It wasn’t just a dream. It was a nightmare of war and dying. Divine Fury. Chapter 8
December 27, 2012
IN THE DREAM, there was blood everywhere. He looked down at himself, at the people between his legs, stuffing gauze in and trying to staunch the flow. No use. He was bleeding out. He stared up into the night sky and prayed. It was a prayer both to God and the U.S. Army.
“Don’t leave me here,” he said. “Save me. Don’t leave me here to die.”
When Steve Walberg awoke, he was clutching his balls with both hands and he had tears in his eyes. He knew he’d had the dream again. The first version of the dream had started soon after his medical discharge and return home to Bliss. After a few months, it went away only to return again seven years later with a strange twist.
Initially, the dream had been the way it really happened with him trying to stop his best friend from dying. The groin shot had evaded Ron’s body armor and there was nowhere to apply a tourniquet. With the medics, Walberg had desperately tried to apply direct pressure. But it was hopeless. The gauze pads were soaked as soon as they were placed on the wound. The femoral artery had been hit. Ron’s only hope was the operating room, a surgeon to patch the artery somehow.
But the army had deserted them. They’d gone in on personnel carriers. Some 150 Rangers to rescue the dozen survivors of two downed helicopters. Then, when they were pinned down by God knows how many urban guerrillas – the entire army of a major Somali warlord – the U.S. Army had left them taking fire the entire night. With daybreak, an armored column fought through the city to rescue them. But by then, 18 were dead and another 60 wounded.
Walberg touched his forehead and felt the thin 2-inch scar. In the panicked effort to save Ron, he hadn’t even noticed the shrapnel from the rocket-propelled grenade. The explosion had thrown dirt and debris over everyone. He thought the sharp pain and small amount of blood on his forehead beneath the rim of his helmet were just from a cut. When he had headaches and a seizure two days later, they found and removed the metal shard that had pierced his skull and lodged in the front of his brain.
The scar was a reminder of everything. Ron. The entire night. How much he hated the army for letting Ron die and, then, throwing him out because of the seizures and what they said were his uncontrollable mood swings. Mood swings! How would those mother-fucking pinheads like to have their best friend die in their arms while the mother-fucking army sat on its butt because it was afraid of the mother-fucking dark? See how that would change your mother-fucking mood!
Every time he thought about it – and it was dozens of times a day – it enraged him. It made him just as angry now as he had been at the time. In some ways, it felt worse now. His life sucked. He’d given up on trying to change it. He and Ron had given themselves to the country and nothing good came back. Just humiliation and insults. Meanwhile, weirdos and perverts and communists got everything. Everything!
Walberg fought to regain control of himself. It was still night. Maybe 2 or 3 am. He had to get a couple more hours of sleep.
The recent recurrence of the dream had shifted so that he was Ron in the dream rather than himself. He was watching himself bleed out…seeing his own death. But in a strange way it was more peaceful and less frantic. There was less to do. Less frustration. He was more removed. But it was infused with sadness and death.
It had made him think a lot about dying, about how it could be peaceful and even comforting. He hoped Ron had died somewhat like his dream. Gazing at the sky and praying. Praying was peaceful. Praying to God and the U.S. Army.
Chapters of the serial are published Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
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