• Dzama

The General

The black smoke hung low over the battlefield and the smell was even worse than it had been the day before, when the bodies were still fresh. An urchin led a female reporter over the terrible hill of corpses, their shoes becoming wet with blood and gore. The urchin’s face was black with soot and his clothes ragged but he wore a sparkling necklace of about twenty dog-tags. The woman reporter was well-dressed with manicured nails and a perfect East-Coast hairdo. She had a camera around her neck and carried a small notepad. “He’s right up over the next hill,” the boy said. “Smells pretty bad, doesn’t it?”

The woman nodded. The sun had been sinking in the sky and now could be seen smoldering through the leafless trees, making the haze glow orange.

They climbed the hill now, having no choice but to step on bodies, the woman’s high heels digging into the corpses’ flesh. The unsteady footing didn’t slow her, she was so determined, and the boy went ahead, scrambling over the dead bodies like a little monkey. When they reached the crest the boy surveyed the valley ahead. “There,” he said. “You see him? He’s right down there.” The woman looked where he was pointing. “Where?” she asked.

“See those two that look like they’re hugging? Just up the hill on the left.” The boy pointed. The woman stared. “So many bodies…” she said.

“Here, I’ll show you,” the boy said and clambered down the slope, the reporter at his heels. They neared the body of a large soldier who was partially propped up on another corpse. His jacket was decorated with multiple patches of achievement and he had a certain bearing, even now, of authority.

“So, do you got my money already, lady? I told you I seen the General. I didn’t take his tag or his pistol. Somebody else must have. They’ve been gone for a while.” The woman stared silently at the General. “Hey! Hey! Sun’s going down,” the boy said. “I really gotta go, lady.” She snapped out of her trance and pulled some paper bills out of her purse. She held these out, without taking her eyes off the soldier. The boy grabbed them and took off. The sun was down now and twilight crept in, turning everything a blue-grey. The woman moved closer to the General and studied his face.

Then she knelt down and took his face in her hands, kissing the corpse deeply on the mouth. She kissed and kissed until finally she drew back, a certain gleam in her eye.

The General’s eyes popped open then but not with human life. They had a strange vacant stare. He sat up, moaning a long, hoarse moan. “You didn’t think we were going to leave you out here, did you?” the woman said. The General got unsteadily to his feet. “Now, come with me,” the woman said. She took him by his hand and led him across the field of corpses. When they reached the top of the next rise the woman embraced him and they kissed again. Now his eyes began to glow red. “Here,” the woman said, fitting some dark sunglasses onto his face.

When they got back to America, the woman led the General to a dark mansion overlooking a swamp. They were greeted at the door by a well-dressed man with a thin mustache. “You brought me the General?” he asked the woman. She removed the General’s dark glasses. “Ah, yes, I see you have,” the man said, a big smile spreading across his face. The General just stood there.

Then the man and woman moved into the mansion, leaving the General standing in the doorway alone, staring dumbly straight ahead with his glowing eyes, occasionally moaning his low, hoarse moan as he waited for his next directive.

Copyright © 2008. All Rights Reserved.

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