The air was dense; Mark could not breathe well under the circumstances. The smell of burnt gunpowder, vomit, and blood was all he could smell. It was searing, the sun, and he could not have sweated more in his entire life. Quietly, he crawled towards, Bud, his friend. The grass beneath him moved ever so slightly. It was obviously unnatural, and the Viet Cong opened fire. Bullets grazed the grass before them like a lawnmower of bullets. Their commanding officer gave the order to open fire. The sound of M16 returning gunfire sliced through the forest. A few grenade explosions later, both parties were losing men. The Viet Cong pushed forward, though their number was smaller. They charged with a thinly placed line of men. A few more grenades and the Viet Cong were deathly silent. The sudden silence injected fear into the heart of the commanding officer, thus he sounded the retreat.
The chopper arrived somewhat later than expected, yet they held their ground until the swirling blades were right above them. They loaded up. Just as the chopper was dusting off the ground the Viet Cong opened a large volley of fire. The choppers gunner returned it, providing cover for the rising chopper. The sound of the heavy automatic bursts filled the cabin, echoing on almost endlessly. He and several other men from his squad assisted and opened fire as well. One of the Viet Cong was lucky enough to land a shot on the choppers gunner. He sat back, head lolling around in the cabin in a disturbingly diagonal fashion. Mark stood back, staring at the gunner, silent. The medic pushed Mark aside and placed his kit on the floor where Mark sat. Seconds later, the medic stopped aiding the gunner and asked for a body bag. Nobody spoke a word.
“Hey, Mark, the guys are gonna go to town for a drink. Wanna come along?” Bud poked his head in the room.
“We’re not allowed to leave the premises, it’s not safe. The Viet Cong might be in the city as well. You know that.” Mark replied, staring at a black and white picture from home. It was Kaeti, his girlfriend. The picture showed her in a sundress in the front yard of what was soon to be their house, just after the war. She smiled at him.
“Shit, we know that, but this drink is for Mikey, the machine gunner from the chopper. I know we haven’t gotten to know him well, but the man died, savin’ our asses today, and I thinks he deserves a goddamn drink.”
“Blood and destruction shall be so in use, and dreadful objects so familiar, that mothers shall but smile when they behold their infants, quarter’d with the hands of war.”
“The fuck you talkin’ about, man?”
“Shit man, I know you’re an English teacher and all that, but you don gotta go bringin’ up that shit ev’ry time we fuckin’ talk.” Bud raised his tone and volume. Mark sat up, looking Bud in the eyes. Bud eased his stare and started,
“Sorry, man. We been through a lot. I jus wan’d to ask you to come with us. Jus this once, for the guy man. For Mikey.”
“Oh, alright. Let’s go.”