“Bastard,” she said under her breath, “like you know how to shoot that thing.”
It was a bad war. And all wars are bad. But it was before that whole 1967 thing. You know what I mean. This was way back when America was America. Criticizing the red, white, and blue simply wasn’t allowed.
Okay, so I sat at the bar and kept drinking. Then one day, I got a letter in the mail that said I’d be going overseas.
We were supposed to be supporting the good guys in the war. They never said nothing about no girls!
She grabbed my rifle. Her camera dangling around her neck. And she looked at me under the rain. Her eyes were painted a natural green, dark with military makeup. Black. Camouflage. I was terrified, shitless. I couldn’t believe it. She was braver than I was.
Just then, the bullets began to fly.
I ducked. Heard the whizzing of hellacious indifference, the cries of somebody nearby. Obviously, they’d been hit.
“GET DOWN!” I heard our Captain scream from behind us. He was always behind us, the coward.
The jungle was roughshod. And I hated the earthy soil that had been loosened by the constant downpours. I gripped my helmet. I felt like crying. She leaned down next to me and barely made a sound.
We’d come across an artillery barrage. At least that’s what I think they called it. I had no idea. Terrified, all I could picture in my mind was my homely bar, docked there and watching the Orioles on the TV.
“SQUAD!” Captain Argold hollered, “fall back!”
Jessica responded. By throwing her helmet at him and telling him to shut up.
“Nobody move!” she screamed.
The artillery rained down on us like snowflakes from the devil’s den. The sound was comforting in the middle of the sky. But when it landed, you could see and smell and hear pieces of your friends flying or frying, being roasted, ah, it was all so meaningless. I wanted to get up and start running through the rice fields, but I was afraid that one of my superiors would shoot me in the back. Like a dog. So I kept still. Very.
“NOBODY MOVE!” Argold repeated. I didn’t feel like calling him Captain anymore.
There was no decent way of expressing what happened next. So I just … wanted to make it through.
She grabbed me.
“Soldier!” she yelled. “Grab your rifle and fire!”
I was lifeless as she shook me. But then I quickly came to my senses.
Nodding, she relinquished her hold on me. I leaned toward the soupy mud, orange, brown, black, yellow, and red. And I pointed my rifle at the unknown. I fired. The sound ricocheted like the bullets that went pouring out of me. The jungle caught fire, and we were mere patriots ignored by the restlessness of a government gone insane.
Needless to say, I never saw her again.
Bryan has been away from America for more than two years, currently living in Da Nang, Vietnam. (He has been in Vietnam during the pandemic.) In 2019, he traveled to 12 countries. He’s had stuff published in places like Whirlwind Magazine, Entropy, Beatdom, the Daily Drunk, WriteNow Lit, Mineral Lit Mag, and elsewhere. In April 2021, he signed a publishing contract with Train River Publishing for a poetry chapbook entitled “Empty Beer Cans: Quarantine Poems from Da Nang, Vietnam”. He has also self-published 15 books. Right now, he’s working on getting a novel published, and he’s writing his first screenplay and a sci-fi novella.
Other Works and Social Media
“Don’t Worry”, Fleas On The Dog (https://img1.wsimg.com/blobby/go/9a0949f4-1d2a-4a7c-b9fb-a96b9b6bd861/downloads/NF_6%20_Don_t%20Worry_%20by%20Bryan%20Myers.pdf?fbclid=IwAR0ZMQfWekYpLPA5S6ohvdXs0gxwPcEmwlHeONhSUHSW8oLZHUkuwNwbTA0&ver=1600276881507)
“Mischief in a Neighborhood Filled With Ghosts”, Entropy (https://entropymag.org/dramedy-mischief-in-a-neighborhood-filled-with-ghosts/)
“Birds Who OD’ed”, Entropy (https://entropymag.org/dramedy-mischief-in-a-neighborhood-filled-with-ghosts/)
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