Thoughts that come and go on a day at war
by Donal K. Sanders
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you find that you have a worried mind? You know that you’re going to die, but you don’t want to leave anything behind. Your mind will begin to wander where it will.
Penny Paluska, my girlfriend in high school is with me, sitting in my lap, and drinking a Pepsi. Her tan skin in my eyes, and the smell of her hair in my nose keeps me looking up at the sapphire sky, hoping that the last plane will come for me.
It’s like I’m standing on my toes with my head in a noose. Any minute now I’m expecting the crap to hit the fan, I’m locked in tight, there’s no escape. I check for a round in the chamber.
I used to care but things have changed. My being in this war zone is doing no good. I should be back on the block at the Dairy Queen.
Just for a second, I thought I saw something out there, so I’m frozen stiff, I cannot move. When I get home I’m going to take some dancing lessons, I’m gonna look real cool, when I can move.
There’s a lot of water under the bridge, and a lot of other stuff too. I want to say that I’m only passing through, my gun is loaded, but I’m out of range.
Back there, the rest are dead. I can still taste the vomit from his mouth as I tried to give him a last breath. The little hole in his chest was enough to make him drown in his own blood. I sat for a time and watched him go under till the blades hit the ground and the fire erupted.
I left him there for where I am now, a little closer to the end of my road. They are walking around and looking for me. I can hear them talking but I don’t understand.
The smell of rice on an open fire wakes me up and brings me around. I need to get as far from here as I can, it’s getting so hot, too hot to touch. I need to get outta here.
They are so close I can smell their fishy farts. If I make the wrong move, I’m dead. Penny Paluska has found someone else so she don’t want me. I’m thinking I won’t be here anyway.
I want to cry but I can’t risk the noise. I had plans for Penny and I. Now they too are out of range. People are different when they fall out of love, they act so strange when you try to hold them close.
Things have changed now, Penny is at the university and I am lost in a ditch in Asia. Lost. I want to fall in love with someone new; I want to live that life.
I found today that you can hurt someone and not even know. This time is an eternity and I think so slow and my mind is in circles.
I think about the violent way out but these boys are not to be underestimated. I think that these men are probably the best soldiers on the face of the Earth. They live in holes under the ground that are as large as a city.
They walked a thousand miles carrying a rifle and 100 pounds of rice. There are thousands of them and they all want me dead. Now I’m beginning to think that I want me dead too.
I’m getting low down when I want to get high. I am searching the sapphire sky for my ride home with bugs running inside my shirt. I take the chance to move but I have to hurry. I can hear a whisper from a mouth to an ear. They are so near.
My pistol is cocked when I put it in my mouth. I’m thinking that I won’t hear the report or see a flash. I won’t be here. I’ll be flying home to those I love and I’ll sit in a tree in their yard.
Not even a click did I hear. My pistol is jam packed with mud and blood. I’m stuck here and I’m in love with a woman who won’t even know my name.
I’ll go to sleep now and dream of angels with gray hair in castles above the sea. When I wake up, I won’t even be me; I can’t ever get that back. Things have changed now and that is strange. I have a round in the chamber but I’m out of range.
Days later, I awoke in Quen Nhon military hospital, where I could cry all day, for a week, for a month. I have to look at the sapphire sky for the last plane to take me out of here.
DONALD K. SANDERS, RVN