How Five Men Died

Raphael stepped on a land mine in the early morning. We spent two hours trying to find his wedding ring. It occurred to me that the last thing he and I talked about was how we both admired Stephen King novels.

Akhil took shrapnel in the throat when a car bomb went off about ten yards from him. He was gone after five minutes. Tyler leaned over him, and gave him a kiss on the cheek to say goodbye.

Tyler was hit by friendly fire when we got into it with some rebels hiding behind a light blue van. He had disappeared in the middle of the skirmish and we all thought he lost his nerve. When he reappeared a few yards from the van with the guys behind it, we mistook him for the enemy. Tyler didn’t have any last words, so Tony made up some for him (“To tell his ma later.”)

A rebel shot Pete in the leg and in the chest when we were out in the middle of nowhere and he bled out later. I killed the shooter myself. Before he died, the rebel screamed, “Screw you, American pizza boys!”

A car bomb took Luis in the middle of our patrol at 5 AM. Tony survived, but lost two fingers. Everyone knew that whenever he patrolled, Luis carried around a small toy snowman in his pocket for luck. Later on, I found the snowman back at camp. Luis had forgotten to bring it. Most of the guys believed that it was just a coincidence, but I pocketed it just in case it wasn’t.

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