S6: The Red River

“I will not think about it. I will not think about it. I will close my eyes to the horror that I saw. I will definitively not think about it,” thinks a man sitting on a drab green hill, staring at the weed filled fields in front of him. He is dressed in brown raggedly clothes, and his dull brown eyes are staring at the ground. “I will not think about,” he thinks stubbornly, however the horror of the years before comes rushing back. The bloody men falling like dominoes in the field, the sea of limbs and blood flowing through the jungle, and the screams. Screams. He tries not to think about them. In the movies he had seen, the screams had a romantic aura. The yell for his true love from the romantic, the yell for the brother from the family man, and the yell for the mother from the Freudian. However, real death was not like this. The screams were wordless knives piercing at the last strands of life. They do not show screams like that in movies. All of a sudden he hears Sergeant Gordy’s deep accent.

Sergeant Gordy was a boy scout from Atlanta, with a southern yap and a collection of farm stories. He was a man of pictures; pictures of his wife and son, of his beautiful farmlands, of his granny sitting on a rocker, and of pumpkin and blueberry pies. He was a good sergeant, but he was not cut out for war. After a day of battles, the men would sit around the fire telling stories from home. Gordy would an encyclopedia of anecdotes, trying to get the men to forget the events of the day. His entire face was a mask of laughter, all but his eyes, which if one cared to look at, reflected the horror of the sights before him. His warm southern heart had difficulty handling the screams of death.

Gordy had taken a liking to him, the man on the hill remembers fondly. As all boisterous southerners, he had an obsession of getting some noise from quiet northerners. At the beginning the man had shied away from Gordy, for cow antics and diaper tales were a foreign language to a Brooklyn only child. As Gordy told his tales, the man would sit by the fire feeling homesick and bored, and he would stare at the sparks that fell to the ground. However, one evening, a conversation ignited his interest. “Ah’m tellin yah tha rihva wuz bluhd reyd. Reyd az tha bluhd that flows in ya’ll,” Gordy said. The other men began to argue. “There can’t be blood rivers in Atlanta,” the other men said. “Stuff like that would be shown on TV.” The man, who had never before entered a conversation, decided to put his two community college cents in. He went on a lengthy explanation about how optical illusions can make clear water seem red. “Alright, Alright, yous convinced me,” Gordy exclaimed. However, this minor argument had broken the wall between him and the other soldiers. He began joining the campfire chatter every night, and he started viewing Gordy not only as a sergeant, but also as a friend.

The man gets up from the hill and dusts the brown dirt from his brown pants. Something had gone horribly wrong in one of the battles. There were men lying half dead in the fields. The grass was red with blood. Gordy had ordered an escape to the few men who were still breathing. As they were retreating, bullets smacked into the back of Gordy, who was running behind his men. The man had run back for Gordy, grabbed him, carried him to safety. However, all his effort was done in vain, because Gordy lay on the ground dying.

In times of peace, when loved ones are dying, people bargain with god. However, during war god is no longer around to bargain with, and one bargains with the dying person. “ You cannot die Gordy,” the man remembers pleading. “Think of your wife who still needs loving, think of your son who needs to learn how to throw a football, and think of the beautiful red river behind your farmlands.” Gordy looked at him, but he was too weak to speak. The rest of the soldiers had gathered around the dying sergeant, some comforted Gordy, while others also bargained with him. Gordy stared straight at the man, and with his last breath, he whispered “ Ahs nevah saw a reyd rihva.” Gordy died five minutes later.

The man drives his car down an old dusty road. “It’s time to go to work,” he thinks. He drives to an old brown building that’s in the middle of the city. It is still early, and the building has not opened for business. He looks at the building, the business he owns. On top of the building, in bright red letters not yet lit, it says “The Red River Bar”. The man smiles. “If Gordy could give me a red river without ever seeing one, then I can do the same for other men.” He unlocks the front door of the building and walks into the bar.

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