Chapter 16

Walker Chapter 16

Copyright 2011 Banzai Ben and Amazing Anastasia

 

Present – Ben – OPPLAN

 

So far the OPPLAN is going perfectly. As she hits the Stand Off, she has the perfect intonation in her voice, the banditos turn on all the lights (it upsets me when they fire at her), she ran immediately and they chase her - so the OPPLAN is still working…

 

But that's the thing about OPPLANs: They never work exactly as planned. I watch Stacy like a hawk as she's leading the banditos right into my hasty ambush. She's almost to the side trail and then… Oh Hell No! She falls to the ground and doesn't move. Shit! I don't know if one of their shots hit her or what the hell has happened!

 

I yell, "Shit Bo! Come on, we need to save Stacy."

 

I sling my rifles over my shoulders, grab on to Bo's mane with both hands and the next thing I know he's up and I'm on his back. He takes off like his tail is on fire and I can barely hold on! When we reach Stacy, he turns up the road and I yell, "Fill your hands you sons-of-a-bitch."

 

I pat Bo on the neck and say, "Bo, you're a damn fine horse and it's up to you to keep me on your back." I let go of his mane, pull both my rifles around and start firing short bursts at the approaching banditos.

 

One of the many things we practice at sniper school is firing at moving vehicles and also firing from moving vehicles. Some vehicles, like a bouncing Humvee or a chopper don't make good weapons platforms, but Bo is a different damn story: Firing from his back, is like firing from a Cadillac so I'm putting a major hurt on the banditos! Even firing offhand three are already down and the others decide to turn tail and run, but they aren't getting away that easy. Bo and I chase them down and kill all the fuckers!

 

Now to see what the hell is wrong with Stacy!

 

Present – Stacy – OPPLAN

 

I wake up just as Ben and Bo fly past me. I can't believe it and start to laugh! Especially when I hear Ben yell, "Fill your hands you sons-of-a-bitch." Because that's almost the exact quote Rooster Cogburn used in True Grit. Bo reminded me immediately of John Wayne's horse so that’s why I gave him the name Bo and now Ben's even acting like Rooster!

 

I pull my AK around to help Ben, but he's kicking their butts just fine by himself and I'm a little worried I might accidentally shoot him or Bo, so I just watch. The battle is over faster than I thought it would be and then Ben turns Bo back towards me, slowly trots up and says, "Stacy, are you okay?"

 

I respond, "Ben, you reminded me of John Wayne in True Grit! Where did you learn to ride like that?"

 

He reaches down and pats Bo, Bo nickers and Ben laughs, "Yeah, I guess you're right, it was sort of like that scene where he charged Ned and his gang except this time Bo didn't get shot. But don't praise me for the riding since Bo did all the hard work: Keeping me on his back and not getting scared by the rifle shots. He's a hell of a horse! Now what the hell happened to you?"

 

I blush and guess at the cause, "Ben, I'm sorry but I fainted. I think it was from Dorothy taking too much blood from me but I feel much better now." I hear Patches whinny and I add, "It looks like Patches is worried about me. Let me go tell her I'm okay. So what are we doing next?"

 

Ben replies, "Stacy, even though we took care of all the banditos, we still need to clear the house. Let Patches know you're fine, then I will give you some instruction on what we're going to do. Just so you know, this could be even more dangerous than what we just did…"

 

I start to stroke Patches and Knacker (I still hate that name) and worry a little about clearing the house…

 

Present – Ben – Regrouping

 

Dammit! Stacy fainting scared the hell out of me. If Dorothy was here I'd kick her ass for taking too much of Stacy's blood and giving it to me. That's one of the problems with medical people, they think they know everything and then they become over confident and fuck up! Unlike my profession, when they fuck up they only kill the patient, not themselves.

 

As I watch her taking care of Patches and Knacker I realize she's pretty damn good for a kid and that I'd miss the hell out of her if she was anywhere else.

 

She looks at me and suggests, "Ben, it's getting dark and I'd like to find someplace to look at your leg and then rest."

 

I respond, "Okay Stacy let me get off Bo and we'll go over the basics of clearing a house." Again, Bo kneels so I can get off him. Then I reach up and scratch him and he nuzzles me. As I walk towards Stacy I decide I like this horse better than most women I've met.

 

Stacy grins at me and offers, "A penny for your thoughts."

 

I smile and say, "I was just thinking how much better Bo is than a woman: First even though he's a horse, he's not a nag; second he does what he's told without complaining; third I can ride him all day and he doesn't get tired; and forth he's not jealous of other horses."

 

Stacy bristles and argues, "What the hell are you talking about! First I have never nagged you, well at least not when you didn't deserve it; second I've done all the crazy stuff you've asked me to do without complaining; third you've never ridden me so you don't have any idea; and forth and the biggest of all, I guarantee Bo would be jealous of not just any other horse, he'd even be jealous of me…"

 

Present – Stacy – Regrouping

 

OMG! Did I just blurt out what I thought I did? I run it over in my mind, realize what I said about Ben riding me and blush like crazy! I sure am glad it's getting dark and Ben can't see me.

 

Ben says, "Stacy sometimes you're full of shit! There's no way Bo would be jealous."

 

I'm happy he ignored the riding comment as I accept his challenge and dare him, "Oh yeah why don't you just come over here, scratch Patches or Knacker and see what happens."

 

He walks over to Knacker, begins to scratch him and Bo runs over right away and pushes Ben away from Knacker with his head. I giggle and say, "Watch this."

 

I walk over and start to touch Ben and Bo rushes right between us and pushes me out of the way. I triumphantly say, "See I told you so. Now I think you owe me an apology!"

 

I can hear the laughter in his voice when he says, "Stacy I apologize. Yes it does seem Bo is jealous just like a woman. However at least he doesn't remind me when he's right and I’m wrong!"

 

I can't believe him - sometimes he's so frustrating! I get ready to let him have it when he gets back to the matter at hand, "Okay Stacy, I think we've waited long enough and now it's time to go clear the house. Tell me have you been SLLSing? If so what have you heard?"

 

I look down because I've been distracted and forgotten all about SLLSing. I answer, "Sorry Ben, I was distracted."

 

He continues…

 

Present – Ben – Regrouping

 

"I know you were Stacy and you should know it's a common mistake to let your guard down after a battle. But mistakes like that will get you killed. Now SLLS and let me know what you observe."

 

I can tell she's upset but I know she won't ever forget this lesson. I watch her SLLS, she looks up and says, "Ben even though it's too dark to see anything, I think that someone turned off one of the lights in the house because I think they were all on when we first walked up here. I also think I hear someone softly calling from the house. I still can't really smell anything other than the horses because they really need to be groomed."

 

I touch her shoulder, but Bo gets a little upset so I take my hand away and say, "Stacy that's an excellent job! You are right, one of the lights is off in the house. It could be someone turned it off, or it could be one of my shots hit it. And there is at least one person in the house. They may be injured because they are calling for help."

 

I continue, "Okay Stacy we are going to clear the house - this is called UC or urban combat and it's the most dangerous type of combat we will ever face. We are going into an enclosed space without knowing who is in there or what the interior looks like. First we will approach the house and I will use my periscope to recon the room through the window or open doorway. Once I'm sure of the layout of the room, I will 'pie the doorway.' This means I will stand at the side of the door and slowly move until I can see the entire side of the room away from me, sort of like how you cut a pie into slices. Then if it's clear, I will use the periscope and pie the back and the other side of the room. Once I'm sure the corners of the room are clear, I will enter the room, double check to make sure the corners are clear and then move to what's called the 'point of domination' of the room. It will be the corner that gives me the best view of all the entrances to the room. Do you have any questions so far?"

 

She says, "If you're doing all this, then what the heck is my job?"

 

I appreciate how aggressive she is so I chuckle and explain, "You have one main job and that's covering my six so I can concentrate on the targets in front of me. I want you right behind me facing in the opposite direction except when I enter the room. You will stand against the wall just outside the room and then quickly move into the room when I call it clear. Remember this: Doorways are always funnels of death so never stay in a doorway longer than necessary and also never stick the barrel of your rifle around any corner. You see this all the time on TV shows and all it does is just give away your position. While we're talking about rifle handling, remember to keep your rifle pointed level but never let it point at me. Do you have any more questions?"

 

She asks, "How will I know which corner you will choose for the point of domination?"

 

I answer, "Stacy, I'm proud as hell of you because that's an excellent question. I will use hand signals to let you know. One more thing, once you enter the room don't turn your back on the doorway or the room, instead slowly back towards me. And if I say drop, that means to hit the floor.  Now it's time for a weapons check and then we'll roll."

 

Present – Stacy – Clearing the house

 

I'm nervous and I ask, "Ben before the weapons check, how about you let me have a bathroom break?"

 

Ben softly chuckles, "Yeah it's better to do that now than in the middle of an op. You go first and I will cover you and then I'm next."

 

I move over behind a bush and wonder what would happen if I needed to go in the middle of an op - that's something I will need to ask Ben later. I finish, walk back out and Ben hands me a wet wipe, I ask, "Where did this come from?"

 

He says, "I always keep some in the top of my pack. You have some in yours, but must have forgotten about it."

 

I really need to figure out what gear is 'essential' and keep it at the top of my pack. I clean my hands and Ben says, "Okay keep watch because it's my turn." Ben heads towards the bushes and Bo tries to follow him. He pats Bo, hands me his lead and says, "Bo, it's okay I'll be right back. Stacy please keep him from following me."

 

As I'm SLLSing while Ben is gone, I do hear some new noises coming from the house and the horses ears perk up. Ben walks up and I mention, "Ben, did you hear the noises from the house? I couldn't make out what they are."

 

He says, "Great job Stacy, I did hear them and I think someone is dragging something around in the house. Plus the calls for help have stopped. It's time to go see what the hell is going on in the house. We're going to do bounding overwatch again to reach the house. I know out here, it's too dark for you to see my hand signals, so I will flash once with my red flashlight when I'm ready for you to move to my position. Make sure once I relocate, you keep checking behind us."

 

I question, "What about the horses?"

 

Ben answers, "Shit! I've never had to do this with horses before. With my leg it would be nice to have them closer to the house in case we needed to bug out. Do you have any ideas?"

 

I say, "I think Bo's going to follow you whatever we do. So how about we let him do that until we reach the tree close to the house. Then we will tie him to that. And I'll bring Patches and Knacker with me."

 

Ben questions, "Won't Bo just pull himself loose from the tree?"

 

I answer, "Not if you tie him properly and pat him a couple times."

 

Ben says…

 

Present – Ben – Clearing the house

 

"Okay, weapons check and then let's roll." I had already performed a tactical reload of both rifles (never leave a place you have cleared or a battle with a partially loaded weapon) right after killing the last bandito. I pull the mag out of the M4 rap the back of it against a tree twice to make sure the rounds were where they are supposed to be in the mag and perform a SPORT1

 

1SPORT (usually SPORTS) is an acronym used for making sure you rifle is ready for action.

1.    S – Slap gently upward on the magazine to ensure it's fully seated and the magazine follower is not jammed.

2.    P – Pull the charging handle fully to the rear.

3.    O – Observe the ejection of a live round or expended cartridge.

4.    R – Release the charging handle (never ride it forward)

5.    T – Tap the forward assist assembly to ensure bolt closure (usually multiple times)

6.    S – (not done here) Squeeze the trigger and try to fire the rifle.

 

I then do a similar procedure for the AK, I've done it so many times it's now automatic and only takes about five seconds at the most for both rifles. I SPORT while I watch Stacy do the same. She does it correctly, but more slowly, looks at me and says, "Wow you looked like a robot when you did that."

 

I answer, "You did a great job and will get better with practice. Are you ready?"

 

She says, "Not quite yet!" Then surprises the hell out of me and upsets Bo by giving me a big hug! She pulls away and says, "That was for luck!"

 

I head off towards the first good cover and can't believe what Bo does…

 

Present – Stacy – Clearing the house

 

Ben starts to move and Bo moves with him almost like he's shielding Ben from the house. It surprises me and I think it startles Ben at first. It's so dark that soon all I can see is Bo's outline against the lights of the house.

 

I SLLS, finally see the flash from Ben's light and start to move towards where I saw the light, leading Patches and Knacker. It proves to be a huge pain in the rear and takes me way too long to reach our first position. I kneel beside Ben and whisper, "I'm leaving Patches and Knacker here."

 

Ben replies, "Good idea you were exposed for too long getting here. If we need to bug out, we can both ride on Bo."

 

I tie up my horses, Ben whispers, "After the next move, you should be able to see my hand signals."

 

He moves out and again. Bo is with him as I SLLS.

 

I see the flashlight and this time make good time getting up to him. He whispers, "That was much better. We're leaving Bo here because he's so big he's giving away my location."

 

I whisper a response, "Well he's not going to be happy about this, so you'd better give him some love and I will tie him up."

 

Ben loves on Bo and whispers, "Bo, I have to leave you here so be a good horse."

 

I tie up Bo and watch as his ears go back just a little; yeah he's not happy at all about this. Ben says, "Okay the next stop before the house in the big tree where we were going to tie the horses. You will hold there until I safely recon the house."

 

He moves out, Bo yanks his head but can't get loose and stamps a foot. I scratch him and say, "Bo, Ben's going to be fine."

 

I hear Patches and Knacker making some noise behind me and wonder what the heck is going on. Bo turns, looks back at them, somehow yanks his lead loose from the tree and takes off towards them. I need to go and see what's going on! As I get ready to move, the next thing I know Ben's right beside me and whispers, "Stacy, someone's behind us and is after Patches and Knacker. You stay here and SLLS while I go and take care of them."

 

Ben takes off right as we hear someone screaming bloody murder!

 

Present – Ben – Clearing the house

 

Shit! Someone is after the horses and whomever it is the horses sure don't like it. Patches and Knacker both started making a hell of a racket and then Bo takes off towards them like his tail's on fire. I pause by Stacy, tell her what I'm doing and take off to get the bastard when I hear him start screaming like he's being murdered. I get there and I sure understand why: Bo has grabbed the bastard's shoulder in his mouth and is shaking the hell out of him like a dog shakes a ragdoll. Damn! That has to hurt like hell!

 

I run up as Bo drops the bastard. He no sooner hits the ground, when the up until now docile Knacker comes over and stomps the shit out of the bandito. I know better than to get in the middle of this fight. It doesn't take long and the bandito is dead – Shit! I've been slapped by women, bit by women and even kicked by women but nothing comes close to what these horses did to the bandito. If hell hath no fury like that of a woman scorned, then the devil has no anger like that of a pissed off horse. It makes me wonder about Jens, I mean Ms. Donaldson. I wonder if she's as pissed off at me as the horses were at the bandito. At least she can't bite me like Bo bit the bandito or kick me like Knacker did – after all, what's the worst she can do to me? Shoot me?

 

Bo comes over and nuzzles me. I scratch him tell him he's a good horse then gunfire erupts from the house! I yell, "Bo stay the hell here and keep the other horses safe!" I run toward the house to save Stacy!

 

Present – Stacy – Clearing the house

 

Two of the bastard banditos come out of the house, stand on the front porch and start talking about their amigo catching our horses. Then they decide to help. I try to assess 'what Ben would do.' They move towards the front of the porch and I decide to fire on them. I really wish I used my pistol, because I don't really have the hang of this AK yet and I only hit one of them in the leg. They both return fire and the one I totally missed drags the wounded bandito back into the house! Now they are firing like crazy at everything!

 

Ben runs up beside me and asks, "What the hell happened?"

 

I tell him and he says, "Good job Stacy, but we need to work on your rifle skills. If you feel more comfortable with your pistol, then feel free to use it."

 

I want to say thanks a lot for just telling me that now, but I don't. Instead I pull out my pistol and just say, "Thanks! What's going on with the horses?"

 

Ben answers, "Well, Bo and Knacker took care of the bandito and it wasn't a pretty sight. I left Bo with Patches and Knacker and told him to take care of them."

 

I ask, "Did you tie them back up?"

 

Ben angrily remarks, "Hell no! I forgot about it."

 

I turn and look but I don't see the horses and say, "Well, I'm not sure where the horses went but they aren't there anymore."

 

Ben says, "We'll worry about them later. First we need to take care of this FUBARED mess. I count four distinct guns being fired so we probably have at least four banditos still in the house. Stacy you stay here and keep drawing their fire. Because we have more ammo, use your rifle unless you're sure of the shot, then use your pistol. I'm going to work my way around back and see if I can slip in the back of the house. If they all charge out of the house, yell and run like hell!"

 

Ben leaves and I continue to fire at the house, but the banditos just stick their rifles out the windows and fire wildly. The gunfire slows, and as one looks around the corner of the door, I snatch my pistol and shoot him twice in the chest. He falls in the doorway and the others start shooting again. I wait until someone tries to drag him out of the door way. I fire and almost hit his arm but he yanks it back inside and they keep firing…

 

Present – Ben – Clearing the house

 

I'm happy as hell we didn't just try to clear the house. With at least four banditos in the house it would have been difficult and the odds of one of us getting wounded would have been high. Stacy is doing a hell of a job keeping them busy, I recognize when she fires her pistol and hopes she hit someone with it. Damn! Sometimes she reminds me of me because I'm better with a pistol than a rifle, but I realize that in most cases nothing beats the superior firepower of a rifle.

 

I start to slip around behind the house and I discover where the hell the horses went. They are all three behind the house. Knacker and Patches are over by what looks to be a barn. Bo carefully walks up to me and blocks my path, I push on him and whisper, "Bo, get the hell out of my way." But he pushes back and even moves me onto the path, not where I want to be. I'd rather be in the bushes because the path is another funnel of death.

 

Then even over the stench of Bo I smell the sick smell of a rotting corpse and wonder what the hell is going on. I chance quickly flipping on my tactical light and see a corpse in the bushes close to where I was standing: He's a bandito and it looks like his legs were blown all to hell…

 

Shit! Then it hits me, there must be some sort of IEDs2 around here and Bo just saved me from the same fate. But where the hell are they? I didn't see any trip wires at all. I flip on my light again, scan the ground and see some weird looking craters in the ground near the corpse, but still no trip wires. Fuck! There are certainly IEDs but what the hell the triggers are I don't know. So the path in this case must be safe.

 

2 Improvised Explosive Devices – bombs made from anything you can find

 

I scratch Bo, knowing he saved my ass and whisper, "Okay Bo, I understand. I'll stay on the path." I drop to the ground and crawl towards the back porch. I hear a scream! Stacy's pistol fires a few more times and wonder if she's shot someone else.

 

I reach the back porch, crawling past three more rotting banditos and see what killed them. The whole back door, door frame and even part of the wall are gone from a healthy sized explosion. Who the fuck and what the fuck did the guy do that owned this ranch. Whatever he was and did, he gave them a hell of a fight before the bastards killed him. I carefully check the porch just in case there are any more IEDs that they missed. The lights are on so that makes it an easy job.

 

I stand and pie the utility room. No one is hiding so I slip inside. I see a commemorative wall clock and I know right away what the fuck he did and have a good fucking idea how he did it! Thank God the banditos cleared out the house before we arrived!

 

Present – Stacy – Clearing the house

 

I decide that using the bastard bandito in the doorway as target practice is a good way to get better with my AK. I remember what Ben told me about how I was yanking the trigger, probably because the trigger is really hard to pull. So I start practicing squeezing it. At first I'm not doing any better, then, I hit the guy in his foot. When he screams, someone tries to grab him and I hit the bastard bandito in the arm with a pistol shot!

 

They go crazy with their firing and I try to make myself smaller as I hide behind the tree. They slow up and I start firing again – I sure am getting better with this AK so soon I will be A-OK. And I sure hope Ben's A-OK!

 

Present – Ben – Clearing the house

 

Having the rear of the house breached might have been a stroke of luck. There's only one door leading from the utility room into the house, and if this is like most American ranch houses that door will lead me into the kitchen. I slip up to the door, pie the room with my periscope and see it is the kitchen and is also empty. There are two doorways leading out of the kitchen: One to the side which must lead to the bedrooms and one to the front which must lead to the dining/living room. From the firing it sounds like they are all in the living room - a big tactical mistake (but not nearly as big a mistake as not covering their six). I could try to take out all four of them, but there's a good chance I might get shot in the process, so what I need is a hasty ambush and a diversion to get them to come into my ambush. I continue to pie the kitchen with my periscope, come up with an OPPLAN, grab some supplies out of the utility room cabinet and slip into the kitchen…

 

Present – Stacy – Clearing the house

 

The bolt locks back on my rifle and I need to change magazines. I fumble for a new one, tap it twice on the back, insert it into the rifle, drop the bolt and then there's an explosion in the house. It scares me and I accidentally fire into the ground about ten feet in front of me. The ground erupts where my bullets hit and scares me even more! What the frack just happened?

 

The firing in the house briefly stops, the banditos begin to yell and then there's a bunch more firing, but none of it's towards me.

 

What the frack is going on?

 

Present – Ben – Clearing the house

 

I figure out the prefect diversion to get all the banditos into the kitchen. I head over to the microwave oven, open the door and put all the shit I found in the utility room cabinet inside. I'm not even sure what half of it is: I know there were jars of paint thinner and other toxic smelling shit, fingernail polish remover, jars full of nuts and bolts, and I hit the jackpot with the black powder. I close the door, duct tape the hell out of it, set the timer for like an hour then slip down the hallway and wait.

 

It doesn't take ten minutes and the microwave bomb blows the hell out of the kitchen flinging nuts and bolts everywhere (some damn near hit me so perhaps they weren't such a good idea)! But it has the desired effect. As the banditos fly into the kitchen, and I open fire on the three of them, take them out, but ask myself 'where the hell is the fourth one'?

 

I slip up to the living room doorway, pie the room with my periscope and see the bastard in the doorway. I yell to Stacy, "Foxtrot but stay where you are and don't move. There are IED – improvised bombs everywhere."

 

I glad when she yells back, "Uniform, I will stay put but there's a wounded bandito in the doorway so be careful."

 

I reply, "I will take care of him and make sure the rest of the house is clear. You just make sure to stay exactly where you are. I've seen what the IEDs can do to a man. Also make sure you continue to SLLS and keep checking your six."

 

She yells back, "Well hurry up, I need to pee!"

 

I laugh and think to myself: Typical woman they always seem to need to pee, one more reason that Bo's better than a woman.

 

I dispatch the bandito in the doorway and notice Stacy had nailed him twice, once in the upper body and then blew his foot off. It was a calculated risk to take out the banditos in the living room before clearing the rest of the house, but I figure if there is anyone alive in the rest of the house, they would be in the living room helping with the fight. Still I am very careful as I start to clear the rest of the house…

 

Present – Stacy – Clearing the house

 

Shoot! I really need to pee! When the ground exploded in front of me, it almost scared the pee out of me! At least now I know what it was, some sort of bomb and I'm not moving from this place until Ben comes and gets me, not even if I have to pee in my pants!

 

I hear a single shot and see the guy in the doorway stop moving.

 

A bit later I hear another shot and wonder what's going on. Then a few minutes later I hear yet one more shot. I worry about Ben and yell, "Uniform!"

 

Ben yells back, "Foxtrot! The house is now clear and I'm coming to get you."

 

I watch as he walks out the front door and then down the sidewalk until he's adjacent to me. Then he bends down, shines his light along the ground and says, "If you walk right where my light is I think you will be fine."

 

I complain, "You don't sound too sure about this."

 

He says, "Well, I can't figure out what these IEDs are and what triggers them."

 

I point and answer, "Well I accidentally shot the ground up there and it exploded. Maybe that will help."

 

I decide I can't wait so I take a chance and follow his light to the sidewalk and say, "Turn the other way, I'm going to pee."

 

Ben walks over, starts looking at the ground where I shot. I drop my pants and start to pee…

 

Present – Ben – Clearing the house

 

I finally see the IEDs and they are fucking ingenious. I jump up and yell then I hear Stacy start complaining! "Ben, you'd better not have done that on purpose."

 

I look over, her pants are still down and she's fallen right in her puddle. I begin to laugh and she says, "Ha ha, that was really funny! And what are you looking at anyway?"

 

I turn away and apologize, "Sorry Stacy, I didn't mean to scare you. It's just that I finally figured out what the IEDs are but I still don't know about the trigger. Come here and let me show you."

 

She walks over, I shine my light on the ground where she shot and explain, "Look at the wood that's there."

 

She does and says, "Yeah it's got a bunch of holes in it and some red things in the holes."

 

I reply, "Yeah I'm pretty sure those are twelve gauge shotgun shells. Something must set those off if you step on them. Then they blow the hell out of your foot and legs. I found many more banditos in the bedrooms who had foot and leg wounds consistent with this IED. Just so you know they guy that owned this house was a First Cav sapper so there are probably bombs just like this all over the place."

 

She asks, "Okay, what's a First Cav sapper."

 

I say, "First let's get the hell out of the open and into the house then I will explain everything to you."

 

She asks, "What about our gear at the ORP. Since someone scared me I now need to change my pants."

 

We head into the house and I say, "First, even though I cleared the house, we're still going in like it wasn't cleared. And second this house was beautiful at one time but between my bomb and the fucking banditos I'm not even sure we want to sleep here tonight…"

 

Present – Stacy – Clearing the house

 

We move into the house as Ben had taught me. Once we're sure it's clear again we collect all the weapons. I announce, "Not sleeping here is the biggest understatement you've ever made. This house looks like it hosted a spring break party and lost. Now will you finally answer all my questions?"

 

The kitchen is the worst of all, I'm not sure what the heck happened in here, but there isn't even a chair left to sit in so we sit on the floor and Ben begins, "Let's see, a First Cav sapper is a combat engineer who belongs to the First Cavalry Division. They specialize in working with explosives. That's why there are so many IEDs around here."

 

I ask, "An IED is some sort of special bomb?"

 

Ben says, "IED stands for Improvised Explosive Device, it's a bomb that's made out of whatever you find. Sort of like what I did in the kitchen to get the banditos attention."

 

I look around me and laugh, "Well, if this is the way you cook, remind me to never let you in our kitchen."

 

He gripes, "Hey! I'm an excellent cook but my microwave bomb ended up being a little bigger than I planned."

 

I laugh, "If it had been any bigger I think you would have destroyed the whole house. After seeing this place I do think you're right, I don't want to sleep in here tonight but I do want our gear from the ORP so I guess we're going to have to hike back and get it."

 

Ben says, "Well the horses are hiding behind the house near something that looks like a barn. Bo seems to know about the IEDs. In fact he saved me from getting taken out by one of them. So I think we should go get the horses, head back to the ORP and while I don't like leaving the house empty tonight, I think we should sleep at the ORP."

 

I answer, "I just want to get out of these wet pants, then check your leg and get some sleep. I'm exhausted."

 

We safely reclaim the horses. Bo nickers like crazy when he sees Ben we ride back to the ORP (do you know how uncomfortable it is to ride in wet pants!). I head off into the bushes, clean up, change then come back and look at Ben's leg. It's looking really good. I change the dressing and he gives himself another antibiotic injection. We bunk down in our sleeping bags right next to each other and even though I'm tired I'm too excited from my first battle to fall asleep, I ask, "Shouldn't someone stand watch?"

 

Ben says, "I'm pretty sure Bo will wake us if he hears anything. Now let's go to sleep."

 

I yawn and say, "I bet you're right. Boy, am I tired! Do battles tire you out?"

 

Ben replies, "Fighting battles will do that too you. Tomorrow we need to go back to the house. I want to bury the people that owned the house, burn the bandito corpses, see what triggers those IEDs and also figure out if there's anything of value in the house or barn. I bet there are saddles somewhere. Now let's get some sleep."

 

I answer, "You're probably right."

 

Then I hear a low droning noise and ask, "Ben, what's that noise?"

 

He answers, "Stacy that's the wind in the trees, now go to sleep."

 

It changes, becomes more melodic and sounds like an elephant in heat. I figure out it's some sort of weird instrument playing a song and ask, "Ben, that's not wind in the trees, so what the heck is it?"

 

Ben sits upright in his sleeping bag. I do the same and he says, "Well if I'm not mistaken that's a didgeridoo. The aborigines play those in Australia."

 

I question, "I didn't know people could play real music on a didgeridoo and I think I've heard that song before."

 

Ben replies, "The guy playing it is really good. And if you ever watched 2001 a Space Odyssey you heard the song. It was written by Richard Strauss and is called Also Sprach Zarathustra."

 

I reply, "German for Thus Spake Zarathustra." Then I worry and say, "Do you think we're in any danger from whoever is playing?"

 

Ben laughs and says, "I don't know of many Mexicans that play the didgeridoo so I think we're fine. Besides, low notes like those would carry for many miles on a night like tonight. I would guess they are at least ten miles away. Now let's get some sleep."

 

I yawn, roll over, skootch my back against Ben's back and drift off  to the waning sounds of Thus Spake Zarathustra - and have weird Stanley Kubrick sort of dreams..."

 

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