Dusty Needle On A Scratched Record

The dust. The seeing. Ever see blood in dust? The smell. Ever smell the blood in the dust. Ever smell dusty blood? The feel. Had to put my fingertips in it. Put my fingers to my nose and smell it. Smelled old. And it flowed from a man so young.

A midwestern kid, really, all of nineteen. Farmer’s son. Blonde-haired, blue-eyed, so polite it pissed you off. Called the I-rackies “civilians” or “natives,” indicated them by saying that “gentleman” over there or this “lady” over here. Never said a vulgar word. Shit was poop, damn was dang, hell was heck, ass was behind. And the puppy he found during patrol was a poor dang baby with poop stuck to its behind. Could he keep it? Policy did not allow pets. Fuck policy. Damn thing died a couple of months later. Kid wanted to bury it. Sure. Wanted to pray over it. Go ahead. Mark its grave with a cross. Forget about it. Kid kicked the dust. “I hate this fucking war.”

Lowered my fingers. Forgot to breathe. Found my breath and realized that the forgetting and the finding was the first gut hitch to crying over the seeing and the smelling and the feeling. We covered the blood in the dust with bloodless dust until we couldn’t see it anymore. A crazy part of us thought we could bury him beside his puppy. He named it Dusty.

Ever seen blood in dust? Smell it? Feel it? Smells old. The memory of it is forever young.


we don't get much dust here. Mostly rain. Blood, well, that's a different story. 


You're a writer, write that story. 




so heartbreaking


Yeah, but what do you do?  Give the kid a boots and helmet ceremony and get on with the war.  Had our own policy: five of them for every one of us.