Sweat trickled down Henry’s back from the heat of the day. The temperature was already 89 degrees Fahrenheit at noon. His full combat fatigues were wet in the crotches of his pants and arms. His feet were wet from the sweat rolling down his body and into his steel toed boots.
He scanned the people as they clamored through the bazaar trying to see anything suspicious that might resemble terrorist activity. He saw nothing but the bustle of a crowded market street where everyone was trying to buy groceries and goods. He looked into the faces of the people through his sunglasses but the faces revealed nothing.
The commander of the NATO forces in the city Kunduz, Afghanistan had told him with his whole platoon they had to stop the suicide terrorists who detonated themselves up in the middle of the bazaar. The best way to stop the terrorists is by a show of force. The Afghan people see you acting strong and friendly it will go a long way to cement peace.
Henry’s relief was only twenty minutes away. In twenty minutes the guards would switch positions and he would go back to the air-conditioned convoy trucks and get water and cool off. The thought of an ice cold glass of water made him smile. He gripped his gun, smiled, and then strained his eyes to detect any sign of terrorist activity. The people bustled all around him. He turned his head as sweat trickled into his eyes.
Many people back home questioned the war. His own sister and brother told him he shouldn’t join the army. Now, he is a prime target for a terrorist and he has to look strong while he can’t even see out of his sunglasses.
A little boy came up to him smiling, “Hey, Army, do you want some water?” The boy held a glass of what appeared to be water with ice cubes. Henry wanted the water but he knew he couldn’t drink it. He wanted to trust the little boy, but he was afraid to. What if the little boy was a miniature Taliban fighter? Henry smiled at the little boy, but shook his head.
A cart rumbled past. Henry twirled around lowering his automatic rifle. The boy was knocked down and the glass of water spilled in the square. The boy started crying.
An old man came up and grabbed the boy’s arm and looked into Henry’s face, “Thank you for watching my grandson. Now, I can go home.”
Henry smiled and nodded “Yes.” Home? Will I make it home alive? Henry raised his rifle and scanned the crowd praying for his relief to show up.
His feet were sloshing in his own sweat in his boots. He asked himself, “What am I doing here? I am fighting for a people I can’t trust.”
Henry thought, “Five more minutes and my relief will be here, hang on good looking, there are some girls dying to meet me.” His relief appeared from the other side of the bazaar and began walking toward him. Henry drew a deep breath, “He made it. I can feel the ice water already.”
Henry felt sick in his stomach. He tried to throw up. He looked at his relief again. He strained his eyes then lowered his rifle then yelled get down. He sprayed his automatic at the relief. The relief went down under a flurry of bullets.
Henry fell down to his knees keeping his rifle aimed at the relief.
Henry’s sergeant barked at Henry 30 seconds later, “What the hell are you doing?”
Henry weakly answered, “My relief was carrying an AF-47 Russian automatic. It was either him or me. He was camouflaged Taliban fighter.
Henry’s sergeant gripped Henry, “Good work Henry. I’m glad you made it. Let’s get you back to the barracks.
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