The shock of the punch showed on my face, I'm sure. But I would never allow my temper to be shown around these precious children who have seen far too much violence in their short lives. I turn and walked quickly out of the rickety screen door and towards the main cabin, cursing under my breath the entire time.
As I doctor the scratch on my face, I decide that from now on, I'll let the French nun overseeing the hospital wards to work with that fool woman Danielle. And by gods she better quit calling me Gabe like I was some fool cowboy puncher. I hold degrees from Harvard and Sandhurst before I came to my better senses and started working for the people and not fighting them. Now some shapely female is NOT coming into MY sanctuary and turn things upside down. Nope!
March 31st, 2003, 06:33 AM
Did you know that shaking the hand as hard as you can does nothing to ease the sting of broken skin. Putting a band-aid on it helps a lot, though.
Okay, now, go find the dude. Outside he's storming away and he has reasons, I know. So, I run and that is another new experience altogether. But, I run and my footsteps alert him to my impending arrival and he turns around. The look on his face is so full of warmth I shiver from the cold. I got it coming.
"Okay, Gabe, that was wrong. It was specially wrong in front of the kids. I apologize. I don't think it will happen again. But, come back with me so that I can show you something."
He follows me back to the cabin. There's hope for this guy, you know?
We get inside and I walk to the little girl's bed; he follows. I point to her and to then to the girl in the bed next to her and then take a few steps and point to next little girl four beds down.
"You see these girls, Gabe, but you don't see them. That little girl wanted a hug and I gave it. You know why? Because these little girls are the future of the planet. Not their country, not Africa, but the planet. They can grow to be women who give men a reason for living or they can grow to be tools for someone to use. If they can be taught the power they hold, just being women, there's a chance the human race can survive.
Women give life to this planet. Twice. They bear and nurture children; that's once. They love a man; that's twice. Because only loving and protecting a woman who loves you is worth a damn.
When a woman knows that's who she is; that's the power she has, there is no stronger force on earth.
If we just treat their body's wounds and send them back into this world, they'll grow up to be replicating machines, ejecting baby after baby, babies infected with whatever these mothers are carrying, be it AIDS or despair. People with nothing to live for make the rest of the world dangerous."
I see that look in his eye and I know another of his assumptions is running loose. Need to put a stop to that.
"No, I'm not talking about me. I'm long past that. I'm talking about these little girls right here. Don't tell me I can't love them. Don't tell me they're not lovable. Don't ever tell me they're not worth it.
Now, what needs to be done?"
I think I'm blushing when I should be fire engine red with anger.
March 31st, 2003, 11:45 AM
Originally posted by Hereford Eye
... Don't tell me I can't love them. Don't tell me they're not lovable. Don't ever tell me they're not worth it...
I let the woman see a small smile on my face. She took my challenge and made herself understand what we are trying to do here. I could have lectured her all day on all those very same points, and she would have stood defiant in front of me. But by playing the hardass, she immediately rose to the challenge to teach me a thing or two. A strategy of mine that works nearly everytime!
Cautiously, I reach forward and pat her shoulder once or twice and tell her "Good job. You understand what we are facing. Not only here but in letting the world know the sickness it fosters on itself." I take a deep breath and look around at all the horrific injuries and the broken lives and think we're fighting a losing battle. Without another word, I leave the nursery ward and go for a walk in cooler woods surrounding the sanctuary. As I walk I realize by some strange fate, this woman has been sent here. Now we have to find out why and use it to our advantage.
Walking while in deep thought, I realize I have lost the sound of the children playing. I look up and see the strangest mist meandering though my woods. I turn to return to camp, when suddenly I hear a high pitch squeal just a split second before the tree in front of me explodes. I hear voices and look back as I start to run to the sanctuary and damn! It's Nigerian forces headed toward my children in the sanctuary. I refuse to let these bastards hurt the children again. I pivot and run in a different direction, right into the mist hoping they follow.
March 31st, 2003, 02:06 PM
I disappeared into the strange mist just a second before another explosion rips into trees behind me. I know I have their attention at least!
Damn, I shouldn't have to be running from fit Nigerian soldiers at 64!!! The mist is strange and seems to be getting thicker, dampening sounds all together. I stop, resting back against a large tree, taking in huge gulps of air, trying to calm my pulse rate. It begins to rain. ****! What do you expect in a rain forest. But at the least the rain will slow those soldiers down as well. Finally my heart rate is slowing, my breathing is easier, my head is clearing and beginning to think rationally again.
These are MY woods. I know them better than the lines of my palms. I could stalk these woods with my eyes closed. Good thing, too. This damned mist is eerie! When I move, it seem to move with me. I stop, it stops. Hearing nothing, I let myself slide down the tree to rest further. Closing my eyes, I breath slow and deep, imagining myself above the mist, seeing the direction of the sanctuary and the children, seeing the platoon of Nigerian regulars hunting for its location. They're not getting near my children!
I reach down, yank the double edge knife from my boot and begin my tasks. I'm gonna have to kill some soldiers. I've been out of the military for 10 years and hoped never to use these skills again. But once learned, you never forget. I find all the killing materials I need, at hand - young sapling, vines strong as ropes, the sap of the poisonous bush. Yep, once a soldier, you never forget the tools of the trade.............
March 31st, 2003, 03:54 PM
35 years rushes by in the sound of the bullet crashing the window, crossing the window, and dying in the opposite wall.
"Down," I yell. "Everybody down. Get the children under the beds, get the mattresses on top of them. Make sure they can breathe. Get the water ready to put out the fire."
Must be something in my voice or maybe they've done this all before, adults move and children disappear under mattresses. So, there's the risk, suffocation and burning under a mattress or a little bit of cover against nasty flying things. I went with the cover. We'll see if I guessed correctly.
Don't know how much of a defense force Gabe's got. Not sure why the idiots were firing in the first place. Probably 'cause they can. Guns do that to you, make you want to play god. Till a bigger, badder god shoots back. Then you learn the truth about guns. You learn to respect the bastards.
I don't have one. That's not a good feeling. Have yet to hear return fire to the ocassional bursts of the bad guys. That can't be good!
Hey, you know what? Girls piss in their pants when they're scared, too.
March 31st, 2003, 04:46 PM
The mist seems thicker and blocks sunlight. Added to the rain deluge, I am soaked to the skin, working on thorny vines that don't want to cut even with my sharp knife and in the dark as well. DAMN IT ALL!
Why are the damned Nigerians coming into Cameroon anyway? The brief glimpse I got of their uniforms confirmed my worst fears - they aren't from the Christian southern brigade! My sanctuary is 45 miles from the DMZ! Wonder if they are after than dang female or the redneck that was following her. If so, how did they track them? Or could one of the more recent refugees have contacted them somehow?
And this strange mist. I think I hear something and suddenly its absorbed. I can't even hear my own movements. I work constantly making my crude weapons as my eyes search through the dark rain watching for any soldier who stumbles over me. But one thing, as a white man I stand out in the dark. Must fix that. I dig into the muddy black soil and smear it liberally all over me, and then roll in to cover my white cotton shirt and worn jeans.
Now I'm ready! I stand and realize I don't know where I am. The mist clings to me like a ghost, holding me solidly in place. Close my eyes and breath deep. Let my soul take over. Finally I heard it, a distant shot. Without opening my eyes I turn to face the noise and wait. Another shot from the same area. I open my eyes and silently make my way towards the sounds........quickly and silently.........
March 31st, 2003, 05:15 PM
Gabe sure picked up good time to disappear. Could use a little help here. At least this body isn't 62 years old. Small comforts.
The shots are getting closer.
Why didn't I pay attention to the surroundings? Why didn't I look for the fox holes and rabbit dens? Hell, he told us where we are, what was I thinking?
If I go out I have no clue where to go but it beats sitting here. Firing from only one direction so far which means there is manuever room out the back. Need some help.
Crawling through huddled people on the floor. Squeezing arms, brushing faces of children. Anger building.
Med cart over turned. Scissors and a scalpel. It's a start.
"Keep 'em down till the cavalry comes," I tell the people. Then I'm out into the afternoon and a mist like the one I arrived in. Maybe there is a god.
Fifty yards at a ninety degree angle to the fighting, moving quick but pacing myself. Don't know exactly what this body can do.
Right turn, twenty five yards forward and the mist holds. Rifle shot to my right. Head that direction, down low, moving slow, quiet.
Voices ahead, muffled scream and evil laughter. Have a bad feeling about what slowed these guys' advance.
March 31st, 2003, 05:48 PM
The mist seem to move with me for a while then stopped as I crept forward. Luckily the rain had stopped too and the sun was already back out turning the forest to steam. "Why the hell did I ever buy land in Cameroon?" was my never ending question! A noise close by and I froze, moving only my eyes, searching. Then I heard them to my left, an evil laugh and a scream. Anger stirred me into action and I no longer try to stay in stealth. I rush towards the sound. Just as I step into the small group of soldiers, a louder movement of underbrush on the other side captured their attention.
I wrap my hand around the nearest soldier, stifling his scream as I quickly draw my knife around half his neck. I let him drop like a rock and see Danielle on the opposite side of the group...the men now focused on her instead of the tribeswoman on the ground. Two strong strides and I take down another man just as silently. The fool woman is standing there defiantly and has no idea what trouble she is in! The next closest soldier heard the snap of my boot on a twig and turned. I was able to grab the barrel and push it away, opening his left side to a quick thrust up through the ribcage. I hear a man scream further ahead and see Danielle putting up a damn good fight with something metal flashing in the sunlight.
March 31st, 2003, 06:39 PM
Five to one and she's a bloody mess. No way to do this, no way. Scissors, scalpel, five guys, and me. Well, I truly hope my beloved remembers that I tried for 35 years, I really did. She won't know why there won't be 36 but I don't see many choices here.
"Oh, boys!" and I saunter out. Okay, I think it's a saunter but what do I know? They are impressed enough to stop what they're doing, although the obivous next in line seems disappointed. He's hanging out there so to speak so he might as well get my first attention.
This is too easy. All I had to do was raise an eyebrow and start walking towards him. No wonder women think that's where we hide our brains. Come to momma, little boy.
Reach out and grab and he's so happy he doesn't see the scalpel coming.
Then he's not happy and he's jumping around screaming, holding his crotch. The other guys don't really seem pleased at what I'm waving in their face.
Or the bloodied scalpel in my other hand.
Oh, well, it was fun while it lasted. They got their courage back.
March 31st, 2003, 07:46 PM
The third man just won't go down, and my damned knife and hands are slippery with blood. He gets a good elbow jab into my throat and I slipped in the mud. But I wait until I see his move and I flip over in the mud and rage backwards with my knife into the pit of his belly. All the while I am staring across the small area and see Danielle cut off...................JEEZE!
One guy is left and he is closer to her than me. He has his bayonet aimed at her. I grabbed the rifle of the man down and pray to whomever that its not jammed with mud. I aim and shoot. It hits the soldier only across the surface of his shoulder and he screams but doesn't stop. As if in slow motion, I see his finger seize on the trigger and she is dead center of his rifle barrel, less than 4 feet in front of him. She is dead for sure. But I squeeze off another shot but the gun is jammed and refuses to fire.
I do the only thing I can think of to save that dang fool of a woman. I scream "Danielle, run!" Real smart! But it does surprise the soldier for a second and she dove straight into him like a crazed rhino! Scurrying and slipping and sliding through the mud, I quickly run to her aide, but she didn't need my help. He falls dead with the scapel sticking out of his carotid artery.
Surveying the carnage around us, I look at Danielle and say "Who said you could go into our medical supplies?" and I walk off, head held high, chest out, like the heroic male that I am. The whole time wondering if she is pulling that scapel out of the dead guy and coming to get me!