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March Air Force Base, June 1965

Posted by on May 22, 2015

The call came late in the afternoon, that time of day when it is nearly impossible to see oncoming cars or animals or,
in this case a small girl on a bike.
Her mother had been having a smoke with a friend, talking about the new teacher,
about moving back to Waco when his discharge comes,
about shopping at the PX.
She wailed and told anyone who could listen that she just looked away for a minute.
It was a hot afternoon.
She just had one beer.
The kids were all playing.
Though by the time we drove up, most of the kids had been led off. Except for the one laid there in the street.
I remember that her mom was so loud and she was so quiet.
He eyes were open, but I cannot say she saw me….saw me a nineteen year old kid, only recently baptized in whatever church one goes to when one sees a lot of gore every day.
Who knew that there were so many kinds of bleeding? Who knew a year back, sitting with friends on the beach at night, a long-neck dangling from my hand, that only months later, a woman, a mother, a complete stranger would plead with me to save her child, would grab me as I was trying to do what I could, which was not much. Would strike at me out of fear and disbelief, trying to drive me away like a bad dream.
A man was sitting on the curb, head in hands.
The mother was screaming and ranting….wants me to/doesn’t want me to…
a few neighbors scattered back to stand in driveways down the block.
The sun began to set and the slow-turning lights from the ambulance colored us all in their red glow.

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