The music is insistent, churning. A long bluesy intro. Then the singer struts out in skin tight black leather pants, her midriff bare. The black, sleeveless half jersey is loose and when she raises her arms you can see the undersides of her breasts. She raises her arms a lot.
Welcome To My World
It's a packed house. It's the band that appeared in one of my short films. The guys-a drummer, bass player and two guitarists-are already on stage. The music is insistent, churning. A long bluesy intro. Then the singer struts out in skin tight black leather pants, her midriff bare. The black, sleeveless half jersey is loose and when she raises her arms you can see the undersides of her breasts. She raises her arms a lot. Or leans way back. She hangs onto the mike stand as if it's the only thing holding her up. Her voice is a high pitched soulful rasp. God, can she sing. Her shoulder length hair is wild and black, shiny as tar. She pulls the mike off the stand and struts from one end of the stage to the other, dangerously close to the edge. Barely in control. The mike cord trailing behind like a black snake. Constantly pulling the hair away from her face. The place is rockin'. The spotlight follows her. The audience is bathed in changing red and green and blue light. The audience claps to the beat in unison with their hands above their heads. She struts and rolls her hips. The music the band is putting out is nearly studio perfect. She throws a clenched fist in the air. She gets us to throw our fists in the air to the sound of the beat. She lays the mike on the stage and turns her back to the audience. The bass player and two guitarists come up with her and turn their backs to the audience. All four stick out their butts and do this funky bump and grind in unison to the beat. The audience goes nuts. The dummer keeps it funky. When the bump and grind is over she sprints wildly toward the mike on the stage floor. Slides down on her hip and scoops the mike up and springs to her feet and sings just when she's suppose to sing. The song ends with her front and center at the very edge of the stage on her knees, her beautiful face sweaty and contorted, the jersey soaked between her breasts, her voice low and gravelly as she pleads, one hand reaching down to the audience and all of us reaching up to her as she pleads for just one good, one good, one good, one good, just one good man to love her forever.
It sounded like a fast ball pitched against the port hull of the big chopper. Scott Delaney felt his stomach flutter and the pulse beat faster in his throat. The door gunners were searching the jungle below. Vietcong were known to be in the area. Over the deafening sound of the twin rotary blades and the high pitched whine of the twin jet engines in the stern, the sharp impact came again.
Like Scott, many of the soldiers were teenagers, their sweaty faces gaunt with sunken eyes. The door gunners were in harnesses as they leaned far out, one to port and one to starboard, trying to see where the rounds were coming from. Scott held his toy-like rifle, the butt against the vibrating floor plates, up between his knees and waited. Over the deafening noise the sharp impact came again.
The new kid sitting directly across from Scott screamed and lurched forward and hit the deck. His rifle clattered and his helmet rolled away on the deck. Scott and others had been splattered with flesh and blood. Scott had never been splattered with flesh and blood before. The kid was crying, pleading for his mother. Sarge started wrapping the kid, but soon it didn't matter. Scott had never seen anyone die before.
The door gunners were returning fire now. The spent shell casings spewed into space. The sharp impact came again. Scott sensed the big chopper losing altitude.
Burt Johnson tapped Scott on the shoulder and nodded at the porthole behind them. In the jungle below was a clearing, the unit landing zone. A four man landing crew waited on the ground. That's when Scott smelled it.
Scott looked forward. The two pilots struggled to keep control. Scott looked aft. The crew chief was standing, and then he crouched down and dipped the first two fingers of the right hand into a liquid on the deck. He rubbed the liquid between the thumb and first two fingers. He smelled it. He tasted it. He stood up and began speaking rapidly into the mike of his head set to the pilots up front.
Scott looked out the porthole behind him. Now he could not see the landing zone. There were only trees everywhere. Suddenly they were in the trees. He was flung against the port hull, everyone shouting. He was flung back against the starboard hull except now it was the deck. Others fell on top of him, everyone shouting.
There was a loud, guttural WHOOOOOOOOOSH! Scott felt the great heat. The crew chief came running wildly from the stern, his uniform ablaze. He stumble to his knees in flames. Scott struggled to get up. He grabbed someone's leg. He was kicked and stomped until he let go. Everyone pushed and shoved aboved him while others stepped on him. He had lost his helmet and rifle. He could't get up. The smoke was choking him. Men were screaming. Scott Delaney knew he was going to die.
Burt Johnson got him under the arm pits and pulled him up. Other hands lifed him up. More hands pulled him out. What was left of the crew chief was found in the smoldering wreckage.