Chapter Two...

.. as all of you munchkins know, I have been drafted... kicking and screaming, mind you..... into the ranks of Christina's Blog Novella Army.... Chapter One of which, is right here.... Chapter Two, after much thrashing about, has been birthed... and let me tell you, it was not pretty.... so, knowing that he who hesitates is lost... but, while lost, might be doing himself a favor in hesitating... I therefore.. tentatively give you.... The Blog Novella - Chapter Two...

James stared hard at the page. He was shaking. It had been so long since he had read this novel that he had forgotten about its effect on him. "The Man out of Time", by Alistair McFarland. He had begun to read the acclaimed piece of fiction back in High School, but had always become distracted. Football or Baseball had always called him away. Sometimes, it was chasing cheerleaders. But, he always laid the book aside.

He had picked it up again at the base exchange in Kuwait City last year. His deployment with the 8th Engineers was just beginning, and in a few short weeks, he found himself distracted again. But now, he has nothing but time. Sitting in the amputee ward of the Alvin C. York Memorial Veteran's Hospital in Murfreesboro, he had decided to read it again. This time, he will have no distractions.

When James had last read that fateful, questioning line, his world had exploded. "This IS my Destiny", now held a new meaning. At the time, he felt very much like the character portrayed by the author. A Man out of Time, indeed - a dusty corpsman riding home from a patrol near Fallujah tired and bloodied, but with the blood of others, not his own. A man unable to affect the world around him, and who instead could only patch wounds.

His memory of that day was perfect. Crystalline. Every detail, every color, and every smell was impressed into him. The branding iron of life had scored its mark into his soul that day, and the savior had become the saved.

He laid the book aside, as the tears came, and rang for the nurse. She arrived quickly, and winked at him as she strode up to his bedside. A clean white dress with curly brown hair laid its hand on his forehead to check for a fever, and he tried to sit up. He couldn't raise himself, and she noticed. She saw his book, and asked if he wanted his bed adjusted. He nodded, and asked her for his writing gear that was stowed away in the neat, white, government footlocker.

When it was brought to him, he opened it and began to read. Words that he had written in the days before his disaster. Words written for him, to him, to ensure he would never forget. That is what he had told himself. But, it was a lie. His words were meant for someone else. He knew, deep down, he would never forget.

The white skirt left the room after handing the dusty journal to James. The small book was bent and twisted from being carried in the field for so long. It too, appeared scarred. Sand and dirt tinged every page. He was thankful for being asked no questions by those tender brown curls. He began to read.

... 0945...
... well, here I am again... scribbling.... I just finished looking at those words again.... I couldn't help thinking to myself that I have BEEN there... every damn day, Hell, I AM there now..... my eyes always seem to keep falling onto that last line... "THIS is my destiny"..... yeah... too damn right... my destiny is to patch these guys up, and then watch them die another day... you know, the last time I read that line, I actually said.... "yes", I said it out loud... "this destiny... we share it, friend"... how crazy is that?... pretty damn psycho, I guess... I just do my job... what else is there?...

... this is hard to explain... it's strange... like feeling that you are just a piece in a machine.... just another statistic in a thousand year war... sooner or later, you figure it out... you are at the whim of fate.... forever... you have no choice.. do your duty... continue to fight and bleed... be here, and help... I love my Marines though... we are a damn good unit...

... I should have died a hundred times by now... but, I keep on living.... if I wasn't here, I'd be in the ER in Memphis... doing the same goddamn thing.... The grunts are the ones making the sacrifices... me, I'm just the Doc.... my job is to save the wounded... but my goal is universal... I don't want to change the world... I just want to stay the fuck alive...

... ahh, Hell.... I didn't mean to get all philosophical... who cares about all that shit anyway... all I really know is this... this is my world now, and here I will stay until the End... hell, in half an hour our patrol will be over, and we'll be back home... Mississippi State is playing Auburn tonight... and I've got 50 bucks on Mississippi... probably not the smartest thing I've done since getting in-country... but, when you see insane people every day, I guess it rubs off on you... in any case, Auburn can kiss my dirty ass....

... 1530...
... alright... I am back now... lousy motherfuckers... we were hit again... no mortars this time at least.. two more Marines down... one going home with a fairly nasty chest wound... the other dead when he hit the floor of the APC.... God damn it... what the fuck am I supposed to do?...

He laid the journal down onto his chest. Remembering those two Marines - Jackson and Griffin - brought back their faces to him. The vacant look Jackson showed as he hit the deck dead, and then the look of confidence in Griffin's eyes. They would both remain with him forever. He knew that. Tending to Griffin's lung, punctured in an instant by a fragment of the 50 caliber round that had slammed into the APC, his hands had worked on autopilot. He had saved his life in those moments. Griffin had never doubted him, but neither had Jackson.

Here again, his hands seemed to move of their own volition. Without even realizing it, he found his fingers pressing the button to release another dose of morphine. He slid himself higher in the bed, and surveyed his body. His leg was still gone. He should have been killed, but here he is. A sudden panic spread through him. He felt his heart race. Slowly, he turned his head and stared out the window. Yes, there was movement. The wind in the trees was evident, and the autumn clouds were blowing across the sky. For a moment, he had imagined he was not a part of this place. That perhaps he was dead. Like the character in his unfinished book, he was strangely confused. The world around him seemed alien somehow.

The morphine was traveling now. He could feel it slide up his arm, and warm his chest. Soon, he would be asleep. He was not out of time. He was here, and alive. So were many thankful Marines. Many others were dead. It was they who were out of time. He looked back at the journal resting on his chest, and his eyes filled with tears. The only words that filled his mind were spoken to himself in a hushed tone.

"I am sorry, men", he said, and he rang for the nurse.

She arrived, just as before, knowing what he wanted. He held the journal out to her, and she gently took it. She pressed it between the palms of her hands, and looked at him.

"You know," she began, "you did a very brave thing in rescuing that young Marine that day. We all know what you did, James. Some people are calling you a hero."

He adjusted his body, and turned away from the white dress with the soft brown curls. He wasn't a hero, he was just doing his job. The men he had left behind were the heroes, and he missed them.

"Just put it away, please, I want to get some rest."

The nurse stood for a minute, and watched him. Then she did as she was asked, and walked away. The morphine had started to work by then, and he was gone. He tossed a few times, and he was dreaming again.

.. he put his worn journal away.... looked at the torn cover of the Old Book, and began reading anew... at that very moment, the afternoon was ignited again... but this time, it was closer contact.. heavy machinegun fire slammed into the side of the APC... denting the inch thick armor.... knocking splinters of torn iron loose from the inside of the vehicle... shrapnel tore into flesh... screams.... and then, he was in action... quickly, he slid the faded paperback into the breast pocket of his fatigues..... safely behind his flak jacket.... and he turned to working his art...

.... the plea of "Corpsman UP" was late in coming.... he had seen the wound as it happened... The red mist of a high velocity wound was horrifically visible in the dusty air, even from a distance, and he was there by the side of the fallen Marine just as his friend called for assistance....

.... what he saw what not unexpected.... a punctured lung..... sucking chest wound. he has been here, in this very place, a thousand times before... the young Corpsman ripped the flak jacket off the twisting Marine.... and placed a MRE wrapper over the bubbling hole in his chest.... "Hold this while I tape it up!" he barked at the dirty-faced child who had called for him earlier.... He obeyed immediately.... searching the face of his friend as his hands held the makeshift bandage..... a dirty-faced child, all 17 years of him, and a U.S. Marine...... He obeyed..... "keep him on his side till we get to Dogwood... nothing else I can do here."..... The young Marine nodded, and held onto his squad mate....... the breathing of the wounded man was slowing, but still strong... the morphine was taking hold.....

.. the APC bounced harder as the driver picked up speed. just a few hundred yards more, and we will be out of range.....

by Eric on November 29, 2004 | Bullshit (11) | SWG Stories
» Mirthful Ones links with: Linky Love
» Gut Rumbles links with: blog novella
» Random Fate links with: I was expecting this...
» Velociworld links with: The Novella Proceeds Apace
» Random Fate links with: Blog-novella: Chapter 4
» Velociworld links with: Chapter Five
» Parkway Rest Stop links with: The Blog Novella Kicks Ass.
» Fistful of Fortnights links with: A Bow To Feisty
Bullshit So Far

I am so not worthy...Eric, that is fantastic.

I had no idea where you were going to take this thing...


Thanks, man.

Rob's up next...

Bullshitted by Christina on November 29, 2004 07:56 PM

Right on. And without the .... Well, almost. ;>)

Bullshitted by bitterman on November 29, 2004 08:18 PM

I'm with Jackson. Who, of course, goes by the name of Bill Carson now. Well, did.

Bullshitted by Velociman on November 29, 2004 09:07 PM

A+ Excellent.

Bullshitted by Jim - PRS on November 29, 2004 09:32 PM

Acidman has his work cut out for him. He'll have to handle a zigzag without any jokesmoke in it.

McFarland. I believe the key is McFarland. But that's just me. A couple of days ago I was floating tits up in Belize with the myocardial infarction version of a sucking chest wound.

Bullshitted by Velociman on November 29, 2004 10:04 PM

Eric, it's a damn good thing you aren't a betting man...I count five, not including this one...never play poker with me, friend.


Bullshitted by Christina on November 29, 2004 10:12 PM

WOW! Great job! This was an awesome 2nd Chapter....

Bullshitted by Sheilah on November 30, 2004 01:48 AM

I had to finish this before getting a refill on my that is saying alot :)

Bullshitted by Sandy on November 30, 2004 04:40 AM

Not bad for a hillbilly;-)

Really...very Dalton Trumboesque...but without the rats-eating-flesh nightmare. Whew!

Bullshitted by Sadie on November 30, 2004 05:56 AM

Great story! I'm ready for the next chapter.

Oh, and Auburn can kiss my dirty ass, too.

Bullshitted by Fightin Tiger on November 30, 2004 02:58 PM

Good job Eric. Where in the hell did that come from?


Bullshitted by Sam on December 1, 2004 01:25 PM