What's that smell?
Mellow, yes, soft, yes, clean, what's that saying? Cleanliness is godliness, yes? Am I smelling God? ... but ... cleanliness? haven't showered in a couple of weeks, just wiped off whatever filth I could with baby wipes. Heavy. Why am I so heavy? Even my teeth feel heavy, gonna break my goddamn jaws.
Somebody smacked the back of my head with a 2-by-4, whack smack right in the back of my head, my heavy head, is this extreme sleep inertia? but when did I go to sleep? and when
- that smell again. Over me. Whatever smells so softly mellow is over me. Blatantly over me. Like a woman on top. No, intimately over me but detached. Fucking weird. Wanna reach up. Touch. Explore. Figure out what
- just relax, sir
Whose voice is that? Does its owner also own that smell? Must've taken a bath in rose water. Am I in a garden? No, can't be. Or might be. The hanging gardens of Babylon. Why not? I'm in Iraq, ain't I? Or was and have come back dead. Death is heavy. Christ, does it weigh you down. Dead weight. How many times have I heard/said that and now I feel it. I am it. But if I'm dead why do I feel anything at all? Why do I smell roses and feel a soft mellow presence over me? Why do I
- don't try to talk, sir
Must obey the orders of the Rose: relax and be silent. Wait. I don't have to obey anyone or anything that calls me Sir. Sir. She feels above but I am above, at least in rank. The Rose is definitely female. Flowers have a sex. That's awesome. Awesome blossom. Fuck, that's stupid. Heavily and stupidly I wonder who smacked the back of my head. FUCKING BAM! The Rose must know.
- sir, I need you to be still
Yeah yeah still silent heavy. Restricted and immobilized and there's light threatening my eyes. Petal light from the Rose. Still over me, ordering me and calling me Sir. Helluva dichotomy. Wanna force movement like a fetus pushing itself out of the womb. LET ME OUT. Make me light. Hear my language with its drawling accent. If I'm dead death is living in a heavy silence that smells cruelly like life. Like a Rose.
- sir, you're going to feel a little pressure
Pressure. Like a 2-by-4 smacked against the back of my head? No no no no no no no no more pressure. No more... and it's gone. Gone like me? Am I gone? Can't be. Wouldn't feel the pressure of soft things against my face neck chest. Warm wet pressure, the soft absorption of pressure, soaking absorbing what? What's on my face neck chest that must be softly absorbed? Cleansed. Mitigated. Soak up downright ugly so it becomes just simply unattractive.
- can you open your eyes, sir
To see what? The Rose? A death blossom? That's what the IA and all but the best insurgents produced with their AKs, the death blossom, erratic wild what-the-hell aimless firing. Aim, motherfucker. If you want to kill me at least have the goddamn human courtesy of aiming at me. Maybe that's why they preferred to blow us up. Did they blow me up? Up up and away. Nah, more like up out and down onto the ground. What kind of pressure is that?
Pressure of a hand on my forehead like a mother trying to gauge her kid's temperature. You're hot, honey.
- you're hot, sir
Much obliged, sugar, no, it isn't a compliment. The Rose believes I have a fever. Can't be her natural smell. Must be perfume. Artificial fragrance. Who the fuck wears perfume in a war zone? That smack to my head must've caused olfactory hallucinations. Or auditory ones. Again
- open your eyes, sir, I need you to open your eyes if you can
I like that. I need you. Unpressurized and soft and petaled. Not heavy and hard and urgent, SIR I NEED YOU! Ain't that some shit? Recognizing rank in chaos. Recognizing. Cognizant.
The Rose is a corporal. Recognize the two bar chevrons when I open my eyes. She is over me. Checking my vitals. A garden of digi-camo. Ain't in Heaven. Hell no. Surely angels don't wear BDUs. Only place I saw females in BDUs was at the FOB. I'm at the FOB with an Army nurse over me. She's got a deadpan Midwestern accent. Farmer's daughter? Joined the Army to get away from the cornfields? Daddy's little Amanda, yes, that's a wholesome name, she's worried. I can see, recognize the worry in her eyes. And she ain't worried about the harvest.
- who's Amanda, sir
- don't struggle, sir
Against you, never. Do what must be done. Am I done? Done blown apart. Amanda, talk to me. I know you. Don't you know yourself, Amanda? I've been up and down you. Amanda.
- sir, do you know where you are
I' know I'm not on top or beneath Amanda.
Uh man duh
Phase line Amanda
- you're going to make it, sir
Make it, yes, make it soft and mellow, yes, no more hardness and shouting and urgency and screaming and smacking against the back of my head. Amanda, are you saying I ain't dead?
- I'm Cpl. Hanson, sir. Karla. You're not dead. You've been injured but you're going to make it
No more smelling a rose. Dismiss the definite article because the Rose is not even a rose. Has the smell but not the figure. Fade out. Out. Fade out. Out to
- sir, who's Amanda