I poured beer onto my Lucky Charms while my old man looked at me with disgust.
“Well, sometimes you need a drink to take the edge off,” I said.
“‘Edge off!’ You just woke up! It’s a miracle too, being that you usually stay in bed until noon.”
“I never went to sleep. I’m going huntin with the boys.”
“‘Boys,’ that’s exactly what you are, kids who get high and can’t find their zippers to take a piss. You should’ve joined the military before you grew a belly. Maybe they could’ve taught you some discipline that I was never able to beat inside your head.”
“Pops, you’re in a wheel chair; don’t be too hard on yourself; I don’t think you have it in you.”
“I should slap you silly, right now, boy! 30 years old. No job. No wife. No kids. Not even respect for your elders. You didn’t have a war; that’s what went wrong with you. I had Vietnam and my father had Korea. His father before him had WWI. I guess we missed WWII, crying shame though.”
“You talk about war like it’s a good thing.”
“Ain’t nothin more natural than killin a man.”
“Pops, I got to go.”
“Son, when are you going to get some real friends? They aren’t warriors; they’re cowards.”
“I’ll see you pops.”
The pickup was red and the 4 AM air stunk of pot and pine needles.
“What yah packin?” Brad asked.
“.306 and colt .45. What do you got?”
“12 gage and AR-15. My scope needs to be re-sighted though.”
Clayton was in the driver’s seat, cutting off the circulation to his arm with surgical tubing. “Shoot me up!” Brad gave him the needle and the drugs dilated his eyes into black holes.
“I can drive,” I said.
“Me too,” Clayton laughed and he punched the gas, spitting gravel like bullets.
“Have a beer and a smoke.” I lit up and instantly felt smooth. I knew we weren’t going to kill anything. Brad would talk, while Clayton passed out. It was always the same. The only way we were going to bag a deer was if one ran through our camp.
The campsite was filled with fog and Brad started walking around like he had an itch in his pants. “So, what’s our field of fire?”
“Just calm down and have a smoke,” I said. We sat there in silence and created smog. Clayton passed out and Brad got depressed. “Girls won’t even look at me. I don’t have a job. Life can’t get much worse.”
Then out of the quite camp I heard drumming, far off drumming, and the whistling of flutes, in the peak of wartime.
“Is that the British Grenadiers?” I asked.
“The British what?”
A tree on the perimeter of our camp exploded and a cannon ball roll into our fire.
The air was awash with yelling and confusion.
Grab your guns!” Brad said. “We’re under attack!”
Clayton came out of his drug induced stupor. ‘What’s goin on?”
“Shoot first and ask questions later,” I said.
Still, there was no enemy. It was oddly quiet and then a shadow appeared out of the fog, followed by a long bayonet. It sliced into Brad like butter.
I drew my Colt .45 and pulled the trigger. A British Cornel, in full battle fatigues, died with an expressionless face.
“Get me a gun,” Clayton yelled. Drool was coming out of the sides of his mouth as he staggered into our camp fire.
“Here, take the 12 Gage. Even if you see triple, just aim for the asshole in the middle.” We waited, and then a column of militia walked into our camp.
“Run!” A volley of gunfire chopped the woods behind us and a lead ball grazed my ear. I picked up a camp ax and hurled it at one of the soldiers. He went down.
“Viva la revolution!” I yelled. Soldiers kept coming. We ducked behind the red pickup truck as lead balls pierced its body.
“We’ll be surrounded,” I said. And then the dawn broke, frying their bodies like napalm.
“Quick, give me your syringe!”
“What for?” Clayton asked.
“I want to take a sample.” I injected one of the fallen soldiers. His blood oozed purple and red inside the needle.
“Now we’ve been in a war,” Clayton said.
“We lost a man. He was a good golfer.”
“That was a nice eulogy.”
“Thanks, I thought so. Now let’s go tell my father we fought in the Revolutionary War.”
“You did what?” My father yelled. “You must’ve killed some actors, putting on a reenactment.”
“Then how do you explain the bodies catching fire in the sun and the fact that they bayonetted our friend?”
“You’ve been taking drugs; perhaps you were hallucinating. You said you took a sample?”
“We’ve got it right here.”
“Careful, don’t let it catch the light.” My father injected it into his arm.
“What did you do that for?”
“The blood of ghosts may stir my limbs,” he said. He struggled to his feet. “Now show me the battlefield.”
When we got there, my father walked into the trees. In the distance, the stars and stripes were flying, and an old patriotism called him home.