A Rock and Roll Firefight

    Rock and Roll Firefight

    I picked up this quote from Ulysses somewhere, I didn’t read the book. 

    “It is the Wine that leads me on, the wild wine. The wine that sets the wisest man to sing at the top of his lungs and laugh like a fool. Sometimes it drives a man to dancing, it even tempts him to blurt out stories better left untold.” 

    My favorite anti-hero fictional character’s bits of wisdom were recorded and passed on, like those of Sun Tzu, by Robert F Jones in a book titled, “Ratnose”. 

    Some words of wisdom Ratnose taught his band of mostly teenage outlaws were: “To ride and shoot and tell a lie, is all you need to teach a guy. 

      That works for me as an approach to storytelling. This story is a caricature of a wartime night patrol.


                  A Rock and Roll Firefight

    An ambush at night is a lot like a rock concert on purple haze. Just before the musicians hit the empty stage the lights gradually dim and the crowd holds its breath in suddenly quiet anticipation. Then a few sharp notes shatter that darkness and two chords in I know the tune. Simultaneously the light show begins. Adrenalin pumps as anticipation has become the moment. 

      An answering chord from the other side of the stage,  then a burst of staccato sound synchronized with flashing colors. 

     A thousand points of light. Some blinking, some in long arcs of orange.   Stroboscopic freeze frames of waving arms and dancing feet. The base rhythm is the low thump of mortar rounds landing in the soft mud.  The cymbals come in too.

    And, there is a lot a screaming. The maniac point man we call Solo, you know the guy, he’s always on full automatic, he hollers “Rock and Roll” as he opens up.

    I’ve seen this show before. I swing the heavy radio from my back as I drop, aiming for a place about three feet below the muddy surface. I feel the rush. I drag the radio to me and call artillery for illumination, screaming into the handset in a desperate whisper. 

    Fairly soon, but a lifetime later for some, a brilliant light bursts from high above, a flare floating down below a parachute, its pendulum motion creating a to and fro shadow on the low hanging clouds. 

     The action on stage quickly builds to a crescendo then, before suddenly, like with the smashing of a guitar, the show stops, but only for a short while, and of course the screaming goes on --- and I know there will be an encore.  It will be an old hit everyone knows well, and yeah, everyone will get turned on in the excitement of the beat and jump up and dance to it.

    Yeah, the show will go on Alright, do not doubt it, while off stage to the right, out of the light, and not part of the frenzied kinetic performance, the soul-less chickenshit mind fucking rich assed promoters rub their hands together and dream of getting even richer off their next big production. 


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