In the Yard My Buddies Burning

September 2

Dearest Annie,

Last night was a bad one. We were on a recon run out by Sector 22, scouting out the new gun emplacements, when the Reds spotted us. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been — they didn’t have air support or armor — but Adam got shot up pretty good. You know what a big guy he is, it’s hard for him to duck and cover no matter how heavy the fire gets. I felt damn bad because he caught it in his face, and I was always calling him “He-Man” and “The Prince” on account of his looks. He lost an arm too. It’s good we have such top-notch docs out here, he’ll be fixed up good in no time.  But I feel for the poor kid because he’s sure to be cycled back here. The CO can’t afford to lose a good fighter like him.

Enough about me, how’s everything back home? Are you keeping busy? How is the farm holding up? My best to you and your brother.

Love, Joe

September 9

Dearest Annie,

We got a new squad leader here, fella by the name of Solo. Seems like a pretty decent guy, with a good sense of humor, and he’s had plenty of service time. But I have a feeling that the men aren’t going to give him the respect they give me and Hawk on account of he can’t bend his arms or legs. I ain’t saying it makes him a bad man, no ma’am. Just that he’s pretty useless in a firefight, and you know, guys like that, they can hardly hold their sidearm straight.  So a lot of the boys get to talking that he lucked his way into his command and whatnot. Who knows, though?  Col. Armstrong earned their respect and he’s got all kinds of problems, physically I mean. And I’m not one to talk, not being a complete man and all. You’re an angel to put up with me.

Anyway, enough of my jibber jabber. What’s new back in the world? I’m sorry your ma took sick, I hope they get her stitched up. Glad to know that Betsy’s conquered that problem of hers; I feel bad about that nickname we gave her. My best to you and your brother.

Love, Joe

September 13

Dearest Annie,

Some days it seems this war will never end. The craziest thing is that I see the same faces over and over again. I don’t mean just in a, what’s the word, like a psychological way — I mean, besides all the same guys getting cycled back into the company, it seems like every firefight I’m in it’s the same damn Reds shooting at me. And I know it can’t be true; I’ve taken out a hundred men easy myself, there’s no way those boys are ever coming back. But it seems like it. I don’t know, maybe my mind’s playing tricks on me. I should try and get a Section 8 like that kid Elmo did, ha ha. Anyway, small favors: the weather’s been overcast lately and it’s cooling down, which means the enemy is using less of the Melter. Horrible way to die.

But I don’t want to upset you with my war stories. Good to hear about your mom, and I guess I’m happy for your friend Barbie, although it seems a bit extravagant to move into a dream house what with the war going on and all. Doesn’t she believe in rationing? Anyway, I miss you. My best to you and your brother.

Love, Joe

September 17

Dearest Annie,

I could hardly believe the news in your last letter. It’s true that the Reds have really been stepping up their campaign — just in the last week they’ve been using heavy air support, rolling out the tanks, jet-skis and dumptrucks, and even using this giant laser pistol that makes all kinds of terrible noises — but never in a million years would I have expected that a guy like Andy would get drafted. Things must be getting desparate at HQ if they’d do a thing like that. Isn’t there any way you could get him a deferral, like because of your mother or something? Or for medical reasons, like that fella Stink-O from over yonder? Annie, honey, please don’t take this the wrong way, but your brother just ain’t cut out for warfare. He’s weak and soft and he can’t even move his limbs at the shoulder or hip. A guy like that is gonna get eaten alive out here.

Please try and see what you can do, for his sake and for yours. But if the worst comes to pass I swear to you I will watch over him and do my best to see that nothing happens. You have my word on that. Give my love to your mother, too. My best to you and your brother.

Love, Joe

September 28

Annie,

So this is the way it’s going to be, huh? I wrote you every week and I don’t care what your uncle Gargamel says I been true to you. That girl Diana, she was in my company and I worked with her on recon, that’s right, but I swear to God I never touched her. I don’t associate with that kind of woman. I know some guys in the service like those type of women running around in their spangly underwear, but I promised you I would be faithful and I kept that promise. Not like you, because Adam is back from the doc and he says you’ve been catting around with Steve. Well let me tell you something about your new boyfriend, Annie: he didn’t get no deferment, like he says. He flat out bought his way out of service. And while that might mean he’s got six million dollars to buy you accessories and things, I think that’s a pretty low way to treat your country. I guess I can’t compete with him, I’m just an honest man with two good arms and legs and a plug in the center of my back; I don’t have a fancy real cloth tracksuit or plastic shoes or a laser beam eye. I guess if that’s what makes you happy then there’s nothing I can do.

And I please wish you’d believe me that I tried my damndest to save Andy’s life, I did. I did not break my promise to you, baby, I tried so hard. But what could I do? The Reds have sunk to new lows, using that dog. He’s twice the size of my Battle Tank, and that’s the biggest vehicle we’ve got. He even chewed up Raiden, the Japanese guy in our unit, and Raiden’s mostly made of metal, for God’s sake. We did all we could for your brother; if it makes you feel any better, we buried what we could find of him.
Anyway, I guess I got nothing else to live for now but my pride and my service. I don’t know if you will get this letter, but I am thinking of you. You broke my heart but I still fight for you and and for what we were going to have together. Tomorrow I am going over the Wall. Me and the boys are going to take the right arm of the couch back or die trying. The barrel of my M60 bends to the side and the earhole of my helmet covers half my face and I have a different torso than I did when I came here, but goddamnit when I go down the Reds will know they’ve been in a fight. My best to you and, well, my best to you.

Love, Joe

REPLY





%d bloggers like this: