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A War Story
by H. Palmer Hall

He didn't like war, but he knew war wasn't about liking or not liking. He had gone to war for his own not particularly good reasons.
    He could no longer even remember the reasons. He grew tired of people who always asked his reasons for going to war.
    War wasn't about reasons.
    He was not sure what war was really about, but he knew it was not about reasons.

He had sat on a hill once, surrounded by hundreds of other men, no women, that's just how things turned out, but there were women in the war, they just weren't sitting on the hill.
    While he was sitting on the hill, surrounded by hundreds of other men, he heard a thump and then another thump and then a series of quick thumps. After some of the thumps, he heard men screaming.
    Mostly they were screaming obscenities. And then the thumping sounds stopped.

A few minutes later, he found out that his unit had been attacked by the enemy. Mortars, just mortars. No one had fired a shot. No one had looked an enemy in the eye. Glory, he thought, glory. War is glorious. I have sat on a hill and I have been attacked by the enemy and I have survived to fight again. And so, he continued to sit on the hill. The sun rose and he saw dead men and living men, most of the men were among the living, only two were dead. Flies buzzed around the dead ones until a detail of men hauled them away in plastic bags.
    He drank water from his canteen. He opened a can of rations and ate peaches. He smoked a cigarette. He had not smoked before going to war. He kept his eyes turned out to the perimeter.
    There might be an attack following the mortar attack. But there was no attack following the mortar attack, only helicopters buzzing around like flies.

About the author:
H. Palmer Hall's most recent chapbook is To Wake Again (Pudding House Press, 2005). He's puboished in numerous literary reviews and anthologies and is a librarian at St. Mary's University in San Antonio, Texas.

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