256 Words

Kissing It Goodbye

Gary E. Holland

I noticed him huddled against the cacophony of combat near the door of our communications bunker wearing army green boxer shorts and boots without socks. The first onslaught had rocked him from peaceful sleep into wide-awake nightmare. He scrambled to grab what he could in the dark.

I took cover next to him as rockets and mortars enlightened the midnight sky, disemboweling the mud filled earth. Our landing zone was being overrun from two sides at once, our bunker line a chaos of gunfire where desperate men fought desperate men to the death.

"Doc," I yelled. "What the hell you doing out here---waiting to get whacked? You better take cover in the trauma bunker."

A large hunk of shrapnel slammed into a sand bag impaling itself just above him. Clods of red mud splattered the side of his face. He recoiled, cringing tighter into a ball. "I'm waiting for a call," he said. "I'm taking the ambulance onto the bunker line."

I glanced at his ambulance---a canvas covered jeep with the red cross of mercy painted bull's eye on its side. His medical aid bag lay humbly on the passenger seat. Stretcher grips protruded out the back. A rocket exploded nearby silhouetting the sitting ambulance like a duck. Doc's head sank still lower between his knees.

"But the enemy is pouring through there like ants," I told him. "It would be suicide!"

He raised his eyes slowly without looking at me. "Yeah," he said, trying to clear his throat---then mumbled hoarsely, "I know."

Copyright ©2001 Gary E. Holland. All Rights Reserved.

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March, 2001
Issue #59

256 Words