4 Hearts Beating Boldly: Bright Red Toenails

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic
Part four of a seven part addition to the Rose Houston Saga. In this part, Houston and Austin accompany a unit of Iraqi police officer on a patrol and engage the enemy in combat.

Submitted: February 19, 2017

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Submitted: February 19, 2017



“You’re doing what?”

“I’m going on a foot patrol tonight.” 

“You can’t do that.  You’re a civilian advisor, you're not a combat soldier. ”

“Yes, I can.”

“You can’t go on a patrol with these guys.” 

“Yes, I can.  I trained them.  I can do this with them.  It’s part of my job.”

“No, you can’t. You can’t trust these people.“

“Why, because they’re a bunch of sand niggers?”

“No.  Because they can’t trust themselves.  They sell themselves out to these fucking goon squads.  How do you think they know where to ambush us?  You think I publish our visits on the internet?  No.  It’s because these motherfuckers know that there are only so many routes in and out of this place and when the wrong people know we’re coming, we get ambushed.  It’s that fucking simple!”

Later that evening, she stood nearby and watched him coaching his Iraqi counterparts.

“Move 10 steps, then stop and listen.” 

“Simply stand there?”


“In the open?

“Where ever you are.”

“Only ten steps?”

“Yes.  Remember, when you move, the enemy is more likely to see you, when you stand still, if the enemy moves, you are more likely to see him or hear him. Later on, we can change it to twenty steps.  For now, let’s use ten.  Then, when you’re eyes are accustomed to the dark, and you are accustomed to the nighttime sounds,” pauses and shrugs, “we’ll change it to twenty.”

The patrol moves out.  She and the old man are near the front with the patrol leader. 

In the still of the late night, you can hear the muffled noises of boots moving across dusty streets and sidewalks.  She hears a sharp “click” to the right and the old cop turns sharply and fires.  She and the others follow.  She charges toward the muzzle flashes, firing as the goes.In the flashes of gunfire she sees nostrils flair, eyes widen wildly and snarling men baring their teeth.  Sweat pumps from overheated bodies. They move deliberately toward the noise, firing as they go.  The darkness responds with muzzle flashes.  Men curse and scream and cry out to their maker. 

For some, it is a time to kill.  For others, a time to die. 

Later, they use parachute flares to light up the area and drag the enemy corpses to a central point for an accounting.

She thinks back to her first tour and the gunshot wound that sent her home early.  She thinks back to her fellow soldiers killed in ambushes like this one.

The smell of gunfire lingers in the air. 

She breathes the night air deeply.

She feels good.

He opens the door and she steps inside.  She is drunk.  “ Can I crash here tonight, Austin?” 


“I preciate this.”  She extends her arm and balances herself with the wall.  She smells strongly of alcohol. U.S. troops are prohibited from consuming alcohol in-country.“I don’t wanna inconvenience you guys.  I jus wanna place to crash. I can’t let my troops see me drunk.  Bad example.”  She tips forward and goes down on her hands and knees.

The old cop shakes his head, “Not a problem.”  His roommate sits up and smiles broadly.

Roommate is professional and polite, “Would you like a blanket?  I have an extra.”

“No oh, no oh.”  She pauses, “Oh shit, I’m dizzy,” another pause, “I’m okay.  I’m a soldier.”

“Wanna take a shower?”

“Huh?”  She looks confused.

The old man stands up and hands her a towel and bar of soap from his wall locker.  Roommate stands up, digs in his wall locker and hands her a pair of gym shorts and a t-shirt.  “Here, these are clean, too.”

She sits up and tries to take her boots off.  She can’t get them unlaced and the two men help her.  They each take a boot and standup, removing the boots but spilling her on her back.

She lays there for a moment trying to focus on the ceiling, then rolls over onto her hands and knees and crawls into the bathroom.  “Thank you.”

Both men stand there looking at each other, giggling and shaking their heads.  Roommate says it first, “Bright red toenails? She paints her toenails bright red and wears combat boots?”

The old cop shakes his head, “Pink lace undershorts, and she can shoot, too.”

Sometime later, she staggers out of the shower in man’s gym shorts and t-shirt and beds down on the small pallet they prepared for her on the floor.

Nothing is said in the dark and both men watch over her until she begins snoring.

Roommate asks, “Roomy?”


“Where do they find them?”

“Find who?”

“The people to do her job.”

“All over America.”

© Copyright 2018 Eddie C Morton. All rights reserved.

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