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Dream Invaders - Copy

Dream Invaders - Copy

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Published by SAFEMANDAVE

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Published by: SAFEMANDAVE on Jul 05, 2010
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By David Clark SAFEMANDAVE@GMAIL.COM“Where have you been? We have been waiting for you.” The lead VC said in a singsong voice. I looked athim, he was wearing a conical straw hat and he had that grin that I had seen on fresh dead Vietnamese faces before. There were six of them in all and they were all dead. I knew that they were dead because I hadkilled them forty years ago. “ You didn’t really think that you could drink us away did you? You have tosober up sometime and we will still be waiting” he said.I knew that in life, the VC probably couldn’t say three words in English, but now I had no troubleunderstanding him. The other VC were quiet, letting the lead VC do all the talking. “Why do we have to dothis all over again? I was defending myself, you were trying to kill me from an ambush’’ I said. I probablyshould not have said that because that got him to repeat the same old tired rhetoric that he had beenspewing for forty years “You were in my country fighting an illegal war.’’ To which I always reply” youwere communist invaders of the peaceful sovereign republic of South Vietnam.” “ We were freedomfighters, trying to free the our southern brothers and sisters from a corrupt puppet regime” was his samereply for forty years. The talking was almost over, the shooting will start any second now.I had killed two of them while escaping captivity and the other four were killed in two separate ambushesin the delta region a while later. I have had to kill them over and over in my dreams ever since. I found thatif I got drunk enough I would not dream, but the VC was right, I had to sober up sometime. The dreamswould start again as soon as I tried to go to sleep sober. I had killed these VC in actual combat. I had killedother people in Vietnam, but that was murder and I suspect that I have a separate punishment coming for that. I also killed three VC that were raping a couple of Vietnamese women, but one of the women waskilled a few days later and I believe that she is keeping their ghosts away from me.The fight changes from night to night. Sometimes it will be an ambush, or they will be chasing methrough the jungle, or they might be a crew on a mobile quad 50, it’s different every night, but I alwaysmanage to kill them. I suspect that if they ever manage to kill me in my dream that I will really die in mysleep.The lead VC started to raise his AK-47, but I was quicker with my M-16 shorty. My shot caught him in theforehead and knocked him backwards into the other VC. I have learned that the only way that I can killthem is a head shot. I got two more headshots in during the confusion. I turned and ran for it. There arethree left and they will hunt me down in the jungle. I can hear them close behind. I need a place to hidefrom them or a place with good cover so I can stand and make a fight. The terrain is always different, but Isuspect that it is always a real place in Vietnam. I’ve been doing this for forty years and I still don’t knowvery much about the rules. I got behind a tree and waited, they have spread out to cover more ground. Thiswill give me a chance. One VC is coming down the trail. I put my front sight on his forehead and gentlysqueeze the trigger. CRACK. The bullet catches him right in the head. Four down, two to go. I have to get amove on. The sound of my shot will draw the other two. I find a dry streambed, it must not be monsoonseason in this dream, and crawl down it for a few yards. I carefully raise my head just enough to see. OneVC is sneaking through the brush at the edge of the streambed. I need to get a bead on him before he seesme. Too late, he sprays the edge of the streambed with AK rounds. I crawl backwards as fast as I can. I putthe shorty above the streambed and fire wildly just to keep him down. I get to a large tree and can sit up alittle. I don’t see Charlie. He’s out there somewhere, and his pal will be coming. Something about combatthat the average person doesn’t think about is that after the first few shots are fired your sense of hearingstops. I peeked around the tree and there they are. Standing side by side looking around for me. I can’t believe my luck. I cut loose a burst at them head high and they both drop. That was just too easy, but after forty years I should be getting good at it.I woke up in a pool of sweat. Unlike most pleasant dreams, where people try to grasp at the fleetingmemory of something nice. I can remember every detail of this dream and I turn over in bed and replay thedream over and over in my head. I look for any small detail that could reveal some way to stop thesedreams from reoccurring. I have tried everything except suicide.I have to stop these dreams somehow. Dreams should be pleasant excursions into another time and placewhere reality and normalcy relax their rules and allow you to fly away carefree and happy. Once in a whilea nightmare will sneak in, but that is the exception. My dreams have all been nightmares for forty yearsnow. The same VC always trying to kill me. I suspect that the rules of engagement change from night tonight. I have to defend myself, if I didn’t, I don’t believe that I would wake up. I think that I would die inmy sleep. Charlie seems to enjoy this. He might not enjoy getting killed every night, but he seems to enjoy
the discomfort that it brings me. I didn’t want to kill him in the first place. I was sent to Vietnam, it waseither be a coward and go to Canada or be sent to Vietnam. I am no hero, but I could not embarrass mymother and stepfather by acting like a coward. I loved and respected them too much to ever back awayfrom my patriotic duty to answer my country’s call. I look back on it now and I realize what a waste that itall was. It was a different world forty years ago. 1968 and the cold war with the communist bloc nationswas in full swing. Russia and China had been a threat as long as I could remember. Nakita Krueschev hadthreatened to bury all Americans when I was about four or five years old. I looked at a world globe in our living room and asked my grandmother where this Krueschev lived and why he wanted to bury me. Shetried to explain about WW2 and how the communists now wanted world domination. To the simple mind of a child (not yet cluttered with all the adult politics and BS) this was crazy.A few years later the Cuban missile crisis brought world politics and problems to the forefront of everyone’s minds. The insanity of the nuclear arms race, and the insane necessity of it. If we let theRussians outpace us, it could mean our destruction. The Russians feared their own destruction if they didn’tkeep up with us. Mutual distrust. I listened intently to the news on TV, and I listened to the customers in mystepfather’s bar. They carped about president Kennedy’s mishandling of the crisis. I had never stopped tothink that our president wasn’t liked by everybody in the country. Then Kennedy came to Texas and wasremoved from office by a couple of well placed rifle shots.About two weeks earlier another president had been assassinated in a small country far away, the republicof South Vietnam. At that time most Americans had never heard of Vietnam. There are people that believethat the two assassinations are connected. Kennedy had become disillusioned with Vietnam and had saidthat he would like to bring our troops home. He got his brains splattered all over the back of his limousine,and Lyndon Johnson escalated the war.That is how I got invited to the party, me and a few thousand other guys. Jacksonville naval air station for  preinduction physical, then on to Fort Benning for zero week and basic training. I had never been so cold,hungry, tired, lonely, and pissed off in my life. Nine weeks later I was sent by bus to Fort Polk for myAdvanced Individual Training. I was to be a light vehicle driver. The company commander got everybodyinto formation and said that they needed some limo drivers for VIPs. Would anybody that had never drivena car with a manual transmission raise their hands. These guys were told to step out of the formation andreport to the orderly room. They were sent over to infantry training, there were no limos here. Luckily I had been warned never to raise my hand or volunteer for anything.When our eight weeks of driving school was over and it was time for the company commander to handout the assignments, there was only one destination for the whole class, Vietnam. We all got a twenty eightday leave to go home and get your affairs in order. The whole company met up in Oakland and boarded aflight to Bien Hoa, Vietnam. Once there we were taken to the 90
replacement center at Long Binh. Theheat and stink of Vietnam was overwhelming. It is impossible to convey to you the absolute sense of hopelessness that I felt at that time. I had already decided that I probably would not survive this place of stink and death.There was a PX with almost nothing to sell and an EM club that I had to stand in line for two hours to getinto. Once inside ,I was able to purchase a piss warm can of beer and a bag of chips. There was no place tosit and the cigarette smoke was so thick that I almost couldn’t see. I took my beer and went outside. I don’tknow which was worse, the heat, stink, and mosquitoes, or the inside of that EM club.There wasn’t much to do during the day, sit on my duffle bag and talk to other G.I.s about home, cars andgirlfriends. We had formation four times a day and duty assignments were given out at that time. I haveseen guys break down and cry and others just stand in stunned silence when given an assignment. Certainduty assignments meant almost certain death. On my third day, I was sitting on my bag and a sergeantSmith directed me to join three other guys. The four of us were loaded into the back of a truck and driven to post engineers headquarters in Saigon.While in Saigon, I fell in with some unsavory characters and did some things that I’m not very proud of. Iguess that I was just disillusioned. There were young troops dying out in the field every day, this war wascosting lives, but in Saigon, Americans were more worried about what was in the PX. Our priority shouldhave been to get this war over as quickly as possible and get these troops home so that they could resumetheir lives. Almost nobody cared, body bags went home every day and replacement troops arrived.I don’t think that the average South Vietnamese citizen really cared much about the war. They had seenalmost nothing but war for years. I don’t think they cared who won, they just wanted it to stop. They werecaught between the army and the VC. The army would come around during the day and try to persuadethem to cooperate and Charlie would come around at night and scare the bejesus out of them. They were
more afraid of Charlie than they were of us. Our troops would lose control sometimes and do somethinghorrible, but that was the exception to the rule. Charlie would do something horrible on a regular basis justto make a point. The VC were terrorists. One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.Ho Chi Minh had vowed to reunite the two Vietnams, whether the South Vietnamese liked it or not. Sortof a Vietnamese version of Abe Lincoln. When the Southern states broke away from the union, one of Lincoln’s advisors said let them go. Lincoln replied, and where will we get our revenue? The north neededthe south because cotton was king and the north needed that money. Cotton had been the issue during our war of northern aggression, rice was the issue in Vietnam. There were a lot of things at play at that time,none of them were a reason for war. South Vietnam has four rice growing seasons, this is probably what prompted Uncle Ho more than anything else. North Vietnam, (just like North Korea now) was having ahard time feeding itself. The Russians wanted a warm water port. We Americans feared the dreaded dominoeffect, that all of Asia would become communist. The U.S. and Russia could test their weapons where lifeand real-estate were both cheap. L.B.J. could kiss my ass, all of the above reasons were not worth oneAmerican life, especially not mine.I don’t know what we were prepared to call a win. Uncle Ho was not going to run out of men, Russia andChina could provide weapons and ammo for decades. We went to the Paris peace talks and spent most of our time arguing about the shape of the table. Meanwhile more body bags went home.The C.I.D. finally took an interest in my activities in Saigon, the C.I.A. blocked the investigation. I wastransferred to a MACV outfit in the delta region. I had decided to try to straighten my life out .Maybe Icould survive Vietnam and return home and lead a normal life. I ran into some eerie things while stationedat the MACV compound. My stepfather had warned me that I could expect some strange occurrences inthis part of the world. He would not elaborate, and I can see why.I didn’t make many friends at the MACV compound, it was a clannish bunch. I met one guy named BillyBob Baugh, nicknamed B.B.Balls. He was a country boy like me so he knew how to shoot and fight. Hewas a common sense guy, not a dope head. I managed to get B.B.Balls and myself a trip home and an earlydischarge from the army thanks to a snafu in our enlistment papers.We flew in to Oakland and were discharged (with an apology from the army). We went to San Franciscoand got drunk. We said our farewells at the San Francisco airport and promised to keep in touch. He wenton his way and I got on a jet for Florida. I dozed off and dreamed that I was being chased all over the jungle by VC, I was not allowed to wake up until I had killed all six of them. I was covered with sweat andthe stewardesses were staring at me, they said that I had been screaming. I assured them that I was all rightnow, it had been a bad dream. I didn’t know that this would be every night for the rest of my life.I tried everything that I could think of to get a nights sleep without those dreams. The only thing that Icould do on my own was to get drunk and pass out. I could stay drunk for several days, but as soon as Iwent to sleep sober, they would be waiting. I went to a sleep therapist and he hooked me up to a machinethat would take a reading on my brain activity during sleep. After a few visits, I realized that he wasn’ttrying to help me, he was studying me. I couldn’t afford a shrink. I don’t think a psychiatrist could havehelped me anyway. I just got used to drinking the VC away every night and passing out.That lifestyle is not helpful when it comes to trying to make a living. Before I went into the army, I had a job driving an ambulance. It was an exciting job with plenty of action. I loved the fast driving and I wasright in the middle of what ever was happening, but I wanted something more for myself. I have a naturalart talent and I loved to draw cartoons. I applied at our local newspaper for a position in the art department.I got an interview and was told that the paper was eager to hire me, but I had to get my military service behind me. The draft notices kept coming and I did my best to ignore them, but I had to get the army behind me. After the service was over I should have been able to resume my life. The art department was agood paying job and I should have been content. Staying bombed out of my mind every night was affectingmy work. I was finally let go from the newspaper. I couldn’t blame them, I came to work every daysmelling like a brewery. It is impossible to hold down a good job and drink myself into oblivion everynight.I got a job as a locksmith and drove a taxi at night. I was trying to work myself so hard that I would just pass out at night when I got off work. That did not work, they were waiting for me when I closed my eyesto sleep. We didn’t have a VA hospital in our town. I didn’t want to turn to them anyway, they would justgive me pills. I didn’t want pills, I wanted these dreams to stop and I hoped that they would stop in time.Time dragged on, weeks turned into months, then into years. I killed the same six VC every night that Iwent to sleep without enough alcohol in my system to pass out. Sometimes I would have other dreams too,It would almost always be a dream about something that had happened in Vietnam. I would relive some

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