Full dawn would not come. I lay there, looking at my little Fusner-dug moat. The mist had stayed all night, which I now knew to be the precursor to the monsoon season. It could get worse. It would get worse. Just how in hell God would figure out a way to make it worse, I didn’t know. Only that it would definitely get worse. If I hadn’t lost my sense of humor I would have laughed. How about keeping every little bit of “Dante’s Inferno” the way it was written while adding pouring rain for twenty-four hours a day? I’d read in college that the highest suicide rate ever experienced fully by any organized body of humans occurred in India after the British took over the tea plantations up north there. It had rained for two hundred and twelve days and nights straight. Fifteen percent of the entire occupying British force committed suicide before the rain let up. Many of the dead were the wives of the English officers.

I rubbed my face with both hands, the repellent oil now a part of my skin structure so it felt like rubbing a soft lubricated pumpkin. I knew why morbid thoughts dominated my mind. I’d just killed three men up close. I hadn’t seen their faces, but guessed they were black Marines sent on a mission to kill me. They’d crawled across the mud flat, probably scared to death, and they’d died the way they feared they might. Killed by an insanely frightened lieutenant who didn’t know, or couldn’t figure out, what else to do. The fact that I didn’t care enough also concerned me. I couldn’t reach any center of my soul where guilt, sorrow or contrition should be. It reminded me of being a kid again after confession at the Catholic Church. As soon as I’d confessed my sins, then repeated the appropriate ‘Our Fathers’ and ‘Hail Marys’, that was it. Done. Sins forgotten. I knew I should feel bad. Now there was no confession. No forgiving Catholic priest smiling wisely down upon me, assigning punishment prayers. Just me, the bugs, the mud and my .45.

“Fuck,” I whispered to myself.

Tomorrow, if it would only come, would probably be the last time I saw the light of day. I doubted even the Gunny could save me from the two opposing factions, both now committed to making sure my existence on the planet was over. I tossed and turned about killing the men and whatever feelings I should have had, but didn’t. When I stopped thrashing about, my thoughts congealed back into my own personal world of terror. Thoughts of what discoveries the morning would certainly bring faded to backstage as a plan began to hatch itself in my mind. I grabbed my flashlight with it’s little hole cover in place, took my one-to-twenty-five-thousand photo map from my pocket and crawled out of my hooch.