Damn! it was hot! I hated this place and the humidity that came with it. I’ve herd people tell me that war is hell, and I believe it. Nights aren’t different either, you do your best to stay awake so that you can keep reading the equipment. I can hear Jacob incessant snoring; I turn to stare at him. I get up from my chair and paced myself forward, my eyes are bloodshot and my head hurts. This has got to stop. Immediately I reached down beside him, grabbing my earplugs. Sometimes I couldn’t tell what was worse, his snoring or the earplugs. I walked back over to my chair, sat down and picked up my three month old magazine of heavy breasted playful canines.
“PRIVATE JACOBSON!!” Damn that was loud even with the ear plugs. “What in Gods name are you doing, sleeping on the job”
“Huh Sir” Jacob says as his eyes pops open.
“Private Coleman.” Well Shit. This is not going to look good, not with earplugs. “What’s that fucking thing around your head?” I stood their thinking; I believed my mouth began to open just for a second. “TAKE THOSE DAMN FUCKING THINGS OFF!”
“Yes Sir” I stood at attention, tail went between the legs. Sometimes I think the sergeant has something against me, other than me being a dog.
“This is a fucking war! We can’t be lazing about and sleeping on the job, so you better get your act together and start packing up”
“Packing sir?” Jacob’s stands up.
“Didn’t you hear me Soldier, we leave at 0600 hours, and the post has been compromised”
“Sir! That’s only two hours away” I responded. It was then that Sergeant gave me a look I will never forget.
“Well you better get packing then”
If braving the heat wasn’t enough, braving the heat without much damn sleep was another thing. Even with Specialist Harington’s help, our efforts to pack and neutralize the equipment was daunting. You would think one could take your M16 Rifle and point it at the damn Radar tower and let loose. Then you wouldn’t have to worry about enemy forces using it. That would be quick and easy. Though the government had other ideas in mind, in which will save the government money just incase they can salvage the equipment at a later time. So after spending an hour disabling circuit boards and silicone, I had to spend the rest of the time packing. This of course didn’t leave me any time for sleep.
“AT EASE, Men. Time to rest and Grab some Grub” Sergeant yelled.
I sighed and looked up trying to see past the canopy of palm leaves that seemed to shadow our entire trip. Thank god, since I really wasn’t in the mood to feel the heat of what I call an oppressive sun. Jacobson sat next to me pulling out an MRE.
“Damn it Spaghetti again. How did I end up with this stuff” Jacobs eyes shifted over to my meal. “Salisbury Steak”
“I was wondering if it would be okay… if I possibly could…Perhaps…”
“Here you go” I extended out my hand with my MRE, sighing a bit. “Just take it” I saw the glow coming off of Jacobson face as we traded meals. After he grabbed his prize, I went to work on my consolation gift, removing the heating element from the package, when my ear caught something
“Shh! did you hear that” I said. Jacobs looked up, pausing for moment as he was slathering cheese all over his crackers. I looked over at him.
“What the fuck man, you know that’s going to give you the shits”
“Wait” I held up my hand. “There it is again” I perked up my ears as I tried to focus in on the sound. I don’t know if folks are not suppose to use this much brainpower but a light bulb appeared above my head. “It’s a baby crying”
“Coleman! No! Serge told us not to stray away from the company”
“Serge told us that if we need to do our business we should bring a wingman” I stood up, my tail was wagging. Jacob on the other hand had another emotion. “Fine I won’t be too long”
I herd the large bear yelling from behind me as I ran forward. I didn’t really pay attention to the words he was saying but I did know with each step the volume of his voice diminished. This meant he wasn’t fallowing me; I smiled at the thought as I moved closer and closer to the sound. The crying was faint at first but it did become louder. Soon it was just around the corner. Now I wasn’t stupid, I got on my knees and crouched very low to the ground, trying to hide among the tall grass.
I found what look like to be a mother carrying her child on her back. She was a female tiger, not too old, but it looked like she was by herself. Now I admit I wasn’t thinking when I stood up but it felt like I had to do something. Then there was a strong yank on the back of my collar. My Rifle was still strapped to my back as I felt myself being pulled further and further away.
“DAMN IT PRIVATE! What the fuck did you think you were going to do” It was the voice of Sergeant Goodheart and it rang loud and clear. I turned around and looked up at him.
“I don’t know something” I responded as the wolf glared at me.
“PRIVATE! This is no charity Mission” Sergeant then squatted and looked at me directly in the eyes. “You’re a disgrace and fucking failure for putting my men in danger, their the damn enemy and not innocent bystanders”
“Then what the fuck are we suppose to do” I snapped I couldn’t really hold it in anymore. I don’t know if it was Sergeant, this place, or my fate in general but at that moment I didn’t care. “NOT DO A DAMN THING. What in the fuck are we fighting for here? What in the fuck am I doing under this damn heat, in this damn part of the world fighting this God damn War” I sat up and looked at him directly in the eye. I didn’t flinch, lower my ears and I probably had my tail raised. Then something unexpected happened.
A large fist intersected with my muzzle knocking me to the ground. It wasn’t hard enough to knock me out but it hurt. I could taste the blood coming from my mouth and my eyes surged with anger.
“I don’t know what do with you private. With all your whining and complaining, you think we should have bent over backwards for your faggot ass.” Serge stood up and he turned to look behind him and he looked at me again. I didn’t know what it was, I was filled with too many emotions at the time to be sympathetic but thinking back on it now, there was something other than anger in serge’s voice. “This is War and its ugly. The colors of Black and White don’t exist here, right and wrong are ideals that can not be rationalized. Decisions are sometimes made when you don’t want to make them. Unfortunately private I can’t teach you this lesson, you will have to someday live through it…Now get up and head back, well talk later about this”
“YES SIR” was all I said.
It only took a few hours of marching to calm me down, what was morning became afternoon, and what was only twelve hours of no sleep soon became eighteen.
Tall grass soon gave way to tall trees as I did my best to keep moving forward, taking whacks at several insects that were constantly swarming in my face. To say the least I was irritated, but I was in no position to voice my complaint at the sergeant, considering how I felt toward the bastard but I was tempted.
“Well were almost here, when we hit that river I want each of you—” that was all Serge could say before we herd the loud gunfire coming from our left. It’s amazing how much you remember from your training when the time comes. I dropped to the ground, and began a slow crawl. I looked around first seeing private Jacobs and specialist Harrington. Jacobs was limp and motionless, Harrington being next to him placed his hand was over his body as if to shake him violently. My heart skipped a beat. I didn’t waste any time as I pushed myself. I could hear Harrington now, his voice was shaky at best and then I saw his hands. It was the first time that I felt real fear in my life. Life and death fear if you know what I mean. I’ve been on some of the scariest roller coaster and watched some of the most horrific movies that I could find but all of that pales in comparison to this. I finally made it up to Jacobs and Harrington didn’t seem well.
“Haringinton, Fish Face” I yelled as the otter turned looking directly at me.
“Pencil Nose.” He responded, but I could tell something was wrong. “It’s Jacobs, he’s not responding and he’s bleeding. I then peered over at Jacobson body and I just stared. He was bleeding and their seemed to be no end to it. Half of his uniform was soaked and we really didn’t have the convenience of applying medical aid.
“How long has he been like this” I raised my voice.
“I don’t know, since the first shot. Oh god. Do you think –”
“Don’t say it” I interrupted.
“HEY YOU BOSO!” A voice yelled at me and I turned. It was a fox; I could see his amber eyes and red fur. It was the only thing I remembered about him. “The chopper, don’t you hear it. That’s our rendezvous. Make it past the river and you should be fine.” I quickly looked over at Fish Face and gave him a nod.
“That should be easy for you, make it across the river and I’ll meet you at the chopper” Harrington nodded. Figuring time was of the essence, I grabbed what I could of Jacobson and started pulling him along. Harrington was already booking it and by the time I established that Jacobs was breathing, I didn’t see him anymore. I can hear them, the yell and the screams, the bullets flying by and then I saw the explosion. I could feel the heat of the blast as the dirt came flying through the air, falling on my face. Next were voices, not like our own and bullets whizzing past my ear, but I also heard something else the river and the helicopter on the other side. The enemy was close and I didn’t have much time. At that moment I had no other choice, I made my decision. I knew that Private Jacobson was slowing me down and I didn’t know if I wanted to gamble both of our lives away, so I panicked, I should have stayed, I should have found another way but I tucked my tail and ran. I’m fairly certain I didn’t just get up and run, but I did my best to stay low to the ground and keep moving in a zigzag pattern. Once I saw the river, I wasted no time and jumped in. Swimming as fast as I could, the chopper wasn’t far and I could see the rest of my company, I could see Harrington, radio, and the medics. I was safe. A lion reached out his paw and I extended out my arm. I was safe; Harrington came and helped the Sergeant out as I was lifted into the chopper. His gaze met mine, and I could swear I saw his face go white
“Private, I need you to find yourself a seat” the lion yelled at me. I looked at him only for a moment and then proceeded to fallow orders.
“Are we good?” The lion asked looking at the Panther across from him. I saw the panther glanced over at us and then began to look over the entire group of soldiers.
“It seems that we are but what about the NCO” the Panther responded.
“Sergeant Goodheart” The Lion Yelled. My head snapped as I started to survey the group on the chopper. We weren’t that many, only ten of us at most, but as I started counting I only found seven. Then as if by some divine intuition I turned my head to look out the chopper and I saw him. The serge running as fast as he legs could carry him, with Private Jacobson, being carried in his arms. I couldn’t explain how I felt at that moment, and more than likely I will never experience that same feeling in my life. It was like something out of a movie. Goodheart made it just in the nick of time as the two large feline picked the wolf, the lion administering immediate medical attention necessary for the fallen bear. The panther led Goodheart to his seat, strapped him in. They glanced at each other and the serge gave the thumbs up. We were ready to go. I could feel the chopper lift off as I watch the ground get further and further away. At the time I overheard talks about antiaircraft artillery and missile but the magnitude of those words didn’t really sink in as I focused all my attention on Jacobson.
The whole trip was around twenty minutes, and as quickly as I was relieved to be leaving the ground, I was equally relieved to see it again. Jacobson seemed to have made a good recovery, he had managed to emerge from his comatose state, and Goodheart was fast asleep. He seemed to doze off five minutes after we took flight; I guess he couldn’t sleep either. As we landed I wanted to make it a priority to see him, besides I owed him an apology for the way I reacted.
“Hey do you want to get some beers” The otter smiled.
“Yeah, let me have a word with Serge” I responded. Harrington cringed and gave me an odd look.
“Okay, but I wouldn’t want to wake the bastard up. All I can say is good luck” Then he ran out of the chopper. I watched him for moment and with a long and deep breadth, I began my walk over to the wolf. The Lion and Feline were doing their best to tend to the other passengers. Kneeling down I prepared myself for the worst. Extending out my arm, I placed a hand upon his shoulder giving him a quick shake.
“Serge” I said. No response. So I gave him another shake, this time with a little more urgency. No response.
My heart froze as I just reached over with my other hand and began to shake the large wolf vigorously. Nothing. “Why aren’t you responding damn it!” At the moment my mind knew exactly the reason, but my heart didn’t want to admit it. Then as if by some instinct, I unbuckled the silent wolf and started to tear into his uniform. It didn’t take me long to unbutton his shirt as my eyes caught sight of blood. His undershirt was soaked with it. It was at that moment that I just screamed.
“MEDIC! MEDIC!” Oddly enough, I didn’t care how people looked at me, or how masculine I was, or even if I was really sane. I saw my sergeant die that day and in his last moment he didn’t hesitate to think about his own life, but endeavored to save the life of another.
We had beers that night and my tour in South East Asia was basically at a close, but at various times I do take the time to go on long walks by myself and I just stare up at the stars or the clouds and I wonder. Could I have done something, anything, different and no matter how long I sit their and contemplate the possibility, there is one thing I can’t ignore. I came home.