(Kill of the Great Gray Wolf)
(December, 1967) Who could kill such a beast as the huge great gray wolf of Wallace Fields, the same fields that were haunted by the ghosts, the dead who walked aimlessly, until Death won its victory back, and took them from their helm, but someone was left behind, someone with an ugly spirit, that was when the wolves came back, as if the demonic world got vengeance over Death for wiping clean the fields, the plantation fields outside of Fayetteville, North Carolina, it was the Winter of 1967 and it went into the Spring of 1968, the year young Langdon Abernathy would join the Army. But already this Gray Wolf, had acquired a deadly reputation, he had killed Cindy Codden, while on the Sanely Plantation, and ran free across the fields of the old Wallace plantation, and into the woods, over the back hills that extended the length of all three plantations, the Abernathy’s, Stanley’s and Wallace’s. It ran none stop, across 1200- acres. Folks said that the wolf, was a giant gray demon, not only a wolf over two-hundred pounds, four feet to its shoulders; deadly eyes, of yellow rustic marble, he stood still and stared like a machine, as it readied to attack it prey, like a soldier, at attention, then battle ready it would attack mercilessly; fangs as thick as a man’s thumb and as long as his index finger, and as sharp as razor’s blade, pure evil incarnate. He had killed the German Deceive Hans Gunderson, a well trained hunter, and it had killed-at will, bums and tramps, and railroad track men, down by the tracks over the hill, where old man Pike, had his heart attach a while back, unproven-but who else could have tore to shreds human flesh in such a way.
Langdon Abernathy, still in his teens, and ready to go into the Army, taking his training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, not far from his Plantation, had a dream, he wasn’t sure if it was a gift, or a sentence, a gift to test his courage, or a death sentence. But he saw the beast, the huge gray wolf, he saw his domicile, it was in the woods, under a great tree, under the trees roots, the hole was as big as their stove, in it he slept, around him, human, rabbit, squirrel, every kind bone, one could find in a living and breathing, mammalian forest, everything of that nature was among his collection. He was a loner; no other beast dare keep him company. Langdon saw all this, wrote it in his diary, one he put under his mattress, for future reference (that is why this story can be told).
He Sat up, 2:00 AM, up on his bed, sat looking out his window, waited, an hour passed, he herd a noise that indicated he had company, he prayed, “Oh, Lord give me strength to rid the fields here if this killer beast comes,” Langdon was a man of faith, sometimes reckless faith, and I suppose his guardian angel had a enduring journey with him, and he then stopped praying, walked to the window, he heard footsteps, on the side by the house, then on the wooden porch, up its steps, back and forth on its porch, like it was for Cindy Codden, who fell to sleep on the Stanley porch one evening, and got torn to shreds by this lone beast. Now muddy and chilled, it was hungry; it needed flesh, protein, and blood. Langdon asked himself, if he was afraid, and he was, but wasn’t. Something a man never knows until the very moment of action; for he got up, walked silently towards the sounds that reverberated through the wood into the floor of the house, the wood, not Langdon, trembled. An animal knows when you fear him, and the wolf has its scent in it toes, he now could smell the flesh nearing him, he could actually hear Langdon’s heart beat, and Langdon could hear the beast’s difficulty in breathing, it was hungry, weakened from the cold and hunger, perhaps weakness took possession of him, though Langdon, but if it had, he would have to grab an opportunity, he noticed the beast through the window, it closed its eyes for a second, as if to refocus, perhaps perplexed in that his pry had turned into a hunter, he knew that now, and perhaps the beast was sincerely happy about this, unspeakably glad I might say, it had a thinking equal: one by my necessity and instinct, born with the killer in him, the other by, a notion he was a born soldier, for war, or at least so his brain told him, both having courage, and he too was born with thirst for blood.
Langdon picked up a lamp, heavy lamp, dropped it, the animal didn’t move, but he heard noise upstairs, in his father’s room, perhaps he was waking up. Thus, he had to kill the beast quick, or surprise would no longer be on his side, and the beast would fight out of necessity, not out of anger, and angry he was not at the moment, necessity was better, he was hungry needed flesh. Langdon started to think, a huge thought came to mind, “I don’t have a weapon, am I still somewhat in a sleeping mode!”
The father was upstairs, unable to think straight, he put on his slippers automatically to see what that noise was, half in a daze, asleep. His mother, Caroline, has pulled her husband by his pajamas, “Get back in bed,” she says, “Langdon’s taking care of it,” she didn’t know why she said that, nor did she know the half of it, had she known, she never would have said what she said, but it perhaps saved his life, for had he gone down those steps, the beast would have charged through that big bay window he was staring through, saw the helpless man, and window or not, he would have charged through wood and glass and over furniture, to get an arm or more.
Langdon drew his arm quickly back, felt the heavy metal stand up ashtray, iron with heavy glass in the middle of it, nine pounds of iron, with a dragon at the top end of it, extended out like a wolf’s face, long and slender, he put his fingers around it, tightened them, and was ready to do battle with the wolf, but he got surprised, the wolf sensed something, not fear not defeat, but something, perhaps some kind of unsolved danger that makes a man, or beast stop whatever his evil intentions might be, sometimes even God puts a giant in front of you so you do not do, what evil tells you to do, and the beast ran off, off into the woods, across the fields and into the wooded domain of his.
And although conscious effort was made to figure this out, Langdon dumfounded for an explanation, mumbled aloud: ‘I got to be more prepared next time, the creature will return, he has my scent, and knows the hunt better than all of us.’
It was a week later when Langdon had another dream, he was in the arctic circle deep near Barrow, Alaska, it was a hundred years ago, maybe more, Eskimos were all about, living in the wild and he was with a group of nomads, and they killed wolfs, and seals for food, and polar bears, and he got thinking, and thinking, and woke up: ‘blood’ he said, ‘excessive blood’ he mumbled, ‘it is the blood that the wolf craves, like a man craves alcohol, or the fat man food, or the drug addict, dope, or the gambler, the compulsion to chase his loss, and the man-whore, women; therefore, it is the wolf who craves blood. And he remembered his dream, it was a blood dream.
He looked out his window, there was the lone wolf again, as huge as ever, he looked a the clock, it was 2.15 AM, he knew, or was compelled to think so, business with him would not be over until one, he or the wolf were dead. And so he devised his plan:
He went out that morning, 8:00 AM, and with his 22-caliber rifle, shot him a rabbit, it was a cold, cold day, for North Carolina, it was abnormally cold, it was 15 F, with two inches of snow. For Langdon, it was perfect weather for his plan. He went into the kitchen, got out a slim butcher’s knife, cut the rabbit open, drained his blood, put it in the freezer to chill it, poured blood over the blade of the knife, took the handle off, broke that part of the stainless steel knife, and let the blood freeze on the knife, then, in another hour, he dipped the razor sharp blade into blood again, and froze it, it froze in a matter of minutes now, and he dip it again and again, and again, until he had a popsicle stick, similar to a popsicle with a thin knife in its center, and the smell of blood reeked from the popsicle. There were perhaps fifty layers of blood over that knife, and it took all morning to freeze it, into the afternoon, but the blade was hidden well within the bloodsicle.
That night, Langdon hid the bloodsicle out near a tree under an inch of snow by the house. The wolf came that night, Langdon never went to sleep, he waited for the wolf, and he came at 2:10 AM, but his sense of smell took his mind away from Langdon, and found the bloodsicle, and licking it, he found it profoundly appealing, the taste of blood was more powerful than the taste for the game of the hunt; Langdon noticed he enjoyed every second, every lick of the bloodsicle, he couldn’t get enough, and the weather was numbing to his tongue, he couldn’t really feel his tongue after a while, because it was exposed for such a long time in the process of licking. The frozen bloodsicle was slow in belting on his tongue, and then the knife became exposed, but he kept licking, unknowing the sharpness that penetrated his numb tongue, and he started bleeding from his own tongue, and tasting his own warm blood upon the cold blood-all being blended into one, and it all was so enticing the brain did not decipher what was happening, he was getting an endorphin rush, better than morphine; consequently, it cut and cut and cut into his tongue, until blood flowed freely, yet the wolf did not move, thrilled he had found such a magical unending pleasure, natural sense of well being; now the knife was fully exposed, but it was too late, the beast collapsed on top of the knife. And there he would lay for all to see in the morning, and no one lost anymore sleep in the fields of the three plantations, and Langdon, went into the Army, to find his war, and that is another story.
(No Enemy to Kill)
(Spring, 1968) Roofless, clear and roofless the sky seemed, no heavy clouds weighted down with water, no heavy air, a faint mist in the far off horizon, a light whisper to the wind, and a silent morgue, for the infantry soldiers, at base camp.
Gunshots, a burst-as though the world was on fire, the south China Seas itself a hundred miles away, immune to gunfire.
Langdon was sentry learning against the wall, a private, sandbags all round him, outside the main encampment, along the outer perimeter, a rainforest within sight perhaps three hundred yards away. He was an infantryman in Vietnam War, a small hard faced soldier, he took off his steel helmet, and shot wildly into the jungle terrain, several bodies feel out. He had taken a chance there were VC (Vietcong) within the brush, and his calculations were right, but later on that day, when he made his report, the Colonel, asked,
“What if you would have been wrong, what if it was villagers coming or going to their villages, and perhaps an American soldier with one of his Vietnamese wives?”
It was a lot of ‘What ifs’ Langdon thought, for a soldier that was correct in shooting, but the Colonel didn’t see it that way.
“Do you like the infantry?” asked the Colonel.
“Very much so,” remarked Private Langdon Abernathy, “that is why I joined the Army, to kill the enemy, what else is a soldier suppose to do, you train him to kill, teach him jungle training and spend all the tax payers money, so people like me can kill the enemy.”
“There are about 3% of soldiers in any one man’s army,” said the Colonel, “that like to kill for the kill. That when they kill they feel nothing; it is just, as it is blood-glut, excessive blood they want; they don’t sense their own death, like wolf you might say, or a lion, they-likened to the wolf, like the smell of blood, victory, and war seems to ease their inners. Like you private. “
Well, the private didn’t know if the Colonel was right or wrong, he only knew what he always knew, he wanted to be a fighting soldier.
Even at that very minute when Private Abernathy was talking to the Colonel (and thinking what he was thinking) in his office, the Colonel noticed the private’s rifle was cocked and loaded and the safety was off. A true soldier, thought the Colonel, waiting for the enemy to come even in his excessively safe office.
“It worries me,” said the Colonel, “you have a spotless record, and come from good southern folk, but the sum of this is, the battalion is rally over its quota, over strength, with men, and the 611th Ordnance Company on Cam Ranh Bay, our support unit for ammo, needs a cook, and I have to send them several men, some for rest and recuperation from the bush, and a cook, and you private will be that cook, and I will-for your efforts, promote you to Private First Class.”
The Colonel knew that was overkill for the young soldier, but he was wanting to get that star, make Brigadier General before he left Vietnam, and with a wild loose cannon, like PFC Langdon Abernathy, it might just not happen, he might just get in the way.
I suppose if Private First Class Langdon Abernathy, those first months in the Army, and in Vietnam, had learned anything, he learned this: there are those folks who think up war, do it for a reason of course, in the process, they invent what they call a necessity, the enemy, the folks we have to fight, say it is in the needs of the nation. It is all for future reference though for after the war, they are the leaders of the nation, the presidents, and mayors, and senators, and policy makers. They create war, and yell peace, but peace is just a word, they want the public to believe in tomorrow, and tomorrow and still another tomorrow, let them ponder on it, they will and they do, but the war continues as planned (a good example would be in the Middle East, Israel and its neighbors). The gift of war, is to give the people hope for peace, a false hope of course; then they are told we must save the world, their world, others use martyrdom for their cause, it is all inflexible pride and underneath pride is destruction, and they yell, what a glorious war, the devil got his due, and so did the future leaders of a nations, and in between all this, blood and its scent, poured excessively over the thirsty.