The Angels of Herron

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The following are excerpts from this engrossing book:

He slowly approached the mound located in the middle of the barn floor. As he squinted in the dim light, he began to recognize a shape. Maybe this isn't a pile of hay after all. He kicked several bricks away and cautiously reached down to pick up the edge of the tarp. As he did, several mice scampered through his legs and across the floor into a crack. The sudden intrusion in an otherwise eerily quiet and ghastly setting, scared the bejeebees out of him. His heart raced widely as vast quantities of adrenaline pumped through his veins. A cold chill ran down his spine again.

Reaching down again, he hesitantly raised the tarp.

"By, God, it is a car!" he cried.

He pulled the tarp a little more. A few more mice scurried off in destinations unknown. "You didn't scare me this time, you creepy little critters."

He quickened his pace of moving bricks and pulling back the tarp. In the process he evicted dozens of mice and a few rats. When he had finished, before him stood a beautiful two-door hardtop car.

"This is an old Chevrolet — an Impala SS. I wonder what SS stands for?" he muttered. Super Sport maybe? Yeah, I'll bet that's it. Cool." Chris knew enough about cars to know that this would be almost a classic — probably from the early sixties.

He slowly strolled around his discovery.

"This car is in amazingly good condition — a little dusty, but not filthy. I don't see any rust or damage of any kind." The car sat on large wooden blocks and the tires appeared to be fully inflated and in good shape. He backed away and studied the Chevy intently.

"How long have you been here, little lady?" he asked, almost expecting an answer. "Who do you belong to? Why did someone abandon you here?"

Chris' only other option, suicide, returned to center stage like it had done so many times before. Depression again overtook him like a dense London fog rolling in. "There is nowhere to run and nothing worth living for. This has got to be the day."

Over the next hour, he lay in bed contemplating his plan. "I don't want anybody to find my body. It should be easy to find a remote area of the woods where no one goes. The razor is perfect. It's a simple matter of cutting through one of the primary arteries in both wrists and bleeding to death."

He had gone into the woods searching. Searching for himself? Searching for peace? Searching for a place to die? He didn't really know-just searching-or maybe running away. Residing like a parasite on the back of his brain, lived his ultimate goal: To find a place to peacefully "check out" of this life. There would be no fanfare, no dramatic exit, no bother to anyone-just find a cave like an old bear, and curl up and die. He had been consumed with suicide for a long, long time. He knew that killing himself was just a matter of time and place.

Robbie struggled with how to tell Jeannie. On their first night together, parked on their favorite hillside, he reluctantly broke the news. "Jeannie, I don't know how to say this other than to come right out and say it. I got my orders to go…"

"No! No! Not Vietnam?" she screamed. "Please, tell me you're kidding! Please!"

"I'm sorry."

"Oh, Robbie! Oh, God, no! I was so afraid of this," Jeannie screamed while bouncing around in her seat flailing her arms.

"It'll be okay, Honey. I promise."

"You can't promise that! You could get killed," she yelled as the tears began to flow.

Their last night together was a crescendo of emotions and passion and tears. Their feelings were scripted right out of a best-selling romance novel. They pledged love that would sustain them until they were back in each other's arms again. Professions were made that, although they would be apart physically, their love would cross the miles.

They spent the entire evening on Baker's Hill, giving themselves totally to each other. They unleashed all of their most fervent expressions of love — love that had come into full bloom with their heightened commitment to each other.

Passion slowly overtook reason, reaching its peak with the proverbial birds singing, church bells ringing, and fireworks lighting their evening sky. They were shamelessly ruptured by the fire within them.



Vietnam War Soldiers

Robbie's Huey had no sooner touched the top of the tall grass, when he and the rest of his platoon poured out from both sides, hitting the ground as bullets whistled over their heads. The chopper bounced off the ground with its lightened load, and was in the air again, scrambling to clear the LZ without getting clobbered. A hundred yards away, a Huey exploded as it flared for landing, sending pieces of machine and bodies in all directions, and showering the nearby grass with flaming fuel. Robbie knew that young men like himself-men whom he had eaten breakfast with just a couple of hours earlier, had just died. He would learn their names later. He prayed it wasn't Joe Barnes or Pat Williams, two of his new best friends.

No sooner had Robbie fully digested the enormity of what had just happened, when mortars began to explode all around him, and screams of men in pain filled the air. A few minutes earlier, those brave men were whooping and growling with the macho enthusiasm of combat veterans. Now they were only flesh and bones screaming in pain and crying for help. Some were silent. They would never feel pain again.

Small-arms fire from both sides filled the air, and Cobra's again sprayed the surrounding jungle. Robbie did a low-crawl to the trees where most of his platoon lay pinned to the ground by enemy fire. Medics were crawling through tall grass toward groaning men, platoon leaders were screaming into radios, and all kinds of firepower was being concentrated on the tree-line at the other side of the LZ. Robbie continued hugging the ground and waiting for orders.

A few minutes later, the cacophony of gunfire was drowned out by three F-105 Thunderchiefs screaming out of nowhere at treetop level and dropping their load of napalm into the trees. The orders went out through the battalion to hold their fire. The only noise came from the raging fire still burning after the napalm drop. No more small-arms fire.

Just as Robbie began to think it was over, and men began to get to their feet, a whining sound pierced the air as several yells of "incoming" penetrated the thick, smoke-filled air. "Kaboom!" Robbie felt the earth shake and the pain of the concussion in his eardrums. Seconds later, with ears ringing loudly, dirt began raining down on his head. Another whine, more shouts of "incoming," more eardrum-breaking noise, and more earth shaking.

A couple of Cobras opened fire on a hillside a few hundred yards to the north, then returned to orbit the LZ where the troops lay pinned to the ground. The mortars stopped coming.

After much chatter among the leaders and screeching of radios, soldiers slowly began to rise from their prone positions to assess the damage and the situation. Extreme caution and fear was still paramount on everyone's mind. There could still be NVA out there.

As the right wheel tried desperately to turn the tractor, the rear wheels began to slide against the soft earth, pushing a larger and larger mound of soil ahead of it. Unfortunately, while the little tractor's sideways slide began to subside, the momentum did not. In an instant, the wheels on the left side began to lift off the ground and the tractor began to roll.

Tractor

Chris had no time to react, or to consider his options; it all happened too quickly. All he could do was cling to the steering wheel, paralyzed by fear and disbelief, as he tumbled with the tractor.

The tractor flipped, coming to a stop upside down with Chris pinned to the ground by the steering wheel. He quickly realized to his disbelief that he wasn't dead, but he couldn't breathe-his chest was crushed by the steering wheel. He gasped for air that didn't come, and his world was spinning from the impact of his head on the ground.

She began to read the telegram while Chris sat looking for signs on her face as to the contents. What he saw unfolding before his eyes, were clear signs of terror slowly painting itself across Jane's face. Her eyes grew large as saucers and her face turned pale, as a muffled shriek escaped her lips. Her hand quickly covered her mouth, now wide open from shock. Her other hand drew the letter to her breast as she looked at Chris with a mixture of desperate fear, disbelief, and sorrow. She slowly and reluctantly handed the telegram to Chris, buried her head in her hands, and began to sob.

Chris frantically turned the telegram right-side-up to read it. He found himself in the compromised position of wanting to read this telegram, but knowing that what he was about to read would not be pleasant.

Chris was caught off-guard, as was Donna at her impulsiveness. They both froze in each other's arms, totally lost for words. They stared intently into each other's eyes, with affection growing like wildfire and barriers falling all around in a great crescendo. Their youthful faces, flooded with slivers of brilliant sunlight, spoke volumes without words. They kissed again. This time, long and passionately-in a way that neither had ever kissed before. Young hearts were pounding in chests consumed with love-a love that they didn't quite know what to do with, but both knew they wanted more.

Donna was the first to regain her composure, in spite of being a young woman who had just fallen head-over-heels in love. "Chris, we'd better get going," she said with a quivering voice, as she looked into his large, beautiful blue eyes looking at her in a way she had only seen in the movies.

"Yeah," he reluctantly agreed as he tried to catch his breath. They slowly released each other and in unison turned toward the car. They were feeling quite awkward about what had just happened, knowing they had just crossed a major barrier, but neither had regrets.