Serialized Science Fiction.

Batter Up
Tom Haynes

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shrugged and said he wasn't wasting a perfectly good chopper on some grunts. I guess the pilot had been doing this longer than I had, he laughed and said okay.

The .45 took off half the man's face. I swear the damn pilot must have stained himself. I knew what was going to happen, but we still dropped halfway to the deck. I informed the pilot of the change of plans and he swung us back to the LZ. I got on the horn and advised Control that the Major had been hit by a stray bullet from the ground and that we were going back for the platoon. They tried to wave me off. I told them that their man had left the prisoner back with the grunts and I hadn't heard the location of Saddam. I got ordered back at that point.

The pilot wasn't happy, but I told him I could maybe walk away from a tree top drop but he wasn't walking away from what happened to the major. He dodged some SAMs and got us back to the LZ. When we landed, I saw the men were pinned down. The door gunner's guts were spilling out all over the grass by then.

I strapped the pilot's hands down and put some C4 timed for 10 minutes behind his head. I told him if I didn't make it back, he better get one of the Rangers to free him. I wove my way into the thick of things and managed to bring back most of my men. We brought back the LT too, he'd taken a nasty cut from some shrapnel.

We got back to the base and the pilot squealed his guts out. I think things would have been okay, i.e., shooting your own was the norm in the Company, except their psychs finally realized they couldn't get rid of my humanity. I was in the stockade and the Ranger survivors were being debriefed. They were being obstinate, they wouldn't buy the blood crazed manic routine about me, they knew the real score. Hell, they remembered what had happened when I was their LT and saved their asses back then. The Company was going to sit this one out and put me in front of firing squad.

Unfortunately, they forgot about the LT in the hospital ward, well hell, who wouldn't, we all thought he was going to die pretty soon. He didn't, he woke up just as Geraldo Rivera was slumming through the wards, looking for a story. When the LT woke up screaming, live on national TV, well, Geraldo had to get the story of the Captain who had come back to get his men, the one who had walked into the storm of bullets to break the Mexican standoff, yada, yada, yada.

I think the LT was suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome, I didn't recall it that vividly. Well, a deal was struck and the second Silver Star was accompanied with my Honorable Discharge. By the way, I think it was the shock of me never going to make it to Major which finally killed the old man.

The Yankees wouldn't touch a 24 year old has been with a questionable shoulder. I did a couple of months with a startup in Boston and one night, in a bar, I bet this jerk I could hit a ball off of anyone. That jerk was the pitching coach for the Red Sox and the next day I swatted fastballs off of several of his starters. The last guy I crushed several off over the Monster.

He scowled after the first one, but he was grinning after the third - it was Owens, whose clock I had cleaned in game 2 of the CWS my senior year - he had finally recognized me.

Owens convinced the GM to sign me to a one year minor league contract and to invite me to Spring Training. I think they mainly did it for the publicity, bring on a wounded vet and all, show the nation that the Yankees were not as compasionate and understanding. The contract was barely more than I was making at the start up. I passed the physicals and quit CoolEdge the day I signed the contract. I hustled

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