Two brotherly soldiers share a foxhole
|“Bombs Bursting In Air” |
“Jack! You all right?”
“Yeah, Frank, I’m still here.”
“Jesus, that was close! Another ten feet and it would’ve landed right in our laps.”
“Just keep your head down, you dumb Okie, and you’ll get out of this in one piece.”
“Shit, Jack, you know ain’t nobody ever gonna see home again. ‘Specially no grunts like us.”
“You’re always such an optimist, Frank. Hell, I bet reinforcements are already on their way up. We’ll be outta here before you know it.”
“Well, if’n they keep dropping those mortar shells on us, they’re only gonna need one trash bag to send us all home in.”
“Don’t worry about it. Stay calm. Stay alive. Besides, who’d wanna mess up an ugly mug like yours, anyway?”
A faint high-pitched whistling sound could be heard. It grew louder.
“Here it comes!” yelled Frank.
Bombs began bursting all around them. Dirt and pieces of burning hot metal fell upon the ones that fate had chosen. The bombardment went on forever, then suddenly stopped.
“Jack? Jack? Are you hit? It’s over, Jack, you can pull your head out of the sand now. Jack?” Frank grabbed his buddy by the arm and pulled him over. “Jack, are you all right?”
Jack sat up. “I can’t hear anything, Frank! Not a damn thing! Shit, my ears are bleeding.” Jack pulled his hand away from his ear with dirt and blood on it.
“Hell, boy, you got yer eardrums busted. Can you hear me at all?” Frank fumbled for his canteen and offered a drink to his friend. Jack took a long pull of stale metallic-tasting water, then handed it back.
“Nothing much but a ringing sound. I’ll be okay. Keep your eyes open, you dumb hick. They’ll be sending in their main force now that we’re softened up some.”
“I’m on it, Jack. I’m on it.”
“You see anything?”
“Nothing yet, Carrot-top,” Frank answered, shaking his head so that Jack would understand. “But hell, man, it sure don’t look like there’s too many of us left.”
Jack sat up and looked around. Although he couldn’t hear what Frank was saying, it was obvious what he was talking about. They were all but wiped out. He saw very few foxholes with any movement in them at all. Dead. So many dead.
“Damn! The whole platoon is busted up good, Frank. I hope some help gets here soon.”
“Who's the optimist now, pretty boy! Jack can you hear me?!”
“Yeah, I’m starting to. I guess the only thing that could keep me from hearing you, would be a bullet through my ear.”
“It’d be a waste of a good bullet if you ask me, you redheaded Irish pecker-wood. I hope you heard that!”
Jack took out his own canteen and removing his helmet, poured water all over his head. He shook it like a wet dog, trying to get all the ringing to stop.
“You remember that girl I introduced you to, just before we shipped out?” Jack asked smiling. He lay back in the soft dirt of the foxhole wall and lit up a cigarette.
“Teresa! God, she was a-looker. Drank like a fish though. She was crawling all over me when her old man came home and found us. You should’ve told me she was the Sarge’s daughter, Jack. You almost got me killed.”
“She told me she was looking for a ‘good old boy’. How was I supposed to know who her daddy was?”
“Hey! Something’s moving out there!”
Jack crawled up to the lip of the hole next to his buddy. “It’s show time, Frank.”
“Jesus! Just look at ‘em!”
“This is it, Frank! The whole damn Chinese army is coming.”
“Let’s give ‘em hell, Jackie-boy!”
They opened fire on the tidal wave of enemy soldiers, both men emptying their clips of ammo at the same time.
“How many you got left, Frank?” asked Jack as he reloaded.
“Two--just two. After that it’s hand-to-hand.”
“I got four. Here, take one.” Jack tossed him the clip.
“Why ain’t they shooting, Jack?”
“I dunno. I guess they don’t wanna waste their ammo--or give away their numbers and position. Damn, Frank! They’re gonna try to overrun us.”
“I don’t fancy being no bayonet shish-ka-bob, Jacko. What do you say we get the hell out of here?”
Jack didn’t answer. He opened fire again emptying his clip into the approaching wall of running men. Frank locked his jaw and joined in the battle.
The enemy was less than a 100 yards out.
“Last clip, Jack! Come on! Let’s go!”
“Listen, Frank, damn-it! This has got to be some kind of secret attack! There’s no one, between them and our main forces. It's up to us, Frank. We’ve got to slow 'em down!”
Frank smiled in understanding and let out a loud Texas whoop. “Well, come on then, partner! Let’s show these bastards what Americans are really made of.”
“I'm with you, Frank! For America!”
Both men stood and opened fire; and for every bullet spent, an enemy soldier fell to the ground. The soldiers were all around them, their bayonets fixed. And soon they were over-run.
“Oh, hell, Jack . . . .” was the last thing Frank said, as several bayonets simultaneously found their mark.
Jack swung his empty weapon like a club trying to reach his buddy, but was knocked to the ground. He struggled to rise, but was stabbed several times. “For Freedom!” he yelled, as a bayonet entered his heart.
The flood of soldiers ran on to the next foxhole--and the next, in their silent killing spree. The noise of gunfire had ceased, and only the shuffling sound of hundreds of rushing men could be heard--the fading sunlight illuminating the little clouds of dust kicked into the air by the advancing boots.