combat writing badge C O M B A T
the Literary Expression of Battlefield Touchstones
ISSN 1542-1546 Volume 02 Number 01 Winter ©Jan 2004

Only Bad Joss

The first time I encountered a barefoot soldier in mismatched uniform carrying a flower-decorated enemy rifle, I thought that the Counter-Culture had denounced its peaceful revolution and adopted sympathetic armed rebellion! Some of our team wore mixed sterile uniforms with special jungle boots that left a footprint tread, and imitative enemy rucksacks, but none of our camouflage was so garishly exotic. He lay akimbo, still tangled in his pack-straps, pinioning the tethered chicken that was to have been his next fresh meal. The amber stock of his assault rifle was beautifully decorated by brilliantly colored and delicately shaped flowers connected by inscribed vines. It was too ostentatious to be a new style of camouflage, and too artistically expressive to be a corruption of hippie values (if perverting irresponsibility into responsibility can be deemed a corruption!). He was probably an art-student conscript or a draftee with a love of his native folkart fashions. We would search his pack for military intelligence, finding only personal effects, and steal his chicken for our own dinner; and then, with the same deliberate disregard of people too polite to remark on the obvious, we would try to forget about him. It was unusual for him to be travelling alone ... he might have been reassigned, he may have been returning home on leave, he could have been getting married. It was only bad joss. Xin loi.

by Pan Perdu
... who is a former soldier and VA counselor; this work has been excerpted from Fragmentations, a book in progress.