[The following short story, “Doing Delilah,” was published by Midwestern Literary Magazine in November 2010, and subsequently in their volume, Bearing North. I must admit I rushed the story to publication before it was truly ready. The beginning needed some work, and you can tell I have never myself seen battle. Some of it is based on accounts I have heard from those who have seen battle. I keep this story as a learning experience. I figured I could share it as one too.]
by Caleb Coy
“Can’t you see, oh, can’t you see,
what that woman— she’s been doing to me?”
Was a long, hot day, and there was fighting through every minute of it. We had a whole battalion stationed just outside Fallujah to secure the rail yards North of the city. It took about two days, even with help from the Iraqis. The snipers and booby traps were the worst part for us. Heavy infantry poured into the city. Infantry. Infants. Some mother’s baby each guy was. Patrolling in an unarmed jeep and thinking about his own babies. His own infants.
I could talk about it all day. But that’s one of the unwritten rules. You don’t talk about it. You don’t talk about the fighting and you don’t talk about yourself. I could talk about myself anyway. But I’m not. I’m going to do what any good, self-respecting man does when he returns. I’m going to tell stories about someone else. I’m going to talk about Special Officer Martin Caporaso.
But to get to him I have to start with myself. Grew up in Virginia. That’s the funny thing. People always hear about soldiers coming from the armpit of some southern state—that, or Ohio or Indiana. Like it’s the all-American kid from Ohio, Indiana, or some hole-in-the-wall town in Tennessee. That’s where Martin Caporaso was from. Tennessee. Me, I was born in Virginia. It’s no armpit.
Back home I wasn’t much of anything like Martin Caporaso was. I wasn’t a quarterback. I wasn’t on the homecoming court. Didn’t sleep with the Queen and her two friends, start my own indie band, or manage to out-drink every adult in the county. I worked at an arcade and had a girlfriend for two weeks. What did I do for fun? I played lazer tag after work until the glowing vests needed recharging. I didn’t have it born in me to be a soldier, but I thought I would be good at shooting things. Without a thought about college I enlisted, and the next thing I knew the towers fell and we were at war. I had two weeks before going to Fallujah.