This story is by Sandy Richards and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
What’s that nasty smell? Pine, swirled with damp, feces infused soil and decaying leaves, overload my senses. A hint of urine accents the smell of my sour sweat. Fetid air blows limply over my legs and torso as the drone of an anemic fan drowns out the incessant buzzing in my ears. Movement of more than six inches in any direction is impossible. Am I in some ghastly nightmare? A semi-paralytic coma? Something worse?
A creepy-crawly sensation on my arms and legs feels like ants doing the cha-cha. My stomach clenches from the eye-burning stench, claustrophobic fear and raging hunger. Thick with dehydration, my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. Where the fuck am I? I really gotta take a piss.
The metaphoric light flashes in my brain. I’m in major trouble. In seconds, a baby’s nightlight illuminates my dank vault stunning me with the gravity of the situation. This glimmer of light confirms that I have been buried alive; straight up, pick and shovel excavation of a living hell with me naked and nowhere to go but bat-shit crazy. And then…I pee.
Think, Falcon. What’s the last thing you remember? Trying not to hyperventilate, I remember strutting into The Trenches, acting all loud and proud, while taking command of my corner barstool. A bloated Marine, sweating like a rat eating onions, sits next to me and starts bullshitting about the MOH . “Let me buy you a drink, pal. It’s not every day I get to meet a Medal of Honor dude. Up to anything exciting?”
“Just some security work.”
“Like a mall cop or something?”
What the hell? The memory is coming back in fits and spurts. I remember taking a pull on my beer, trying to ignore the slam. “Hey Eddie, we’ll have two more,” the sweaty Marine barked. Beers delivered and the Marine said, “Heard you was in the import/export business.” Mid-swig, I recall almost choking myself blue and the rancid Marine starts smacking my back.
Only a couple people knew about that cluster-fuck. Importing two dozen pot-belly pigs loaded with drugs is an accident waiting to happen. Most of the pigs dropped dead when the heroin bags ruptured in their gut. One survived the heroin cocktail but not my surgery skills. A few bags of pure China White set me up for a few months.
As I’m floating in and out of consciousness, a voice jars me to attention. “Hey Falcon…you comfortable? A Sergeant of your caliber probably deserves better, but I’m not in a benevolent mood.”
Even in this hole, I recognize that voice. No way. It’s impossible.
“Mr. Big-Shot Medal of Honor, what’s it like being unable to move, or think or take a shit? Been my life the past couple years after you shoved me into that hut in Fallujah. Going in hot, our squad was sure to die and you seized the opportunity. Take down a couple insurgents, pick up your injured partner and save the fucking day. Remember that, Falcon? You get a Medal of Honor; I get a metal plate in my forehead.”
Sunshine Connelly? Fuck me running.
The voice echoes from the PVC pipe just above my head. “Figure it out yet, Falcon? It’s me, Sunshine. I read the logs at the VA; not a visit, card or a stinking flower. I spent months locked in my own body. I heard everything but couldn’t move a muscle. All I thought about was how you were the hero. I gotta know, how did you find out about the baby? Lucky guess or insider intel? You had it all figured out. Get rid of me and the baby while you keep your moneymaker. Except…I didn’t die.”
“Sunny, c’mon. Let me out, I’ll explain everything. I loved you and would have never intentionally hurt you. I didn’t know about any baby.”
All battleship mouth and rowboat ass…I’m going to die in here.
“Sunny, you tripped over the threshold. I tried to grab you but shit started happening too fast. We lost a lot of Marines over there, but you were one of the lucky ones.”
Lying through my teeth.
“Lucky? I lost our baby, pieces of my brain and memory, and will be on drugs the rest of my life. How’s that lucky? You didn’t even recognize me at The Trenches. Me, sitting right next to you as you preened like a peacock. I even bought you a drink. Steroids and anti-seizure meds change a gal, not to mention the high and tight hairdo. A few drops of Georgia Home Boy got you really messed up. All anyone saw was one Marine helping another out of The Trenches; and now, you’re in a trench. Go figure.”
“Sunny, please listen to me. We can take off. No one will find us. We’ll start over again and try for another baby.”
I can’t believe I’m saying this shit.
“Falcon, you’re an asshole. I read the evil in your eyes as I fell towards certain death. You pushed me so hard the wind was knocked out of me. I was a loose end for you and your illicit drug business. Lance Corporal Sunshine Connelly and karma have devised some home-grown retribution…Ooh Rah!”
“Sunny…look, I got plenty of money. We can live the life we once dreamed about.”
When I’m out of here, I’m going to snap her neck like a twig.
“Money? You don’t have a dime to your name, Falcon. I checked. My detailed planning of your demise has kept me from going insane. Thirsty?” Water trickles down the pipe and onto my face.
Oh…you’re insane alright!
“Lonely?” Noise emanates from the PVC pipe, penetrating my space. Clack, clack, clack…thunk. Something heavy lands on my forehead. Threading my hand up toward my face, I feel the pointed edges of my Medal of Honor.
“Semper Fi, Falcon. Over and out.” The pipe closes with a deafening pop.
“Sunny! For God’s sake, no!”
And then…I pee.