The War Horse
A few smiles crept out from everyone sitting around us, accompanied by a laugh or two, then an awkward pause. His mother looked down at the table for a moment and then raised her head; our eyes met. We sat in silence for what felt like minutes. “What did you all see over there that would make him do something like this?” she asked. I bowed my head and stared down at the table. I didn’t have a response.
The screams and machine guns are roaring. My heart rate is skyrocketing. My friends are dying. And I can't save them. Others try hard to help by providing aid or returning fire while I fail to engage. Useless.
I chamber another round. Misfire. Misfire. Misfire. Marines continue to die. The screams turn to cries. The ground turns from a dusty brown to a damp crimson.
The Blood of Patriots
I told him about the first guy that I lost, how he had everything above his jaw-line taken off with an RKG grenade. This is essentially a small parachute-stabilized grenade, that when detonated becomes a shape charge, forcing molten copper and tungsten through an area no more than half an inch in diameter, to tear through the Humvee and through the back of my buddy’s head. Skull fragments splintered off and became shrapnel that wounded the other four Marine passengers. We both sit in what others might consider to be an awkward silence. We sit, drinking our beer, looking into the glass as we fiddle them around with our hands, reliving these events over and over again in our minds. Sometimes it is best to just say nothing.