Men of the Valleys

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: War and Military  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is the tale of U.S forces working in conjunction with native opposition, and the feats they have accomplished.

Submitted: June 06, 2009

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Submitted: June 06, 2009

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A shot in the night. My eyes jerked open to a red moon, the smell of goat droppings and unleavened bread crept into my nostrils so thick that it coated the back of my throat. I grasped for my rifle as a new smell visited me: gunpowder. I felt the ecstasy of adrenaline dump into my bloodstream, my heart rate increased and I looked to my left: An empty sleeping bag, a handheld bible, and two empty MRE packs. I concluded that the bear of a man we lovingly refer to as “bubba” was not dead, as his characteristic .44 Magnum was missing. I wrestled my body into an upright position, still swimming in the foggy waters of exhaustion. I propped myself up with my M21 and snatched for my shorter, fully automatic assault weapon, but missed cleanly.

“Screw it.” I muttered, resigning myself to my fate. Besides, I thought, I was too tired to die. I took a deep breath, spied a campfire 150 yards away, and clumsily threw one leg in front of the other in an attempt to close that distance. As I ran the sounds of shouting dawned on me, the acoustics of the mountains in this land bordering Pakistan tossing the sound waves about like ragdolls. Hearing a man screaming at you that you can plainly see is as much a roll of the dice as anything else around here. I was at 25 yards. Refreshed, I crept up a jagged hillside and got an angle on the commotion. There were several tribesmen screaming at each other, dirt caked faces contorted in anger. A singular figure hulked against the campfire: Bubba. Bubba was as strong as an ox and dang near as big. He could kill a man by telling him to do so. There was a scared looking teenager holding a still-smoking AK over a writhing body. I took a few deep breaths in a feeble attempt to settle my heart rate, found my natural point of aim, and centered my sights on this boy’s head. I felt a moral pang, and say my sights twitch in response. The trained combatant in me struggled in a deathmatch with my soft-hearted-and, as I watched the effects on my crosshairs-apparently less accurate side. In combat the enemy has no age, no gender. They are walking weapons. But there’s the problem: these men were not my enemy. My boat crew and I had been training the local tribesmen in conjunction with the Green Berets. I guess since they all looked alike to high command, they assumed they all looked alike to each other, and thus these men had the privilege of being drafted to our valiant cause.

“People need killin’.” In the words of U.S.S Geronimo, actual. We were to cross the border into Pakistan from Afghanistan, capture a few key members of your friendly neighborhood terrorist organization, and generally be as big of a problem as possible. My thoughts returned to the matter at hand. A collective hush had blanketed the crowd. Bubba had drawn “The Duke.” The .44 Magnum glistened in the fire’s light, six rounds of car-killer ready to be distributed with extreme prejudice. Bubba had been trying to get the boy’s attention. Well, he got it.

“DROP THE WEAPON!” Bubba bellowed , followed by a long list of expletives and colorful remarks, accented with the barrel of The Duke being indelicately thrust into the boy’s eye. The Kalashnikov clanged to the floor.

“Now what the hell is so dang important that you had to go and wake me from my beauty sleep?” The teenager broke into tears. Bubba seemed to be in control for now. I rose from the crouch I was in, released the breath I had been holding and rocked forward the safety toggle on my long rifle. Today’s going to be a long day.

Honorable Discharge

I let out an explosive sigh.

“Ok, so let me get this straight. He,” pointing to the boy that previously held the AK, “killed your son, and now his tribe owes yours one hundred head of cattle, or he pays the blood price.” The translator filtered my words and the elderly man (father of the man killed) nodded in kind. This kid is so screwed, I thought to myself. The boy did what seemed physically impossible and buried his head deeper into his hands. The teenager who shot the man and the man he had shot were having a dispute over an allegedly stolen knife. Rather than have his honor insulted, he simply killed the accuser. To these men, one’s honor was more important than a knife, and apparently a man’s life.

“??? ???? ???? ??? ??? ???!” the man I privately nicknamed ‘Old Fart’ magnanimously stated, followed by a quiet murmur of agreement from the tribe of men behind him.

“Umm,” the translator timidly stared down at his feet. “He would rather, how do you say ‘bad man?’ in your words?”

Bubba piped in. “Booger eaters,” he eagerly commented, followed by a snicker as I tossed a very unfriendly glance at him.

“Yes, that word. He would rather kill the bucket eater.”

“No, no, no. None of my men are dying today, do you understand? Tell him that if he wants a blood price, we’ll go ahead and march south. I guarantee you we’re going to turn somebody’s day real sour, real quick.”

The translator once again roughly cut some sense out of what the Afghani’s must have considered incoherent babble.

Old Fart pondered for a moment, trying to equate the blood of ‘booger eaters’ to the blood of his son. He stood like this for what seemed like hours, before he finally looked up at me.

“???. ?? ???? ???.”

I looked very hard into his cloudy eyes, wanting very much to express the immense amount of anger I was experiencing as a .308 tumbling through his body at 2700 feet per second. I felt a stone come to rest on my shoulder.

“I’ve got this one buddy.” Bubba removed his hand from me, persuasively grabbed Old Fart by his collar, motioned to the translator, and promptly strode behind a nearby hill. I caught a few broken words from their conversation, if it could even be called that.

“…you WILL…understand me? We can…hard way.”

The translator’s voice pitched higher and louder as Bubba spoke and generally made his point clear to the thick headed man. A few rough minutes later, Old Fart walked up to me, eyes as wide as saucers, face flushed.

"?????????”

“He wishes to apologize.”

Bubba bounced over, grinning at me as only a happy country boy could. A wink and a nod confirmed his success.

“Now that that’s settled, gather up your crap. Make sure your rifles are clean and stow your gear tight; we leave in an hour. Today we bring the fight to Pakistan.”

Bubba and I walked to our section of the camp, a good one hundred yards or so away. As I asked for his opinion concerning my plans to move us through the valleys and across the border safely, he abruptly stopped and drew The Duke.

“Go ahead, make my day. Hah hah hah!”


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