One Soldier


Jerry A.G. Ericsson

© Jerry A.G. Ericsson 8/23/00


It was the strangest damn thing.  There he was standing on the trail, and there I was standing on the same trail.  He raised his rifle; I raised mine.  I shot first.  Strange, we were so close; I could see his eyes.  First there was life, fear, surprise, then just a second later, nothing.  His eyes just went dead.  He stood there for another second, his rifle dropped to the ground.  His eyes kept staring at me, then he collapsed into a heap on the trail and he was dead.


            It was one second of one year of my life, but it has effected me ever since.  I see those eyes every night when I am drifting off to sleep, and they look through me every morning just before I awake.   I see them for just a fleeting second passing in a crowd on the busy sidewalk; they appear out of the corner of my eye on that very same soldier, then just as fast they disappear into the crowd.  It didn’t bother me all that much at first I just figured it was the kind of thing that would go away with time.  They didn’t.  It has been over thirty years since that day in Nam.  And every day, at least once a day I see those same eyes somewhere, every where I look.  They still watch me go to sleep.  They still wake me in the morning.


            I haven’t told anyone about this for fear they think I am crazy; maybe I am.  Today it all changed.  Today I came face to face with my tormentor. I was on patrol and responded to a 10-10 radio call (fight in progress to those who are 10 signal impaired) at the Hub Bar.  Lynn my partner entered the door first, I was right behind him.  There on the floor was Hugo, the town drunk, and on top of him was a young Vietnamese fellow.  The young man was beating Hugo about his face with great gusto.  I grabbed him by the cuff of his neck and pulled him back.  He turned and looked me straight in the eye.  It was those eyes; those dead eyes.  Not one spark of life remained, they never moved, never blinked, just stared straight ahead.  No normally this wouldn’t bother me, and had he been wearing dark glasses or something, I probably wouldn’t have screamed.  I know I wouldn’t have shot him.  But it was those eyes you see, after thirty years I have finally stopped those accusing dead eyes; one bullet in each eye took care of it.  They young man is dead, but I know he was dead before I ever pulled the trigger.  I know he couldn’t have been alive, and yet he was just fighting with Hugo, a guy has to be alive to fight doesn’t he?  I am confused. 


            Then Lynn told me, the young man was BLIND!


            MY GOD!  I had killed a blind boy!


            So you see Doc, it isn’t my fault.  Couldn’t be.  It was those damndable eyes.