The Sailor's Stories

2050 Chapter four – Book II

with 3 comments

Downtime is a killer, even when you’re in an area that the locals really don’t want you to be in. In those situations, you can get used to a lot…, but the one thing he could never get used to was the constant dust. It’s not that he was a super clean freak or anything…, he just liked things to be orderly. The real problem he was facing here was that it wasn’t really dust in the true traditional sense, that’s just how it felt to him…, you know…,  at the time.

In actual fact it was sand, tons and tons of coarse dry hard biting sand. No matter what you did, you just couldn’t get totally away from it. That’s what bothered him the most, the heat he could handle, even the insects…, to a point…,  and people trying to kill him, but always with that goddamned sand. When it all came down to it though, it wasn’t just the sand that bothered him either…, even the wind was against him. Constantly it seemed like the two things he hated the most were in league with his own personal demon, pushing sand into places it really shouldn’t have been able to get to, and had no real reason to be in, in the first place. TP took on a whole new and interesting sensation with those two very strange bedfellows.

But there he was as he always seemed to be, when he had nothing better to do…, in his futile effort of trying to stem the inevitable sands of time, sweeping out his tent for what seemed like the thousandth time that day. He was just about done, having swept all that he could find into a nice tidy pile ready to send it back to where it came from, when he poked his head out of the flap. Hoping against hope, that the wind wasn’t strong enough…, that it wouldn’t just push it all back in again…, that’s when he saw the new arrivals approaching through the gate in battered old humvees.

He’d been there when Cody Thomas and his team of Greenies, who’d been the army’s spec-ops detachment in that area for the last few months, had rotated out the day before. Having not been told what the replacements would be, he had hoped again vainly that they would at the least be recon marines, even regular marines would be something, however, the replacements this time looked like regular army grunts…, maybe rangers. Whatever, he thought…, they were still army, and therefore very worthy of his contempt. Having said that though, the navy doesn’t train it’s men to be rude to those less fortunate, so giving up his sweeping as the bad job it was anyway, he decided to go out and be neighborly.

Having retrieved his M4, from it’s resting place by the tent opening, and slinging it over his back, he made his way over towards the new arrivals. At first glance, he couldn’t help noticing just how beat up those vehicles were. Numerous bullet holes, and the wear that only several sand storms could give to a paint job, even as haphazard as that one appeared to be. It was pretty clear that these boys had seen some action, he realized…, but still wasn’t overly impressed.

There were thirty humvees all told, and several trucks, that had only just finished clearing the gate. That put the unit around the company strength mark…, the army boys must really be taking this area seriously for them to commit that many, he thought. By the time he’d finished that thought process, he found himself to be almost at the lead vehicle, that one he was sure, would be the units commander. Stepping out to stretch his back after the long drive, he watched as the other took in the camp…, when the two men’s eyes met, he felt his heart skip a beat…

… Two lovers, embracing passionately, sweat glistening on their bodies, knowing for both of their sakes that they shouldn’t have done what they did, but not being able to help themselves either. It had all started with a purloined bottle of whiskey and stories of old times. Then one hand reached out to ever so gently caress another, and the spark of a dormant love ignited taking on a life of its own. The two lovers moved closer together, closer, then closer again, till their lips finally met. Agonizingly hesitant at first, almost as if they’d forgotten how…, then ever so slowly building with passion, until clothes strewn over the dusty floor, made a makeshift bed. Holding each other close, whispering sweet nothings into the others ear, sweet quiet vows of love and distant prayers of hope as they drifted off to the most content sleep either had felt in the months that they had spent apart…

… Too damn hot, and it was still the dark of morning…, but the real sad part was, that it wasn’t even the hottest part of the day yet. Thirty men of the U.S. Army Rangers, in their desert camouflage fatigues and webbing, toting their weapons of war, crept softly, silently, through the side streets and back alleys of Basra. Though their training and the week of acclimatization helped, keeping a constant vigil was starting to show signs of wear on the many, still too young, faces. Sweat stained shirts and pants, hidden by the armour and gear that was causing it, provided little comfort to them right then. They were carrying way too much gear for the environment in the first place and still weren’t used to it, because of that, they tired quickly, even though they still had a couple of klicks to go before they reached their target…

… The shrill wail that was the sounds of the many prayer horns had provided the background music for their journey, but were now slowly winding down as the sun started to peek over the horizon lending a deathly quiet to the area. They’d been as fast as they could be, but things hadn’t gone well for their departure, consequently they were late. Picking up the pace, the young Captain seemingly undeterred by it at that point, pushed his men onwards through those streets and back alleys…, even when they started to fill with people. Seeing soldiers on patrols wasn’t that uncommon for those that lived there, so soldier and civilian alike paid little mind to the situation at hand. All the same, as they neared their target, extra caution was taken as the soldiers continued on. No one but him noticed the young girl with the cell phone following a short distance behind…

… Tears came on suddenly as he watched the Captain issuing his orders…, he knew what was coming, and just like always he was powerless to stop it. The Captain, though precise and to the point with his clipped hand signals and small quietly voiced commands, seemed oblivious to the situation that was about to transpire. Unfortunately for him, he wasn’t…, he knew in vivid detail what was about to happen. The single platoon that wasn’t that far away from their objective that morning, was still woefully behind schedule. Their plan had called for an early morning extraction of a top member of the enemy forces…, a Jack or a Queen…, he couldn’t quite remember which. It was all supposed to go down during morning prayers, a simple plan really…, rush in with humvees, grab the target, rush out…, but a last minute change in the game plan had seen them walking…

… They’d made it to a small square with a well, where everything was painted a stark white. The whole area was devoid of adequate cover and anyone could see that it had been cleared only very recently, the many foot prints and drag marks were clear evidence of that. The square itself was about sixty feet wide, with a three foot high, ten foot wide well in the middle…, he knew it well…, he’d seen it many times before. A few large doorways with two or three steps leading to them, were littered around the square at haphazard intervals, but that did little to assuage the Captains concerns. For his part, he too had seen the evidence of the clearance, but in his haste, he hadn’t discerned the import of it. The only thing on his mind right then, was that the targets residence was just through that left arch…, only sixty feet away…, sixty feet that was just a little too far that day…

… What he and the Captain saw almost at the same time, was a seemingly perfect ambush just waiting to happen. A perfect bottlenecked killzone, the area far to open to hide anything from the ten to twenty foot high walls on each side. Although it bothered the young man in command, he knew there was no way around, not unless they backtracked through several more streets, much more dangerous streets. Either the hastily cobbled together, last minute plan hadn’t anticipated this, or they’d made a wrong turn somewhere in a place that all looked the same. Regardless, the dye was cast, and they needed to keep moving, if they were to divert to another way around, the Captain knew they would lose what very little surprise value they had left. As much as he didn’t like it, he gave the fatal command that ordered his men forward. By that time, the little girl had disappeared…

… Blinking back a stray tear at was to happen, he once more left his place behind the unit of soon to be dead men and found himself in the middle of the square, as always just before his feet locked in place. That’s how it happened every time, but try as he might, he couldn’t stop it…, as if it was pre-ordained that he be in the best position to watch what was about to unfold. He stood there screaming at the futility of it all…, he knew it would do no good, but he couldn’t help himself, he did it anyway, tears leaking down his face at the extreme stupidity that was taking place. Screaming at his lover, he asked again and again…, why hadn’t he noticed how quiet it was…, why hadn’t he thought about where the civilians were, civilians that had crowded every other area but this one…, why hadn’t he thought more about the skids and drag marks on the ground…, why had he gone straight across…, why didn’t he test it first…, his lover couldn’t see him…, couldn’t hear him…, couldn’t answer him…

… Just like always, he was the only one to hear the first shot. The shot that rang out across the square, tearing through the point man and the man behind him. Two down before the explosion that signaled the RPG, that killed three more careening into a wall on the left, turning it into the rubble debris and shrapnel that killed them, the equal of any anti personal mine. That’s when it all went to hell…, when total chaos broke out. By the time the young Captain had issued his first order, his unit’s strength was cut by almost twenty percent. The full pandemonium of combat broke through the reality barrier, with bullets screaming in their path, careening off of walls, body armour and flesh alike. In a vain attempt to rekindle some order from the chaos in which he suddenly found himself, the Captain screamed out futile orders for cover and redress. But it did little good, there was just too much metal flying around the fish bowl that was that small square…

… There he was again, watching was all he could do as the young man tried hopelessly to regain that sense of order that alluded him. Over the next few minutes, that seemed to drag on like hours, he managed to get his men in their panic, to return fire…, but by then it was far too late…, too many were dead dying or incapacitated. Knowing the hopelessness of that kind of situation, no commander in their right mind would expect anyone to actually hit anything anyway, all he could hope for was to cower the enemy in order to buy some precious time to get as organized as possible under the circumstances…, sadly though, as the saying goes…, hope is the first step on the road to disappointment.

With what men he had left that were able to do so, shooting at anything that moved, he took a moment while he cowered behind one of the few pieces of cover available. It’s not that he was a coward…, far from it…, he just needed a few brief moments of uninterrupted piece, while he tried desperately to think of a plan…, any plan, to get those men that he had left out of it…, to regroup if you will. However, and with all his training, nothing was coming to mind and instead he found himself damning all those that had seemingly sent his men to death…, including himself…

… Still watching…, from his perfect and obscene viewpoint. Looking directly down at the young Captain…, he could see the fear on his sweet young face, could almost feel the terror that he saw there. Though the anger he felt within himself overpowered it, as he knew there wasn’t a damn thing he was able to do about anything. His heart broke for the first time as he could see the moment approaching, looking on helpless as the young man raised his head over the lip of the well to get a better picture of the charnel house the square had become…

… He could see the set in the young man’s eyes when he saw his men in trouble, and he saw the realization hit, when he knew that he had to do something about it…, that he was the only one that was in the right position to do so. He heard him scream for cover fire, just before the young man fled from his safe position behind the built up well to drag someone behind the better cover that it provided…, again and again he watched him risk his life for his men as he broke cover over and over. The tears streamed down his face, knowing what was to come…

… Then it happened…, just like that, a small piece of 7.62mm’s of metal jacketed lead, traveled in the trajectory that would pierce the chest of the man he loved. He watched the bullet travel in it’s path as time slowed down, almost enough that, if he was able to, he would have reached out to push it off of it’s course just enough…, but he couldn’t…, all he could do was watch…

… The young Captain was bent over walking backwards in his attempt to drag his man to safety, pulling him by his web brace, while the trooper fired his weapon in a vain attempt to cover his commander in his heroic action. The bullet that killed him was angled just so, so that it would slip between his chin strap and his body armour, in one of the few places where a soldier is vulnerable. Screaming once more at the unfairness of it all, he watched on still powerless to change the course of events, as the ill-fated bullet cut through rib and muscle alike, just close enough to tear a path across the young man’s heart, opening a rift that caused the hemorrhage which would lead him to his death, before it embedded itself in the backplate of his rear body armour…

… Then just as suddenly, like the water that bursts forth from a ruptured damn, he felt the bonds that had held him in place for so long release…, the bonds that stopped him from doing what he so desperately had wanted to do. Allowing him, finally, to surge forward into his own personal private hell. He didn’t stop till he was on his knees cradling his lost lover in his arms…

… The tinkle of brass as it exits the chamber to fall to the ground, the thunderclap like report of exploding gasses as the bullet leaves the muzzle, the squealing of thousands of hot rounds permeating the air tearing through whoever remained, and the screams of men dying…, all of that culminated to form the cacophony of noise that is battle …, but he didn’t care…, he barely even noticed. The only thing on his mind right then, the only thing he could see through his tears of love…, was that which was draining out of the man he had cared for so deeply, flowing out to form an ever increasing pool, only to be swallowed greedily by the sand that had seen so much of it before, the sand that had an avaricious hunger…

… Again time seemed to stop, as it always did as an afterthought…, or an insult…, while he held Mark in his arms…, always so tantalizingly close…, his tears dropping solidly on that sweet young face, cutting tracks in the dust and grime that had accumulated there. In his horror he raised his head with closed eyes, and screamed. It was his morbid fascination that made him look at the body of the boy that Mark had been dragging. Cam had seen many faces on that boy over the many renditions of his dream…, but this time, he almost wasn’t surprised to see the beautiful brown, but lifeless, eyes of Danny staring back at him…

…By now, Cam was waiting…, like he always did when he got there…, he waited for whomever it was that was torturing him to hit the reset button. Only this time it was different…, this time Mark was somehow still there, somehow…, stronger. This time he was looking deep into Cam’s eyes, with those beautiful crystal blue ones of his own…, almost as if he knew he was there…, before he slowly raised his arm to brush the backs of his dirty fingers across the cheeks of his lover, pushing his tears away. This time Mark spoke to him…, through the dust, the echoes, the ricochets, the screams…, his very own sadness…, Cam had to strain to hear the words they were so quiet.

“It’s not your fault Cam…, I’ll always love you…, and I’ll always be there for you…, but you have to…, let me…, go…”

“Noooooooooooooooooo…!!!!!!!!!!!!!” …

The room was pitch black when one of it’s occupants bolted upright in bed. In his panic at the unreality he had just witnessed, he found he was still fully clothed. Shivering with the cold he felt, but strangely didn’t feel, at first had no idea what was going on or where he was…, the only thing he could think of, was the faint memory of the dream still running through his mind. Desperately, he tried grabbing hold of it, but it was slipping away from him…, he knew something important had happened, but he just couldn’t nail it down. It had been so real…, just like all the other times, that last bit though, that bit was new…, and he had no idea what he was supposed to do with it.

Knowing full well that sleep would be a long time in returning, and the sweat still streaming off of him, he laid back. He knew that he had to piece it all back together quickly if he had any hope in retaining the thoughts and feelings he had just experienced, so he placed his head back onto the pillow that also felt a little damp. It was at that moment he realized he wasn’t alone.

At first he hadn’t felt the arm that fell from his chest when he sat up, but when he lay down he definitely heard the slight yelp and felt the rapid movement of someone pulling their arm away. Twisting his head to the side, he found himself looking into a familiar pair of very caring and deeply concerned brown eyes. At that very moment, he felt more than saw another pair of eyes, turning to a faint affirmative smile at the back of his mind…, and cried.

“Shhh…, go back to sleep…” Danny said, as he gently brushed a stray lock of hair off of Cam’s forehead, before pulling him close into his chest.

*          *          *

The two boys in the room next door had heard the scream and as one pulled closer together. Neither one of them had seen their uncle, or new father…, depending on which viewpoint you looked from, since breakfast that day and both were concerned. Although he desperately wanted to, Carl found it was Dale that attempted to make the first move to go and investigate. Thinking about it later, he probably should have let his lover get up to comfort his uncle, but he wasn’t quite sure how he was feeling about the situation at hand, and felt he needed to have him close right then.

Dale however, wasn’t in the same frame of mind, and though he loved Carl dearly, he also could almost feel the pain that his uncle was in. Finally relenting after what seemed like the longest time, Carl let go of Dale and watched as he got up. It only took seconds for him to realize that he needed to do the same, and he too got up to follow his lover out of the bedroom door. As he did, he noticed the clock on the night stand, reading the electronic numbers he saw that they had only been in bed for a little over an hour.

After Cam had taken Danny from the kitchen in tears that morning, the three boys were at a loss as to what to do. Thinking of nothing better, they stayed at the table in silence. Every now and again one would reach out to snag another tasty morsel, but the moment that that would cease to occupy their time was fast approaching. It was Corey that spoke first, and in his usual eloquent manner he said…

“I don’t get it…, what the actual fuck is going on…, why’s Danny here?”

“I dunno dude…, but I think he has the hots for Uncle Cam…”

Looking deeply into first Carl’s, then his brothers eyes, the truth of that statement slowly dawned on him. It’s not that he was completely clueless in the ways of things, he just still wasn’t that used to two guys being together. His brother’s relationship with Carl, though not overly fresh, was still a relatively new experience for him. Up until the two had gotten together, he hadn’t even thought about the possibility, but from the way they acted towards each other he was starting to see that there was indeed another way of getting on in life. Gay hadn’t been a totally foreign concept to any of them, especially Dale…, they had all heard the school yard rumours and innuendo, Corey just hadn’t put it all together until his brother came out to him.

On that day…, the day he found out…, even though he knew it hurt his brother to do so, he took off on his bike, leaving Dale stranded at the breakfast table. He wasn’t trying to hurt him, he just needed the peace and quiet to think it all through. The miles that sped away under the wheels, did have a profound effect on his way of thinking back then. Though he wasn’t at all comfortable with it at the time, he still loved his brother, there was no way that was ever going to change for him…, sitting at the table that day, he knew that the same was true for his uncle. Besides…, he knew that his uncle was lonely, and if Danny was what he wanted…, then he wasn’t going to stand in the way.

Carl could see it too, as he looked back at Corey. The slow dawn of the thought processes that unfurled across his face…, but what was most troubling him, was what he felt about it. He too didn’t want to see his new dad go lonely, but it was…, to his mind at least…, a little to fast for him. He didn’t think it was jealousy on his part, though he knew that he was perilously close to it, he just couldn’t stand the thought of having to share what he had only just found. This alone was what was causing him such consternation that night, as he crept softly behind his lover.

Corey must have heard it too, as three pajama clad boys came together outside the door to Carl’s old room. The twins shivering a little at the cold of the evening, they had long ago thought themselves too old to wear a full set, and eschewed the tops in favor of simple white t-shirts. Carl on the other hand held no such illusions and was fairing slightly better with both and his arms covered. He did however, in a slight moment of humor, accede to wrap those arms around his lover in an attempt to keep him a little warmer…, Corey unfortunately was on his own, and still cold as he stepped up to lightly knock on the door.

Nothing happened, and not knowing what else to do they waited for a minute or two, before they heard the sounds of faint rustling from inside. Soft footsteps followed, and the boys stepped back slightly as the subtle creak of the door signaled its opening. The hopeful caring smiles on the boys faces faded slightly as Danny stepped into the space that they had only recently vacated, closing the door softly behind him.

“Hey guys…”

“Hey Danny…” The three said in unison.

“Guess you heard that huh…?” Danny said, looking with a faint longing smile of his own at the embrace between Dale and Carl.

“Yeah…, is Cam ok?” Carl said, from his place behind Dale, while Corey looked on with determined agreement.

For his part, Danny was determined as well, though for him it was the determination not to start crying again. He could feel it coming, but in a valiant effort he managed to stave it off. This simple act of love that the boys were showing was almost too much, to his way of thinking, but he couldn’t let that cloud his judgment right then. He was the adult, or at least he was supposed to be, he was the one that was supposed to be supporting the boys.

“He’s ok guys…, he just had a bad dream…”

“Was it Mark again?” Dale said.

“Um yeah…, I think so…, how did you know that?” Said Danny, looking uncertainly at the three young men standing in front of him…, in doing so, with the seemingly identical expressions on their faces…, he started to feel rather out of place.

“There’s some stuff he can’t…, or won’t tell us…, but we got no secrets dude…, not about anything important anyways…” Corey replied, as the other two nodded in agreement.

“Well…, he’s sleeping now…, but it took everything I had just to hold him…, it was pretty scary…”

“We know…” They all replied at once, before Corey continued on his own…, “We’ve all been there.”

“Look…, guys…, I feel a little out of place here…” He didn’t notice the subtle nod of affirmation from Carl, before he continued…, “Can we talk?”

Taking charge as he usually did, Corey looked to the others, and getting a slight nod in the affirmative from each he looked back at Danny. The guy was petrified, anyone with an ounce of brains could see that, so to Corey, the thought of playing with him a little was very tempting. It wasn’t until he saw the pleading look in the young mans eyes, that he checked his desire…

“That depends…”

“On what…” Danny replied with a great deal of trepidation and skepticism.

“On how good you make hot chocolate.” Corey said, with that very winning smile of his.

A soft smile appeared on Danny’s face, just as he released a strong sigh of relief. He was starting to think, that maybe this wouldn’t be so bad. He and Cam, still hadn’t come to any formal arrangement, but they had agreed to try and start out to be friends. Danny was sorely hoping that that friendship would lead to deeper things, yet at the same time, guarding his feelings against the fear that they wouldn’t. In any event, he knew that if anything was to happen between him and Cam, he knew that the boys would need to be involved too.

Optimistically confident, he agreed to the boy’s request of the late night drink, and twenty minutes later, they found themselves sitting across the kitchen table looking at each other…, Danny on one side, the boys on the other…, none of them knew quite sure  where to start. Having gone to their respective rooms to retrieve their robes, the boys were much more comfortable than Danny, and found that they had plenty of time…, so they just sat there waiting patiently for him to begin.


Written by bigct/Octavius

July 8, 2010 at 19:08

3 Responses

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  1. Well worth the wait. A nicely balanced chapter. Keep it up Commander.


    July 9, 2010 at 10:09

  2. Don’t worry man, I’m still here. Just been a little busy and am getting caught up.

    Great chapter, as always. It took me a second to remember what happened in the last chapter, and then starting off with the dream/war sequence really threw me for a loop. But it was very tastefully done, and I applaud you.



    July 12, 2010 at 19:42

  3. OK I have found time to finish reading the story. I always wondered what happened to him, now i wish i didn’t. Why do we have so many wars? Why do we fight wars where we don’t live? Do we have to do so many? hugs JJ


    July 24, 2010 at 06:16

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