Joining the Dream, pt. 3

by: Essy Jane

4 months later…

It seemed almost too quiet as we looked for the mail. I couldn’t wait for my
letters, letters I hadn’t gotten in weeks. Maybe because they keep
forgetting that I am Vance instead of Bo. Naw, they ain’t stupid. I guess
the mail had been bounced back and forth throughout the war. No one was
getting their mail. I wish they would hurry it up though. You think that
they would find their soldiers more important and hurry their mail to us. I
hated not seeing mail. I was so lonely just being by myself. I am never by
myself really I am surrounded by soldier and I am expected to remember every
one of their names.

When I got my hands on all those letters my face lit up. It felt better
fighting in this war with mail I will tell you that. Now I knew what I was
missing. I still did the biggest missions and wouldn’t you know it I am a
lieutenant now. It’s great to be an officer. I don’t care how military I am,
they still all call me Little Duke. I won’t take any other way. I love being
me.

There’s nothing like helping lead missions. When I am done getting all my
points I will be out of there faster than a mule kicks. I didn’t want to be
here anymore and I wasn’t about to pretend that I did. I wasn’t a person who
wanted to just stay there. It wasn’t all about me either. I didn’t want
anyone to be there.

Mike was still alive as well as my lieutenant who was now a captain for all
of his bravery. I was proud of all of them. However they didn’t want me in
that unit anymore and I was transferred. I would now be a lieutenant of
another outfit. Of course there would be a major at the head until I got the
hang of it but I knew that he wouldn’t be staying long.

Now can you imagine being as young as me and telling them that I was running
their outfit? I was still supposed to be in school yet. All of these boys
are looking at me like the major is joking. Well what was I to do? I had to
be firm yet loving.

Too firm and my company would never come to me for anything. I would be
known as the person to stay away from. I didn’t want them to be scared of
me. I am not a scary person. I wasn’t a sir either. I was a person…a good
person at that. I couldn’t live with myself if I was as horrible as those
drill sergeants.

However if I was too soft they would walk all over me. Can you imagine me
being kicked around by a bunch of wise apples? I was younger than they were
and they could just as well kill me if I did anything bad. Besides that I
wouldn’t get anything done. What was I to do?

As the major called my name to talk to the troops I shuttered. I had to be
older…smarter. In my heart I was young but I was in acting class before and
I have seen all the films. I was just as good as the next man.

“Welcome to my outfit,” I began my speech off.

“Good to be here,” A wise guy said from the crowd. Everyone held in their
laughter knowing they could get in trouble. There was always the wise apple.
One of those people that have just got here and they just don’t know their
grenade from their bullet so they use both.

“I am glad you like being here. Many people would rather die than be here in
this war you know. I know I would love to be at home right now in my own
bed. Here I am though giving you a speech.”

“It is an honor to be an American. You should be proud to be our
Lieutenant.”

“I am very proud to be your commanding officer. I am happy they gave this
job to me instead of someone else.”

“Oh well you should be. You must be good at what you do.”

“I am good at what I do. Back to the big speech if you so please.”

“Oh no, not at all, go right ahead and talk sir.”

“Thank you very much. I would kind of like you to be quiet for a while
though if you please.”

“I think I can handle that.”

“Now there are a few things you should know. I am young and it is not my
fault. I am fit to lead this outfit like any of the old farts out there. Now
I am a good leader and I know my stuff. If you doubt me I want to hear it
from you and not your buddies. This is what fighting for, look at each one
of you. All of you are American soldiers. We are fighting for love, liberty,
justice and the American way. We will not let this country be taken by
communism. We fight with dignity, our head held high until the battle is
won. We know who enemy is and we know who we are fighting. I am Lieutenant
Duke and I am truly able to say I am an American!” I exclaimed.

Everyone cheered. I had done it. This was my impression on everyone. I was
strong and I believed in the United States of America. If they can find a
way so can I. I was ready to fight and to help these boys learn how to be
here. I wasn’t going to let anything happen to them. For one thing I never
sent a man on a job that I couldn’t do myself. I did most of the hard stuff
with them.

Now war is not easy. I never said it was. I had a few good men shot but it
happens. The trouble about war was boredom. I was never bored but some of
the men could never find decent things to do with their time. Some were
smoking three packs a day of cigarettes. I am so glad I promised not to do
that. I didn’t want to smoke those things. There was something about them
that made me sick…even to be around.

Well that day was the best. There were no bullets being fired. Everything
was silent. We had the time of our lives as we went to the bars to
celebrate. We were one of the best in the army. My group knew their stuff
better than anything. Half of my men and I went to a local bar.

Well they understood English better than I understood Vietnamese. I mean in
all honesty I had no clue how to say things. I think the army should’ve
taught us the language before we came. I can’t even interrogate prisoners
because of that. There is one boy that does a really good job in our unit.
He is an American but his parents were from this country. His name is Kane
and man, do I ever like that kid. Well he’s older than me but well…I guess
he’s still a kid.

“Hey Little Duke, you think that these women would like to dance with us?”
Kane asked.
“Of course they would, go have fun boy before we go back to the front. The
sergeant will take care of things while we’re gone thank goodness. I am glad
to have a second banana,” I told Kane. He’s useful. I still stick by what
Uncle Jesse told me. He taught me to never let my authority take over me. I
haven’t either. I have been letting things be mutual decisions. This was the
best day of my life. It was a shame I had to go back tomorrow. I would love
to stay here for a lot longer. This is the best place to eat and sleep.

“You miss your family Vance?” Richard asked. He was young and had a wife. I
was lucky not to be married though I think it is illegal to be married at my
age.

“I miss my family a lot. I got a letter from my cousin two weeks ago. I mean
he is in the Marines,” I replied; I had to tell him about that. I was proud
of my cousin. I really like him a lot. He was an amazing person. Listening
to his letters made me think about how wonderful life really was.

“The marines have to be the most intense training I have ever seen. Wow I
can’t believe your cousin is in the Marines. That must be hard for you to
think about. Are you sure your cousin can handle it?”

“Knowing him he’s already gotten promoted three times more than I have. That
boy I tell you I wish I was him sometimes.”

“Do you know if he has commanded an outfit?”

“I have no clue.”

“How did you get so high up so fast?”

“That’s what happens when you take all the good missions that involve a
risk. I was helping out people before they could even know I was doing it. I
wouldn’t let anyone else take them on. I guess I am just greedy.”

“Wow, you must have been some guy to be doing stuff like that. I couldn’t
ever take on that many missions in one day. I wonder if I will even be good
at this.”

“You’ll be fine. If I can do it you can too. If you just follow carefully
then no one will get killed.”

“You seem like a top guy.”

“I ought to; I am your commanding officer.”

“You are one of the best people I know. I mean you have been such a good
friend to all of us. I ain’t afraid of you yet at the same time I am. I am
afraid of breaking your trust. I don’t want to hurt this unit. Do you know
what I mean?”

“Yeah I know what you mean. It is how I feel when I deal with my cousin.”

“Do you think any of us will be friends after the war?”

“Well you never know Richard. I mean I have seen plenty of long terms after
the Korean.”

“I hope all of us stay friends.”

“As do I; now why don’t you have some fun?”

“Okay, thanks.” Lying in the hot sun without having to worry was enough for
me. I loved the smell of the warm air. Everything seemed so wonderful. I
didn’t want to go back to the war at all. If I didn’t I would be caught…well
technically no. Vance would be caught. I would be free of everything. I
wouldn’t do that to Vance. He doesn’t know the first thing about being in
the military. I would love to see him shoot off a riffle like I do. That
would be funny.

I pulled out another one of Uncle Jesse’s letters that Luke sent me. I knew
they were for him but even seeing Uncle Jesse’s handwriting made me feel
like I was home again. I touched the soft stencil paper. Uncle Jesse sent a
lot of letters like that when Luke told him about how green everything was.
Luke said he needed something to look at besides green or he would go mad.
It smelt of Daisy’s perfume. I couldn’t forget that smell no matter how long
I had been away. Her letters were in the envelope too. I couldn’t believe
how many letters were in there.

I opened up the paper and loved how evenly the creases were. Definitely the
work of Daisy; she must’ve wrote him a million times over. I opened it and
looked at the pretty pink flowers. I began to read it:

Dear Luke,

I am proud of you doing what you do though I miss you very much. I bet you
are doing well in your boxing matches. I wish I could go and watch you
sometime. I know that you can teach me a few moves. You are a very
interesting person Luke. I miss you a lot and can’t wait until the good Lord
finds a way to end this dreadful war.

Well everything over here is interesting. I haven’t seen Vance and Coy fight
so much in my life. I mean those two can’t even stop for one minute. I wish
that one of them would just learn how to keep their mouths shut until the
other is out of their bad mood. Coy is the one who is moody most of the
time. He hits people while going down the hallway. Not everyone in town just
Vance and Enos and a few other friends. He’s so strange now Luke. I guess
since Bo has left everything has changed.

Uncle Jesse is much better though since that phone call. I guess that he
knows Bo is alive. I do too most of the time. Sometimes when I look at the
stars I think that he’s looking at the sky at the same time. We all miss him
more than anything. Knowing where you are gives me a sort of confidence.
Though sometimes thinking about you in the war makes me want to blow. I
guess I get mixed feelings.

Please come home to us Luke. I need you here. With you two gone it is like a
piece of me has died. You two are such good friends and a lot of times it
rubs off on Coy and Vance. That’s what makes our family so dang special. I
love you Luke and you have a good day. Don’t worry about the chores, they
still do that.

Love always,

Daisy

Oh man what was I doing? I miss them so much but I can’t go home now. I am
high in the ranks. Well not all that high but I was there helping out the
world which was something I had always wanted to do. I was doing it now.
This was my second year here. I had already become a lieutenant and man I am
working my way to captain. I guess this was the time of my life.

Oh well if my family was in pain. Well I did care and I couldn’t hide it
either. Everyone could see how much I missed everyone. I am 16 years old. I
guess that some things aren’t meant to happen. This was though; I wanted to
show them that I could do it.

My temper doesn’t get the best of me like it used to. It kind of did but not
as much. I mean I didn’t strike every man that hit me. Just this one today
that is really bothering me. I am going to have to hit him hard. He’s
abusing one of my men. Well I guess you have to know what is happening. You
see so far Kane has been drinking a milk shake when it was knocked on a
giant sized corporal now Private Kane Wu wasn’t about to have this kind of a
problem.

“I am over you private and you are going to get it and there is nothing you
can do about it,” the stranger commented. He winded up for the punch when I
grabbed the man’s arm.

“If you have a problem boy you can take it up with me,” I said. No one was
going to mess with my company. I glared at him with my vicious blue eyes.
Well I think them to be very vicious. I guess I had some growing up to do
still but hey at sixteen who wouldn’t have growing up to do? Well that guy
was flat on his back.

“Nice shot sir!” Kane exclaimed.

“If you lay one more sir on me I will have to remove it with an upper cut,”
I replied. They all laughed knowing I would do it. My boys didn’t have to be
so GI on me. They knew it as well as I did that I am a guy that likes being
called something other than a serious name. My rule was that they would only
be GI only in front of officers of higher rank than me. It made them work
better most of the time.

There was only one problem, a few guys didn’t like how young I was and how I
was commanding. I guess it seems bad when you’re getting commanded by a kid.
One of those boys ruins my life. He tries to make everyone go against me.
However my tactics seem to be working so why question them?

Well my time in this beautiful place of milk and honey was over before I
knew it. I was again in the fields of battle. We were joined by another
outfit. They wanted us to all work together forever. I couldn’t live in this
war the rest of my life. I guess I would have to do it for a while. Their
sergeant gave me this real funny look when he saw me with Lieutenant’s bars.
“Are you impersonating an officer?” He asked. That man really had some nerve
talking to me like that. I couldn’t believe he would even say that.

“Well Sergeant, would you like to test that theory out after I reach
captain?” I questioned him in return.

“No sir! I am sorry, you are just so young.”

“You don’t have to worry about being young when you’re in the service. I did
good work last year and I earned these bars.” He was almost bowing before me
that is how scared he was. Acting that way was so much fun. I loved the
sweat rolling down his brow. I was laughing inside.

“Well I am sorry sir I will make it up to you sir.” All my men were just
laughing out loud. “What is so funny?”

“You’re squirming in front of Little Duke,” one of the men said from the
crowd. I could tell it was Ned. That kid was a joke puller from the
beginning. He loved to play tricks and howl in laughter and everyone and
everything that amused him.

“Why do you call him Little Duke?” The sergeant asked.

“Look at him! He’s tall but still a baby. We love him though, the best
commanding officer ever. I wouldn’t want anyone else,” Joey mumbled. I
couldn’t believe how wonderful my guys were. Besides those couple that were
out to spite me. What was I suppose to do about that? I couldn’t just grow a
long beard to cover up myself being so young. Though a moustache might put
on a few years, nah, that’s just not me I could never be something I am not.

“Well anyway, I am sergeant Fred Rogers. It is a pleasure to meet you sir…”
He began.

“Don’t call him sir you dork. Sirs are for higher officers,” Private Keith
laughed. Of course Rogers didn’t understand my theory.

“He is a higher officer. Don’t you see his Lieutenant’s bars on his collar?”
Rogers asked.

“Of course but we still save all the saluting until the real GI’s come
around.”

“You are a real GI private and you should be proud of it.” He turned and
faced me and wondered what kind of a crack outfit this was. I thought I was
doing just fine. If I knuckled down just think how horrible this war would
have been. “May I speak with you in private sir?” Oh boy, he was going to
get all GI on me too. I didn’t need that from anyone. My men were just fine
the way they are.

“If you this it is necessary but I warn you not to challenge my tactics,” I
replied. I had to show him who was boss before he talked with me straight
out.

“Yes sir, I will respect that.”

“No you won’t.” We took a walk anyway. I loved to walk around before we
were back in trenches and foxholes again. I loved it out here. All of the
forestry and scenery was so beautiful. This man was going to ruin it all for
me.

“Well sir you certainly ruined military etiquette. Your routines aren’t what
I call appropriate to this place. They need structure when working so close
to the front line. I am telling you Duke that your methods could prove to be
inadequate and they will walk all over you.”

“Man I have been out here for over a year now. I know what is good and I am
the commanding officer. I have been on more dangerous missions than you
have.”

“Why would you put yourself at risk? I mean you have so many men to do it
for you. Look at your outfit, there are some men that could do it with you.”
That guy didn’t have a clue how I felt about war. I may have been wearing
soldier’s gear but I wasn’t about to lead a bunch of men into a situation
that I could do myself.

“I am no baby Rogers; I am military with a twist. You can’t tell me that
sending all my men on missions I can’t do myself is right. What if they get
killed?”

“What if you get killed sir? That wouldn’t leave me in a good place. I mean
how would I be able to take over your unit?”

“You would take it a step at a time. I would feel horrible if one of my men
died. I would rather risk my own life than thousands of others. That’s one
step to being a good leader knowing when to take risks and when to retreat.”

“What are you talking about? United States army never retreats. I fight
battles until the last man is standing. There is no way you should retreat
in the middle of a war. I mean if everyone did that what do you think would
happen?”

“I don’t know, peace maybe. There is no way that you should let your entire
fleet die. We have good guys here. What if they are taken captive? They can
get them to work on your side. You let all those men suffer in POW camps and
man those places aren’t pretty. I would not risk that for anything in the
world.” I knew he was thinking about it hard. I mean the sweat was rolling
from his forehead. In my mind he needed to learn of what he was doing.

“What else do you want me to know?”

“Simple respect, that’s what I want you to know.”

“Alright I will respect you sir.”

“Not just me, you will respect everyone and everything. You will even
respect the enemy.”

But aren’t they the ones we are fighting sir?”

“They made it this far didn’t they? They are people too; you will respect
them when we capture them. They have fought just like you have. You have no
right to treat them rotten. You will also respect their land.”

“Yes sir.”

“Didn’t I tell you not to call me sir? I am Little Duke.”

“Alright…Duke. I am happy to be aboard your team.”

That night I lied there and wondered how in the world this would be
possible. Getting along with this one would be more trouble than I wanted. I
guess he did have a lot to learn about being a leader. I remember when I got
there how reckless I was. I guess when you’re young you have a lot of
growing up to do. I did it faster than most though. I guess some things were
better left unsaid.

That’s when I heard it though. The two trouble makers were at it again. I
told everyone that some people didn’t like me, they were it. Dubois and
Cameron were the two worst people in my whole outfit. They did everything
they possibly could to spite me. Now you can only imagine what type of life
they had back at home. I guess they were like total enemies trying to duke
it out. They were best friends but they loved to cause me any sort of
trouble. They were wrestling two other people in my unit. Kane and Keith
were not doing it voluntarily. They were both going red faced and needed
their commanding officer to step in once again with his friendly advice.

“Lay off of them boys or I swear you will duke it out with me,” I commanded.
They didn’t listen to me at all, just went right on fighting. Man oh man,
what would Luke do in a situation like this. Well there were three main
possibilities that I had to choose from. One, I could slam their heads
together though that might result in them coming after me. Two, I could take
one at a time. Or finally three, I could shoot around from a machine gun. I
liked three the best out of all the choices I had. Corporal Mc Tavish handed
me his gun and that was exactly what I did. The boys dropped Kane and Keith
thank goodness.

“Why do you always have to get involved? This isn’t any of your business
what we do with our lives,” Dubois yelled.

“You think for one second that my outfit doesn’t concern me?” I questioned.
This guy was really striking me for patience. I tried to be nice to him I
really did. I couldn’t take his lack of reason and responsibility. It wasn’t
like having me around was it? I guess I was pretty bad but I would catch
this guy while he was young.

“No it does not. You are not a leader at all in fact Duke you are just a
baby…a wannabe dressed in a soldier’s suit. I don’t think you should even be
here.”

“Is that so?”

“Yes it is so and I think that you should just leave this man’s army. Leave
it to the men and not the little kids.”

“Do you agree with him Cameron?”

“Yes sir I do,” Cameron replied. They were being big babies about the whole
ordeal. I wasn’t going to let them walk all over me. I didn’t care to have
it happen and I didn’t want it to. Being the lieutenant of this outfit made
me realize how good I really am. They wouldn’t put me here if I couldn’t
take the heat.

“Well boys, congratulations, you have earned first and second watch tonight.
In fact, you two can switch off all night long. How is that for running an
army? I will work you boys to the bone. I didn’t want to have to strap down
but I guess I have to on you two,” I told them.

“Sir, that’s not fair sir,” Dubois replied.

“Why should I care about fairness? I mean you didn’t care about respect. I
treat y’all with the up most regard and I expect nothing less from you.”

“You have to earn my respect.”

“Same with you, Dubois your rank is being demoted to private starting
tomorrow. If these actions persist I will have no choice but to court
marshal you.”

“You just made a big mistake!”

“Dismissed Private Jack Dubois, you have duty in a few hours. I suggest you
get some sleep.”

“You haven’t heard the last from me.”

“I don’t doubt it but now you can have more duty if you keep up this
attitude. He snarled at me evilly. Jack had to learn that this wasn’t going
to happen at all. I wouldn’t let anyone have that much responsibility; when
I decide buckle down though I really know how to do it. I wasn’t about to
let him get away with his actions.

I wondered about his motives. Jack wanted me out of here and he was going to
find a way to do it. I didn’t know what he had in store for me. I had to
find out as the task came near. I didn’t like it one bit though. This wasn’t
right and both Dubois and I both knew it. Boy do I wish it was someone like
Daisy putting her foot down. I have been thinking of her for days. I don’t
know why I think about that girl. Daisy is one of the cousins that I find
extremely smart and wonderful.

I thought a lot about home though. I thought about farming that land with
the dirt under my fingernails. I thought about Uncle Jesse’s home cooking
and how good it felt going down.

I opened my letter from Cooter and smelt the musky clone just as if we were
back home. The grease from his hands was smeared all over the fine green
paper. I laughed lightly at the sight of this letter. Cooter was a great guy
but wasn’t one for washing his hands. I suppose that was just the way he was
and I couldn’t complain about that at all. I suppose if I did I would get it
later from him. He wasn’t that old but he was much older than me. I didn’t
mind though. Well as I read I had to smile:

Dear Vance,

I know it has been a long time since seeing your name on the top of a
letter. However the matter of it is you are going to stay where you belong,
boy. We miss you over at the old Hazzard Garage. LB is staying for the
summer and boy howdy he’s driving me mad. I tell you some of his clothes
smell worse than a skunk eating garlic. LB is great though when it comes to
the cars. He knows his way under the hood pretty good. Sometimes that guys
dancing rattles the place too much. LB needs to work on some things. He’s
crazier than me and that ain’t a good thing. LB’s great though, he got Coy
out of the house. That kid even laughed a few times.

I want to tell you something. Your Uncle has had this big smile on his face
since you called that one day. He’s so much better. I mailed those letters
from here and he thought you were in California. You are lucky that LB still
had those stamps. He wanted to send you money but I told him that probably
wouldn’t be a good idea. You have money though right? I hope the military
gives you some pay. You deserve money more than the next man. Luke told me
about your battles and how you’re growing into quite the officer.

He better be writing you or I will get him in a head lock. I don’t care how
long it takes me to get to Vietnam. I will take him down myself even if I
have to hotwire a tank to do so. No one is getting by you at all, not even
Luke. He knows what will come of him if he doesn’t write you.

Anyway you better arrive home safe you hear me!

From your friend Cooter

I missed all of them. I missed Miss Tizdale riding on that motorcycle of
hers. I missed Rosco being his usual self. I just missed Hazzard all
together. Heck I even missed Boss Hogg as scary as that is. I didn’t want to
leave this dream world of mine but again I was on a mission. I guess
tomorrow was a big day. Everything was really big about it. After all the
operations we have had we were at it again.

The mail came with a General that day. Dubois was decreased in rank after a
formal hearing. He would remain a private for a while. I increased in rank
that day. I guess this was fast but I didn’t mind all too much. I was now
Captain Duke. It is easier to spell and has a better ring to it. My men
couldn’t believe it.

It was another promotion…a good promotion. I swear, my old Lieutenant or
better known now as a Captain, told his father how wonder was. I don’t think
I deserve a promotion. I think I was fine the way I was. Oh well, I guess
good things come to good people. I wouldn’t let this go to my head though. I
mean I couldn’t. Power and responsibility come hand in hand. I had a lot of
power to throw at these boys. I kept it the way it was though.

You know another advantage to being commanding officer is? I can phone Luke
up. That is exactly what I was going to do too. When they finally got
through I was happy to talk to a tired Lukas Duke who had just finished a
boxing match. “Tell me Luke, what rank are you?” I asked. I couldn’t resist
asking him.

“Sergeant Luke Duke sir, why do you ask Bo?” Luke replied.

“I am Captain Duke. No more being Lieutenant for me. I am up in the ranks.”

“Remind me to solute you when we meet up tomorrow.”

“Oh you don’t have to do that Luke.”

“You know how awesome it is that you outrank me? What do you do stand in
front of a grenade most of the week?”

“I can’t believe I outrank you. I just do the missions that no one else
wants to do. I don’t understand why they promoted me.”

“You’re a Duke, kid you know exactly why they promoted you. You’re smart and
good with people. You have leader written all over your face that’s how
obvious you are. You know how to command men.”

“I don’t know if I am doing a good enough job.”

“You are doing a great job and obviously someone thinks that you are doing
awesome. You have it all down to an art. Bo, you will always have it made. I
don’t care what anyone says to you or how many lies you have told people,
you are very smart. I am proud to have you as a cousin and I will always be
proud of you.”

“I am proud of you too.”

“You just keep yourself alive. I hope that you will always be there for
everyone. I am so glad that you were able to take more R&R time.”

“Rest and relaxation, that is the best time of the month especially when I
can spend it with family. I know that it will be a while after that before I
can talk to you again. But I love you so much. I know not many men admit
their feelings but I got to say you are the best cousin in the world.”

“Right back at you Bo; I miss you a lot.”

“I miss you too Luke and I want us to have a long talk and just share our
experiences.”

“You have plenty to share I am sure.”

“Oh I do, anyway I better let you get back to work. Good luck.”

“Yeah, you better stay safe…bye.” We both hung up the phone knowing that
goodbyes are long. I hated to say goodbye. I hated to have to not see his
face everyday. I missed farming and I missed him.

He was all I thought about before and after I completed this mission. I
couldn’t believe that it was over with barley any death. Only one person had
been wounded in this mission. I couldn’t believe it, what a record. We had
the least death rates. We tried to keep it down to a minimal however
sometimes it did happen.

I guess killing people wasn’t my favorite thing to do on a day like
today…well on any day actually. Killing people made me feel bad. I had to
remain frozen. I couldn’t let myself feel it. I couldn’t let the pain come
into my mind. I couldn’t think about all those men on the other side. You
had to be numb.

I suppose didn’t have to remain numb for all eternity. I was ready to go and
show that even a Duke in the military was still a Duke. As we met in Tokyo I
was so very impressed with everything there. I didn’t understand a word of
Japanese. I need to learn some languages.

There was Luke standing with Mike no doubt. I hadn’t seen him in ages. Both
were standing at attention. I couldn’t stop laughing at their grins. “At
ease, I don’t ask for those at all when I am on duty. Why should one of you
be saluting me now?” I questioned them. I didn’t see much need for it.
“Little Duke I missed you!” Mike exclaimed. He got me in a bear hug and
swung me around. I wanted to tell him to put me down but it was pointless.
Right when I actually did get put down Luke picked me up. Well I could play
pass the Bo all day with these two. They were both like brothers to me.

“Vance you haven’t changed too much!” Luke exclaimed.

“It’s nice to see you both. I thought that I would never see you again Mike.
I also see you made it to sergeant,” I commented.

“Well your cousin here is the same rank. You keep doing those dangerous
assignments don’t you?” Mike replied. I couldn’t believe it. Luke had been
in this man’s army longer than I have been and look at me.

“Yeah I am doing all the ones I can. Can you believe they increased the
points to go home?”

“I heard and man, am I mad at the military. I bet you were almost home too.”

“I was, how about you Luke?”

“Not even close. I they want to keep me I swear. They mostly want me because
of my boxing skills,” Luke answered. Luke must’ve been a good boxer. I could
see his muscle tone through his uniform. He is certainly a Duke boy with all
the fighting spirit of an eagle. I know we would have fun together. Well
when Luke and I usually get together there is some trouble. In this case
there was no exception. The moment I began to walk the lights went off.
There was some screaming and confusion. As the lights were turned back on,
everyone noticed that the rare diamond that was being exhibited in the hotel
was stolen.

The hotel manager almost tore his hair out from his head. He was watching
that thing all day. Sooner or later though everyone gets greedy; I wish they
didn’t. I wanted things too but I would rather leave things behind glass so
to speak. Luke and I knew that police were probably their second best bet to
finding it. Somehow I knew that this one fellow had stolen them. I knocked
him down. “Bo what are you doing?” Luke questioned.

“This one stole it. Watch this,” I replied. I took out the diamond from his
pocket and peered at it. I couldn’t believe that it was the same one.
However, it was a fake. I looked at the manager and wondered what the heck
was going on here.

“Come with me boys,” he said as he walked towards an office. I wondered what
this was all about. Lately I hadn’t had time for any of my old charades
because of the army. Now was my R&R and I had all the time in the world for
it.

“What is this all about? That is not a diamond,” I yelled.

“I know it isn’t. Our diamond has been missing for a week. No one has been
able to get in or out of the Country without having their stuff searched.
Therefore I am positive that it is still in the country.”

“Did you set that up or something?”

“Yes I did. You are the one that seemed to find it. You knew the type of man
that would steal it and the one who looked most suspicious. We have tried
this set up a couple of times and you are the only one that knew. You are
very smart, you and your cousin both.” We were pretty smart weren’t we? I
guess some people take time to see that and others take seconds.

“What do you want us to do about it? We are in the United States army plus
in the marines and sooner or later we have to go back,” Luke commented. It
was true you know. We had to go back in two weeks. I had to command my army
division again and Luke had to get back to work doing what he does. He has
more secret missions than I do.

“You have to help me,” the manager pleaded.

Well here we are looking for crooks. With what he told me it was most likely
a staff member. I thought that because not too many people would be stupid
enough to do so without privileges around the hotel. There were three guys
that Luke picked and nine that I chose. Out of all of them that worked there
those people Luke chose were known for stealing money. Mine looked and seem
suspicious. I looked through their payrolls and everything else and I
noticed that they didn’t get a raise when others did. Now if I were them I
would feel pretty cheesed off.

Both Luke and I were going to make the biggest capture ever. What were we
going to do for it? There was only one thing to do. Become robbers
ourselves. No…not the way people would think. Now we were coming into the
hotel as crime Bosses. We had it down to the T considering how many there
are in Hazzard. The big fancy suits and that attitude had to stick out from
everything else in the room were in.

It was all ready to prepare. We had it all set up talking about big diamonds
when it was Joben’s brother Ken. My goodness, he stole the diamond. Of
course it all made sense now. He was only in this job because he had been
kicked out of his band for abusive behaviors. Now can you imagine coming to
your own kin for a job? It didn’t give him very much honor. Now when we got
that diamond I was so happy. But then again it was already time to leave
again.

Luke and I loved this adventure. We wished there was more time in a day for
this to happen. I missed just helping out on the farm. “Bo, you never forget
me okay?” Luke told me.

“How in the world could I ever forget you? You are one of the most amazing
people I have ever met. Luke, just remember that I am proud of you,” I
replied.

“You’re proud of me?”

“Yeah Luke, I am proud of you. You don’t take the stupid risks I do.”

“Bo, you are a commanding officer. From what I heard from others one of the
best commanding officers this side of Vietnam; I should be proud of you more
than you should be proud of me. I guess that you are smarter than me.”

“I am not smarter, I ain’t ever been smarter.” I was lying again. How could
I do that to myself? I don’t know what is so bad about being smart. I guess
I was just afraid again. I was afraid of what he would find.

Uncle Jesse knew that I didn’t want Luke to find out how smart I was. It
wasn’t because I wanted to be known as the stupidest kid in the world in
fact that wasn’t even part of it. I had my reasons for hiding who I was. I
mean how many people can look at a map and see exactly how to attack by
using the math problems we did in school? Not many I don’t think. I guess I
was a bit different.

Luke looked up at me once again and smiled. I couldn’t help but feel good as
his smile lit up my day always. I guess Luke was a lot different than any
person that I had ever met before. My cousin is a wonderful person after
all. His brown crew cut was amazing to see. Luke hated to have his hair cut
and so did I. I never cut my hair again after they cut it. It is long but
not half as long as it was before. I miss it a lot but I would miss Luke
even more than some dumb old hair.

“Bo, if you were stupid you wouldn’t be a commanding officer. I know you
have the smarts in there and I know what you have been hiding. You are a
good dancer and don’t you forget that. It makes you who you are Bo. You’re
one of those people that you can tell out of a crowd,” Luke commented.

“How did you find out about my dancing? Did Uncle Jesse tell you about it?”
I questioned angrily.

“No, I got this from following you. I always wondered where Uncle Jesse took
you on weekends. I watched your recital and was very impressed. You have the
smarts to go far in this world.”

“I can’t use them when farming so what is the point?”

“Bo, don’t you ever cut yourself down! You are very smart and talented. You
don’t know what you will be.”

“I just told you a farmer.”

“That may not be your calling in life.”
“It is though Luke, I am good with animals. Farming is all I know or ever
want to know. I don’t want to be smart. I wish I was just like everyone
else.”

“How could you be like everyone else when you’re a Duke?” He was right, no
matter what I would do I couldn’t change who I was no matter how much I
tried. I looked at the man at the airport and he was looking at me like I
was crazy.

“Do you want something?” I asked him.

“Your plane is leaving in 10 minutes, you better get on it son or you’re
going to miss it,” he said.

“You get going Bo, don’t you ever worry about me,” Luke laughed.

“I’ll miss you very much I don’t know what I would do without you. I need
you Luke and I will never forget what you have done for me. I wish we had
more time,” I told him.

“I wish we had more time too. This ain’t fair.”

“You just remember that you are a tough kid and I know you can do it. Don’t
be afraid of anything. Don’t forget who you are.”

“I won’t.” We hugged once again and I dashed for the plane. I wished he was
in my outfit. I wish I could see him everyday. Sometimes I think what it
would have been like if he passed on. I couldn’t take it in my heart.

A week later…

“Private Dubois! Get your fanny in gear I am sick of your attitude,” I
said. This kid shouldn’t be acting like he was. It was only a week since I
got back and he was already causing me trouble.

Three guys beat up in this outfit and it was all him. I couldn’t believe how
he was turning my life into a living nightmare. He was just the type of
person who wanted revenge. I couldn’t believe he would try this on me. I
thought that he was supposed to be a soldier not a little kid. This made me
sick in more ways than one.

“You can’t bust me any lower,” he replied.

“You are out of line!” I screamed.

“I don’t think so captain. You are the one that is out of line. I am going
to make sure my father puts you into the stockade after he hears how you
demoted me.”

“I will not take that General’s garbage.”

“He will bring you down a few levels while he is at it.”

“You think I am going to take this from you?”

“You have no choice. Inside you are just a scared little boy.” I couldn’t
believe this guy. He didn’t want to go out of this army a private yet he
kept up this manner that made me want to shoot him. I couldn’t worry about
that now. We were doing a strike on a Vietnamese fleet but they had no idea
we were coming. The only advantage we had was out surprise.

As we left for it I knew that I should have left Dubois behind but no man
can be left behind. We were quiet enough. It was the dead of the night and
we were slowing creeping our way to them. They wouldn’t know what hit them.
Our plan was to build our trenches while they slept and attack at day break.

Just as I was just waking up the next day, I heard this noise like no other
I had heard before in a war zone. As I looked up I saw the fireworks going
in the sky. “Good morning,” Dubois said as he smiled. I couldn’t believe
what he had done. This didn’t only wreck my life.

“Do you know what you have just done?” I asked.

“Shot off your career.”

“No, you have just committed suicide boy. You better get your guns ready
because we are going to die.”

“You said that we were going to win.”

“I said that we could win this if we did it right.” Suddenly the artillery
was being shot at us from all around. I wasn’t scared or anything. Dubois
knew what he did was wrong and he knew that he went too far. The bombs shot
off all around us. I could hear the gunfire.

“Men, get up now!” I screamed. They all manned their stations. I didn’t know
what to do. We didn’t have a size advantage. Heck we didn’t have any
advantage now. There was nothing keeping us from defeat. As I fired my
riffle I noticed three bullets coming at Dubois. Well he died instantly when
they were shot at his head. I am sure that happens but I think he got what
he deserved.

The bombs seemed to echo forever as the dropped. I didn’t know what to
think. I put my head down as the shells hit. The explosions were so massive
that we had to duck at each one. I didn’t know what to do. I was loosing men
at a fast rate. I took the radio in my hands.

You wouldn’t believe how horrible this was. It looked like a swarm of
killer bees coming towards us. The bullets were many. We couldn’t hold them
off forever. I didn’t know what kind of orders to give to these men. If we
were to stay we would surely die. If we were to leave who knows what would
have happened. I could see the civilians running away from this place as
fast as lightning. The tears were going down their face. Some of them were
hit. I could almost scream. The bloodshed was unbearable. What could anyone
do for them? Absolutely nothing and I felt horrible about it.

Now we had to do our job. We were shooting off as much as we could, trying
to hold them off. I prayed that we would all get out of this alive. I
couldn’t think of what I was doing. The images were moving slowly in my
mind. I could see men fall as if in slow motion. The blood flowed out of the
shot up legs. People were crying and calling out for people. Some of them
were hoping they would just die. Each person was trying to live but could
succeed.

Some of my men were all limped over like noodles. I couldn’t do a thing
about that. We were all so dumb. I didn’t know what to say to this. I didn’t
know what to do or how to do it at first.

“This is Little Boy to big sister can you hear me big sister over?” I
started on the radio. I just hoped HQ would picture.

“10-2 (good signal) Little boy, this is big sister coming at you over,” HQ
replied. Thank goodness.

“We are in 10-30 (danger) repeat 10-30. Someone has given away our 20
(Location) and I am not sure how to deal with it over.”

“Is it…a 10-18 (urgent situation) little Boy, come back?”

“We are under attack repeat under attack and we need back up now. We can’t
take them on. Requesting Permission to retreat from this mission, we can’t
handle it, over.”

“10-4 Little Boy, do as planned.” We ran for our lives. The bombs seemed to
follow us no matter how much we ran. The echoes of the blasts were all
around me. I wondered if we were going to make it at all. Here we were
running away from something we could have beat. Here we were doing all this
because of one man. In army training I was told that one man could make the
difference between winning and loosing this battle. He was right I guess. It
wasn’t like I could possibly change what was done. If I could I might have
assonated the president of United States so he could keep us out of this
war.

I didn’t know really what to do as a commanding officer but I knew I had to
do something. What could I possibly do to get them away from this line of
fire? They needed something to distract the enemy. I had to save my men.
However I would not have it where anyone else would risk their own lives to
save a few others. Naturally I began running back and firing off many
rounds.

Many of my men tried to stop me but I wouldn’t allow it. I would die if I
had to just to save the rest of them. I felt the bullet as it jerked me to
the right. They didn’t stop shooting either. I don’t remember how many
bullets I actually got shot inside me but they were there. I couldn’t stay
awake anymore. I drifted into darkness. Maybe it was the pain and the mix of
fatigue though after a week of relaxation it made me wonder. Whatever case
it was I was out like a light.

When next I woke I saw bodies all around me. Many were good friends and
others were just good soldiers. I didn’t know what to think. Why did this
have to happen? Could anyone wish this on their worst enemy? War is so
ironic, we are sent here to kill people for our freedom. Our freedom is
really lost the second we get those guns.

We have friendships in the army and many of them are killed. I don’t like
this at all. All of war is just one ironic case after another. I hate it now
more than ever. I don’t care how they promote me when I get out of this. I
don’t want to stay here ever again.

I heard sudden noises in the bushes. There were these two men standing over
me speaking a strange language. They kicked the Americans making sure that
they were dead. I didn’t know what to do at first. I lied there as if I was
dead. I couldn’t make any sudden movements or I would surely be killed.

Now it was my turn to be kicked around. They kicked me hard in the ribs. I
bit my cheek hard as they continued to kick me in the chest. I couldn’t move
at all, not a muscle, for if I made one false move I was history. I kept
thinking about school and life. I thought about how many people cared about
me. I couldn’t stop praying. I just don’t want to die. I could never allow
it to happen to me. They won’t get me here.

I want to die an old man surrounded by loved ones. I want to be in a place
where everyone knows that it is me and not Vance. I want to raise children
and become one of the best dads in the history of mankind. I want to have a
beautiful wife by my side as I farm. I just need to look into her eyes to
know that I am okay. I don’t want to die.

I want to see my Uncle Jesse and my cousins. I want to see the soil of the
farm. I want to drive in my blue pick-up again and feel the cool breeze rub
across my skin. I looked through the light cracks in my eyes. The last thing
I could see was a giant boot coming down to my head. Again I drifted
unconscious.

Well this was the third time. Everything was clear and I had to get out of
here. The blood dripped off of my head furiously. I pulled the first aid bag
off of my medic and took out some supplies. War is an ugly thing. I wrapped
my wounds as best as I could with my sore arm. Every time I moved there was
a new definition of pain from all the kicking.

Breathing was next to impossible but doing it was the only way I could live.
As the last packing pad was tightened, I tried to stand up. Well it wasn’t
very successful. I tumbled back onto my butt. I was too dizzy to walk. I had
to shake it off. Staying here would mean an obvious death and I wouldn’t
take that.

I began to crawl but it hurt too much being so flat on my stomach. I guess I
had to figure out another way. I rolled on my back and breathed in heavily.
I began pushing myself with my legs. It didn’t get me far but at least I was
moving. Not many thoughts go through your mind when all you want to do is
sleep. I knew though I had to keep awake.

I took away one of my soldier’s canteens for my own use. It felt wrong to do
but they were gone now, there was nothing else I could do about it. Just the
look on their faces made me want to cringe. I didn’t think this was fair.
Dubois did this. It was all of his fault so many were killed. Their faces
looked horrified. Some of the faces looked peaceful. I couldn’t believe what
I was doing. I was trying to get out of a pile of dead people.

I had to keep awake somehow so I tried to think about something else. I
couldn’t help to think what would happen if I stayed home. I wouldn’t be in
this mess but maybe Vance would be. I wondered if Uncle Jesse could take his
death like all these people were going to think about the people that died
here. I wondered about the tears of these people’s parents. I thought about
their wives that have babies, young children morning for Daddy’s life.

I guess I was lucky. I am alive after all even if pushing myself to stay
that way. Sometimes people would talk about their families and how wonderful
they were. I wished all that time that I could be with mine. I felt so bad
for leaving them all in the dark about where I was. I shouldn’t have done
it. I suppose that if I hadn’t they wouldn’t be so worried. Or would they be
even more worried than they were now?

I didn’t know what I was thinking then. Each thing I thought about got more
complicated as I worked it out. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I
thought too much of this subject and thought I should move on. But what
could I possibly think of next? I didn’t have anything to talk to myself
about. Could I really talk to myself? This was getting worse as it went on.

I couldn’t help but feel tired. It was a mix of the sun and the blow to the
head. I don’t know how I was moving. The men were getting further and
further away. I kept on going though the pain swelled through my body. I
couldn’t see straight anymore. It began to rain. It didn’t stop raining
either. The rain just kept coming towards me. I didn’t know what to do. I
kept pushing through the mud as the rain beat down on my chest. I guess I
couldn’t do it anymore. I had to stop. One hour had turned into three and
three into four. I couldn’t move anymore. I fell asleep on the ground.

When I woke up I could have sworn I saw this person coming towards me. This
woman…a Vietnamese civilian I think walked up to me. I couldn’t really see
her face. Everything I saw was faint and blurred. She kept speaking in her
language. I couldn’t tell what in the world she was saying but I didn’t mind
it much. She had strength though. The woman picked me up and carried me. I
didn’t know where she was taking me. I was starting to feel sick again. I
couldn’t think anymore, the world started spinning and again I blacked out

 

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