I’ve met him before in this life. Just a brief interaction with my friend’s son with nothing spectacular to mention. But today was different. Today we recognized each other’s spirits to the point where we talked about things we couldn’t possibly have experienced now. Forgive, but indulge my recollection of my brief time in VietNam before I was killed by a brother triggered trip wire.
I was a Captain, he my lieutenant. We were working on an engineering project together when the explosions started. The initial shock blew out half the buildings barracks. We lost 12 men from that. One of them men we called “Mustard” razzed me and Old Time, my best friend, calling us brother and sister. They called me Squeezy because I snored loud enough they’d have to keep covering my head with my blanket to dull the sound which made me wheeze.
From the room we were working in, we could see J-Pod and Durkee run by with their rifles down. Durkee smoked as much as he could get his hands on so I’d give him mine, so would Old Time. I watched the packs lined up like carnival ducks on his helmet fly by the window.
“Okay, Old Time. We have to pack. Drop down.” I commanded as I scrambled to get my responsibility packaged into my trekker.
“I’m almost there, Squeezy. I don’t want to mess this connection. A few more minutes.” He half answered me.
“Look, Durk and J-Pod just ran by with rifles down. We don’t have a couple minutes. Pack up, now.” I commanded finishing my assembly. I rushed over to his station and started packing his gear. “Pack up. Drop down.”
“And, got it.” He said, pushing back from the table.
I realized he hadn’t even been aware of the sounds or the smells from the burning buildings until he pushed away. Realizing the gravity, he grabbed his gear and helped me fill his bag with the essentials.
“Shit, I didn’t realize…” His voice was blasted out by a shell that hit the north side of the building exploding concrete and glass into our work space. “Squeeze, you’re bleeding.” He said as he crawled from under the table where he’d ducked down. I wasn’t as quick as he was, my head was bleeding almost as much as my right shoulder which still had a sizeable shard of glass sticking out of it. He leaned over, assessed the wound, and pulled the glass clean out. “Let me help you Squeezy.”
I nodded as he jacked his pack onto his back and helped me get into mine. The strap helped ease the bleeding in my shoulder but my head was starting to swim.
“Old Time, I don’t know if I can. My head is swimming.” I protested.
“You look here. I’m not going to lose another brother. Come on.” He dragged me to my feet wrapping his right arm under my uninjured left shoulder. He grunted a bit as he realized I wasn’t moving half my body the right way. “Don’t you worry Squeeze, we’ll get to the rendezvous point.” His face was so close to mine but I was having trouble focusing. I saw him smile at me, but the fear in his eyes was deep.
“GO! GO! GO!” I heard Maxi-Pad yelling. Through the hole in the wall, I watched Max and four others rush by under heavy fire. The only reason I knew it was Maxi-Pad was because of his lilty voice. He sounded more like a woman than any of us, but nobody had the heart of the lion like him. He knew what to do almost instinctively. Although he was only a sergeant, he ran his squad like a true leader. They loved and trusted him in the way only soldiers know. I saw one of his men crumple as Old Time pulled me over the rubble.
With shells exploding around us, Old Time pulled me as I struggled to keep my feet. I knew I wasn’t long for this plane. I had to let him go. I dropped full weight into his arms forcing his release.
“I can’t. I’m done. Just go.” I wheezed as blood filled my lungs. I could barely catch a breath. My blood was pumping so fast. “I’ll have your back.” I said as I tugged my side arm from the holster.
Old Time got damn near nose to nose with me. His dark brown eyes, filled with fear also held the promise of truth in them. He grabbed my face with both of his hands.
“You sorry son of a bitch. Get up and get moving right now. Loretta would never forgive me. Get up now.” He smacked my face hard with both hands. I hate when he does that.
I struggled up to my feet. My head was swimming, my ears could no longer hear the rifle fire, just the steady pulse and a high pitched squeal of my blood running out of my body too fast. I allowed him to lift me up enough for me to use my last bit of will to move my feet towards the dense jungle just a few more steps in front of us.
He shoved the branches back, never losing grip on me as we disappeared into the heavy smell of acrid gunpowder and sloshed our feet into the barely dried ground after monsoon season. We struggled through the dense fauna, him holding on to me, me desperate to follow his commands because to disobey my inferiors command was to die.
When the wire tripped, there was barely enough time for him to turn and look me in the eye as we both breathed our last breath from the explosion. We died that day, buddy next to buddy. His left arm gone, his right arm still holding me protectively.
I met him again today in this life. He saw me and said, “Sister!” He grinned from ear to ear. “I knew I’d see you again. Man, it’s been a while.”
“As with you, my brother. I’m glad to see you again. Thanks for helping me. You did all you could. I hope you know that.”
“I will never forget it. You still owe me $5 bucks.” He laughed referring to the ongoing penny cribbage we played when we weren’t working.
“You’re not going to get it this time or that time either.” I laughed. I realized that we had to give that life up to meet again in this one. I understood right then, that we really were brother and sister of spirit.”
He’s still interested in electronic projects in this life time. I think that’s because he never quite finished that damn project in the last one. It really amazes me the details I could remember when my spirit saw him. It happens from time to time where I just know people. I’ll call him Old Time when next we meet and I’ll bet he’ll call me Squeezy.