AMBUSH IN SAIGON
Page 1 of 564
Charlie’s close. So close I can smell ‘em. I can also see ‘em, which makes the smelling largely redundant. I can hear ‘em too, but the same goes for the hearing as went for the smelling.
Dirty war, this Vietnam tussle. Goddamned Hitler up to his old tricks again, and with his buddy Stalin in tow. This ain’t gonna be clean and swift, like World War 2. It’s gonna be slow and bloody, like The Falklands War, which I’ve gotta hunch will probably take place a couple of decades from now.
The jungle’s hot, like the bonnet of an overheating 59 Dodge that’s been set on fire for some reason. Nothing stirs but the sound of mosquitoes having sex. Endless mosquito sex and searing heat. Squatting in my foxhole, I can’t figure what’s sweatier: my armpits or my lone testicle.
My other testicle? God knows where. Shot off in some Goddamned rice field south of Da Nang. Wasn’t even a war on at the time. Thought I’d found it, but turned out to be an African American ball. Found several other balls in that field that afternoon. Never did find a match though. Not even close.
“Jesus, here they come Sarge, three of ‘em,” whispers Leeroy. “We’ve got the drop on ‘em. Permission to fire?”
”Patience,” I tell him. “Let ‘em come a bit closer.”
“It’s a Goddamned Turkey shoot, Sarge,” whispers Danny. “They ain’t seen us yet. I’ve got a clear shot. Now?”
A shot rings out and Danny slumps to the left, his face largely missing.
“Christ Sarge, the bastards shot Danny in the face. Let’s cut these fuckers in half,” cries Leeroy.
“Patience Leeroy,” I say.
A second shot rings out and Leeroy slumps to the right, also missing a face. Damn Vietcong. They were just too quick for us. With Danny and Leeroy dead, I climb from the foxhole and bravely surrender on behalf of the entire platoon. Hero? Perhaps. It’s not for me to say. All I know is I can’t afford to lose any more men.
The three Vietcong bastards frog-march the eighty-six of us through the jungle. Goddamned Vietnamese sun reddens our necks, like nature’s sunbed, or an industrial toaster powered by excessive wattage. The Vietcong offer us sun block, mosquito repellent, shade, water, food and medical attention, all of which I refuse on behalf of the men. Sure, I take my share, so as not to appear rude. But I’d rather die than see my men indebted to these animals.
We march for three days and three nights, losing nine good men to dehydration and four average men to starvation. Morale nosedives further when the platoon’s token pygmy (Lil Joe) is eaten my a smallish snake. Some of the men pray, but not me. God? There ain’t no God in these thickets. Wood Elves? Mabye. Sasquatch? Definitely. But God? The jungle is fresh out of God, and running low on Jesus.
We reach the secret Vietcong layer, deep within the belly of Mount Vesuvius. Again I refuse rations on behalf of the men, and eat mine in full-view, just to show the Vietcong bastards the true meaning of discipline. Hero? That’s just a label. ‘Lionheart’ would be another label, but labels mean nothing to me, regardless of how snugly they fit.
Having eaten and drank thrice my fill, I set the men doing 1000 press-ups while I grab forty winks. They’re exhausted, but some brisk exercise will keep their minds off the starvation. Barely an hour later an armed minion wakes me.
“Hitler. He see you now. Come. Come,” he orders. Goddamit. Hitler. That’s all we need…..
(tune in tomorrow for the final page of Ambush in Saigon)