Sunday, November 05, 2006

I was certain there was VC in the tree-line.
Dead certain.
What with my current state of
hyper-sensitivity and an
acuity of hearing surfing
just above the collision of atoms,
my ear drums sizzled beneath
the deafening expulsion of
breath over lips.
I was sharp—razor sharp.
Had to be, seeing as I
was the only thing that stood
between those Viet Cong
and the family of innocent civilians
dwelling in the house some
eighty yards behind me.

Edging ever slightly forward,
I eased gun sight through the high grass,
and established my field of fire.
Nudging my fire select switch from
safe to full auto,
I prayed my lone position wouldn’t be revealed.

It was just at this moment that my mother
opened the back porch door
and yelled my name.
I dared not respond.
Dared not let
a single blade of grass
waver there above my head.
All that commotion from the porch?
THIS was just what I needed.
Yea. A little distraction.
Let those black-pajama commie bastards
raise their heads one inch and… and…
And there’s my mom yelling again.
“Jeez!” I mumble to myself.
“Sounds like somebody’s trying to pull rank on me.”

“What?!” I yell back.
And there from the porch:
“Combat’s on!”
Combat?! What the…?
And I’m up, airborne,
hurtling towards the house.
The VC in the tree-line lower their AK47s
for they know there’s no use shooting
since the Vietnam War is currently
in timeout.

And before that porch door
can slam behind me,
I’m on my knees, right there,
two feet in front of our black n’ white TV set.
And there’s that music.
And there’s that graphic of
guns n’ bayonets
up there on the screen.
And those explosions…
Those glorious, glorious explosions.
And then… And then…
(pardon me while I catch my breath).
That voice:
“Combat! Starring Vic Morrow”
(It also went on to say “And Rick Jason,”
but nobody gave a shit about Rick Jason.
He was just a lowly officer for crissake.)
Naw. It was all about Vic Morrow.
Vic was my hero.
Course, I didn’t really know him as Vic.
No, he was ‘Sergeant Saunders’.
He was “the Sarge.”

Every episode:
“Hey Sarge! Sarge! Whata we gonna do?!”
Yea. You could depend on ol’ Sarge.

In case you haven’t noticed yet,
I was into Combat.
All about it.
Foxhole diggin’ that video spew of
ultra-orgasmic violence.
Gee. You don’t think that
maybe the TV network producers
were trying to indoctrinate us all to the fact
we should opt for a world of combat, do you?
Yea well, things change.
It’s a different world now.

My dad gets a kick outta
telling a story ‘bout how
my Uncle Bud sat behind me during
this one particular Combat episode
and kept egging me on about
whether ol’ Sarge
might just die.
Might just die and the show end
just like that.

“Sarge can’t die. He can’t!
Gee, Uncle Bud. Do you think so?”
Yep. He looks shot pretty bad.
And when I turned my head
back around to face the screen,
my dad and uncle
would sit there and giggle.
Well, little did I know but
in the world of Combat,
you don’t kill off your main characters.
No. Those who pull the strings
high up in the corporate world of Combat
most certainly wouldn’t kill off a
money maker like Vic Morrow.
But lesser actors?
Bit part soldiers?
In a phuqin heartbeat!

Every week that you tuned into Combat,
there in the background you’d
always see some soldier
whose duty it was to die
in that first barrage or artillery.
I suppose if he was lucky,
he did get to see his name in the final credits as
“First Soldier to Die.”

Course, if there were
a whole bunch of soldiers who
died in that episode, it
simply wasn’t cost effective to
go about listing all those names.
Kinda pointless really.
After all, they were just
background to the story.
Sorta expendable as
profit margins go.

So, say they updated Combat
and reincarnated it in prime time.
“Combat! 2006!”
Course, Vic Morrow’s not around anymore,
so they’d have to replace Sergeant Saunders
with some other name.
Get some steely-eyed character actors to
step to the point and
lead us all into war.

“Combat! starring Dick Cheney
and Donald Rumsfeld!”
And there at the end of the show,
credits roll with nary a mention of
the 2,817 extras
who walked onto the set
but failed to walk off.

And just behind me,
I can hear the voice of Uncle Bud:
“So Jack.
Do you think Sarge is gonna die?

Well, do you?”

©06 Jack Hubbell

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