The Assasination of Timaz Bendoll
I got a shitty feeling about this place.
What?, I said. Pour me a Coke, would you.
You were talking to yourself, said the Turk.
It was hot for damn sure. But where was I? In a field? Pussy. I was inside of an industrial smokestack. It was World Ward II. Or, as a good man once said, Manana I didn’t wanna die. I kept forgetting I was sitting in a bar with the Turk, a fat man who spoke poor English except for dirty jokes. I kept him company because I didn’t have to pay attention to him and he kept talking, rambling, half English, half Gypsy. I was thinking about ditching the bastard when I hear him say with a cigar in his mouth,
The pastor said titties? Yes, the man replied, tits amen. Ha ha what you think, friend.
Good, Turk. Turk Turk Turk. Tuck a tuck a tuck. Where’s you learn the word titties?
A Spanish nurse.
The waiter set a glass of Coke on the table in front of me and I took a long drink from it, felling it trickle down my throat and into my belly. It was a small relief from the absurdly cruel African heat. Wiping the sweat from my face, I though about a Spanish nurse. Aqui. Aqui. Si, aqui. It’s okay, I took care of Ramon. Zzzzzip. Bend her over the kitchen table, white skirt up around her waist, spread, quickly before Ramon returns, tell her about the ware and what it does to a man. About how the cajones swell up so large they might explode and no one wants the Captain’s nuts to explode, least of all me, and whisper in her ear, softly, almost breathlessly, mi kuerida, you are a patriot with a heart of gold and a silver-lined cunt, and they will pierce your nipples with the medal of honor. Your dark nipples, your breasts tanned like coconuts, a smooth, delicate back with long hair wisping down around your shoulders.
Oh I will take you for my wife, back to America. We will be wed and after that we will screw like crazed hyenas, red, raw, every morning when we wake up, before breakfast, after breakfast, ten minutes later, in the pool, skip lunch, during the news, in front of the windows so the mailman can see, pre-sundown, at sundown, post-sundown, once more and then we collapse from utter exhaustion and to the whole thing tomorrow. I will call out your name more that and they neighbors will hear it all and be afraid.
The Turk slapped me on the back and said something about a meeting, paid the bill and left. I was then sitting alone at the table looking out the window at the Arabs carrying baskets on their shoulders, yelling at camels and sometimes nudging them so they would go. I finished my Coke and left some coins on the table and walked outside the door into the sun. The only thing I could think of to take my mind off the heat was to drive around in the Jeep as fast as possible, letting my body air dry in the wind. I walked around the bar to the back where the Jeep was parked, put on my helmet, lurched it into gear and took off.
There was a stretch of desert, a long, flat runway of sand with enormous dunes surrounding it, just south of the village, where some of the others went to cool off the same way I did. Some of the boys would go there to blow off some steam by jamming the Jeeps full throttle with teeth clenched down one of the dunes onto the plant at around 80 or so for a good mile and a quarter, whooping and screaming, then put her in neutral and let it coast all the way to halfway up the opposite dune. The Jeep would slow and gravity would pull her back down where they would come to an easy stop somewhere in the middle of the sandy expanse. It was customary to smoke your cigarette at this time, as this was about the closest thing any of the boys got to ass around there.
I was to report to Lieutenant Colonel Saddleback at 1300 hours to receive orders. It was 12:45 so I had fifteen minutes to kill. It wouldn’t matter much, though. The only orders given around here were No Orders From Command. The battalion had been stationed on the outskirts of Waddan, a remnant of some ancient caravan outpost, where rag snakes got rich off us thirsty boys. We would go into town to drink and fuck, but the few whores that were here took off at the prospect of five hundred sex-crazed, drink-heavy mad jackal GIs trained in seventeen different ways to beat the shit out of everything that puts up a fight. So we drink, we shuffle equipment around and prepare for the fictional real war, we try to keep cool. Keep cool and buy me a drink and this Jeep can go faster.
I came to rest in the sand and sat helplessly in the sun, pouring sweat, sandy, I smoked a cigarette and leaned back in the driver’s seat. No clouds. No radio. Just the sound of the engine idling, the wind brushing my ears, the tobacco smoldering as I inhaled. It was a feeling I’ve only had at a few times in my life, the feeling that there is nothing else inn the world but what you can see and feel. Many of the boys had related to me experience like that, here in the desert, away from everything familiar, in a weird, quivering half life.
Over the dune came the sound of another Jeep. Then it appeared out over the crest of the dune, kicking up sand in a long, lingering trail, headed straight toward me. I watched it coming, trying to make out the two people on board. It was Private Sansibel and Lieutenant Colonel Saddleback. Bastards. The war, or non-war, I could deal with that. But madmen like these were beyond my reason. They were caged dogs. The breakdown of the war machine was to them a personal affront, and, left in command, Saddleback was a menace, sadistic and brutal. They pulled up beside me and as I got out of the Jeep to salute, Saddleback handed me a sealed envelope. He fixed his eyes on mine and I started to say something but he interrupted and snarled,
Just see that it gets done. Believe me I’d do it myself if I could. Out on the street in front of every one of these rag bastard Nazi sympathizers if God would allow it, Saddleback said, grinding his right, deformed fist into his left palm. But I have other things to attend to and you seem to know the man and his habits, a fact we are keeping at the very forefront of our minds. You will be watched closely. Is that clear, soldier?
Saddleback gave Sansibel the signal to go, and I heard him say wistfully as they drove off how he would love to be there to pick the fat man’s bones clean and victory dance something.
I took a seat in my Jeep and waved the sand out of my face. Tearing open the envelope, I nervously took out the paper and unfolded it. I was excited — this was a chance to get some action, something to do, some way to help the cause. It was a letter of orders instructing me to carry out the assassination of a recently discovered spy.
Objective: Assassination of Suspected Axis Spy
Name: Timaz Bendoll
Lives in Waddan, the apartment above the banana merchant in the Southwest corner of town. Was observed possibly exchanging classified troop locations for cash with known Nazi collaborator. Termination is in the best interest of Allied forces. Picture enclosed.
I checked the envelope for the picture and recognized the man as the Turk.
A week later and I was positioned on the roof of the building opposite the bare where I knew the Turk would be that night. Before I left the encampment, Saddleback had said that Bendoll may or may not have been alerted to the assassination plot. We could take no risks as he might try to escape to Axis safety. In my head I kept wondering if the Turk was a spy. I was not convinced of it. He was a good man as far as I’d ever been concerned. Crude perhaps, never a good listener, but he always had money and often bought me drinks. But any action was good action and in those mad African months and I had resolved to do it.
I had seen him enter the bar a couple hours earlier. It was only a matter of time before he would come out, and then there would be a quick window of opportunity to kill the man. He always had a chauffeur in a white car come to pick him up, and this was my signal to be ready. I lied on my stomach checking the sights and aiming the rifle toward the door. I lit a cigarette and waited.
After a few minutes, the white car pulled up to the door of the bar and a man got out and went in. I readied myself, putting my finger on the trigger, training my eye on the bar door, thinking about killing the man. The door opened. The chauffeur and Bendoll walked out. I set the crosshairs on his face, wondering if this was the action I had been looking for, and in my head I thought all I ever wanted to have was the strain of combat, to be in a situation where everything mattered, where and explosion would go off somewhere in the distance and a fellow soldier would run over to me and say in a hushed, tense voice, Standby, Captain. It’ll only be a little while longer. Marquez! Here you go, drink this. The others will soon here soon. We just need to figure out how long we have till all hell breaks loose. It’s an eerie fucking feeling, I know, but our calculations are showing some promising signs. We just need to work harder and stay awake longer. There’s no turning back and we can’t lose this one and fight again tomorrow. It’s our only chance, so look mean and kill as many of them as you can.