Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Skinwalkers Part 3

Days are long as they hunker down. No enemy knows they're there. Contact with the others is restricted to Code Talk on the phone and the occasional trip to camp. They eat together, shit together and despite the tension between them, they talk.  Lawrence explains his morning ritual of taking a pouch of corn pollen from his pocket. This keeps him calm, balanced and safe. Pollen is touched to tongue and head, then lifted to four sacred directions in an act of remembrance and faith. Jenson reminisces about his mother's Cornjacks, pancakes and maple syrup and kisses a photograph of a swimsuit model, since he has no sweetheart of his own. There are moments of connect between the chatter and the gunfire. Moments when one believes he might make a friend of the other but these are few and far between.

Weeks go by.  The 'rabbits' are driven from their burrows and forced north. Flushed from their holes, cut down or watched, as warriors of the rising sun take their own lives rather than become prisoner. As the enemy moves in bloody retreat, a tented encampment on the south end of the beach becomes a welcome distraction. The safest haven on this moonscape. Providing short respite for Lawrence and his watcher. Short sorties of leave are granted from their Pillbox prison and they are permitted to seek the camaraderie of a mess tent, the comfort of a lime covered latrine and sharing chow before returning to their hell hole. This also provides an apartheid of sorts, talkers hang together, whites continue with their antagonism and hostile posturing.

 One 'Indian' joke too many and Lawrence finally snaps. He rushes his compatriot and foists a well placed elbow smacking hard across his adversary's neck and sends him flying back across the makeshift table. Enamel plates and cups fling off in all directions with a tinny clamor.  It's on! This hatred's been pent up and stir crazy gladiators pitch a personal battle.  The fight is dirty but both men are evenly matched, hand to groin, elbow to head and well placed fists to solar plexus. They're beating the pulp out of each other, egged on by a rowdy crowd. The beatings rage for almost 20 minutes before both can barely stand. Arms limp, sweat pouring, noses and lips bloodied and eyes swollen. Clearly there's no point continuing. Both shake off their furor reluctantly and silently acknowledge that they are a fair and equitable match. Time to clean up and return to their pillbox. It's going to be a long night.

Small arms fire, becomes more evident at night as other noises cease. Star parachute flares, fired by destroyers off shore, light the battlefield. Every few minutes throughout the night the flares burst far above them, and then drift slowly down, creating shifting shadows in their blue-white light.  Lawrence checks his own. A man without a shadow may as well be dead.

Returning bruised and silent to their station, after the mess tent fracas , both men attune to whispers adjacent to their hideout. Quiet, distant, foreign, blocked infrequently by the release of parachute flares.  Jenson gesticulates with a silent hand, knuckles still bloodied, swollen eyes adjusting to the dark. Both are savvy enough to hit the blackened earth, weapons flush to the ground, fingers poised on clip and trigger, praying that the flares desist.  What the Japanese patrol is doing so far in reclaimed territory, neither can fathom.  But they're armed to the teeth, literally, knives in mouths, bayonets glinting with each descending flare, grenades dangling ominously from their belts. This is a brave or stupid unit of five men. Equally wary, senses are sharpened and desperate to reclaim the Pillbox, so that comrades can spill like fire ants, close to their enemy's camp.
 
The adversaries, now in unison are afraid to draw breath but need to move. They're in the open, exposed. One more flare and they're dead or captured. Jenson knows it. Lawrence fears it.  They commando crawl towards cover when Lawrence feels the cold press of steel against his temple. It's not a Japanese pistol pointed at his head.

"What the fuck?" the Navajo silently mouths. Jenson's finger moves to his lips to signal 'hush' but terror courses through the Navajo. He isn't prepared to die, least not at the hand of this idiot. He might be his physical match but is arguably his intellectual inferior.

The Japanese patrol is nervous, they scout in the dark sure they've heard something move. The air is thick, fit to be cut by knife as one man faces death and the other its delivery.  "I can take 'em." Lawrence whispers, nervous sweat, clouding his eyes.  The barrel of the Colt M1911 still pressed hard against his temple. "Can't risk it" says Jenson, a meld of anger and delight welling in his. "They get you, they get me, they get us. All of us."   Lawrence hears the tell-tale click.

This whole thing is fucked. Sanity kicks in and Jensen realises the shot will draw attention.  He draws knuckled trench knife. Seeing it glint in fading flare light, Lawrence springs wildly to his feet and fires at the oblivious patrol. Jenson's moment lost, usurped, he joins the massacre cutting each Nip down, mercilessly, brutally, accurately.  Unseen, one flanks both men and charges screaming.  Arisaka firing, bayonet loaded and pointed. Lawrence pivots at speed and punctuates the Jap's uniform with deadly perforations. The Nip shudders violently with the impact and falls but not before clearing a well placed shot. Jenson's hit. The Navajo doesn't notice.  Standing over each lifeless corpse he unceremoniously slashes yellow throats. 'Take no prisoners' repeats in his head as he ensures they're all extinguished.

2 comments:

  1. Love the brawl at the mess tent. Nothing like a good testosterone tsunami.

    The Four Directions - nice mention.

    I'm enjoying this.

    ReplyDelete