The Nam. Paint It Black. Part 3

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: War and Military  |  House: Booksie Classic

A short story set in the Vietnam War. Lawman and his Squad of Marines are sent deep into the jungle on a recon mission to gain intel on a supposed VC training camp.

Warning... It Contains, gun violence, bloody gore, and profane language

The Nam

Paint It, Black

‘I heard it through the Grapevine... no longer will you be mine...’

Oh, Marvin! Your words could never be truer! I stared at the hand-scrawled letter from my girl. Gone were all of her words of love.

‘I will wait for you...’ now replaced with, ‘you will always have a special place in my heart, I wish you well, Mary...’

‘Yeah... Well, fuck you, Mary Jane Breckenridge!’ I cursed a little more loudly than I intended, drawing a few inquisitive looks in my direction from a few scattered squad mates peppered around the mess tent.

‘Hey! You Okay, Lawman?’ Big Luke Stubbs, asked. He was as big as an Ox hence his nickname, OXO! He was a professional Football player (Linebacker) back home.

I turned to the brothers and nodded, ‘Sweet, man. Hey, you still up for that game of Poker at twenty-one hundred, my tent?’

‘OXO gave me a toothy smile, ‘friggin’A, man. Me and the Brothers are gonna skin your skinny, white-ass.’

‘Bring it on, Bro, bring-it-on,’ I grinned, ’and don’t forget to bring the dew (Marijuana)

I looked at the Polaroid Mary had sent me with her dear, John, letter.

She was sitting on a sun-drenched beach, wearing a terracotta bikini with a big smile on her pretty face. Her honey-colored hair flowing around her shoulders, a big gaudy, silver, peace symbol, nestled between those perky breasts of hers, hanging from a leather thong... That piece of cheap tat was new...God! Talk about rubbing salt into the wound? It was as if she was flaunting the goods that had just been moved out of the reach of my itching hands... God, What a Bitch!

 There was also a ukulele lying in the sand next to her! Now I knew Mary didn’t play the Ukulele! And who had taken that Polaroid? It was probably the fucking, Ukulele player? No doubt he was some square-jawed college Jock, filling her pretty head full of propaganda, calling us murderers and baby killers and rapists...Fuck! I slipped the photo into my top pocket and took another swig of beer.

It was day three hundred and fifty-nine in The Nam. I had survived a chopper crash, been shot a couple of times, had a few burn scars on my back from a mortar shell and had a particularly bad paper cut on my thumb... But all of that pain was nothing compared to being dumped by Mary-Jane-fucking-Breckenridge... five days before the end of my tour of this goddamn, hot, sweaty, hell on earth.

Well, I had stayed faithful to that college bitch all of this time, but now... I was going to get me a piece of sweet boom-boom, A.Sap... I owed it to my aching balls. There was gonna be no more midnight fumbling under the sheets in my bunk, anymore.

As if things weren’t looking black, already, the chow tent doors swung open, and in walked three assholes, it was Houndog and his Redneck Boonierats.

Houndog was a grade. A. Jerk-off. His green vest was sweat-stained. He took a swig of Bud from his bottle and then zeroed in on a lone figure sitting hunched over and minding his own business.

The Jarhead slammed his bud down on the table in front of Mustang.

Mustang didn’t flinch.

‘You’re in my seat, Boy!’

Mustang didn’t respond.

‘I-said-you-are-in-my-seat-boy,’ Houndog repeated more loudly. ‘Your table is over there,’ he pointed to the table OXO and his boys were sitting at, with hate-filled eyes.

Mustang looked up; his plate of food had not been touched. A camouflage bandana was tied around his head. He still had the smell of the jungle on him. His big chocolate eyes were full of disinterest.

‘Look, man, I just got back from a bad recon and lost three brothers, just go away, man.

‘Well in that case there should be enough spare seats for you at your-own-table!’

Houndog was looking really pleased with himself.

What a fucking asshole! It wouldn’t surprise me if his Redneck Daddy back home was a member of the KKK!

Mustang jumped up in anger, ‘and where’s that, Chuck?’ he threw his arms wide and then pointed to the three brothers.

‘Over there with the other Splibs?’ he pointed to OXO’s table.  ‘What about that table over there with the spicks, wops, and wetbacks?’ Mustang laughed again. ‘Hell, we even got a table for Cochise and his tribe, over there in that corner... So where do you want me to sit, man?’

Houndog was enjoying the confrontation, he was grinning like he was getting a cheap five Dollar blowjob from a toothless old Mama San, in downtown Saigon.

 He kicked the chair leg, ‘Just move your ass, boy. This is our table.’

 ‘What you gonna do, Chuck? What you gonna do?’!’ Mustang was losing his shit, fast. His hands curled into fists.

Houndog made to step forward, but one of his boonierats grabbed his arm to stop him.

The three brothers in the corner stood up.

Mustang shook his head, ‘you just don’t get it, do you, Chuck?’

‘Get, what?’ Houndog sneered.

 ‘We are all the same, man... We are all the same!’

 ‘Yeah, and what’s that?’ ‘Houndog spread his arms wide, hamming up the moment.

Mustang sighed resolutely and pointed to the good old stars n bars hanging up behind the Chow table.

‘Americans, you dumb fuck! We are all Americans!’ and then he stormed out of the Mess tent leaving Houndog and his Jarhead Jerk-offs standing with dumb looking faces, as Me and the others shouted, ‘Booyah!’ and applauded Mustang.

It was turning out to be, just another beautiful day in The Nam!

 

The choppers swooped in fast over the LZ (landing zone) the dust off went by the numbers...We jumped into the long grass that was being flattened from the furious downdraft from the whumping rotor blades above our heads.

The choppers roared as they made a quick exit. We headed for the tree line as fast as our boots could carry us.

 

My heart was in my mouth. Dust offs were always a dicey time. Those VC bastards would just appear from the jungle, like friggin’ ghosts, attracted by the sound of the Hueys. Their Ak’s rattling in their hands, spewing hot rounds at us with extreme prejudice and setting up mortars. The phoot... phoot... sound of shells launching, always made my stomach churn and tighten. After all, who the fuck wants to have bits of them blown off and scattered around the field in bloody chunks?

 

Welcome to the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone)

We popped the white smoke to mask our drop and ran like scared rats into the embrace of the jungle, hoping against hope; Charlie was not lurking in there waiting for us, like stalking tigers.

 

God! The stench of the jungle just hits you in the face like a steaming hot, wet rag. Rotting vegetation squelches underfoot. Stagnant pools of water lend their musk to the thick, hot, wet air. The smell of death hangs in your nostrils like rotting corpses, and the stink clings to you like napalm.

We trudged through the jungle in single file, mimicking the big robust black soldier ants that infested the green, marching up and down tree trunks in neat single file carrying leafy sails in their powerful mandibles back to their nests, high up in the trees.

Mosquitoes were constantly trying to feed on our blood, attacking any part of our exposed, sweat-drenched, skin. We were heading deep into the green. Intel reports said there might be a Vietcong training camp five Kliks from our drop off.

I have to say I was praying they were wrong, and would just find some deserted village. I had five days to go before heading back stateside and I didn’t want my ride back on the free bird, to be in a body bag.

 

Mustang was walking point, his M16, (jamming Jenny as we called that piece of shit) cradled in his arms. Don’t get me wrong... that weapon had saved my life, many times... But we didn't call it, Marty Mattel, for nothin’! It looked like a fucking cheap plastic toy gun you would buy your kid from Wall-Mart for a birthday gift.

Some guys would carry the AK-47s they had stripped from dead Dinks, as a reserve. They were real murder weapons, one 7.62mm round from one of those ‘Commie choppers’ and you would lose a whole fucking arm.

 

We stopped for five. I took a swig of water from my canteen. The LT (lieutenant) and the Gunny (Gunnery Sergeant) were studying a map with a compass in hand.

I looked around at our squad. OXO was taking a, piss. Mustang was swatting at a cloud of pesky sqeets (mosquitoes)

We had a newbie in our ranks. The poor kid had only been in the Nam for three days. I wondered if I had looked so shit-faced terrified as he did, right now, when I had been a Cherry, way back when?

Houndog was being an asshole as usual; he had picked up a fucking big ugly china redhead Centipede in a leaf and dropped it on the Cherry’s, shoulder. The poor kid jumped and shrieked and looked like he had just taken an emergency evac dump, in his pants.

Houndog slapped him across the back of the head, ‘Hey you dumb fuck! You trying to get us killed, boy, hollering like a Hanoi Honey trying to earn a couple, extra bucks?’

What a fuckin’ jerk...

 

We carried on deep into the boonies...

 

Mustang suddenly stopped, his arm shot up into a fist. The LT slinked on over. Mustang knelt down and pointed with a twig to a tripwire lying across the ground. It had been hidden with leaves and shit. But luckily for us, Mustang had eyes like a hawk. It went back toward a tree. Mustang carefully flicked a few leaves away and we saw a rusted pineapple can with a grenade sitting in it.

Mustang disarmed it and we carried on...

We were on high alert, now, and treading carefully. Those fucking VCs were cunning little bastards when it came to jungle warfare. I had seen horrible things happen to squadmates... Punji pits, were common, just holes in the ground with sharpened bamboo spikes smeared in VC shit, that would pierce straight through your boots. There were snake Viper pits, Hornet traps, nail board traps, bamboo whips, mace traps, Tiger traps, bear traps, you name it, fucking traps... all made to sting, pierce, explode, bury, maim and kill you...

Welcome to the fuckin’ Nam, people...

 I was chewing on my gum and looking around. Houndog was ten paces ahead of me. I saw him stumble; his foot disappeared into the jungle floor. The toe popper booby trap went off with a loud cracking gunshot. It was probably a 7.62MM Ak round, stood upright with a nail wedged up against the firing pin. Anyway... a spray of red flew out of the hole. Houndog screamed... boy did he scream! He fell over. His foot had turned to hamburger; the bullet had carried on up his leg and ripped the front of his pants and nutsack, open. There was nothing left of his dick except a little bloody nub and his sweetbreads were on display, for all to see.

The Newbie was bent over, losing his C rations (vomiting) all over his boots

What a fuckin’ mess, man...

 

We had stumbled into a Killzone! The VC would have heard the trap go off and Houndog was screeching like a horny baboon, only he didn’t have a dick anymore...

 

We hit the dirt... the medic jammed a morphine cap in Houndog’s fucked up leg and tore open a bag of sulfa powder and sprinkled it on his nuts like he was seasoning a plate of meatballs swimming in a pool of marinara sauce

And then the jungle came alive with the deafening clack-clack of Ak-47s. The newbie, a little slow to duck, went down in a hail of bullets... the poor bastard didn’t even have time to flick the safety off, on his Marty Mattel.

I ducked behind a fallen tree trunk and blindly let rip with a burst of auto-fire over the trunk. I probably killed a few leaves and maybe a tree! But hell, just shooting back at the invisible enemy was comfort enough.

The LT was shouting out orders, not that we could hear him over the deafening gunfire.

And then Mustang popped his head up and fired his M79 thumper (grenade launcher) into the jungle. The green was torn apart we were showered in black muddy rain.

Mustang smirked, ‘Friggin’ A,’ then reloaded and fired another shell.

‘I heard that!’ I grinned and then tucked myself in tight against my tree trunk. I could feel the vibration of the bullets slamming into it. Rather that, than my sorry ass! I threw a grenade over my head. The ground erupted a second later; I heard a muffled cry... I smiled and then sat up and unloaded a full mag into the jungle.

Suddenly the Gunny’s gruff voice cut through the din,

‘OXO! Get that fucking Pig (M60 belt-fed machine gun) upfront A.Sap!’

For most M60 gunners, it was a two-man job to use that heavy 23Ib weapon, but for OXO, he swung that thing around as easy as we did our M16s.

OXO held the big gun at waist level and lifted the ammo belt over his big left hand and squeezed the trigger.

The ammo belt slithered over his hand like a jungle snake as the gun roared into life, with the loud blakka...blakka...blakka din of 650RPM, spewing from the pig’s fiery snout, chewing up all of the green in its deadly sights.

 I ducked behind the tree trunk again, with the Pig’s squealing rattle in my ears. I was sweating like a spit roast hog, my heart was thumping painfully... my adrenalin levels were off the charts. I peeked out again, I saw movement, through the trees, I opened fire, my Black Betty (M16) rumbled in my hands, the running figure spun around and made a swan dive as my strafing burst hit them.

 

And then, as quickly as it all started, all fell silent.

 

We waited a few moments, it wasn’t unusual for Charlie too, cease-fire and lay in silent wait for us to show ourselves, and then open fire again.

Gunny and Mustang slinked off to our left, several more moments went by. The silence was deafening, and then a single shot went off. Gunny and Mustang reappeared from the bush.

Gunny was on his third tour, He had seen things none of us could even imagine in our darkest nightmares... his eyes were sunken, soulless and black,

‘Well, I counted a dozen, dead... They look like farmers, man. Hell, two of them were just kids.’ And then he took a Zippo out of his breast pocket and lit up a Marlboro, sucking the smoke deep into his lungs.

I looked down at Houndog... The Medic was shaking his head and pulling a body bag from Houndog’s pack (We all carried our own BBs in our packs) Yeah... the good old Marine corp thinks of everything...

****

We humped another Klik into the jungle and finally came upon the camp... It was a deserted ramshackle of about half a dozen Hooches (bamboo huts.) It didn’t look as if it had been used in years; the jungle was slowly starting to reclaim the cleared area... What a fucking waste of time... We had lost two squadmates for this deserted hovel!

The LT radioed in our lift. Within thirty minutes three Hueys appeared above our heads. We set fire to the camp and jumped into the choppers and buckled ourselves in.

 

We lifted off. The jungle disappeared below us as if the whole stinking world was falling away... And my thoughts of this godforsaken place fell away with it.

I thought of my Dad and his last letter to me. He said he was going to bake my favorite lasagne for when I got home, using my Mom's recipe... I was looking forward to that. He also said we could spend some time fishing... I know he just wanted to spend time with me, but the last thing I wanted to do when I got back home was sitting by a lake in the woods, fishing! I had spent a year in the jungle... All I wanted to do was feel concrete beneath my feet instead of mud. I wanted to be surrounded by high-rise buildings with the comforting smells and sounds of the city around me, again, instead of the constant hum of insects and the stench of death. I wanted to go to a Diner and order a half-decent cheeseburger and eat pie.

And then we heard it... the rapid metallic, plink-plink-plink, of hot rounds hitting our underbelly... I felt the red hot cramping pain as a round hit me on my right side and sank deep under my ribcage.

My world went into a spin, I looked over at Mustang, his face was blurring, he was mouthing something, I couldn’t hear him, and everything seemed to have slowed down... it was all so surreal... I think I smiled at him, and then I closed my eyes and everything went black...

 

Mustang looked over at Lawman. A steady stream of blood was spilling out of the hole in his side. Mustang watched Lawman take a deep breath and then let out a long, final, sigh.

Mustang shook his head as Lawman relaxed and slumped in his seat and slipped away peacefully.

Mustang looked away; He had seen far too much death in his short twenty-one years and had lost too many good friends in this godforsaken, pointless war.

His vision was blurred. He wiped the tears from his big chocolate eyes and sniffed, his voice was drowned out by the whumping roar of the Huey's rotor blades...

‘The Nam, what A M****RF****R!’

 

 ‘I look inside myself

And see my heart is black

I see my red door

I must have it painted black’

..’

Song performed by The Rolling Stones

Lyrics by

Mick Jagger & Keith Richards


Submitted: February 13, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Celtic-Scribe63. All rights reserved.

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Comments

AdamCarlton

A dystopian vision indeed. Every generation doomed to do it all again. And the randomness of death which you so poignantly portray.

Sat, February 13th, 2021 5:11pm

Author
Reply

I am so pleased you enjoyed this small series. It was meant to be in only 2 parts, but I wanted to finish off Lawman's story.

I originally wrote this piece as a third-person limited, telling the story from Mustang's perspective. But after reading it, felt FP back to Lawman's character fitted it best.

I had a good time binge-watching, Apocalypse Now, Platoon, and casualties of war. Three movies for inspiration. I would highly recommend, them.

regards.

Sat, February 13th, 2021 9:19am

David whitley

Very nice, accurately describes what our boys went through then love it

Sat, February 13th, 2021 11:11pm

Author
Reply

A tragic war!
I still have distant memories of seeing news footage of the Vietnam War. I must have been no older than six or seven. But those images of Hueys and soldiers and M16 are ingrained in my psyche.

I found it a fascinating subject to write about.

Thanks' so much for taking the time to read it and leave a comment.

All feedback is valuable.
Regards
CS63.

Sat, February 13th, 2021 3:17pm

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