Monday, May 30, 2011


John sat on the floor, the plastic green G.I. Joe figure gingerly clutched between his thumb and forefinger as he pretended it was parachuting from the plane. Little John sat facing him, his matching figure clutched in his sweaty three year old palm. Slowly the man floated down to the Earth, dodging enemy fire. John continued with his mission. "Red Fox has landed. All family present," he said into his imaginary government issued walkie-talkie.

Pointing at another of the G.I. Joe troopers on the ground, he signaled him to move forward. From invisible tree to invisible tree, the unit of 4 plastic figures advanced through the dense forest, their rifles trained on shadows and rustling leaves. Little John kept his man quietly imprisoned behind his chubby fingers as his father slid the soldiers across the floor.

Finally the team grouped together at the leg of the chair, the predetermined meeting point in case they were separated during the fall. John signaled the scout ahead. He was gone three anxious minutes before returning and gesturing that they could make it to the first hut without fear of being seen. Pantomiming a walkie-talkie, John whispered "We have Go. We have Go. Radio silence in 3, 2, 1." 

The men quietly moved to the first hut. Hearts beating, they scouted for the next safe location. Slowly, they made their way across the small village one hut at a time. At the last hut, they dropped to their bellies and broke off into two teams. John and the scout, Mark, slithered into the brush just to the left of the door of the hut. They waited. Little John watched his father crouched by the couch with fascination.

John watched as the small flame licked to life, consuming the roof of the hut in a matter of seconds. Two men came running out, shouting in jarred syllables. One at a time they fell to the ground, dead. He waited a few more seconds. No one came running. No shouting. No sounds other than the continuous hum of the forest. He stood, his rifle aimed at the unseen enemy and quickly went into the hut. Mark guarded the crumbling door of the hut as John rapidly lifted the badly beaten body of his captain from the floor.

He was repulsed by the sweet smell of drying blood and strong odor of urine that clung to the captain tighter than the captain was able to cling to him. The heat was intolerable. Smoke stung his eyes and dirtied his lungs as he pulled the body through the door, emerging from between flames. Mark swung his gun wildly from side to side, more fearful of what he couldn't see than the unforgiving flames reaching ever closer to him. Together, the two men made it into the deep cover of the forest and 25 yards down to the stream.

They met with the other two men. Quietly they washed the captains failing body in the stream, rinsing away the sweet and foul smells. Lifting the walkie-talkie, John whispered into it once again, "Red Fox out of the hole. Papa fox in tow. Family ready to reunite at the old picnic grounds." Securing the captain to John's back, the four men moved through the deepening night to the pick-up zone.

At the clearing, they heard the welcome sounds of the Heli chopping the air. It blew a refreshing wind through the grasses and deep brush. Mark scouted it for safety. Reassured that it was their own men, the four stumbled out of the brush and were escorted into the helicopter. Relief flooded John's wrecked nerves as they lifted into the air. 

"Daddy?" Little John whispered, touching a father that was further than across the living room away. "Daddy? Will you play with me?"

John let out a deep sigh. "Yeah, yeah. Let's play," he said. As the little G.I. Joe men clashed into each other, threw grenades, and launched missiles, John sent up a little prayer for the many men and women he knew still lay under those leaves and inside those little huts.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***


  1. That flowed together perfectly. It took me a moment to spot what was happening as the shift happened, but once I did it gave me chills.

    Top notch.

  2. Thank you Marc. I look forward to your next prompt.