by: I Can’t Stop Thinking About Pizza and Diet Coke


The Appalachian man explained the whole Sniper/Spotter relationship, puffing his Marlboro and keeping a close eye on the teen drug dealers outside the burger joint, while blowing plumes into the satin sky of the seaside city like some sort of broken smokestack.
“Every Sniper has a Spotter. He needs to relay the coordinates and gives the green light when it’s okay to snipe.”
“Where would you usually be?” I asked like a school kid writing a report.
“I would be in a tree, and he would be on the ground hiding in the bush. Or I would be in the bush, and he would be in a tree with binoculars and a radio.”
The massive man signed up for the Marines during the War for Rubber. Once he rolled down from the mountain, Uncle Sam’s hand plucked him to murder.
“They trained me to kill and I did it well, but I always needed a Spotter. I couldn’t do it alone.”
He took another deep drag and forced the smoke threw the empty spaces where teeth used to be. He was a tall, pale, thickly built human monster and every time he shifted it seemed to take large amounts of energy.
“They are watching.”
He whispered, reflecting for a few minutes.
“I killed a lot of people. I did a lot of things.”
He had a face that appeared struck with the grill from a moving Big Rig, but his eyes screamed tenderness.
“I remember I was on the ground waiting for a kill when I heard something on the other side of the jungle. It roared like a thunder. It moved fast, coming right for me. All I could do was point my rifle in the direction of the evil, and pray.”
He stopped suddenly as a mask of seriousness washed over his weathered face.
“Hold up.”
He grabbed a short, ebony painted teen and quietly admonished him, pointing over to the other end of the poorly-lit parking lot of the hole in the wall Burger joint. He returned as if nothing happened.
“What was it?” I asked, waiting for his next few words.
“Pigs! Fucking Pigs! A herd of them. I had to climb a tree to escape.”
He laughed, stamping out the stub from the Cancer Stick. It was nice to hear a man like him bellow laughter, rather than holler.
“I remember if we wanted to kill an officer, all we had to do was salute him in the field.”
“Because the VC snipers would realize he was an officer and take him down. I never liked those bossy, college pricks anyway.”
I pictured a younger, murderous version of him saluting some green, naïve, cleanly-scrubbed Captain, thus offering up a Vietcong jungle assassin the softball headshot.
“That’s crazy, man.”
“It’s all crazy. It’s called war!”
I asked his permission to write this story. He declined, explaining they would erase him, and I’d disappear. But I’m still here.
For now.


  1. vivalaViv says:

    Every frame of this story is like a movie scene!

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