Young (ii of ii)

I stared at her. She looked at the floor. Then she picked up her eyes to meet mine. They were a child’s eyes. But they kept mine.

She came over to me. My mind was my eyes and nothing more. She was a beautiful girl. She was a girl.

She gently pushed my legs apart, and moved between them. She kept her hands on my legs. I couldn’t look away from her eyes.

She reached her arms behind her. I could tell she moved her hands. Her arms came to her sides and her blouse hung loose. She reached across her body and pulled it down one arm. She let her hand fall to her side and it slid down to the floor.

She put her hands back on my legs and leaned just slightly back. I stared at her. And not just at her eyes.

I thought about it. How could I not?

I was in a different part of the world. This was how they did things here.

It had been two months. A girl was a girl.

It wasn’t that unusual. If she was out in the country she’d be married by this age.

A whore was a whore. This was nothing she hadn’t done before.

She was beautiful. I wanted to. I was sure that I could.

People all over the world did this. Businessmen and princes. They paid a lot for it.

I’d never done anything like it. I should try it.

I’d spent the last two months risking my life. I deserved this.

I’d been fighting for her country. She owed it to me.

This was a chance I might never have again.

She started to rub her hands up and down my legs. They got to within an inch of my sex before I reached out and caught her hands.

I thought about this girl in a school playground, laughing and giggling, and then some old guy shows up and forces her to-

All my rationalizations were swept away. I was suddenly filled with shame. It was not a feeling I often had. I took her hands and pulled her up. I stood and turned her to make her sit. I reached down to the floor and picked up her blouse.

She looked at me quizzically.

I took her hand and fed it through one of her sleeves. I reached out for her other hand, but she got the idea. She pulled the blouse on and began to fasten it closed. She probably thought I wanted to fuck her with her shirt on. I didn’t care.

She looked at me expectantly. I don’t think she liked the look on my face. Shame had come and gone. Something else took its place.

I felt like I felt whenever I had an assignment to complete. This one hadn’t come from an officer. Perhaps it had come from me. Whatever. I had something to do. I’m sure my face showed it.

I took her hand and brought her to her feet. I walked her to the door, the hallway door. She pulled timidly at my arm. I looked down at her; now, only now, she looked scared.

I reached out and stroked her hair, and let my hand slide down her cheek. I turned back, opened the door, and pulled her through.

I walked down the hallway. I had to pull her along. She didn’t resist me. She was passive, confused and powerless. I thought I might have to carry her. She was, after all, only a child.

I came into the main room. The two opium-chasers were still out on their divans. Four men were on couches, two with long white beards and two clean-shaven. They turned and smiled at me as I walked towards them. Then they stopped smiling.

The bartender called something to me in his language. The girl froze. Her hand trembled in mine.

“Hey, you!” he called at me, remembering what language I spoke. “You! Stop now!”

I turned to him. “No,” I said. “She’s too young. I’m taking her out of here.”

“Not alright!” he shouted at me, his voice almost skeptical. “Fuck you! Not alright!”

“Fuck you,” I said, gripping her hand. “She’s just a kid. We’re going.”

One of the men behind me asked a question. The bartender answered it, sputtering.

I felt the girl’s hand freeze in mine. I looked down at her face.

I can only describe her expression as one of wonder.

“Fuck you!” the bartender shouted, his voice hardening. I turned back to face him. He saw my eyes.

He realized I was serious. He bent down to reach under the bar. I didn’t need any warning clearer than that.

The tip of a shotgun barrel was just coming over the countertop when his chest exploded.

The two slugs hit him almost on top of each other. He was flung backwards into his tobacco jars. I didn’t stop to watch. I turned around, and put my gun on the men around the hookah.

“Questions?” I asked.

One of them shook his head. Maybe he spoke English. Maybe he didn’t have to.

I gave the girl’s hand a tug. She started walking, of her own accord.

We passed under an arch and into the receiving-room. I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. I started to bring my gun around and then she was on top of me.

The girl gave a soft scream and fell to the floor. I gave a grunt and was slammed into a wall.

It was the woman in the chador. Her eyes were those of an animal. She scratched at my face and I had to flail to keep her nails from my eyes. If her mouth had not been covered I think she would have bitten me.

I swept her hands to the side with my free hand. They came back and she hissed a scream, inches from my face. I could feel her nails raking my cheek. But in that time I had brought around my other hand. The one with the gun.

I could have just brought it to her chest. I must have been thinking to protect myself from her nails. I brought the barrel up underneath her chin. I pulled the trigger.

My arm was jammed back into the wall by the recoil. I hit my chin with the gun. It smarted. She was pulled about six inches off the ground, and fell backwards. I gave her another in the forehead for good measure.

I swung the gun around, but the room was clear. I took ten seconds to pull myself together, wiped the blood from my face and went over to the girl.

She was staring at the ceiling. Then she was staring at me.

I reached out my hand to her. She stared at it. Then she took it.

I pulled her to her feet. She was limp as a doll. By the time we were at the door she was walking strong. When we got outside I was the one who had to pull her back.

We made it around the corner and I stopped. She pulled me but realized that I wasn’t easily pulled. She turned her head up to me.

I nodded down at her. Then, when that didn’t work, I reached down and tussled her hair.

She smiled at me, and looked, for the first time, like a kid.

I put the gun back in my belt and pulled her along. We walked at random for about ten minutes before I saw a patrol coming down the street. I flagged them down and showed them my ID. They knew that I was with them from the moment they saw me. But protocol must be observed. After all, this was a war zone.

I pounded on the side of the Humvee and they unlocked the doors. I had to pick the girl up at the waist and put her inside. I followed her. She slid over to accommodate me.

“What’s going on?” the driver asked.

I thought of about a hundred different answers, in various shades of truth.

“Business,” I said.

They knew better than to ask.

The marine riding shotgun picked up his radio. He said he was coming home with a wounded soldier. The Humvee left formation and laid a patch in the direction of the City. With the capital under curfew, it wasn’t hard to make good time.

The other guys would find their way home. Let them have a good time. None of them had been dumb enough to ask for someone young.

It was easy to get the girl into the City. Easier than I’d expected. It was hard to keep her with me after that. I had to call the Lieutenant Colonel, get him out of bed and have him come pick her up. “I need this, Lieutenant,” I said. He got the message.

Blood is thicker than water. Especially when it’s other people’s blood, and you spilled it together.

He showed up and looked me up and down and didn’t say a word. He took the girl by the hand. I went to see the docs, and got my stitches.

I was out before morning. I found the girl asleep in my bed. I pulled a blanket over her, then lay down in a chair and fell asleep. It was eighty degrees in that room. She could keep the blanket.

The Lieutenant showed up at nine o’clock. I slapped myself twice across the face and looked at the girl. She had sat up bolt-straight, disoriented, afraid. I walked over to her, tussled her hair, then got the door.

I explained in six sentences. The Lieutenant asked no questions.

“Two weeks home leave,” he said. “Make up your mind and call me by the end of the week.”

“And her?”

He handed me two passports. One of them was mine.

I saluted. He returned it, shook his head, and walked away.

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~ by davekov on 13 August 2010.

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