June ’66

Wrote this piece for Christian Flash Weekly Event #51, the prompt based on Revelation 9:4: “They were told not to hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, but only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.”

My Dearest Linda,

I received your latest letter two days ago. Two days ago I was the happiest man in the world.

I write to you to tell you not to wait for me any longer. Go find another. Find someone else who will love you as much as I have and always will love you. But the man you have loved is dead and gone, gone when the smoke cleared and he saw what he had done.

They told us to kill only the gooks. As if you could tell one a non-gook from a gook. A bomb went off. I swear to God it sounded like the fifth trumpet.

Then another and we opened fire. Kept shooting. That’s when all hell broke loose.

I thought to myself I’d make you proud. I’d come back with a medal and make you proud. I ran toward them, screaming, yelling, opening fire at every shadow, every dark shape enshrouded in smoke I saw.

Our commander had reiterated the intelligence report, quoting, as he always did, the Bible. He told us we should be like the locusts in the Book of Revelation. He told us not to hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, but only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. “That means the gooks,” he said.

I looked at myself in a mirror once all was done. Linda, I am no different than a locust. The Book of Revelation (I borrowed the Commander’s Bible) says these bugs had the bodies of horses. Crowns of gold atop long flowing hair over human faces. Teeth like lions, tails like scorpions.

Now if a locust looked in the mirror, I imagine it would be confused, then horrified.

I, my dear, leapt straight over the confusion.

Linda, I was a lawnmower, or so I discovered when the smoke finally cleared. We were all…lawnmowers.

Locusts through and through. Our commander—I see him now—smiling smugly as he bites into an apple—seems the least disturbed. And of course there are the others who want nothing more than to kiss his ass laughing with him, telling jokes.

Then there are the few like me.

Linda, what disturbs me the most is not what I have done (though that disturbs me plenty), but what I have discovered myself to be. In telling them not to eat from the trees, that damn book tells locusts to go against their very nature—to <u>not</u> do what comes naturally, what God in Heaven created them to do. And I can only wonder—did I, like locusts, do what comes naturally? Am I, are we, we human beings, killers by nature? Is that what God created us to be?

How could any of us have been expected to see who had the seal and who did not?

Are we—those who breathe the spirit of war—expected, as the locusts are directed, not to live by instinct, by nature? To kill? And like locusts devouring crops after crop, kill whoever stands in our way? Is that human nature? Is that who I am? I am as I know myself to be.

Go find another.

The one you loved is dead, and horrified.


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