“…He stopped loving her today…They placed a wreath upon his door and soon they’ll carry him away… He stopped loving her today…”
Simpler times. Rainsville is beautiful in the spring. The winter wheat harvest ends in knowing I would get my new football cleats as a reward for my hard work. Kind of fitting that my payment is a tool to help me work harder all summer and fall. Speaking of tools I take great pride in cleaning my scythes and bagging them up to avoid any rust until the summer harvest. We take care of the things that take care of us. I can faintly hear the first dinner bell in the distance, letting us know it’s time to put it all up, momma almost has the table ready. I step out of the barn and momma is on the porch with her ak-47 in one hand and a wad of cash in the other. She yells, “Ching Chong Bing Bong.” Warm cornbread is calling me. I love momma.
Where am I? My left eye is swollen shut and my arms can barely move. As the dirt floor and blood comes into focus I see a tooth. I assume it used to be mine. The walls around me echo like nothing I’ve ever heard.
“CHING CHONG BING BONG??”
A small man is in front of me is holding two chickens. I try to speak, but warm blood pours out of my mouth. Guess that was my tooth.
“CHIIING CHOONG B…”
The echo stops.
“Jermy, you didn’ die. Proud of you.”
“Hol on, le me tell em everythin is oka. Chin cho…BIN BON!”
The crowd erupts in applause. I think.
Little guy gives me a chicken.
“Craig. Where in the fuck are we?”
“When is mor importan than wher.”
“Welcom to Vietna.”
“Craig, goddammit, finish your fucking words, aight? Vietnam??”
“Yep, 1980 too. It’s still a little Cold Warrish but we good man. The ones who stayed are king.”
A child hands me a coke in a glass bottle, “ching chong bing bong.” Turns and runs away.
“King… Jermy. King.”
I want to ask him why. I want to ask him how. I also want to ask him why he’s naked. I don’t ask. Sometimes answers ruin good questions. I collect myself, stand and survey my shitshow of a kingdom.
Little guy pokes me in the hip with mothers ak-4…shit… That was a dream right? He gives me a handful of bullshit monopoly money and a toothless grin. In his best broken english he says, “chee realy mowed em downg”
I don’t care what I did. I don’t. I am still recruiting. I am always recruiting. Craig isn’t a friend or an enemy. He is my target.
“Craig, the strength and conditioning program at Tennessee needs you, aight?”
He thinks for a while, takes the money out of my hand and gives it to the coca-cola kid.
“I’m not sur I nee you.”
He turns to walk away. The crowd parts as you would expect when a naked man tries to walk through you.
Aight, Craig… Aight.
(To be continued)