THE ASSAULT ON STINKY GIRL HILL
We charged the machine gun emplacement atop the first sand dune. I was shot through the guts, horribly, and I fell clutching my intestines as they uncoiled from my belly. My three friends crowded to my side where I had fallen in the sand.
Private Mark cried, “Sergeant!”
Private Warren cried, “The bastards!”
Private Greg aimed his rifle over my head and fired repeatedly and then said, “I got the bastards Sergeant!”
I croaked, “Tell my mother that I didn’t suffer,” then I said, “Ok, I’m dead.”
I was ten years old. It was the last Saturday of summer and my father had taken me and my three best friends to Seal Beach, between the power plant and the jetty, and we were playing army in the dunes while he studied for his Masters degree.
My friends and I were all World War Two buffs. We had watched Saving Private Ryan the day before and we were all excited to act out bloody heroic D-Day death scenes.
Private Greg said, “Ok, so a grenade lands right beside us and I throw myself on it to save you guys, OK?”
Private Warren said, “How come you always get to throw yourself on the grenade?”
I was the oldest so I was the mediator and I said, “Warren, you can have your hand blown off,” and I gave him the sand-filled gardening glove.
Private Warren, the youngest, liked that and he said, “Aw-right!”
We fought hard and died dozens of times climbing the steep sand dunes. Our objective was the highest dune, from which the enemy’s artillery bunker commanded the beach and was slaughtering our landing forces. Private Greg had named it Heartbreak Hill in homage to the Clint Eastwood movie Heartbreak Ridge.
Finally we reached the base of Heartbreak Hill. Only four of us had made it. The fate of the beach landing was up to us.
I said, “Cover me. I’m going to circle around and surprise them from behind, and then you guys attack, OK?”
Private Mark grumbled, “We always have to do what you say.”
I reprimanded him, saying, “My dad drove us here.”
I circled around Heartbreak Hill to the withering sounds of heavy gunfire from all of us, “Thew!” “Thchew! Thchew!” “Bzjoo!” “Chu-chu-chu-chu-chu!” “Bkow!” “Kpew!”
I huffed up the final yards of the big dune and I stormed the top to find, instead of the enemy’s artillery bunker, a girl sitting cross-legged in the sand reading a paperback book. She was about my age.
She snarled at me, “What do you want?”
I was hit by the withering impressions of her curly blond hair, her bikini top, her cut-off jeans, and her tan.
Then Private Mark, Private Warren, and Private Greg came scrambling over the crest of the dune behind her, shouting, trampling through the iceplant. They were stunned at the surprise of a girl rising quickly to her feet turning and saying, “Oh, God. More smelly boys.”
As the leader I responded, “What is a stinky girl doing here?”
The girl snapped at me, saying, “It’s called reading, moron. I was here first. Go play your stupid games somewhere else!”
Private Mark said, “Hey!”
Private Warren said, “We don’t smell.”
Private Greg said, “This hill is ours.”
The girl marked her place in her paperback book and said, “Oh, really?” as she set it on some iceplant.
Private Greg said, “Yeah. And you’re ruining everything. You can read your stupid book somewhere else.”
The girl said, “Stupid book? It’s Camus you dufus. Get lost.”
Private Warren said, “We don’t have to.”
Private Greg said, “We are going to stay right here
Private Mark said, “You won’t be able to read.”
The girl strode right over to the startled Private Mark and she pushed him backwards down the dune.
The rest of us were pinned down by her surprise counter-attack. She then pushed Private Greg down the steep dune before he could reload his wits. Private Warren stumbled backwards and threw himself down the dune.
It was me and her. She glared at me and asked, “Well, jerk. Are you leaving or do you need help?”
I was not afraid. I was fascinated and I just stared at her. She cocked her head and looked me up and down. Then she strode towards me.
It was all in slow motion to me. Part of me was surveying her hair and her face and her bikini top and her cut-off jeans and her tan. Another part of me grabbed both her wrists as she reached to push me. I held her while she struggled. Then she dove at me and knocked me down.
I released her wrists to break my fall. She landed on top of me and straddled me and tried to scratch my face. I countered her hands, yelling, “Hey! Hey! Hey!”
She was smiling!
I was getting tired. I finally was able to lift my torso and I put my arms around her and pulled her down against me trying to pin her arms. Her hands were pressed against my chest.
She turned her hands into claws and dug into my ribs and began to rapidly clench and unclench her fingers.
I began to holler with laughter at her diabolical tickling. She started to laugh and she said, “Surrender! Or I won’t stop!”
I almost peed my pants and so I pleaded, “Stop! Stop! I surrender!”
She quickly released me and stood up. I laid there gasping with tears in my eyes but I could see Private Mark and Private Warren and Private Greg standing behind her and looking at me in wonderment.
The girl picked up her paperback book and started down the dune, still smiling, and she looked back at me and she said, “You can have your dune back.”
My three best friends looked from her to me in bewilderment.
I was shot through the heart, horribly, and I had to face it: I liked the stinky girl.
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