Huff. “This little bitch is good. I don’t think we can see him from here, no way. He’s hiding.”
The sniper shot Mendez in the neck two days ago. Before that he got Eubanks in the head. Haynie took one in the shoulder before him. He had become a thorn in second platoon’s side, never staying for a fight. He took one shot, every time. Huff held his rifle up and scanned the cornfields with his scope. Archer saw a small silver cross hang from a chain around his neck, he had never seen it before.
“Sergeant, let me ask you something.”
“What.”
“You believe in God?”
Huff spat. “I got a feeling we get the world we deserve.”
“And God decides that?”
“God decided a long time ago to leave it with us.” Huff said. “It’s on us now.”
“You think they deserve anything?” Archer nodded his head outwards.
“The Afghanis?” Huff said. “Most of them yeah.”
“They fuck kids though.”
Huff looked up towards the sky. “Probably got fucked as kids. Do you believe in God?”
“No.” Archer said.
“Did you ever?”
“I was raised catholic.” Archer thought back to Sunday school, and Danielle Morabito, and how she used to go down on him behind the church.
“So?”
“I left that behind me,” Archer said. Huff stared over towards him. Archer stared back into his sunglasses at his own reflection.
“So what do you think about all this Archer?” Huff said. “Is this war justified?”
Archer turned his head away. “Do you think so?”
“I asked you fuck face.”
“Well. How could it be? What the fuck do these inbred farmers have to do with American national security? I mean what? Are they planning the next 9/11? Because most of them have never even brushed their fucking teeth?”
“That’s true.” Huff said. Archer waited for him to continue but instead he just looked forward into the corn.
“They tell us we are corrupt, and then set up roadblocks to pick out the little kids they want to use as toys,” Archer said. “They strap bombs to little kids and send them right at us.”
“It’s fucked.”
Archer turned his head too, and pulled the last of his cigarette down through the filter. “This is a career for you huh Sergeant?”
“I don’t know.” Huff said. “Fuck else am I going to do.”
“Would you do it all over again, if you had the choice?” Archer asked.
“I’d say so, and you?”
“I don’t know.”

A cloud had moved to cover the sun. The shadow rode like a wave over the corn, Archer followed it with his gaze. As the shadow reached the irrigation canal he saw a glimmer. It lasted only a moment, he wasn’t sure it was real. The wind paused, before shifting direction. The farmers near the east field by the canal were walking off to the west. Archer leaned forward into position and looked through his scope where the glimmer was. Huff was looking there too.
The muzzle flashed in the canal, and the round snapped over their heads. The sandbag it hit erupted. The sand grains landed around them, sounding small clicks as they fell. Through his scope the outline became clear. The sniper had a black cloth on his face, the barrel of his rifle was barely visible as it poked through the vegetation.
“Sergeant Huff. One hundred meters right of the bridge. You see him?”
“I got him.” Huff said. “On three, we take our shots, got it?”
“Got it.” Archer aligned his scope. He pulled the rifle tightly to his shoulder. Staring at the reticle until the silhouette of the sniper became blurry. Just like they taught him.
“One.” Huff said. Archer could feel his pulse through his trigger finger as he put it in position.
“Two.” Huff said. Archer heard the bang. Through his scoop he saw the sniper, a pink mist appeared around his head. He saw his face, he saw the second of anguish before it left. He dropped his head. Archer watched his last breath. His finger had never moved.
“You see him?” Huff said.
“What the fuck!” Archer’s eyes gaped with his jaw. He turned from Huff back towards the body. “Sergeant god damn it, you shot too soon.”
Huff was calling up the sit-rep. He stopped and looked to Archer. “Why didn’t you follow me up?”
“I wanted to, he dropped too quick.”
“Hey fuck it, he’s dead.”
Archer just shook his head, anger was mixing in with the adrenaline and his fist was shaking. Huff noticed.
“You ok kid?”
“No I am not fucking ok. For three years I carried a rifle around, waiting patiently for this day, and today it came and guess what?”
Huff was speaking back into the radio.
“Nothing. Jack shit. And the one opportunity I get just got stolen by the guy who’s been in about one hundred firefights,” Archer said. Huff stared at him. “I mean for fucks sake.”
“Shut up,” Huff said. A commotion ran inside the base and he could hear the guys suiting up.
“I could have shot him Sergeant. I had him in my damn sights man.”
“Shut up.” Huff was spewing words into the radio. “I’m going to bring out the boys, watch us.” Huff disappeared out the door. Archer noticed he left his cigarettes and he threw them in his shoulder pocket. The shadow from the cloud was gone again, a few of the workers near the sniper were huddled together staring towards the canal. Archer scanned all the rooftops and the rest of the tree lines nearby. “Come on, come on, one more of you bastards poke out.”
A few minutes later he saw the squad heading towards the canal, sweeping the field with the mine detectors. He watched them walk through the corn like a line of ants. He saw the corn stalks part as the tiny heads of the Marines bobbed through. Lieutenant Mac had come to post two then and Archer pointed out the location they were going to. Mac spoke through the radio to Huff and advised him about a group of males huddled together to the squads left, they were unarmed.
“Why didn’t you shoot Archer?” Lietenant Mac said.
“I went to sir. Sergeant Huff plugged him quickly.”
Mac smiled, “Well god damn I’m glad he got him.”
Archer heard Huff over the radio after the squad got to the canal. He said the sniper was a girl, and she was definitely dead. They pulled a notebook off of her and the rifle before heading back to the base. Archer and Mac watched them through their scopes.
“Good fucking day. I can’t believe it was a chick,” Mac said.
“Yes sir,” Archer pulled another cigarette. His hand was still shaking. “Hey sir, let me ask you something.”
“No I won’t make out with you,” Mac said.
“Damn. Well in that case. Do you think we get the world we deserve?”
“I think you can save the philosophical crap for your boyfriend,” Mac said, he smiled and patted Archer’s shoulder before turning. “Keep an eye on em,” he pointed his head towards the squad, “I got a report to write.”
Archer watched the danger areas as the squad pushed back through the corn. Lemay had walked out to post two for a minute and looked out over the field at the canal. He dropped Archer off some dinner and left. It was the brown meat and gravy with a dinner roll and some corn. He had no appetite and left it at his side. The sun was lowering now in the west, and an orange hue had overtook the sky. It reflected off the shiny stalks of corn. He lit another cigarette. his hand had stopped shaking and with the adrenaline wearing off he became drowsy. He stood up and to stay awake and looked out at the world they deserved.