A Desperate Raid ~ Lee Allen Hill
The forward scout scans the terrain from high in a bucayo tree. His undernourished comrades conceal themselves, awaiting the all-clear to move out. The troop’s food supply is critically low, so it’s staging a desperation raid into enemy territory to steal whatever it can.
The hungry raiders anxiously bide their time, well-camouflaged in the verdant vegetation.
A simple plan: breach the enemy’s lines, procure as much sustenance as possible, then haul ass back to no man’s land—without being detected.
Scout signals the all-clear.
Alpha-1 initiates the assault.
The troop surges forward only to meet heavy resistance.
Feces fly everywhere.
The mission is a disaster and the encroaching monkey troop retreats in disarray. The defending troop howls victory from the treetops.
Author’s note: A social group of monkeys is commonly called a troop. Several species of monkeys use their own feces as projectiles. I have family photos to prove it.
The Viejo ~ Lee Allen Hill
“Viejo, is it true that one of the rifles will have only a powder charge---no bullet?”
The old man knuckled sleep from his eyes. He sat up, leaned from his cot and shook pebbles from his boots. “Would that really make so much difference, Private?”
The younger man gazed out the high window. Black was turning gray. “I would rather not to know that I shot a defenseless man propped against a wall. So, yes, I would prefer that my rifle be the one with no bullet.”
The greybeard grinned. “You have too soft a heart, Private. If it were up to you there would be no bullets at all. What kind of army we would be if all the soldiers refused to shoot bullets, eh?” He struggled to pull on one boot, then the other.
“All I’m saying, Corporal, is that I would rather not shoot a man in cold blood.”
The viejo spat on his belt buckle and buffed it with the cuff of his uniform sleeve. “I think you would rather not shoot a man at all, Private. So, shall I speak to the colonel for you? Maybe he will allow you to carry the gun with no bullet. Would that make you feel better?”
The young one laughed. “You, viejo? Speak to the colonel? So you think you are gentry now? You think you own a big hacienda on a hill? Perhaps he’ll offer you wine and introduce you to his pretty daughter, no?”
The old corporal stomped his boots to better seat his heels inside. He smiled. “I only offered to speak to the colonel, Private. I did not promise he would listen. Now get up and straighten your uniform. You must make yourself presentable. It is almost time.”
The younger man stood, brushed straw off his backside and shined the toe of each boot on the back of the opposite trouser leg. “I have been told such a thing---about the bullet, I mean.”
The old man spoke softly. “Eight bullets, seven…what does it matter?”
“It matters to me.”
“So you say, Senor Private, but you have nothing to say in the matter. Now dust off your shako.”
The young man smudged his sleeve around the crown of his uniform hat. “Viejo, you have participated in firing squads before, si?”
The old man sighed, nodded. “Six times, amigo.”
“May I ask you…how did it feel?”
The corporal stretched the shako strap under his chin. “It felt like duty, my young friend. We are soldiers. It is our duty to do as we are told.”
The private sat down. “I have decided that I do not make a very good soldier.”
The corporal laughed. “You have decided? I believe you have come to that conclusion at a most awkward moment.”
“Just because I do not want to shoot people?”
“But that is what we soldiers do.”
“Then I am a bad soldier.”
The corporal dug the key from his blouse pocket. “Si, and you are also a deserter, amigo. So now you are a dead soldier.” He unlocked the cell door. “Come now, Private, the sun is rising.”
The young man stepped forward, stopped. “Viejo, I will pray you are the one to get the rifle with no bullet.”
“Thank you, Private, but perhaps you should pray that gun goes to someone else.” He nudged the young man toward the outer door.
“So do you really want to shoot me? Will that make you a good soldier?” he asked over his shoulder.
“It is true I am a soldier in this man’s army, amigo, but I am a soldier of God first.”
The young man slowed. “Perhaps I am missing something?”
The viejo spat. “No, Private, I am the one who will be missing. I have already missed six times. You will be my seventh.”
The private continued his march. “Ah, thank you, Viejo. That is some comfort.”
Small comfort, thought the old man. Six bullets instead of seven.
♦ Lee Allen Hill is just a leftover hippie with a penchant for word-slinging.
♦This author's contributions help make Page & Spine possible.