Monday, August 29, 2011

"The Chopper"

Lieutenant Colonel Dale Erickson had been in the shit for six years. He’d known nothing but jungle, mud, sweat, blood, and death, and he thought about home and his sweet Darlene every second of every day. A transport chopper was touching down soon, but he had not be commanded to board it yet. He cleaned his rifle in silence at camp.

“Erickson,” said Major General Lance Rogers, “suit up. You’re going home. Get on that thing quick because we won't get another for six months.”

Erickson stood at attention and saluted. His face was a slate, but inside he felt an aircraft carrier had been lifted from his heart. He gathered his things and said his goodbyes to his men.

“Goodbye and good luck,” he said to Pvt. Scott Lucian.

“You have served your country well, soldier,” he said to Pvt. Chris Finnigan.

“You have shown great courage,” he said to Pvt. Chip Freely.

“Oh, Lieutenant?” said Chip Freely.

“Yes, soldier?”

“Remember a while ago we talked about that chicken restaurant in Amarillo?”

“I don’t remember. Can you please be brief, Freely? My chopper is lifting off in three minutes.”

“Sure. You've got to get this because this chicken is so delicious. They've got wings and thighs and grilled breasts, and every kind of seasoning you can imagine. Just chicken. Nothing but chicken. Well I just wanted to tell you that I realized the directions I had given you were wrong. I told you to make a left when you got off at exit ten, from Interstate 40, but it just hit me the other day, totally out of the blue, that it’s off exit fourteen, not ten! And you actually need to take a right at the stop. And then… Are you getting all of this?”

“Sure, whatever. Please be brief, soldier.”

“Oh, okay, no problem. It’ll absolutely be worth it for this chicken. So once you take a right you’re going to go about, oh, I don’t know, six miles? No, more like eight miles down the road. Actually, it might be closer to ten. Does that sound right? Ten whole miles? Either way, you’re going to have to make a left into this confusing little turn lane, and then… Are you getting all of this? Should I slow down?”

Lt. Col. Dale Erickson watched his transport helicopter lift off and fly towards home.

“Lieutenant? Are you still listening? This is going to be important, because remember, they close pretty early, so you don’t want to get lost.”

“Please be quiet,” said Lt. Col. Erickson, staring at the empty sky. “I am a vegetarian.”

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