Shots rang out above the heads of two soldiers leaning against a makeshift barricade in the center of the road.

“Cease-fire’s over, I guess,” said Private Abrams.

“Not until we get orders,” said Private Michaels. “Call it in. See what the brass says.”

“So we sit here until we get shot?”

“Or until we get orders, yeah.”

Abrams tilted up his helmet to scratch his forehead. “Sounds stupid to me.”

“You don’t get paid to think.”

“You don’t get paid to be a dick.”

Michaels shrugged. Abrams radioed the base. They sat in silence, bullets striking the wooden slats and sandbags behind them.

Abrams finally spoke. “Isn’t there a self-defense clause? I mean, they already broke the cease-fire by firing at us.”

“Two wrongs don’t make a right,” Michaels said. “What’s a promise worth if you’ll break it, good reason or bad?”

“I’d say it’s worth my life, for one thing. Wasn’t my promise anyway.”

Michaels opened his mouth to reply, but the hand grenade tossed into their laps brought the argument to an abrupt end.

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4 Responses to “Frangible”

  1. Interesting piece. There are some technical issues, but I think its particularly admirable to have a military character willing to risk life and limb for preservation of a questionable cease fire. These days, we tend to be pretty liberal with our ordinance distribution.Ending reminds me of Butch Cassidy & Sundance Kid.

  2. Valerie says:

    Honestly, I tried to make it vague as to which military this was and when exactly in the hopes of sidestepping technical stuff. Oh well, that's what I get for cutting corners.

  3. ~Tim says:

    Interesting argument. I like that you kept who and when vague.

    You needed the gunshots to trigger [pardon the pun] the discussion, but if they were sitting behind the barricade facing away from the enemy, why would someone fire over their heads and then into the barricade before tossing a grenade?

  4. Valerie says:

    Thanks for reading, Tim. I pictured the enemy as testing the waters, so to speak. Trying to see if they could compel these soldiers to fire back and make it a bigger incident that way.

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