The Independent was less kind, calling it “…an affront not only to war veterans and humankind generally, but perhaps to the universe, and the very fabric of space/time itself.” Enjoy!
AMBUSH IN SAIGON
Page 564 of 564
Page 564 of 564
…whereas if you sit on your hand for, say, five or ten minutes until it numbs, it can feel like someone else is touching you.”
“Not sure I follow you Sarge,” says Private Jones.
“Never mind,” I laugh, “you just concentrate on getting better son.”
“Did they find my legs yet Sarge?” asks Private Jones tearfully.
“When they find your arms, I’m sure your legs will be nearby.”
“And my skull?”
“Again, same explosion, so when your arms and legs turn up, your skull is bound to be close by. It couldn’t have gotten far. Now you just make sure you keep that helmet on soldier. I’m ordering you to stay alive.”
“Yes Sergeant,” gurgles Jones before immediately dying.
Not his fault a man ain’t designed for livin’ without arms, legs and a skull. Still, an order’s an order, and I’ll have to write him up for insubordination. It’ll probably mean a posthumous court-martial and loss of pension rights for his widow. War is hell.
I walk to the cliff edge and look down into the valley. Jesus. Must be more than two million Vietnamese down there, staring up at me in silence, like a gang of mime-artists taking a vow of silence in a library for mutes. Someone coughs and is chastised by the rest of the two million. Dammit, are they with me or against me? Only one way to find out.
I scoop up Hitler’s severed head by the hair, and thrust it forth in my raised hand. After several suspenseful seconds, a joyous roar erupts that scientists of the future will conclude could be heard from space. I plant the Führer’s head on the bayonet of an upright rifle, scoop up Eva Braun’s severed head and similarly thrust it forth. The roar fades to silence.
“Who the fuck is she?” comes a lone voice from the valley.
“It’s Eva Braun,” I shout back.
“What’s she got to do with anything?” comes another voice.
“Hang on,” I reply, sensing myself losing the crowd.
I half-volley Braun’s head a few dozen yards behind me, pluck Hitler’s head from the bayonet and thrust it forth again. The approving roar returns, sending shivers down my spine.
“You have saved us all,” one voice shouts.
“Are you God?” asks another.
“God?” I reply. “Perhaps. Or maybe God is within all of us.”
“So in a way, I might be God?” asks the same voice.
“No, I was being metaphysical,” I reply. “But if anybody’s actually God, it’s probably me.”
Am I God? It’s a fair question, but right now I’m just tired. Tired of killin. Also tired of maiming, which takes roughly the same amount of energy as killing, for less of a return.
I salute the crowd a final time, toss Hitler’s head into my trophy sack and walk for the sunset. I don’t get five yards before Consuela, the farmer’s daughter, drops to her knees and wraps her arms around my left leg, imploring me to stay. I try to ignore her, but after seven or eight miles, her weight begins to slow me down.
“Please Señor, you cannot leave us,” she cries hysterically, now dry-humping my leg.
“Be brave, buxom Consuela. You’ll find someone else. Someone better.”
“Liar!” she spits.
“You’re right. There’s no one better,” I reply, feeling I owe her the truth.
“You cannot come to my country, make love to me, my sisters and my mother, and then leave us forever. You cannot allow us to taste heaven, and then ask us to return to hell.”
She’s right. I can’t bare the thought of how miserable she’ll be without me. I un-holster my Luger and put the barrel to her temple.
“I will wait for you on the other side, my love,” she smiles.
The gun trembles. My finger fidgets the trigger. But I can’t do it. I care about her too much. Bravely, I hand my gun to Private Hudson and ask him to carry out the shooting. He duly obliges by firing a single bullet into Consuela’s forehead. She falls to the ground, smiling. I take a knee and hold her hand. A break in the clouds appears, and a single ray of sunshine bathes us both in radiant light.
“I…can…see heaven,” she struggles.
“Ssssh now. Don’t talk shite,” I reply.
“I….I see God…It’s…..it’s you,” she utters with her last words before going cross-eyed and passing onto the next world.
Another innocent victim of war, but not the last. Goddamit, when will the human race learn? When…