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Georg E Mateos

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Nam's old man Walther
By Georg E Mateos
Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Rated "PG" by the Author.

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Men will survive war as long as their leader on the field really cares about what happen to them and put his life on the line even to save a distracted dumb-ass that could had killed them all...

Choppers, mountains, jungle and the long marches inside a land whose sweet smell of decaying vegetation, where the sun never shined clings on your clothes, your hair, your nose until you are part of the whole, stinking like everything else.
The smart I-know-all alecks found very quickly that going swamping wearing shorts is good for the leeches but not for you.
Soon, the days bunched into weeks and weeks into a long summer for getting tanned, here a color for free but that in Florida would cost a bundle to a winter’s Chicago sun seeker.
The few grams of fat that had escaped the attention of the drill Sergeants, were gone from Walther’s body, leaving only more hard sinews and muscles, and a definitive breakthrough in his I-work-alone philosophy.

Once, pinned down by sniper fire, the team was retreating after a successful raid entering a belt of rice paddies going on right and left as long as they could see.
The op was successful but had cost them a lot of ammo and knew that behind them the Congs were gathering a ten to one force, maybe more, to hurry up their tails.
The sniper was about 550 yards away and could pick them one by one as they tried to cross the open field along the tramped dirt scanty ridges separating the rice paddies.
To run through the soft muddy soil was out of question, with a gun trained down on you, with all the time in the world to pick and choose, like Grandpa used to say, picking apples in a barrel.
The sniper was perched high on an old tree, resting his gun and his body protected by a big branches V.
Sereno, Boom-boom and Kenny were back somewhere using the last of their grenades and explosives to bobby trap their rear.
Walther had a dozen or so left of armor piercing ammo. He feed one cartridge in the gun and took off the scope covers aiming the gun in the general direction of the sniper’s position.
Prostrated back a thick bush he told Mister Lee twenty yards to his right to take good cover and shake a little the bush in front of him, it would make the sniper to concentrate on the moving bush so Walther’s own bush disturbance could go unnoticed until he had zeroed on the shooter.
Mister Lee’s bush shaking produced a couple of shots nearly accurate, but nearly enough to hit flesh if you were standing there, the man up there was having fun.
The scope found him and Walther knew which he had max two shots before they would be fighting with a rice paddy on their back for protection.
After making the necessary corrections, Walther found the mark centered in the cross hairs and pulled the trigger, without taking his eye on the base of the tree V up there, don’t even blinking, for what it seemed a long long time…suddenly he saw a flurry of arms and legs, a body falling three or four feet, stop and limply hang from a security rope.
The deafening roar caught everybody unguarded, they stopped what they were doing, mesmerized looking in the direction where the sniper was.
Mister Lee open mouthed in awe couldn’t take his eyes from Walther, now scanning with the scope for any other clown up there or for any climbing monkey trying to replace his buddy.
The sun, going down, was reaching the top of the trees, “vamos!” Walther said taking the lead in case there was someone else; a thing he wouldn’t have dreamed of doing working back home when “everyone, jump on the life boats and never mind women and children first…!” when the old bucket is foundering.
They reached without incident the other side of the paddies tongues hanging out, like exhausted dogs after chasing a few cars, due to the mad dashing on terrain that prefer to trip you down than give something solid under your feet.
Once under the protection of the trees, they collapsed on the ground giving their lungs all the air they could take.
“I need to piss but I can’t get up,” said Boom-Boom and it cause an explosion of laughter in everybody, and the tension was gone.
Far away one of the bobby trap’s grenade went off and a nervous black pajamas fired his gun, which got everyone to do the same until maybe someone told them to cut it out.
They would reach with the first shadows the paddies eastern border, empty, nearly half a mile across with a gang of imperialists that fought dirty.
The Congs trying to sneak up to the team threading water on a full moon night expecting coming over without a sound was like a cat wearing his little bell when going mouse hunting expecting Mickey Mouse to be deaf.
And nobody had told the black pajamas about the ammo shortage of their enemies; but they were pissed all right after seeing through their binoculars a sniper from their own hanging from a tree by his safety rope.
Perhaps the nigh stopped or slowed the Yankees enough so they could catch with them, if not, they would be stopped by the battalion’s reinforcement Company coming from the west.

But the team wasn’t stopping or slowing down, they were already moving north along the paddies border, well into the line of trees, after Mister Lee and Kenny had made a bogus trail going southwest for about two hundred fifty yards to a shallow creek which would hold roaring white waters when the rain season started.
By dawn they were so deep inside the jungle than don’t even the IRS could find them there.
They were traveling in a thousand little swamps territory, with all the biting bugs in the world going berserk. For protection they had rubbed mud mixed with repellents all over the exposed skin.
Humorously humming ‘we had no napalm today’(with the tune of "we have no bananas today") they hurried their step whishing that was true , that no flyboy, after missing his target position, decided to bail out his load anywhere before returning home, and that it would be over them.
The tricky part of all operations was to cross the border going back to base and be seeing by a Cong’s spotting for deserters on their way to Laos.
They didn’t used the same route if they could avoid it, even if they went about trying not to left telltales of their passing, you can bet that always the opposite number have a clever one that can find your tracks like a bloodhound does.
Automatically everyone would step over the same place the shoe of the man in front just went, in a combat zone when your eyes are scanning the surroundings, where you step you let the point man to open the trail, his eyes are your eyes on the ground, your eyes become his eyes scanning around for people with guns trying to mess his day.
A branch will not fool a good point man by lying here or there, too conspicuously from another tree, which was thrown by the ”wind” precisely, where logic says put you foot here.
Trip wires are tricky to conceal, too much leaves piling up in front will tell of busy busy little men wearing dirty pajamas trying to puncture your ass.
A taut green line of vegetation at the opposite side of your path, will tell of a square arranged punji cluster aiming for your belly behind a tree, ready to spring forward and ruin your digestion.
Then…it was anti personal mines.

Everybody heard the unmistakable CLICK! and stopped dead on their tracks, heads going turtle as they receded, or try, inside the shoulders, expecting their world going bang!
Everything around seemed to have stopped too and was holding it’s breath.
When nothing happened, heads started to turn around until everybody saw that Kenny, the rear man, had wandered from following the man in front on the left rim of the path and had gone trampling right into the middle and stepped over a bobby trapped mine.
His other foot was dead frozen in mid air.
“You fool!” Mister Lee said, “why you go broking ranks like that?”
“Kenny is in love…Kenny is in…”
“Kentucky can kill all if he farts.”
“Quiet!” Walther hissed taking a step inside the jungle, “Don’t move!” this was directed to Kenny as he signaled the others to keep going, “go a couple hundred yards, with Mister Lee taking charge if we don’t make it, Sereno…stay and help me.”
When the team didn’t move Walther admonished them, “keep going dammit…!”
Soon half of the team had gone the required distance and out of sight on a bend going left.
Walther, followed by Sereno, carefully retraced the steps until he was beside a sweating Kenny still holding his leg in the air but perilously leaning back and fort trying to hold his equilibrium.
Without disturbing too much the area around the foot holding the mine’s release down, Walther, in a squatting position, slowly stabbed the ground from his side up to the shoe with the knife searching for a second mine in a three feet radius; when he was sure of no surprises he said, “lower your left foot but don’t take your body weight from the right one.”
Then he removed the shoelaces of the right shoe and grabbed firmly with both hands the top and the heel, “Sereno,” he added, “find me a big heavy stone pronto, Kentucky, take your stupid foot from the shoe, don’t say a word…and get the hell out of here, you done enough for today.”
Kenny did as he was told, disengaged his foot from the boot and moved like a dog with its tail tucked between its legs not feeling at all he could hold his head up and went well outside the path following the tracks left by the others.
Soon, he was gone too.
Walther, without decreasing the down press on the shoe, patiently waited for Sereno, which he could hear grunting somewhere trying to dislodge, probably a stone, from its muddy ground.
Finally he appeared like the hunchback of Notre Dame with a flat, bulky and backbreaking piece of rock hanging under his belly, and without a thud carefully unloaded it besides the waiting Walther.
“What now?” he asked.
“Take your shovel,” Walther said, “fill the shoe with muddy dirt, but not running wet, and keep the dirt coming until it piles well over my hands, then pile a mount on both sides of my hands until they are level with it from the shoe, make it as wide as the stone you carried, we don’t want it to slip down and let the damn mine bit our asses”
“Gotcha!” Sereno said getting down to start shoveling dirt, which was like drying up soft modeling clay.
Sereno suddenly stopped and grabbed for his gun hearing someone drawing close brushing against the foliage like don’t caring who hear his approaching. Walther didn’t moved.
“Boom-Boom,” Sereno, on a knee after releasing off the gun safety, had his weapon pointing right at the head with a red pirate bandana doing a pickaboo over the bushes, “one of this days you gonna get your fucking head blown off.”
“Boom-Boom,” said Walther, “what the hell are you doing here, I told everybody to stay away…”
“Boss,” Boom-Boom interrupted, “ someone needed to come and keep your rear clear while you two enjoy life making mud cakes…keep on going you are doing just fine.”
Walther gave a shrug with his shoulders trying not to get distracted from the task, but he couldn’t contain a growl of testiness, now, it wasn’t just one to look for after but the new arrived fool as well; the only thing that was missing was the other to follow suit and make a merry all party.
Ten minutes after, Sereno finished piling dirt and was ready to set the stone over the shoe, “Boom-Boom, help Sereno and grab one side of the stone…put it over the shoe dead center, press it into the mud until I tell you to stop…”
The two men lifted the heavy rock which, Boom-Boom thought, was formed like a tombstone and carefully moved over to the center of the path lowering it down like it was full of nitro.
The stone pressed down the drying mud for an inch or two, with Walther feeling the increasing weight on the mud covering his hands, until it stopped, when he was certain the shoe wouldn’t go anywhere he said, “press it down a little more…”
“Cover with mud my side under the rock, if the thing goes I want plenty of shit between it and me.”
With Sereno at his right and Boom-Boom at his left, he kept pressing down, just in case, the by now completely wet immobilized shoe.
The two men were sweating profusely but kept on digging and shoveling under Walther’s arms wishing they knew if the “old-man” knew what he
was doing, “that’s enough,” Walther said, “now get the hell from here so I can do it as well.”

When Boom-Boom and Sereno were at safe distance he removed his hands a slowly as his screaming nerves allowed expecting to hear the second and perhaps the last click he would ever hear, his hands were out leaving two holes in the mud like twins soundlessly screaming to get his tail to follow the wind.
Nothing happened, the rock didn’t jumped to kiss his face good-bye.
“Careful, don’t make no vibrations,” he told himself and he followed his own words getting the hell out of there.
When he joined the others, he had a baleful sight in his eyes, “next time you do that trick again,” he said to Kenny, “I will shove the mine up your ass, you could had killed someone else too, wandering around that way…you were supposed to keep our rear you fucking idiot!”
“Sorry,” Kenny said looking mortified, “I am very sorry, it will not happen again.”
“You can be sure it ain’t happen anytime soon,” Boom-Boom said surly, “because from now on I will be doing the rear spot amigo.”
“You should get a ticked for jaywalking,” Roscoe said trying to be funny and defuse a coming bang inside the team.
“Lets go,” said Walther, “just lets go…”
Kenny couldn’t or wouldn’t explain that today was the second anniversary of the killing of his little family, or that he wished he had keep on going and had let the mine do its job.
As for Walther, Kenny thought that the SOB old man really do cared what happened to any of them, even to him risking his life back there, which could hardly be said for their employers whose only interest was that they didn’t bleed too much and be restricted to sickbay.

(c) Georg E Mateos 2007

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Reviewed by LadyJtalks LadyJzTalkZone 9/1/2009
This is something I would think one doesn't get to practise at the academy. That was a tense moment. LadyJ
Reviewed by Kathy Armijo 11/30/2007
I only know of similar stories from those who were there. This was riviting and speaks to the honor among servicemen. Thank you for your service and this writing.

God bless you. Kathy
Reviewed by Jerry Newton 11/28/2007
The story of a true soldier by a true soldier. Civvies don't understand the brotherhood of the military and especially those that go into combat together. Great story Georg, keep on writing. jln
Reviewed by Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner 11/28/2007
Such power you wield: you take the reader into the heat of battle and make them feel the terror. Well done, Georg.

(((HUGS))) and love, Karla.

Again, thank YOU for your service, welcome home, soldier. :)
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 11/28/2007
Powerful story that truly captures the brutality of war, life on the front lines. Excellent; bravo, Georg! Semper fi!

(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in America, Karen Lynn in Texas. :(
Reviewed by Walt Hardester 11/28/2007
Another well written chapter of this saga Georg.
I enjoy these, thanks.

Reviewed by Mr. Ed 11/28/2007
Another riveting tale, brother, and as Felix said, you took us there. Leading by Example, and Caring - ah, if only the 'Big Wigs' knew how to do the very same.
Reviewed by Felix Perry 11/28/2007
You took us out on patrol with you in this one and gave us a real insiders look at war and the people and characters who put their lifes on the line in the name of duty. Well done.


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Female Suicide Bombers by Rosemarie Skaine

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