The foreman bangs his clipboard against the forklift window, red faced and glaring up at Earle. What the fuck, the man is saying with his straining eyes and puffed lips as if Earle was to blame for the foreman's pay cut, his balding truck tires, and erectile dysfunction. "Alright, alright..." Earle says squeezing the sleep from his eyes and rousing himself from his ill timed nap. He sits forward to the controls and gives the foreman a two fingered salute before rumbling back out into the lot. His boss is shouting something at him, but Earle's not really interested in listening.
The florescent lights are too bright and there's a funny pulse to them that makes Earle's eyes strain to see what's in front of him. The shadows get smudged out into this mono-tonal gray that wraps his meal in what feels like cellophane. He realizes he's lost his appetite and pushes aside the paper plate of fried rice and chow mien. A strange rendition of Y.M.C.A plays on a synthesizer and it's so low over the speakers that he would have missed it if he wasn't curious. He feels a little like being in a waiting room.
"Happy New Year!"
"What?" Earle looks up, squinting to the proprietress, passing with a broom in hand and a tin tea pot.
"Happy - New - Year!" she exclaims with a brightening grin.
"Oh... yeah. You too..." Earle leaves an extra buck behind.
He's wrapped up in his jacket, shivering although it's nearly ninety degrees outside with humidity. Mobile approaches like a gigantic mortuary with causeways pulsing green with verdancy. He wishes he'd found his sunglasses before catching the Greyhound out of D.C... The colors are too fierce, and he has to squint to keep them out because the effect is nauseating. If he hadn't smoked his last cigarette ten miles ago, he would have lighted another one up. The bus is starting to feel very small and although it is nearly full, no one sits next to him. A traveling mother redirects her daughter's curious stare, but casts her own cautious look his way. From beneath his bushy brows, he looks back and realizes that he hasn't bathed in weeks. He could offer an explanation, but guys like him are a common sight after the war and it's easier to just play the part.
New England hadn't treated him well, but he's got his hopes set on the South. It's home he reminds himself, even if he'd avoided it for years. For one thing it's brighter down here, he thinks. There are less shadows for it
to hide inside and the Southern pinelands are not like the low woodlands of New Hampshire. It's open and clear. There's no where to hide.
He smiles up at the glaring, afternoon sun, hazy through the thick glass window. The intensity of the light makes him want to gag, but the sensation is like rubbing out a bruise.
Three quarters of the company's gone and there's at least a dozen different patrols circling after you. The captain's still set on the objective, but everyone down to the man knows that that's impossible even without the pursuit. By now it was clear to the enemy what their intentions were, and the Vietcong would have moved their battery if they felt it under threat, which was unlikely. Samson had fallen down a gorge with practically all the C4. There were other ways sure. A grenade down the barrels, but you've already lobbed all of yours into the dark shouting after the skirting feet in the night, those same faced ghosts that you cannot understand. The mission's lost, and it's been like that for days. Everyone stares after the captain because there's no other answer except to keep moving and besides, somebody
has to pick a direction. It doesn't even matter if it's the right one.
"Who gives a f--!" You shout, dousing the hut's walls and throwing the remainder of the cooking oil over that hut's dry, grass thatch. Inside you'd left the tied up prisoners that your company had routed earlier in the morning. They are really nothing more than boys, probably barely fourteen although it's hard for you to tell sometimes. They are shouting propaganda at you like it's some sort of ward against what you intend to do to them; as if it'll strike you down with the name of God. You can hardly acknowledge the fear in their faces, and the adrenaline that is running through you at what you are about to do is like some sort of ecstasy. No one's telling you to stop, and the remaining men in your company stand in a semicircle outside of the hut with their cigarettes close to their lips. The supplies pilfered from the Vietcong patrol are scattered in the mud, broken open first for the cigarettes and then the wrappers of dry tack. Somebody's told you to stop, but he's not speaking up again when you shoot him that eye that tells him he could be next.
and it gets R-rated soon after so I'll have to continue this in a different location