Fiction

The Prisoner of War

By: Mark Kodama

Johnny knew he had been here before – many times before. He could hear the Taliban fighters outside his mud hut, speaking Farsi. The leader – with a dark beard and eyes full of intense hate – motioned Johnny outside with his pistol. The leader barked something to him in Farsi through his yellow broken teeth. He was flanked by two other Talban insurgents armed with AK-47s.

Johnny looked around. He saw the children playing. He could smell the manure of the goats. Large black snow capped mountains loomed in the background.

The black bearded leader was about to push his back hard. It was déjà vu all over again. His life was repeating itself yet again. He stumbled and fell. The leader yelled at him in Farsi.

Johnny was forced to his knees. He could feel the barrel of the pistol against his head. He laughed. There was a bang and then darkness.

****

Johnny knew he wanted to be a soldier all of his life. He and his brothers used to watch World at War every weekend – Pearl Harbor, Stalingrad, D-Day, Guadalcanal – he knew the names of all the battles. Johnny was Sgt. John Stryker, the John Wayne character in Sands of Iwo Jima.

When he played Army in the woods with his brothers, he always found the best hiding places from which to ambush them. He always knew where they were going to be even before they did.

One time he forced his little brother Billy to his knees on the dirt trail in the forest behind their house. He could feel his own sweat under his plastic army helmet. He took out his toy pistol from his belt. “Bang.”

Billy lay on the ground, body convulsing like in the movies.

****

When the seniors on his football team returned from California, they told everyone in school that they joined the Marines. Johnny looked at his copy of Waiting for Godot for his English class with disdain. He thought of his middle aged English teacher Mr. Smith in his cardigan sweater and that way he favored the girls in his class.

He looked at his teammates, now Marine recruits. Oh, their swagger! Johnny wanted some of that.

The seniors had led the Wild Cats to the championship. He had been a part of that winning team. He wanted to be a part of another winning team.

Then there was 911. America was calling him as it had others throughout its history. Freedom is not free.

****

Johnny had just arrived in Afghanistan when he went on his first patrol. There was reported activity in a local village.

They drove up that mountain road in two humvees. He was not scared but he could feel the butterflies in his stomach. He was ready, come what may.

He could see the humvee ahead of them. The machine gunner swung the machine gun to the right toward the mud huts. Suddenly, an orange and red flash of light engulfed the humvee as it burst into smoke and flames.

Everywhere was the acrid smell of burning rubber and oil. Johnny could feel the heat of the burning humvee.

His humvee abruptly stopped. The sergeant reported the attack to the base. Johnny and his comrades jumped out, guns ready.

“Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!” the sergeant yelled.

****

That night he had a dream – he was part of the army of Alexander the Great. They waited in the forest, the green boughs of the trees weighted by fresh snow. The large black surrounding mountains were covered in snow. Dawn has just broken. They could see the white smoke from the mud huts from the village. White vapor emanated with their breath.

At the signal from the general, the men charged into the village. “No prisoners!” the general shouted. “No prisoners!” The dogs barked.

The soldiers slaughtered them where they stood, setting fire to the huts. Men, women and children emerged from the huts, some on fire. One Macedonian warrior on horseback chased after an old man running for his life. He cut him down with his sword.

Johnny mounted on horse charged a warrior covered from head to toe in skins. The warrior raised his spear. He wore a broad brimmed bronze helmet in the Macedonian style, with a metal cuirass and purple cape trailing after him.

Johnny planted his lance into the chest of the warrior, knocking him backward into sitting position.

The warrior vainly tried to pull the spear from his chest before falling on his back and then going into convulsions.

Johnny returned and pulled the spear from the dying warrior. As he jerked his spear from dying warrior’s chest, his fur mask fell.

To his surprise, it was a pretty young woman. Her eyes looked through him as her life ebbed away.

Johnny awoke in a sweat.

****

Johnny could hear them cutting the wire that night as they waiting for the attack. Soon mortar shells began to fire. The commander called in an air strike. Flares illuminating the sky, making the enemy soldiers appear like an army of ants scurrying toward their position.

Johnny could see the enemy fighters with his night vision goggles. Bullets poured forth from his gun and his gun belched fire.

By morning his small outpost in the mountain had been overrun. Johnny was a prisoner.

****

Johnny knew he had been here before – many times before. He could hear the Talban fighters outside his mud hut, speaking Farsi. The leader – with a dark beard and eyes full of intense hate – motioned Johnny outside with his pistol. The leader barked something to him in Farsi through his yellow broken teeth. He was flanked by two other Talban insurgents armed with AK-47s.

Johnny looked around. He saw the children playing. He could smell the manure of the goats. Large black snow capped mountains loomed in the background.

The black bearded leader was about to push his back hard. He stumbled and fell. The leader began to yell in Farsi.

Johnny was forced to his knees. He could feel the barrel of the pistol against his head. He laughed. There was a bang and then darkness. And then there he was again in the woods with his brothers . . .

Advertisements

Categories: Fiction

1 reply »

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.