War Story

Thanks to author Thom Jones for inspiration for this little experiment:

There were thirty-five of us and jesus-knows-how-many of them. The VC could make six men sound like sixty and they turniquetted their limbs before an ambush. That way if they got shredded, they could hobble a few more paces and toss a grenade into the face of some oops-I-crapped-my-pants Marine Corps rookie before croaking in a rice paddy. You gotta know you can’t win when you’re up against someone who’s decided he has nothing to lose. The only way around that is to go shit-for-shit, believe you’re a worthless heap of unpatriotic flesh in uniform and fight ball’s out until the Sergeant calls you back.

We don’t ever talk about near misses. You’re either dead or alive and nobody gives a hoot if the bullet clipped your earlobe. Changing the next morning, I shook my pants out and held them up to the light. Daylight shone like little stars through four bullet holes down the outside of my left pant leg, a clean line from hip to knee. But there I was, buck naked in the morning light, entire societies of insects infiltrating the camp, and not a single mark on me. My thigh was pale as pig, oddly white and vulnerable in this land of death and dirt and tra-la-la.

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