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“Bang, bang, you’re dead!” Tommy yells from the thick woods bordering our back yard. “Bang, bang, you’re dead! Ha! I got you right between the eyes! You’re dead!”
Tommy’s laughter recedes.
“Bravo One, Bravo One, this is Delta, Over . . . Bravo One, this is Delta, over.” Again and again the same agitated voice. “Bravo one. Can you read me? Over.”
My pounding heartbeat all but silences the incessant static of the radio lying somewhere to my side. I’m trying to find the handset, trying to answer. My ears are ringing. My eyes struggle to focus . . . ‘Blood! Oh shit! What happened? Roll over. Crawl away. Move!’ Nothing works.
Blurred images move silently past. I struggle against the panic seeking to engulf me, close my eyes and try to merge with the mud I am lying in.
“Help me,” a voice moans to my left. I hear more groaning to my front. The low cough of an AK47 shatters the stillness. Pleading screams followed by more shots, curses . . . more shots.
The shooting ends as quickly as it had started. A hushed silence falls over the scene. The NVA melt into the thick underbrush leaving the raw odor of cordite in their wake.
I try to roll over and escape into the jungle before they return, but my legs have detached themselves from my brain. They are instead, doing a strange mud dance of their own.
I think of my dad, years ago, laughing as Buster my old coon hound runs in his sleep by the fireplace, “He’s chasing rabbits,” dad says to me.
Tommy laughs at me lying beneath the old oak tree playing dead and pokes me with the butt of his BB gun. “Gotcha, Jimmy. Ha! You’re dead.”