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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Moan of Death

The Moan of Death

      The Delta, in a stand of trees. Just after TET and the city fighting in Cholon. Raining, cold and soaked to the bone covered in mud from a firefight in the morning. Hungry, tired, weighed down with too much gear  and grieving from the mornings losses. The thousand meter stare. 

   He was only a few feet away when he heard the “thud” of the bullet strike his friends flesh. He heard his friend give out a moan only the "soon dead" utter. The sound starts out audible and fades into silence very quickly. Only that place had he ever heard such a sound. He heard it all too often in that dreadful  place and he knew it well.
    It is a sound that strikes deep into the soul for those who have heard it. It is a sound that comes back in dreams many years to come and the sound raises its ugly head in moments least expected. The Death Moan never goes away resonating in dreams for a lifetime. It's present in your dreams. It surfaces without warning and at times you least expect.
   Years later, those who knew him best, would sometimes see tears in his eyes during movies or conversations. He couldn't explain his feelings and no one would understand, so he endured the weight of the memory alone. Always alone!
    He crawled over to his friend, grabbed him by his webbing and dragged his pal over to a big tree. He sat down, leaned up against a tree and put his friend into his arms. The world went quiet for a while, two kids sitting in a foreign land under a tree, alone together.
    A firefight broke out after the single shot, yet they were not aware of the events going on around them. Others died that day as well, but the world had been reduced to a very lonely place for two young men from America. 
    Concussions from explosions were shaking the earth but were not felt by either. The world had come to a private moment between the living and the soon dead. Holding his friend in his arms, he cried. 
    He looked down at his friend and saw that his right eye had been partially popped from his eye socket. Blood vessels had burst covering his friends face with life blood. This as a result of the impact the bullet had on his frail body.
    There were no words from the dying soldier the way you see in movies. Only gurgles could be heard as his friend slowly choked to death on his own blood and vomit which was spewing all over his shirt and legs. His friend was in his death throes and it was all he could do to hold his friend steady in his arms as uncontrolled muscles jerked and twitched. 
    Then for a brief moment lasting for eternity the dying friend looked up and fixed his one good eye on the last person he would ever see. He became very still and his muscles stopped twitching. Though the sounds of combat raged all about them, he could see his friend's breath slowing and becoming more shallow.
    Then the dying man reached up and wiped a tear from the face of the kid holding him so tightly. In a fleeting second the "light of life" faded and in a moment, his friend was gone. He was gone then but would fade a thousand times more in dreams, in waking hours, during movies and for no reason at all. No one knew why. No one cared. No one listened.
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