The Graceful Arc [a work in progress]

The basic premise of indirect fire is that the explosive projectile travels on an arc, with such a trajectory allowing it to land in a defile or atop a ridge. The result of such fire is often out of the sight line of the firer, but is dearly felt by the enemy. This means that, to the living, the results of destroying a human body remain as an intact mystery. 

* * * 
The 60MM mortar leaves its short, dark tube relatively benignly, certainly more so than the direct fire flash and roar of machine guns or rockets. But therein lies part of its allure. There is a small wwhump and as the round leaves the tube there is a slow, almost languid passage. Over this short life you can watch the effects of a mathematical exchange between propellant charge and gravity, the moment at the apex of all flight where one cedes control to another. 

You feel connected, watching the round’s rise and drop, and feel its certainty because it is the certainty of a natural scale. Not the flash and roar of a rocket or the futuristic flare of a tracer round. With the mortar you gain the out-of-body experience of flight and fall culminating with an exclamation point of dirt and dark smoke. And here comes the echoing refrain of a distant Krump, of high explosive and steel shrapnel forcing its way into dirt and rocks and maybe flesh. Slicing back through the air it traversed in its previous guise as aviary proxy. 

And if you feel connected to the mortar, you might also feel connected to its outcome; a distant but incontrovertible fury, as you explode and pass through these items. You smell, ever so fleetingly, moisture, dirt, rot, iron, the burning of fabric and skin and hair. Slowing down as the energy is absorbed by the world, you come to rest in the quiet and damp of the ground, a ground whose qualities are not that different from the overcast skies above. 

* * *

The mortar’s life is that of a rainbow. 
It is a pair of punctuation marks bracketing a whispered sentence that you might live to regret hearing. 
The mortar's life is that beauty – it is the wounding of nature.


The Space between Spaces

Hogboy's right, I've been letting this coast for too long.

This evening I finished Tim O'Brien's "In The Lake of the Woods" [see quote and reference in the post below] and it's left me feeling a bit unhinged and more than a bit alone.

My date with 3VP Jump School is still going ahead and I've been thinking about what it will be like up in the Herc or Griffon, when the guys jump out.

So below is a short, rough work of fiction. Let me say that again: Fiction.

There’s a rumble outside. It’s not as clockwork as it should be.

Metal on metal – a rolling rush of polishes steel reverberating through concrete and subtly influenced by variables: The day's humidity, the various passengers and the distracted guy carrying tattered reusable shopping bags waiting at the crosswalk as the streetcar trundles by. This sound is one of the sounds of living downtown, of which there are legion. Some are known, some guessed at and some are near-universal but only grant comfort when heard in familiar circumstances.

On a good and rare day, standing on the sidewalk a brief moment of emptiness comes on, grows out the humid air. Traffic ceases, squirrels vanish and even the clouds draw to a stop. If you’re quick you can run out into the street and bask like a Marmot on a warmed rock, letting the fleeting emptiness overtake you as all sound, all motion enter a void.

And then of course it’s gone.
* * *
At some time in the near future a ramp slowly opens onto a blackened void and the night air begins rushing in with a sound similar to the streetcar. At four thousand feet, the muffled reverberations turn from streetcar to freight train and the effect is an inversion of that moment on the sidewalk, as emptiness now comes from the fullness of a world you feel but don’t see.
If you crane to peer over the lowered rear ramp through those four thousand feet, the flickering and staccato lights of farmland are offered up: porch lights, dirt roads with flashing four way stops, the twin headlights of the occasional truck. It is a clear drop all the way down to the world of evening radio, warm coffee in chipped mugs and jogging pants worn on those same porches. A clear drop from one world down to the other.

The guys in front of you are geared up, walking like human land crabs, harnesses uniformly constraining, chutes uniformly packed. Other than height they are the same person repeated as if seen in two opposing mirrors. Bunched up behind each other, waiting for the commands and the changing lights that will admit them into the space between spaces. One after the other they fall off the ramp shifting instantly from burdened and stooped to detached and non-existent.

Following them out you’re hit by the conundrum of violence and nothingness. Is there a wind or is it created solely by your rush and pull, your relationship with gravity? And if you wish it, are you then simply one other element of that rush? Instead of a person you become little more than evidence of the earth’s rotation, evidence of the inevitable conclusion to fighting the world.

If you could speak would it be heard? This is a thought that quickly collapses into itself. Attempting to make words, they’re pushed back inside – yet more evidence that you just.don’t.exist. Shouting out the names of those you love, they’re held fast at your lips and just as quickly pushed back inside you, where they belong.
Repeating the names as often as you can while your body accelerates to terminal velocity.
Storing them up in your lungs and belly, filling yourself with these last unheard manifestations of love.
Though they are warm words that fill you with an arguable sense of living’s worth, they aren’t enough to arrest your descent. Though you can’t see them yet, the warmth of the porch coffee comes up to meet you, a last intimate and human sharing of a moment you thought long ago lost.

Where'd I go?

Hogboy was just complaining that activity on this blog has been slow of late.
He's right. Partially I am waiting until I have more source content to add, partially it's because time on this project has gone to a large painting that is nearing completion.

There's also the guilty pleasure of "Commando Cats" taking up more time than it should. But man, Cats+Soldiers... it's hard to say no.
See below.

However, I've also been doing a chunk of project related reading including a few Tim O'Brien books. I've quoted him here before but this morning I read this little nugget from, "In The Lake of the Woods"

"Other times he could see a man and woman swallowing each other up like that pair of snakes along the trail...first the tails, then the heads, both of them finally disappearing forever inside each other. Not a footprint, not a single clue. Purely gone – the trick of life. The burdens of secrecy would be lifted. Memory would be null. They would live in perfect knowledge, all things visible, all things invisible, no wires or strings, just that large dark world where one plus one will always come to zero."