512 Words

Bazooka Pink

Gary Holland

It was Private Archer's private nightmare.

A column of infantrymen shuffled slime-footed down a narrow jungle pathway wrapped securely in bulletproof vests, concealed in full-body camouflage, carrying every weapon known to combat. Private Archer shuffled second in line carrying rubber tourniquets, intravenous saline and a box full of "slam-and-squeeze" morphine syrettes. A lone soldier walked point, swarmed by mosquitoes feeding greedily at his thin white throat while he probed the dense foliage with an automatic rifle never finding what he sought. The point man stopped before a fire blackened opening, then turned toward Archer seeming to ask, "Are you with me?" But before Archer could answer the soldier turned again, walked a step forward, then disappeared into the dark inevitable.

The universe exploded in gunfire. Archer winced, stabbed with terror. Swarms of bullets like wildfire-panicked bees screamed past him seething to be anywhere else. Limbs and leaves, blasted to confetti, fogged the air while Private Archer quivered, stunned by fear.

He started to flee, but his feet remained stuck, embedded ankle deep in something the size of elephant dung. He was surprised by the smell---his favorite childhood bubble gum "Bazooka Pink." He struggled to free himself, but his boots remained pinned to the earth. There was no way to run, no place to hide, and no means of self-defense. His only choice was surrender. He surrendered his body to the ground.

There, belly to the mud, panic loosed its grip. But from the black hole burst a scream so agonizing he covered his ears trying desperately not to hear. "Medic!" The point man begged him by name. "Help me... Please."

Archer strained to crawl forward, but the "Bazooka Pink" would not let him go. He twisted his head seeking help from the infantrymen behind, but when he looked there was no one there.

The soldier in the black hole cried out again, "Medic!" And then Archer felt itp---a sharp pain deep in his abdomen. "I've been hit," he said aloud.

Archer groped his belly beneath his boxer shorts but felt no wet holes nor smelled smoking flesh. There was no wound, yet when he pressed firmly the pain increased. The deeper he pushed the greater the pain. Then he realized what that pain truly was. He had to go. He had to go badly---and wanted to go badly. But someone inside him, someone bigger than he, commanded "No!" Archer's instinct compelled him to obey. So he reached for his childhood mantra.

"I will not wet my pants," he whispered. "I will not wet my pants."

Private Archer awoke abruptly, straightened in his seat, wiped the drool from his chin and tried to free his boot which had glued itself by a wad of chewing gum to the carpet.

"Good morning, gentlemen," the stewardess said. "Hope you enjoyed your flight. Please fasten your seat belts and observe the 'No Smoking' sign. The weather in Saigon is hazy, the humidity is ninety-five percent, the temperature is currently one-hundred ten degrees. Hope you all enjoy your stay in the Republic of Vietnam."

Copyright ©2001 Gary Holland. All Rights Reserved.

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December, 2001
Issue #80

512 Words