Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Keep Your Eyes and Ears Open [Chapter 25]

I've started posting the chapters of Resolution 786. I'll post each successive chapter roughly every 3 or 4 days. Here's Chapter 25:


“Gentlemen, thank you for taking time from your mission to be here this afternoon.” Colonel Klick was clipped, pressed, cropped, trim. He stood in a large block of shade in the middle of the Iraqi desert. The rolling tan tarp above him sagged from the beating sun. It stood a story high, held up by a network of thin, leaning aluminum poles. The teenagers of combat infantry Platoon 110 sat in a set of loose rows in the shaded sand before Klick, some hugging their knees in front of them, others cross legged, all with their helmets and weapons within reach. Hueghlomm stood at the opposite end of the shade, behind the soldiers, facing Klick.

“Men, we have a fella in back of us,” said the Colonel, bony, veined hands on his hips, serious eyes tilted down at the young men. “I want you to turn around and take a look.” The soldiers turned their faces to Hueghlomm in a murmur of collective movement, some smiling, some frowning, most blank. Their closely cropped hair exposed all the scars and cuts that their short lives had left on their scalps. They quietly peered at Hueghlomm.

Hueghlomm had on a brand new, ill-fitting combat uniform. His face was soft underneath fragile glasses, his cheeks much fuller than those of the trained, lanky teenagers staring at him. His hair, too, was different, longer than theirs, neatly parted on one side, almost reaching the tops of his small ears. He had no weapon. In its place, he carried a plain, lime-green government-issue journal at his side. And unlike the soldiers of Platoon 110, his face wore a pleasant smile. “That there’s Doc Hueghlomm,” said Colonel Klick, pointing a thin, sharp finger.

Private Lee sat holding his knees in front of himself, down in the sand adjacent to where Hueghlomm stood. Lee glared resentfully at the soft, brown man before him, pondering how his great Army could allow such a pocket of feeble weakness into its midst. He looked down to Hueghlomm’s side, at the lime-green notebook that hung limply where a stiff, ready weapon belonged. Meek, black letters centered in the top half of the notebook cover told everyone “RECORD.” Below, bottom and centered on the cover, Lee read the small print with a denigrating mental sneer — “Federal Supply Service.” Lee huffed to himself, took one last glance at Hueghlomm and quickly turned away, as if avoiding the sight of something offensive. In this, his combat environment, Lee felt that the image of Hueghlomm was wrong, just…wrong.

Colonel Klick continued. “Doc’s with us this week. He’s got some good ideas about how to deal with the roadside bombs that are blowing up our vehicles and guys. Doc’ll be following us around, collecting some G2.” G2 was Klick’s shorthand for tactical intelligence. “He’s looking to see where the bad guys place the bombs, what they make ‘em of, how deep they bury those suckers and what kinds of detonating devices they’ve got. That kind of stuff.” Klick stopped and turned his head all around, looking at as many of the soldiers as possible, making a display that he was checking to see if everyone had listened. Satisfied, he gave the soldiers their orders. “It’s your job this week to escort and protect Doc while he collects G2, G2 that might save your life. But remember, men — the bad guys don’t care if you’re out there taking notes for some science project,” he said “science project” with mocking emphasis and continued. “The bad guys’ll kill ya dead whether you’re petting your dog or praying the rosary. So keep your faith in God, men...which means keep your eyes and ears open and your weapons locked and loaded.”

4 comments:

  1. Thanks, Rama. Wishing you the same in India :)

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  2. M, have you visited 'Prufrock's Dilemma?' Check out http://prufrocksdilemma.blogspot.com/2012/01/triumph-of-style.html , if you've the time/inclination.

    And happy new year!

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  3. Suze - no, I haven't. I'll check it out. Happy New Year to you too!

    ReplyDelete