This is a story about a time in my life that I am not particularly proud of. I don’t normally write stories that are actually about me. My normal modus operandi is fiction, pure and simple. This, however, is a story that I feel compelled to write, especially at this moment in my life.
If the NSA is monitoring my blog then this may be my last post. But I’m not going to worry about that right now. I have a story to tell.
In my younger days I was in the military. I did a lot of underwater work and eventually attracted the attention of someone in the Pentagon. In the interest of cutting through lots of time and tedium here; I will sum up about a year and say that I found myself with an honorable discharge and working as a contractor to the government. I was spending a lot of time going to and from countries where I had no business being. I was learning and speaking languages that had never interested me before. But mostly I was fixing things. Fixing things that had gone wrong or were about to go wrong.
Fast forward to the spring of 1972 and I’m near the northwestern border of a country torn by war. I was alone, people who do what I did mostly work alone, and I was in trouble, I had screwed up pretty bad and had been running south for about two days, exchanging fire with a small group of people who really, really wanted to talk to me.
Everyone knows that if you want to hide in the jungle it is better to hide in the undergrowth than in the trees. I had dug in one evening hoping to make it through another night when I felt, more than heard, footsteps silently approaching. I was under the impression that my pursuers were about four hours behind me so I dug in a little deeper and watched up the trail while I waited to see who passed. I wasn’t too concerned until I recognized one of the guys I had been playing hide and seek with. He was walking point for his small unit when he came around a bend in the trail. He looked right at me and my blood froze.
Apparently, even though he looked at me he didn’t see me, and using standard infantry hand signals he brought the rest of his unit up even with my position. As luck would have it they had chosen this very spot to spend the night and they spread out on both sides of the trail for a distance of about 50 feet. There were no fires, there was no conversation, and everyone knew what to do, what was expected of them. This was SOP for those guys in those days. You don’t huddle together just in case hostile elements come upon you in the night.
My situation worsened as their point man lay on my side of the trail with his knees less than two feet from my face. I was hardly breathing and wondering what my chances would be if I waited for them to fall asleep and tried to sneak off into the night.
Then it happened – he turned and touched my chest with the heel of his right foot. I could tell by the way his breathing changed that he knew it was me and he was just trying to figure out what to do next. I had a limited window of time to react, so I did the only thing I could think of. I wrapped my arms around his leg and pulled. He struggled and kicked but I kept pulling his leg.
Just like I’m pulling yours. Hope you had a great April Fools day!