Trotting through the hot narrow alley, rifle on my back.
My companion to my left: Richard, I think.
The sound of gunfire boiling in the distance.
Nervous, we glance around and move quickly down the sandy street.
Buildings closing in, crushing us from either side.
Then, lobbed from the window above, the grenade lands in our path.
I know not why we’re here to kill these people.
In a war I don’t believe in, fighting strangers that never wronged me.
I will never know the name of the man who threw the grenade, nor he, mine.
I forgive him.
All I know is the man next to me: Richard, I think.
He probably has a home.
Tears may be shed in distant lands as a result of the next two seconds.
And as a Roman swordsman, a musketeer, an American soldier,
fights not for his general, nor even for his country,
but in the end, for the man to his left and his right,
I too, am human.
Conditioned by my mother, my father, my ancestors, my three-year old daughter,
I lay down upon the grenade as I so often
used to lay down to nap in my hammock
in my sanctuary beneath the golden trees back home.
But I have saved a man: Richard, I think.
He will live on in his life, hopefully do great things.
The sun beats down from an open, blue sky.
The air quivers, immobile.
A second passes, an hour, a century.
The grenade explodes, blasting through my peaceful body, killing us both.