PathfinderBy Lola CarlileHe trudged to the edge of the densely plant-filled forest only to find acrevice that would hide him for a temporary stay. He tentatively brushed away thebroken shards of tree bark, bits of animal fur, and stagnant leaves. He furtivelyplaced his entire body within the trench and finally closed his eyes. He couldstill hear offensive sounds in the distance and attempted to stop his breath; itwas so loud.Would they find him buried here and still alive? Or would his spirit give up andhis essence float away? His tiredness was one he had never experienced and onethat hurt in areas he wasn’t aware could feel anything anymore. The bloodied,bandaged leg was wobbly and sometimes shot out without his will.Breathing in felt as if tiny corpuscles were trapping the air in fear it wouldleave again. Breathing out was more difficult. He might cry out in plaintivewails if he weren’t careful. Control. Staying in control. That’s what got him sofar….It was stifling hot lying there in full combat regalia. He had forgotten hisbackpack many yards and eons ago. It didn’t matter much. He needed sustenance andsleep, mostly sleep. As he started to enter the sublime pillow of sleep, hevaguely heard something foreign. He knew what it meant, but he couldn’t rousehimself long enough to register the slanted eyes and rough touch….****He hadn’t planned on entering the service at all. He was mighty happy working atthe bank, going to junior college, and living at home. This war that everyone wastalking about didn’t seem to matter much to this teenager just barelymatriculating into adult life. The worst fear he had would be that his fatherwould find out that he had sponsored a party for the bank at their home while theparents were out.Mom and Dad had just pulled up as he trudged out with the last load of beerbottles and paper plates crusted over with something akin to a chip and dip plate.No suspicions. Good. He was a good boy, went to church, and generally pleased hisfamily. The fourth of seven kids, he was neither the older privileged or theyounger spoiled, but he was different. He saw things in a different way andunderstood life to a degree none of them could. Even the teachers saw that he wasdifferent and needed support. Dad didn’t think he should be put up a grade. He wasno different. They were all alike. His litter of seven. Clean little pups. Alltreated the same, or so ole’ Dad thought.But he inadvertently found a way to garner attention. Simple ways. Ways like beingtoo skinny and not eating to his Mom’s satisfaction. Varying trips to the doctoronly proved that he needed to eat more. He wasn’t sick. He was just way tooskinny. So while his dog ate his green beans on the floor, he was indulged withbanana bread with no nuts as requested. Although the family was poor and money wastight, he was allowed extra glasses of milk.Then something on the other side of the globe uprooted his entirely satisfyingworld and college, the bank, and home disappeared. At first, he thought he coulduse his wits to control his destiny. The Army came calling first and he high-tailed it to the Air Force. They examined him, prodded him, talked with him, andtested him. A fine specimen. They promised a soft assignment, far away from thegooks in Asia.Italy was wonderfully sunny and rustic and the females were so very enticing intheir sometimes too tight tops and short pants or skirts. He felt validated in hischoice. The Force had solemnly kept their promise.