There were two or three stragglers who couldn’t keep up
with the rest. I said to the captain, “What should we do about
the stragglers?” He said, “Shoot them. Stragglers are often
captured by the enemy and tortured until they reveal our where-
abouts. It is best to not leave them behind.” I went back to
the stragglers and told them that my orders were to shoot them.
They started running to catch up with the rest. Then a sniper
was shot out of a tree. “Good work,” said the captain. Then
we climbed a mountain. Once we were on top, the captain said,
“I’ll give a hundred dollars to anyone who can spot the enemy.”
Nobody could. “We’ll spend the night here,” the captain said.
I was appointed first lookout. I smoked a cigarette and looked
into the forest below through my night-vision glasses. Something
moved, but it was hard to tell what it was. There was a lot of
movement, but it didn’t seem like men, more like animals. I soon
fell asleep. When Juarez tapped me on the shoulder to tell me he
would take over, he said, “You were asleep, weren’t you?” I
stared at him with pleading eyes. “The captain would have you
shot, you know?” I didn’t say anything. The next morning Juarez
was missing. “Captain, do you want me to send out a search party?”
I said. “No, I always suspected he was with the enemy,” he said.
“Today, we will descend the mountain.” “Yes, sir, captain,” I
said. The men tumbled and rolled, bounced up against trees and
boulders. Some of them broke their arms and noses. I was standing
next to the captain at the bottom of the mountain. “Shoot them
all!” he ordered. “But, captain, they’re our men,” I said. “No
they’re not. My men were well-trained and disciplined. Look at
this mess here. They are not my men. Shoot them!” he again
ordered. I raised my rifle, then turned and smacked him in the head
with the butt of it. Then I knelt and handcuffed him. The soldiers
gathered about me and we headed for home. Of course, none of us
knew where that was, but we had our dreams and our memories.
Or I think we did.