“Bang, bang, you’re dead!” Tommy yells from the thick woods bordering our back yard. “Bang, bang, you’re dead! Ha! I got you right between the eyes! You’re dead!”
Tommy’s laughter recedes.
“Bravo One, Bravo One, this is Delta, Over . . . Bravo One, this is Delta, over.” Again and again the same agitated voice. “Bravo one. Can you read me? Over.”
My pounding heartbeat all but silences the incessant static of the radio . . . I’m trying to find the handset lying somewhere to my side, trying to answer.
My ears are ringing. My eyes struggle to focus . . . roll over. Crawl away. Move!’
Blurred, ghost-like images move swiftly past . . . I struggle against the panic seeking to engulf me, close my eyes and attempt to merge with the mud I am lying in.
“Help me,” a voice moans to my left. I hear cursing to my front. The low cough of an AK shatters the stillness. Pleading screams followed by more shots, curses . . . more shots.
The shooting ends as quickly as it had started. A hushed silence falls over the scene as ghosts melt into the thick underbrush.
I try to roll over . . . to escape into the jungle before they return . . . but my legs have detached themselves from my brain and are doing a strange mud dance of their own.
I think of my dad, years ago, laughing as Buster the old coonhound runs in his sleep by the fireplace, “He’s chasing rabbits,” dad says to me. I watch old Buster run . . . and slowly fade away.
Tommy laughs at me lying beneath the oak tree playing dead and pokes me with the butt of his BB gun. “Gotcha, Jimmy. Ha! You’re dead.”