Face Flowed Into Her Eyes
Location: Miami Metropolitan Area
Just like every time before Anton wanted to scream those words when Serzhant Vasilov showed his nicotine-yellow smile and “suggested” Anton stay in the Humvee and—and this was important—leave the key in the ignition, the door open, and the motor on. Anton tried not to look at the serzhant’s teeth or his hard-shriveled-and-dark-like-peach-pits eyes and when the urge to tell his commanding officer to situate himself atop an indefinite, transcendent, universal cock clawed at his throat he swallowed it down.
“Tak, ser,” Anton said, snapping a salute. His eyes were fixed on the serzhant’s swollen red nose.
Vasilov fished out a crumpled piece of paper from his coat pocket and looked back and forth from the paper to the gray-brown shack they’d parked in front of. Anton held his breath and rubbed his hands between his knees. He wondered if he was shaking because of the cold or the Humvee’s purr.
He looked at the U.N. patch on his shoulder, then at his boots.
“Suka,” Vasilov’s scarred knuckles tapped Anton’s cheek, he barked out the word, “Kalashnykova,” he held out his hands as if expecting a gift.
Na khuj, na khuj, na trakhkatyy̆ khuj!
Anton blinked and reached into the backseat. His rifle lay next to silverware, heirloom necklaces, golden teeth, and girls’ underwear. Anton avoided touching any of those things and presented his rifle to Vasilov.
The big man flashed another nicotine grin and took the rifle. “Suka,” he said, approving this time. Vasilov had—so far as Anton knew—not fired his own rifle once since deployment to Kosovo.
Vasilov reminded him to keep the key in the ignition and called him suka three more times on his way to the house.
Anton didn’t see but heard when Vasilov kicked open the door. He didn’t see but heard the shouts in two—possibly three—languages. Anton wasn’t looking at the house when he pulled the key out and stuffed it into his pocket. He wasn’t looking at the house when he climbed out of the car and shut the door.
He had his back turned and he was already putting one foot in front of the other when the gunfire started. He was in the forest when Vasilov’s scream for his suka was cut short.
“Where the longleaf pines are whispering
to him who loved them so.
Where the faint murmurs now dwindling
echo o’er tide and shore."
-A Grave Epitaph in Santa Rosa County, Florida; I wish I could remember the man's name.