Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: Five-Man Killer

There is an audio edition of today's monologue. To listen either click the triangle on the left to begin streaming or click this text to download the MP3.

A five-man killer. All these people look at my like some legend, some badass that will save them. But I’m not. I didn’t sign up for the army; I was drafted, and shoved into the front line. There was nowhere to run with the legion on either side and behind me. I’m not brave. I keep waking up hearing men that aren't there crying to go home. I can’t do this. Don’t expect things from me, alright?

The first two. They came in waves. In rows of shoddy plate. The first guy in their first row ran forward and stumbled. He slipped in the mud. The guy to his right must have been his friend, because he stopped like to help him. Sword still in his left hand, he tried to lift him with his right. It wasn't enough, and they struggled. I got my man in the neck and jabbed his friend through the eye and into the brain. Felt brain-deep, anyway.

The third guy was so excited that he fell over their bodies charging me. He got tangled up in their limbs. Looked like they were holding him, begging him not to do this. They weren't. They were dead. I got him where the helmet ends, right above the collar. Some of his blood got into my mouth. I felt the warmth, the wetness, but not the taste.

Was going to throw up as the next in line approached. Yeah, my fourth? Took an arrow to the ear. Sailed in and took it away. You never think that an ear can leave a person that easily; they're so present on everybody your whole life. Then an arrow comes by. While he was clutching for it, I got him in the other ear. Some legionnaire around me was laughing about it.

Those arrows coming down? They were coming from behind us. They were ours. Archers were shooting too short. I backed up. Forced the line behind me to retreat a little, because if our arrows were coming in that tight, I didn't want to take one in the back. The enemy didn’t know what I was doing. Tried to close in, but I had lines of soldiers on my left and right. My guys closed in on their protrusion. I’m told I killed the fifth man, the frontrunner that charged. I don’t remember it. I remember some other guy jumping on him with a battle axe when I was still five paces away. That was my fifth man. "Five-man killer."

A five-man killer. I don’t know. I just want to not wake up for a while.


  1. Really good John. Your voice takes whatever warrior glory being a "five man killer" might suggest and replaces it with weary regret.

  2. War is hell, no matter what time period you're in. I thought it was modern until you mentioned plate armor, then my whole mental image shifted. Well written and well read. Great work!

  3. Loved his inner monologue... War IS hell indeed... Great read as well, John.

    PS (Sorry I haven't been around much lately. Been in the writing and [movie-watching] cave.)

  4. Feels like the real story behind every Purple Heart and Silver Star. And your voice gives a humanity to the narrator that I wouldn't have gotten just from reading it. Haunting.


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