Fool 03/09/09 For April’s meeting
Sergeant Evans heard the rattling sound of a bullet hitting some loose stones nearby. A split second later he heard the sound from the rifle. “Zeke, I thought you said there were no snipers in this area. Where in the hell did that come from?”
Zeke shrugged his shoulders. “There wasn’t any yesterday. He must have snuck back in during the night.”
The sergeant pulled his steel helmet strap tighter under his chin. “Well, take care of him while I check if anyone was hit.”
Zeke held his rifle over his head enough for it to rest on the ledge of rocks. He fired a ten second burst in the general direction of where he thought the farm house stood.
“What the hell good did that do?” The sergeant crouched lower behind the large boulder. “You didn’t even come close to the building. Stand up there and aim at the building. We can’t let a lone sniper pin us down all day.”
Zeke slammed a full clip into his rifle and began filling the empty clip with bullets. “Do what! You want me to stick my head up and look for the sniper? What kind of fool do you think I am? He’d blow my damn head to smithereens.”
Another bullet hit close by. This time the sound was steel on steel followed by the retort of the rifle. Sergeant Evans looked down the narrow path between a mountain and a field in Northeast Afghanistan. “Get that damn sniper before he hits somebody.”
“Sarge! Sarge!” A young soldier poked his head around a boulder. “Jack has been hit. The dumb fool stuck his head up looking for the sniper.”
Sergeant Evans crawled along the stony path on his hands and knees. The stock of his rifle hitting rocks on the side of the mountain. Two soldiers were pulling a body to a secluded area behind a tall rock pile. “What in the hell happened? Where is he hit? Is he alive?” He crawled to the body and stared at Jack’s face. “I don’t see any blood. Where was he hit?”
One of the soldiers moved a helmet toward Evans with his foot. “Look at Jack’s helmet, Sarge. The bullet hit his helmet a glancing blow and bounced off.” He knelt down beside Jack. “I see his chest moving so he’s still alive.” He felt of Jack’s neck. “I was crouched right beside him. It made a noise like a clap of thunder and poor ole Jack fell like he had been hit in the head with an ax. His helmet flew off and bounced against the mountain side.”
“Why in the hell didn’t you warn him?” The sergeant rolled Jack’s head back and forth. “You knew it was dangerous to be sticking your head up when there’s a sniper around. Did you tell him?”
“I did. I did. I called him ever kind of fool in the book. Just as I called him a dumb fool, the bullet knocked his helmet off. Dumb fool were the last words he heard.” He pointed at Jack’s face. “He just blinked. Did you see that?” He slapped Jack’s cheek three times. “Jack, old buddy. Can you hear me?”
Jack opened both eyes and nodded. “I hear you fool. Something hit my fool head.” He rubbed the right side of his head. “I have a fooling headache. What happened, fool?” He sat up and pushed himself against a rock. He began singing.
“What in the hell is wrong with him?” The sergeant shook Jack’s shoulder. “Why are you singing?”
Jack closed his eyes and kept on singing.
“What is he singing?” Evans kept his eyes on Jack’s face. “It sounds like a lot of nonsense to me.”
The soldier stood. He leaned his rifle against the rocks and listened to Jack’s plaintive monotone for thirty seconds. “I think I heard parts of Fools Walk In, A Fool in Love and Fool is a Dangerous Thing.” He stopped and listened for fifteen seconds. “Now he’s singing Send in the Fools.”
Sergeant Evans listened for ten seconds as Jack changed to Deep in the Heart of Fool. “All right everybody, listen up. We got a wounded comrade here. We are taking him back to camp. We’ll let the medics look at him.” He waited as Zeke crawled into the clearing. “We’re going back to camp in a few minutes. So revive Bing Crosby there and get him ready to walk. You stay close to him.”
Zeke prodded Jack with his rifle stock. “Hey Jack, on your feet. The tavern is open. Let’s go get a nice cold beer.”
Jack opened both eyes and smiled. “I’ll have a nice cold fool from St. Louis.” He staggered getting to his feet and leaned against the boulder. “I got a fooling headache. What in the fool happened to me? Where’s my fooling helmet?”
The sergeant handed Jack his helmet. “You stuck your damn head up and the sniper nearly blew it off.” He pointed at the dent. “Look at that. Another inch or two to the left and it would have been right between your eyes. Put the damn thing on and let’s move out.”
Jack lovingly caressed the dent. He held it up and looked at the helmet from all angles. “Man, look at that. That Taliban fool nearly killed my fooling ass.” He put the helmet on three times. Each time he tightened the strap a bit more. “I’m ready.” He started singing Big Eight Fool Coming down the track, your true loving fool ain’t coming back.”
The sergeant shook his head in sorrow. “That bullet must have hit his helmet at the exact same time Bill was calling him a dumb fool. Somehow fool is imprinted in his brain. I don’t know why he wants to sing.”
Zeke waited a second. “What was Jack doing at the time of impact besides looking for the sniper?”
“He was singing.”
“Well, what the hell was he singing. We don’t have time to play twenty questions.”
“Jack was singing I was a fool when I enlisted in the army. It was his favorite song.”
“I don’t care what he was singing or what was said when he was hit.” The sergeant looked first at Jack and then at Zeke. “You take care of him and get him back to camp.”
Zeke stared at Jack for a moment and then at the sergeant. “I don’t know if I can stand this all the way back to camp. He’ll drive me crazy and attract the Afghans. We should make him stay about a hundred yards behind us.”
Sergeant Evans picked up his rifle and checked his watch. “That’s OK with me if you want to stay back there with him.”
Zeke shook his head emphatically. “No way I’m bringing up the rear with the singing cowboy. What are you going to say to the captain when we return without finishing our mission? We are supposed to go five more klicks and check for enemy activity.”
“Hell, we got an soldier wounded in the line of duty. He was injured in an enemy engagement. He may get the Purple Heart out of this.”
Zeke slowly shook his head. “All Jack has is a slight concussion. He may be fit as a fiddle by the time we get back to the captain.” He shook Jack’s shoulder. “How are you feeling? Can you walk back to camp?”
Jack broke out singing I could fool across Texas with a fool in my arms.
“I take that to be an affirmative answer. If he can waltz across Texas, he can certainly walk back to camp.” Sergeant Evans dropped to his hands and knees and began crawling away. “Keep him quiet. I want to get back as quick as possible. I want Jack to sing a few tunes to the captain.”
Zeke crawled behind Jack until the sergeant thought they were far enough away from the sniper to be able to stand. They walked fifty feet and heard a single shot a half mile away. Jack fell to the ground and began singing I heard the fool a coming right around the bend.
“Get up, dammit.” Zeke kicked Jack’s boot. “That shot was at least a mile away. If you fall down every time you hear a shot, we’ll never get back.” He kicked again, leaned down and whispered harshly. “Git the hell up. Here comes the sergeant. He’ll kick your ass all the way back to camp.”
“What in the hell is wrong with him?” Sergeant Evans kicked Jack’s boot. “Why is he on the ground and holding up our return to camp?” He kicked Jack’s boot again. “Get your sorry ass up. We don’t have time to fiddle dick around. I just got a radio message from the captain. There’s a small Taliban unit off a few klicks to the north. We are to engage and destroy.”
Jack jumped to his feet. He pointed his rifle straight up and fired fifteen rounds, emptying the clip. He started singing Praise the fools and pass the ammunition as he slammed a full clip into his rifle.
“Holy shit, what in the hell is wrong with him.” Sergeant Evans grabbed at Jack’s rifle and missed. “You dumb fool, you just alerted every insurgent within five miles of us. Let’s get the hell out of here. I’m not going any klicks out of the way to engage insurgents. They’re probably on their way to engage us.” He walked away, stopped and turned around. “If Jack does that again, hit his head as hard as you can with your rifle butt.”
Jack broke into song. He began singing Ghost fools in the Sky.
The sergeant broke into a trot getting away from Zeke and Jack. “All right everybody. Let’s move out. Double time. That dumb idiot Jack has told the insurgents where we are. Get a move on before they get between us and the camp. First round of beer is on Jack if we all get back safely.”
Zeke crawled behind Jack for a hundred yards, alternating between whispering shut up and hurry up. He stood up and prodded Jack into a trot to keep up with the sergeant. “Get a move on, Jack. If you don’t, we’ll be late for happy hour.” He started to say no singing but was too late. Jack began singing Happy fools are here again.
Sergeant Evans was waiting around the next bend. He fell in behind Jack at a trot. “Jack, if you sing again I’m going to stomp the living shit out of you. Do you understand? Or did that bullet mess your mind up worse than it all ready was?”
Jack sang Make the fools go away.
Sergeant Evans shook his head and sprinted away from Jack and Zeke. Twenty minutes later, Zeke and Jack trotted into a clearing protected by rocks and trees. The other members of the squad were on the ground resting except the sergeant. He was using his binoculars. He beckoned at Zeke. “Come here and look.” He handed the glasses to Zeke. “See the insurgents on the other side of the valley. They are even with us. I want you and Jack to give us a five minute head start, then open up on them. They are too far away to do any damage, but you will slow them up enough for all of us to make camp safely.”
“What! Have you lost your mind again? You want me to stay behind with Elvis.”
“It’s only going to be five minutes. Empty a few clips in their direction and take off after us. You’ll probably catch us after a quarter mile. If not, run like hell. We are only five miles from camp.”
“I still don’t like it. Jack may decide to stop and sing.”
Sergeant Evans pointed at Zeke’s arm. “Do something brave and earn those stripes. You are the only corporal here and second in command.” He turned back to the men still sprawled out on the ground. “All right men, lets trot. We’re not going to stop until we hit the beer parlor.” He nodded at Zeke. “Remember, five minutes.”
Zeke grabbed Jack’s arm. “The sarge wants us to stay for five minutes as a rear guard.” He waited while Jack sang a few lines of There’ll be a fool time in the old town tonight. “In five minutes, we are going to open fire on the Taliban across the valley. Are you ready?”
Jack touched Sergeant Evan’s arm. He sang I loaded sixteen fools and what did I get.
Sergeant Evans shook his head in sorrow. “Poor boy, he’ll be in a section eight hospital the rest of his life.” He started trotting away. “All right, let’s move out.”
Zeke waited until the last soldier was out of sight. He pointed at Jack’s head. “Did you understand what the sergeant said?”
Jack nodded. He sang Here’s a quarter, call a fool you know. His voice echoed around the valley.
Zeke slumped back against a rock. He glanced at his watch. He realized Jack only sang after someone said something. He held up four fingers to indicate they had to wait four more minutes.
Jack quickly aimed his rifle across the valley and fired a four round burst. He grinned at Zeke and sang Let’s have a fool for the road.
Zeke pulled Jack to the ground as a thirty round burst from a heavy machine gun raked their side of the mountain. Pebbles seemed to explode and chips of stone rained down. A few short bursts from about ten of the lighter AK47s sprayed the area a hundred yards behind. Zeke hugged the ground for an eternity as the heavy machine gun sporadically alternated between three round bursts and four round bursts. He waited until after a ten second lull before getting to his feet and peering gingerly over the rocks.
“The hell with waiting three more minutes. They are starting to run in our direction. They are still too far away.” He stopped as Jack fired the entire clip in one long burst. He laid his rifle on the rock and fired his entire clip. Jack was singing Great Balls of Fools. Zeke watched Jack crouch down and fire another clip straight up into the air. “That’s enough, dammit. Let’s catch up with the squad.” He bent low and began running down the path toward camp. Jack brought up the rear singing I met my fool on Blueberry Hill.”
They stumbled into camp two hours later, tired, thirsty and nearly out of ammunition. The captain met them at their squad’s area.
“Sergeant Evans said you two sterling soldiers volunteered to stay behind in a rear guard action. Your heroism and devotion to duty is outstanding. How many of the enemy do you think you two brave soldiers killed?”
Jack broke into one of Jerry Lee Lewis’ hit songs, Thirty-nine fools and holding.
“Is that right.” The captain rubbed his hands in satisfaction. “I’m going to put you both in for the Bronze Star.” He held up four fingers. “The first four beers are on me.”
Jack aimed at the sky, fired a four round burst and ejected the empty clip to the ground. He began singing Willie Nelson’s old song. Turn out the lights, Fools, the party’s over.