Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Road to Cambodia Pt. 1

B-52s drop bombs the size of Chryslers and the earth shivers beneath our boots. Whomp. Whomp. Whomp. We're bivouacked halfway between Loch Ninh and Snuol on the wrong side of the fucking Cambodian border and our Captain who sent us here said, "Go for the glory boys, but remember this operation is off the books. We can't come and get you." Fucking thanks, pal. We're bivouacked half a klick east of Highway 13, waiting for night so we can creep back to the highway and reconnoiter the North Vietnamese regulars streaming down the Ho Chi Minh Trail and tell the Air Force where to drop their bombs except they've already started without us.

"Let's frag the L.T.," the H-man says.

"You're fucking nuts," I say. The H-man is my best friend here by default. He's a crazy red-headed fucker, prone to practical jokes which only serve to piss people off. He also has introduced me to the whore houses in Saigon and taught me how to mainline heroin, though I'm much more of a psychedelic kind of guy. H-man is an acquired taste that most don't appreciate, but I've discovered he's absolutely the best man to cover your ass in a firefight.

"No, seriously," he says. "He's an asshole."

I slap at a little stinging bug and another bites me on the backside of the knee. "Got anymore jungle juice," I say.

"It doesn't work," H-man stands and starts pacing. He has no stomach for waiting.

"I feel better doing something," I say. There are four of us on this little soire. There used to be five, but fucking Murphy shot off his big toe just as the helicopter was dropping us off. It was on purpose. We all knew the score, but it's his toe. His life.

"Roy," H says, "let's frag the L.T."

"I'm cool," Roy nods his head to a tune only he can hear. Roy's real name is Leroy Rogers, but everyone call's him Roy since the H-man made the mistake of calling him LEE-roy in an insulting way and Roy, though being 40 pounds lighter than H, cold-cocked him and proceeded to pound H around the head until we pulled him off. They're at peace now, but I expect it won't hold.

"Be cool, H-man", I say. They call me the Bear, mostly because when I was a pre-Med student at Oregon, I was a long-haired shaggy fucker. Lifes been running down hill for me recently. I flunked out of school, got drafted and sent here. My girlfriend, Terry, send me a half-assed Dear Bear letter last week. "Gosh, Michael, I've met the neatest man. His name is Bruce and he's a grad assistant in the Psych department. But we're just friends. " H-man told me to forget her, but I can't.

My other big problem is a killed my first man a couple of weeks ago. Being a pacifist motherfucker, I had promised myself I'd get through this without killing anyone. That changed over near An Loc when we were pulling out after an operation and the VC were on our ass. Sgt. Packston had just taken a round in the chest and I was holding the LZ perimeter so they could load him on the chopper, when this little fucker charged me, and I had no choice to tat, tat, tat, him across the chest and then watch him die. So now Im a killer and full of existential angst and I can't shake the blues.

"I'm coming in", the L.T. says.

"Far out man", Roy says.

The L.T. bursts through the bush breathing hard and says, "Saddle up, boys. Time to hit the trail." He's a ROTC grad from Miami of Ohio and his name is Wilson. He's our L.T. until he's dead or promoted.

"Its still light out," H says.

"They're moving in force", LT says. "Our job is to observe and report."

"Fuck that, man," H says.

"The man said saddle up." Roy unlimbers and climbs to his feet.

"Fine, H says," but it isnt.

Another bug bites me and were all out of bug juice and dope. The bombs keep falling, the earth shivers and we head into hell. Whomp. Whomp. Whomp.