There are twenty-seven states of the sky. Each one describes a single point in time when clouds moved one way, the sky the other. The boy sits under such a state, the clouds lenticulated and melancholy above him, mimicking his expression. His aunt is in the periphery somewhere wielding a camera. She angles the lens toward him.
“Say ‘Cheese!’,” she says. He doesn’t smile. It’s not clear if the boy hears her or even cares. His bright blue eyes are lost in the ebb and flow of worry: his father is at war—whatever that means. Instinctively, the woman understands this about the boy - his obsession, no—inclination, to ponder the vices of a virtue driven world. She suffers from this herself.
She leaves him sitting on the stump where she placed him just minutes ago. The leafy green of the treetop shades the boy’s pale, freckled skin. Camera in hands, she aims it like a rubber rifle and starts shooting away.
The rest of this story can be found in Afterwords: Where We Find Ourselves. You can purchase this book and others at our books for sale webpage. Enjoy!
The Bedouin Just North of the Border by Darin L. Rummel
It was a dusty road heading into the nothingness that is the Arabian Desert. In the next couple of months, the majority of the convoy traffic between Iraq and Kuwait would drive down this road. My captain was aching for a mission, an excuse for us to get out of the office and do some “real” intelligence work. There was a report from the infantry regiment patrolling the road of a Bedouin camp nearby, just north of the border. “We should go interview them,” my captain insisted. How could I say no?
“Don’t fall asleep out there, Rummel,” my captain ordered. “Stay alert and keep your eyes open.” She had never been on a convoy, and neither had I.
The Distinguished Flying Double-Cross by Rod Carlson
God, it was hot. It was one twenty in the shade but as the pilot in the cockpit next to me said, “What shade—there is no shade.”
Captain Harry Bass and I were in a tandem two-rotor helicopter on the tarmac waiting for our one lone passenger, some lieutenant colonel we were going to fly to Danang. The colonel’s Vietnam tour was over and he was going home. ... Suddenly Harry sat up and leered out the front at someone walking toward us, a figure in a well starched uniform carrying a regulation B-4 suitcase. ... “He doesn’t know you, does he? Of course not—you’re brand new. Get up, get up, hurry.” ... “Get in the back. Trade name tags with the gunner. Send him up here and when I tell you to, get in the pilot’s seat, make the radio calls and fly us to Danang,” he said and then studied my sweat-soaked face for a fraction of a second. “Can you do that? Of course you can. Go! Go!”