Discussion in 'Vietnam Stories: By John H. Wilborn' started by Guest, Feb 25, 2003.

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    J. Wilborn
    Posts: 45
    (2/12/01 9:09:30 am)
    The hushed passing of the figure seemed like a temperate gust of wind--felt like a draft for a
    micro-second and then gone. Even the ambient insects, sounding their ‘hard-wired’ calls
    into the night, or the night birds hunting for them, did not cease their foraging activity as the
    ghostlike personage glided by. Off in the southerly distance--off over the South China Sea,
    heavy cumulus clouds seemed to be fixed and hanging on the horizon. Winking flashes of
    light, not unlike distant, reflected lightening strikes, bounced off the clouds--it was the flashes
    from naval guns firing what was called H & I (harrassing and interdiction)fire. There were no
    sounds from the five inch thirty eights naval batteries reaching the shore--it was too
    distant--only the reflected and flickering flashes when the destroyers fired their salvos. The
    explosions of the detonating projectiles was faintly detectable however, impacting as they
    were, in and around areas of the HO-CHI-MINH TRAIL. There was absolutely no firing pattern
    or rythmn for the naval guns--strictly random rounds--tonight probably the navy ‘tin can’ USS
    TURNER JOY--random rounds--thus the H & I fire.
    Navy Petty Officer Second Class Jack Apperson seemed completely at ease with his
    surroundings--here in this war torn wrinkle of hell on the earths surface--claimed by few and
    really desired by none. He had made good time since the tiny and secretive hovercraft
    had set him down on this pre-determined insertion point. The code-crafted message he had
    recieved earlier in the afternoon by way of the Embassy courier pouch, had loosely ordered
    the ‘whats’ for the fire mission, never the ‘whys’. The skillfully worded orders had even given
    such data as the dusk-light and dawn-light times---area overcast, wind
    projections--temperature gradients. ‘How to do and what needed to be done’ was left up
    to Apperson. Apperson was as competent as any man that could be called on for so
    clandestine of a mission. Most would ‘peg’ Apperson as a loner, but he didn’t consider
    himself to be any such thing---he was as gregarious as the next man when conditions lent
    themselves. His twin brother John back in DaNang--the one who worked for the civilian
    contractors--he and John were planning a trip to Kuala Lampour, Malasyia at their next
    meet--a time for some R & R --have some fun. Apperson had such an active mind--it was like
    the fast fowards on recording machines--always thinking--planning. This phantom like man,
    who to most that didn’t know him, referred to him as THE SPOOK. His tumultous mind, ever
    ebbing and flowing--recalling childhood memories with present day happenings--he
    recalled reading so many adventure stories when he was young--alone when he was
    reading, his active imiagination could conger up anyone--probaly to cast the character he
    was being this day. In his mind he was the silent tracker--the infalliable Indian scout--the
    blazer of new frontiers--with eyes of the eagle and the nose of a hunting wolf--every sense in
    his young body honed to a fine, expectant edge--to go where no man had dared go--no
    man ever knowing he had been there--like a ghost. Apperson coveted those traits so
    dearly that he was flattered when old J.C. down in Quantico at the FBI academy had told
    very openly “you are like a gawd-damned ghost Apperson”!! Apperson’s mother had been
    an Army Nurse during WWII--she had met his shell-shocked father in a Army convelesant
    hospital near their Wisconsin home. They had married and raised their twin sons. Now his
    mother worked as a school nurse--his father helped the school janitor when he was able--so
    many of the school children who knew his father, Mr. William Apperson, called him CRAZY
    BILL. This kind of behaviour from the other children had made Jack stay away from
    them--couldn’t fight them all. He never did see anything bad about his father --is dad used
    to yell and scream sometimes in the night--bad dreams about his Army days his mother
    would explain--Jack just come to think that probably a lot of fathers did that--screamed in
    their sleep.
    When Apperson was in Navy boot camp and was firing rifles on the gunnery range, a
    sharped-eyed old Gunnery Sergeant spotted his ability with weapons--his unique
    marksmanship abilities. Apperson was approached by a Navy Seal representive and on his
    graduation from recruit training, had new doors opened or him to a different world. Here
    and now, six years later, on a covert mission for his country few men alive would even
    covet, let alone want to do if they were able. His black smeared face turned upwards to
    check his bearing--sensing things--the smells--the sounds--like an animal of prey. He glanced
    at the glowing dial of his oversized diving watch--making good time Jack mused--in a few
    hours --a date with destiny. The human target named in the orders, had been the cause of
    untold misery in this war torn area of the world--perhaps someone more evil than this person
    would replace him afterwards--who knows--that was not for Apperson to reason why--he
    craddled the big M-21 sniper rifle in the crook of his arm and glided off into the darkness---his
    was but to do or die.
    Wilborn sends.