I've started posting the chapters of Resolution 786. I'll post each successive chapter roughly every 3 or 4 days. Here's Chapter 28:
Platoon 110 had just returned from patrol. The teenagers sat around on the cement floor of a large, empty aluminum airplane hangar. The sun glared outside. The air inside was parched. Large pedestal fans stood at each corner of the open hangar, pushing dry air across the soldiers as they sat here and there in their T-shirts and combat pants, cleaning their weapons, open water canteens standing next to each of them.
“Hey, you hear the one ‘bout the two gerbils walking by the fag bar?” Lee made sure that he spoke loud enough for everyone to hear. Baker looked up at Lee with a smirk on his face, anticipating a crude punch line. “Yeah, the one gerbil said to the other, ‘Hey, you wanna go in there and get shit-faced?’” Harrrrrr, har, har! The young men laughed raucously, rocking back and forth, looking at each other through tearing, squinted eyed. Lee turned, laughing, to see Lamech’s reaction. Lamech was peacefully cleaning his weapon, ignoring the jokes and the ruckus. The laughter slowly subsided in a rolling chorus of sighs and “Oh, shits.”
Lee waited a minute or so, wiping the barrel of his weapon with an oil-stained rag. “Yeah, Lamech, my man….” He didn’t complete the sentence, sounding as if he couldn’t think of how it should end. He ran a bore cleaner through the open end of the long gun barrel, then held the hollowed cylinder up toward the ceiling light, peering through it with one eye closed, inspecting the inside for dirt. “What I wouldn’t give for a whiff ‘a pussy,” he finally said in exaggerated wistfulness. He paused, put down his weapon and faced Lamech, straight-faced. “But then you wouldn’t know much ‘bout that, huh?” Lee and most of the other teenagers burst into a second round of schoolhouse laughter. The loud barks bounced off the stiff aluminum walls and back onto the hard, waxed floor, drowning the fans’ electric hum.
Lamech continued to avoid sight of his tormentor and focused on cleaning his weapon. “You’ve got major issues, Lee,” he said.
“Yeah, but sucking cock isn’t one of them,” replied Lee, eyes squinted, clucking in laughter.
“Man, leave him alone,” Webster protested.
“Fuck you, Webster,” said Lee. “Don’t be protectin’ no rump ranger, man.”
Webster stood and tensed threateningly, his eyes as hard as nails, staring at Lee, pores simmering in rising anger.
“What?” said Lee, hunching his shoulders and looking around wonderingly.
“You been fucking with everyone steady, the whole time. Let people be.” Webster’s bright white teeth stood in sharp contrast to his dark face. He was the largest soldier in the platoon. His muscles, heavily packed and bulging through his T-shirt, hunched about his neck, turning him into a snorting bull.
“He’s just joking, man,” Baker told Webster, trying to break the tension.
“Fuckin’ with people ain’t jokin’,” said Webster.
“Let it go, guys,” said Lamech, softly.
“Shut up, faggot!” yelled Lee, darting a speared glance at Lamech.
“You shut up, redneck!” Webster barked at Lee.
Lee stood abruptly, his weapon dropping off his lap and onto the hard, waxed floor in a rattled crash. His eyes narrowed and his lips fumed, ready to form caustic words as the rest of the young men joined in bellowing their respective thoughts and stances on the current situation. The hard aluminum shell over them caught the cacophony of vicious bellows and roars and bounced them back into the floors and walls, turning the airplane hangar into a busy neighborhood bowling alley on Friday night.
“At ease! At ease!” First Sergeant Blake’s adult voice shouted from the adjacent Recreation Room, a tone of fatherly sternness soaked into his words. “This is clean-your-weapon time, not smoke-and-joke time.”
Mumbles and murmur.
“I can’t hear you!” First Sergeant called to them in an exaggerated, singsong tone.
“Yes, First Sergeant!” the soldiers answered in unison.