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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 at him, 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 had killed them forty years ago. “ You didn’t really think that you could drink us away did you? You have to sober 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 trouble understanding him. The other VC were quiet, letting the lead VC do all the talking. “Why do we have to do this all over again? I was defending myself, you were trying to kill me from an ambush’’ I said. I probably should not have said that because that got him to repeat the same old tired rhetoric that he had been spewing for forty years “You were in my country fighting an illegal war.’’ To which I always reply” you were communist invaders of the peaceful sovereign republic of South Vietnam.” “ We were freedom fighters, trying to free the our southern brothers and sisters from a corrupt puppet regime” was his same reply 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 ambushes in the delta region a while later. I have had to kill them over and over in my dreams ever since. I found that if I got drunk enough I would not dream, but the VC was right, I had to sober up sometime. The dreams would start again as soon as I tried to go to sleep sober. I had killed these VC in actual combat. I had killed other 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 was killed 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 me through the jungle, or they might be a crew on a mobile quad 50, it’s different every night, but I always manage to kill them. I suspect that if they ever manage to kill me in my dream that I will really die in my sleep. The lead VC started to raise his AK-47, but I was quicker with my M-16 shorty. My shot caught him in the forehead and knocked him backwards into the other VC. I have learned that the only way that I can kill them is a head shot. I got two more headshots in during the confusion. I turned and ran for it. There are three left and they will hunt me down in the jungle. I can hear them close behind. I need a place to hide from them or a place with good cover so I can stand and make a fight. The terrain is always different, but I suspect that it is always a real place in Vietnam. I’ve been doing this for forty years and I still don’t know very much about the rules. I got behind a tree and waited, they have spread out to cover more ground. This will give me a chance. One VC is coming down the trail. I put my front sight on his forehead and gently squeeze the trigger. CRACK. The bullet catches him right in the head. Four down, two to go. I have to get a move on. The sound of my shot will draw the other two. I find a dry streambed, it must not be monsoon season in this dream, and crawl down it for a few yards. I carefully raise my head just enough to see. One VC is sneaking through the brush at the edge of the streambed. I need to get a bead on him before he sees me. Too late, he sprays the edge of the streambed with AK rounds. I crawl backwards as fast as I can. I put the shorty above the streambed and fire wildly just to keep him down. I get to a large tree and can sit up a little. I don’t see Charlie. He’s out there somewhere, and his pal will be coming. Something about combat that the average person doesn’t think about is that after the first few shots are fired your sense of hearing stops. 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 fleeting memory of something nice. I can remember every detail of this dream and I turn over in bed and replay the dream over and over in my head. I look for any small detail that could reveal some way to stop these dreams from reoccurring. I have tried everything except suicide. I have to stop these dreams somehow. Dreams should be pleasant excursions into another time and place where reality and normalcy relax their rules and allow you to fly away carefree and happy. Once in a while a nightmare will sneak in, but that is the exception. My dreams have all been nightmares for forty years now. The same VC always trying to kill me. I suspect that the rules of engagement change from night to night. I have to defend myself, if I didn’t, I don’t believe that I would wake up. I think that I would die in my 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 was either be a coward and go to Canada or be sent to Vietnam. I am no hero, but I could not embarrass my mother and stepfather by acting like a coward. I loved and respected them too much to ever back away from my patriotic duty to answer my country’s call. I look back on it now and I realize what a waste that it all was. It was a different world forty years ago. 1968 and the cold war with the communist bloc nations was in full swing. Russia and China had been a threat as long as I could remember. Nakita Krueschev had threatened 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. She tried 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 the Russians outpace us, it could mean our destruction. The Russians feared their own destruction if they didn’t keep up with us. Mutual distrust. I listened intently to the news on TV, and I listened to the customers in my stepfather’s bar. They carped about president Kennedy’s mishandling of the crisis. I had never stopped to think that our president wasn’t liked by everybody in the country. Then Kennedy came to Texas and was removed 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 republic of South Vietnam. At that time most Americans had never heard of Vietnam. There are people that believe that the two assassinations are connected. Kennedy had become disillusioned with Vietnam and had said that 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 my Advanced Individual Training. I was to be a light vehicle driver. The company commander got everybody into formation and said that they needed some limo drivers for VIPs. Would anybody that had never driven a car with a manual transmission raise their hands. These guys were told to step out of the formation and report 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 hand out the assignments, there was only one destination for the whole class, Vietnam. We all got a twenty eight day leave to go home and get your affairs in order. The whole company met up in Oakland and boarded a flight to Bien Hoa, Vietnam. Once there we were taken to the 90th replacement center at Long Binh. The heat 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 get into. Once inside ,I was able to purchase a piss warm can of beer and a bag of chips. There was no place to sit and the cigarette smoke was so thick that I almost couldn’t see. I took my beer and went outside. I don’t know 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 and girlfriends. We had formation four times a day and duty assignments were given out at that time. I have seen guys break down and cry and others just stand in stunned silence when given an assignment. Certain duty assignments meant almost certain death. On my third day, I was sitting on my bag and a sergeant Smith 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. I guess that I was just disillusioned. There were young troops dying out in the field every day, this war was costing lives, but in Saigon, Americans were more worried about what was in the PX. Our priority should have been to get this war over as quickly as possible and get these troops home so that they could resume their 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 seen almost nothing but war for years. I don’t think they cared who won, they just wanted it to stop. They were caught between the army and the VC. The army would come around during the day and try to persuade them 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 something horrible, but that was the exception to the rule. Charlie would do something horrible on a regular basis just to 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. Sort of 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 needed the 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 a hard time feeding itself. The Russians wanted a warm water port. We Americans feared the dreaded domino effect, that all of Asia would become communist. The U.S. and Russia could test their weapons where life and real-estate were both cheap. L.B.J. could kiss my ass, all of the above reasons were not worth one American 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 and China 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 was transferred to a MACV outfit in the delta region. I had decided to try to straighten my life out .Maybe I could survive Vietnam and return home and lead a normal life. I ran into some eerie things while stationed at the MACV compound. My stepfather had warned me that I could expect some strange occurrences in this 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 Billy Bob Baugh, nicknamed B.B.Balls. He was a country boy like me so he knew how to shoot and fight. He was a common sense guy, not a dope head. I managed to get B.B.Balls and myself a trip home and an early discharge 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 Francisco and got drunk. We said our farewells at the San Francisco airport and promised to keep in touch. He went on 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 and the stewardesses were staring at me, they said that I had been screaming. I assured them that I was all right now, 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 I could do on my own was to get drunk and pass out. I could stay drunk for several days, but as soon as I went to sleep sober, they would be waiting. I went to a sleep therapist and he hooked me up to a machine that would take a reading on my brain activity during sleep. After a few visits, I realized that he wasn’t trying to help me, he was studying me. I couldn’t afford a shrink. I don’t think a psychiatrist could have helped 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 was right in the middle of what ever was happening, but I wanted something more for myself. I have a natural art 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 a good paying job and I should have been content. Staying bombed out of my mind every night was affecting my work. I was finally let go from the newspaper. I couldn’t blame them, I came to work every day smelling like a brewery. It is impossible to hold down a good job and drink myself into oblivion every night. 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 eyes to sleep. We didn’t have a VA hospital in our town. I didn’t want to turn to them anyway, they would just give 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 I went 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
other horror, but first I had to dream about these six playmates of mine. I worked on a cruise ship and on several different types of offshore oil rigs. My work was always above the average and I was generally well liked offshore. The dreams didn’t follow me offshore, but they would always be waiting for me when I returned to shore. Maybe they can’t cross water. It is getting dark and I am a little sleepy, I didn’t feel like drinking today so we know what will happen tonight. I am alone in the jungle and getting back to friendly lines is not an option. There are no friendly lines. There is never anybody else in these dreams, just the six VC and me in our timeless dance of death. Our waltz macabre. I know that they are somewhere close, probably waiting in ambush. I crawl carefully being extra quiet. I listen for any little noise. HSSSSS, I freeze, I have just startled a cobra snake. This snake is deadly poisonous. They probably account for more human deaths than all other species of snakes on earth combined. They can be very aggressive. We are only about five feet apart and he doesn’t look very happy. This has never happened before, but like I said the rules can change and nobody bothers to notify me. I try to back off, but he advances even shortening the distance some. I could just shoot him, but that would tell the VC my location. I pick up a stick that is laying on the ground and get to my feet. I advance on him a little, but he doesn’t retreat. I place the stick under him and toss him backwards. He falls back to the ground, but doesn’t advance this time. I advance on him once more and he slithers away into the underbrush. This is a revolting development. In about forty years, I have never encountered any creature other than the VC. I get the feeling that the stakes have just been upped. I smell a VC, he must be close, but where? They very seldom split up, almost always sticking together so they can combine their firepower. They can use fire and movement, go for position while they keep me pinned down. I know that they are close, but I have no idea where. My best bet is to stay quiet and let them make the first move. I see one in a tree, he is their spotter / sniper. I can’t move around with him watching for my every move. I take aim at him. Zero in on his head. He can feel me looking at him. I squeeze the trigger. CRACK, he spills out of the tree and hits the ground, dead. Five more to go. I notice a little movement in the underbrush and work over that way. I have to stay hidden, unmoving, for almost an hour. The heat is miserable and the mosquitoes make a meal off of my sorry carcass. I can’t swat at the insects because Charlie would hear the noise. Finally the VC tries to move a little and I spot him. He is really only a few feet away from me. His back is to me and he is looking the other way. I set my M-16 shorty down and draw my K-BAR knife. I slip up to within three feet of him and gather myself for a leap. He must sense something at the last second, but it is much too late for him to save himself. I jump on him and stab my knife right where his skull joins his spine. He dies almost instantly, but he manages to squeeze off a burst of automatic rifle fire when his muscles contract. I crawl back into my hiding place and wait. The AK-47 rifle makes a distinctive sound and Charlie knows the difference. The burst of full automatic fire could mean a lot of different things. The other four Charlies are bound to be dying of curiosity. It could mean that Charlie saw me and shot at me, maybe even hit me, or killed me. Someone will have to come and check it out. Two Charlies are working their way through the tall weeds toward me. My sense of hearing was lessened by the burst of automatic fire, but it is not completely gone. My ears are ringing some. I can see the tops of the weeds moving as they work their way toward me. The other two have split up, moving around to try to flank me on either side. I wait in ambush. One VC is about three feet from me, I can glimpse him from time to time as he sneaks through the elephant grass. I put the iron sights on the side of his head and squeeze the trigger. CRACK, the other VC realizes how close that I must be and cuts loose with his AK. I am flat on the ground trying to compete with the earthworms. The bullets fly just over me. I have no problem figuring out where he is and I fire a couple of shots in his direction. I hit him a body shot and it knocks him down, but only a headshot will kill him. I crawl as fast as I can to where he has fallen and I use the K-BAR on the side of his head, this is as good as a head shot and it conserves ammunition. I check the other Charlie just to be sure that he is dead. Now I have two Charlies left, they were trying to flank me, but now they are not moving. It will be a waiting game again. My sense of hearing is coming back. I move to a new spot and wait. I have killed four and there are two more to go if they haven’t changed those rules too. It is beginning to rain. It will be easier to move silently as the under brush won’t make as much noise. That only benefits the person that is moving. If you are moving and step on a twig, it will not snap, and leaves on the ground won’t crackle. I am on top of the next Charlie before I realize it, I wasn’t aware that he was this close. Am I losing my edge? I charged out of the bush firing from the hip. CRACK, CRACK,CRACK. The third shot catches him
right in the forehead and knocks him backwards into a small stream. I leap into the stream right behind him. He is floating very slowly downstream. I hide up in the overhanging brush on the far side of the streambed. Conical straw hat approaches and sees his comrade floating gently down the stream. He has a look of rage on his face. This must get to him as much as it gets to me. He has me outnumbered six to one every night and yet he always loses. He hasn’t lost yet tonight. I could just show myself and let him shoot me. That should end our little game. I have a strong will to survive. I raise the shorty and poke it through the brush. He has not fired his rifle so his sense of hearing has not been lessened. He hears the water dripping off my gun barrel. He wheels to fire and I place a kill shot right between his slanty eyes. He squeezes off a burst of full automatic AK-47 fire as he goes down. The bullets go a little low and hit the water, I can feel the bullets hitting me underwater. The bullets had lost enough velocity because of the water that they only bruised me. I must be slowing down. That is the first time in forty years that I have been hit with anything. I climbed out of the water and just lay there panting, out of breath. When I woke up, I was once again laying in a pool of sweat and I had the bruises from the VC’s bullets. I tried to get comfortable and go back to sleep, but that wasn’t going to happen. I tossed and turned the rest of the night. Maybe tomorrow I will just get drunk. It is easier than fighting with these ghosts every night. I’m in New Orleans now and there is a VA hospital here. Maybe they can be of some help. I doubt that they would believe me about my dreams. They would think that I was blowing smoke up their asses just to try to get some pills. Worse, they might believe that I am crazy and lock me up and throw away the key. That would be a great way to end up my days, addicted to pills and in a straight jacket. I drove to the VA hospital and went in with my DD-214 discharge form to the front desk. I was sent to urgent care and from there I was sent for a physical and a psychological profile. I finally saw a doctor later in the day. They discovered that I had high blood pressure and diabetes. That was not my worry, I wanted to get the dreams stopped and then worry about any other physical problems that I might have. A VA hospital is a very depressing place. Wheelchair bound men everywhere, testament to the effectiveness of antipersonnel mines. Men walking with an IV tree, carrying their own personal cocktail of drugs with them. Men with missing limbs. Men walking around like zombies. Others with no visible injuries, like me. They are waiting patiently for their pills. I have decided, no pills. I would rather stay drunk than take pills. I know what alcohol does to me, I don’t know how I will act on those pills. Antipsychotic drugs just scare the hell out of me. I think a lot of post traumatic disorder problems actually arise from the use of these drugs. The VA’s answer to that is to increase the dosage. Then you join the zombies, no thanks. I was walking down a hall, looking for a certain room number for an appointment when I encountered an old friend. Sergeant Sanchez had been on a LRRP team that had inserted me into and extracted me from a few hot spots in 1968. I walked over and spoke to him, but he seemed to have trouble remembering me. He had a slightly confused look on his face. His eyes were dull and he didn’t seem to have the ability to focus well. I remembered a highly motivated and dedicated soldier, not the vacant stare and mumbling that I was seeing and hearing now. Sanchez finally seemed to recognize me and he mumbled something about a couple of other people that we both knew. He told me that he and a few guys from his old squad were sharing an apartment and expenses down on the Esplanade by the French quarter. He said that they were living on disability checks and supplementing their incomes acting as drug enforcers for a major drug dealer. I could not believe that this once proud soldier had been reduced to this. I told him that I had an appointment and would have to go in a minute or two. He said that his appointment was with the pharmacy and he shook an empty pill bottle to show me that it was empty. He smiled and said “I can’t get by without my little helpers.’’ He walked on down the hallway. I watched him go and wondered what manner of personal hell that he was quietly dealing with. That chance encounter reinforced my resolve, no pills. Any other treatment was all right with me, but I would not become a zombie hooked on pills. I wondered how many of the guys had turned themselves into the walking dead to escape something similar to what I was going through. There has to be a better way of dealing with this than getting bombed out of your gourd on booze or pills. I don’t guess that the VA has figured out a better way to deal with this problem, if they had, they would be more help. I guess that they are doing their best trying to deal with a very difficult problem. They can fit you with an artificial leg or arm, but dealing with head cases is a whole different ball game. They just pill you up and release you on society. Break any laws or hurt anybody and they have to confine you to the mental ward. I have to find a better way of dealing with my little nighttime playmates. I guess I’ll just be a drunk for the rest of my life. I don’t know how long my liver will hold out with the treatment that I am
giving it. I walked out of the VA more dejected than I had ever felt. There had to be a way to fight back. Well, it’s getting dark outside and I am getting sleepy. I should have gotten drunk instead of going to the VA hospital. I am going to stay up as long as I can. When I finally doze off, it will start all over again. The VC will be waiting for me and we can waltz once more. I still hurt from the bruises that I got last time. That is as close as I have ever come to being wounded. The VC get killed every night, but they are back tomorrow night as if nothing had happened to them. Will I be stiff and sore tonight? My fighting skills have increased, but my body is slowing down. Sooner or later the VC will win. The cobra snake is another matter. Up until now the only worry that I have had is the VC. Throw some deadly creatures, snakes, Bengal tigers, and maybe a few wild hogs into the equation and I have a serious problem. I will have to deal with the VC and be on the lookout for predators at the same time. Like I said, somebody just upped the stakes. The jungle is dark. It is a cloudy night, no stars or moon. The only light is an occasional flash of lightning. The rain is not a heavy downpour, but it is steady. This weather is better for me than it is for Charlie. I am outnumbered six to one, but I may be able to pick them off one by one. The wet jungle floor will allow me to move about more silently and the darkness will conceal me. I don’t have a clue where conical straw hat and his band of merry men are, but I know that I don’t have long to wait. I’ll do just that, wait, wait until they get within striking distance. The lightning flashes, there just a few yards to my left is one VC. He doesn’t see me, he is looking in the wrong direction. I’ll take him out with my K-BAR, that will be silent and not alert the other VC as to my location. CRACK, I feel a slight tug at my right jacket sleeve. I duck and run a few steps. Where did that shot come from? My arm hurts a little, it must be just a scrape. I feel some brush that I can hide in. Another flash of lightning, one VC is standing right in front of me. I stab the K-BAR into his throat, he goes over backward and I follow him down. I work the razor sharp knife back and forth, cutting his jugular veins and severing his spine from his skull. This is just as good as a head shot. I lay on top of him until I’m sure that he is dead. Another lightning flash, I see another VC. He doesn’t see me on the ground. I crawl to his position and get into position to spring on him. I just have to wait for another flash of lightning. A flash and I leap at him driving the K-BAR into his left eye socket and on into his brain. Another VC is close and fires his AK-47 at me, he misses, but it was close. The good part is that his night vision is gone. I was looking at the VC that I was killing and this other VC was off to my right and slightly behind me. My night vision was not affected by the muzzle flash of his rifle, but his is ruined for a few minutes. I need to take advantage of this. I kind of know where he is and I creep in that direction. The lightning flashes and I am right in front of him. I jam my M-16 shorty in his surprised face, shut my eyes and fire. He flips backward. I have to move out. The other three VC all cut loose with full automatic fire, but I’m not where they saw my muzzle flash. I ducked and rolled as fast as I could after I squeezed off that round. Now they have a two problems, their night vision is impaired and their hearing is gone. I have some ringing in my ears from my rifle shot, but it was just one shot. I just have to lay low and wait for one of them to make a mistake. I think that this is the hardest part of combat, waiting. Another flash of lightning and I don’t see anyone except for the dead. The other three VC must have gone to ground to wait for their hearing and night vision to come back a little. In a normal situation, this would be an excellent opportunity to slip away. Not in this situation, I have to kill the other three, I don’t have any choice. The rain seems to be slacking up a little, this could be good, this could be bad. Being outnumbered, I have to take advantage of every change in the weather or any other part of this environment. I also depend on a lot of luck. My arm is starting to throb, that bullet did a little damage. It will have to wait. I have more pressing problems. A flash of lightning and I see conical straw hat slipping up on where he thinks that I am hiding. His only problem is that he is several yards off from my actual location.. He has spotted a small stand of weeds and brush and thinks that he has found me. He is not making a sound as he creeps up to this stand of weeds, neither do I. He searches carefully, very silently, and I am right behind him the whole time. I’m dogging his every footstep. He knows that he is close to me,. He can smell me, I am a meat eater and also I have more active sweat glands. He can smell me. He has searched every inch of this stand of weeds and cannot find me, but he knows that I am close. I can’t stand it anymore, I set my M-16 shorty down and pull my K-BAR. About this time the VC stiffens a little and I think he just realized the danger. I have my face just inches behind his head, I whisper ”BOO’’ and stab him from behind right where his skull joins his spine. When that big knife cut his motor nerves he dropped like the sack of crap that he is. Two more to go. Not only is the rain slacking up, but the dawn is coming. I will have to hurry or I will lose some of my
advantage. Heavy rain has the advantage of hiding any noise that I might accidentally make. The darkness of night gives me concealment. They have to search for me, all I have to do is wait for them. Dawn will change all of that. The lightning has stopped, I might as well get some rest. I hear something. At least one of the VC is nearby. If I just had a little light. He is very close. I have my back to a tree, and I am straining my eyes. Movement, just a few feet away. I am tempted to just use full automatic on my shorty and then go for a head shot, but that would give my location away to the other VC. We are getting a little grey dawn so I crouch down and try to skylight him. The dumb bastard trips over me, I had no idea that he was that close. I grabbed his rifle as we struggled in the dark, I hung on to his rifle and we rolled and fought for any advantage. I kneed him in his groin and he gave a yelp of pain. He let go of the rifle with one hand to claw at my eyes. I wrenched the rifle away from him and beat him with it. I beat him in the head with the wooden stock of his rifle. Then I folded out the bayonet and drove it into his skull through his eye socket on downward until it came out of the back of his skull. I drove the bayonet on into the ground and left the rifle standing like that. I felt around on the ground for my own rifle, I found the M-16 shorty about half under the dead VC and tried to clean it up some. I still have one more to go and I don’t want my rifle to jam up due to mud. The beginning of dawn isn’t more than a few minutes away. Now I have my choice, I can remain the hunted or I can be the hunter. I prefer for him to have to find me so I will find myself a nice spot and wait for him. I tried to work my way back to the stand of weeds where I had killed the VC leader. I slipped into the stand and did my best impersonation of the invisible man. A little light was trying to peek through the darkness. Here comes the VC. He is a few yards away yet. He really isn’t coming in my direction. He is looking at his dead comrade with the bayonet and rifle pinned through his skull. He is searching for me, I can see the rage on his face. Well, you will just die mad. I put the iron sights on his forehead and squeeze the trigger, nothing happens. The shorty must have gotten mud in it while the VC and I struggled over his rifle. I frantically searched the weeds for conical straw hat’s AK47. I found it. I don’t know if they can be killed by their own rifles. Their own bayonets can kill them so why not their own rifles. I am never sure of the rules. I draw a bead on the side of the VC’s head and squeeze the trigger, nothing happens. Take the safety off, dummy. I squeezed the trigger again, and this time, CRACK. The VC fell sideways and I was ready to clock out. My work here is done. I woke up with my arm throbbing and blood all over my sheets. The shot only scraped me, but they are getting closer. I still have the bruises from the other night. I must be slowing down. How much longer can I last? I stayed in the motel all day, only going out once to get food and a bandage for my arm. I probably should just stay drunk for a few days until these bruises and my arm get better. I tried to read a book, but I just couldn’t get into it. I finally fell into an exhausted sleep. I woke up in midafternoon. I really don’t feel like drinking today, but I know the consequences of staying sober. I picked the book back up and read until I finished it. It’s about nine PM now. I don’t want a drink, so I guess that I will stay awake as long as I can. I dozed off about midnight. I am in the jungle, waiting for my rumble buddies to appear. I have selected a well concealed spot. I will see them before they see me. I need to get this over with quick tonight, my arm is stiff and throbbing with pain. It must infected. It is another monsoon night, cloudy and dark. No rain yet, but it is probably coming before the night is over. The VC are close, I can smell them in the slight breeze. All that I can do is wait for one of them to make a mistake. I have to fight from a hiding place. Shoot and run is just about my only tactic. The darkness is my only friend. When we fight during the day, they have a better chance. I can’t see them now, but I can sense them. I know that I could probably reach out and touch at least one of them. Suddenly, a blindingly bright light. It isn’t a flash. It is brighter than any flare that I ever saw. I was right, the VC are all around me. I start to raise my M-16 shorty, but a voice tells me to put it down. A female voice. I see the VC all drop their weapons, so I drop mine. An image appears out of the light. It is a woman so beautiful that I almost can’t look at her. She is speaking to the VC in an admonishing tone. They are held in awe of her beauty and her purity. I speak pretty good Vietnamese, but she is chewing them out rapid fire and I can’t understand but every other word or so. I could understand enough that I knew that I didn’t want to be on the receiving end of that ass chewing. The VC actually looked relieved, they turned and walked off into the darkness without picking up their weapons. The beautiful lady turned to me, I guess it’s my turn. She calls over her shoulder and a dragon appeared in the circle of light. The dragon’s scales were golden. It was about three times bigger than a human. It had a cobra snake in it’s front paws. She gave it a command and it ate the cobra. She turned to me with a smile and said “that snake was sent by an evil being that I banished from earth, the snake was his last attempt to
harm you.” I stood there stunned. She went on to explain that I had met her once in her village in Vietnam. I had helped her banish a demon, she had been very old then. I couldn’t hold my tongue’ If you were very old then how can you be so young and beautiful now?” She gave a little musical laugh and said” this is how I choose to look now. I was a good witch. When I died, I was rewarded with powers and a palace. I was given twelve golden dragons to guard my palace against evil. I wanted to reward you for helping me banish that demon. I will free you from these nightmares. These dreams were the demon’s curse on you and now I have broken that spell. She looked at me and said ”Mai, the woman that was killed trying to help you escape from the VC, sends her love and says that she is waiting for you in the next life”. I think women just like love stories, no matter if it’s in this world or the next. Fini This is a work of fiction, any resemblance to a place, or persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Also read; The Vietnam Triangle, Death house, Vietnam Vampire, Evil people, The Jacket, and Big Sharon has closed her bar.
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