Face of the Enemy

Here is a short I came up with for a contest submission. I was limited to 1000 words or less.  It didn’t win but I think it has potential. Let me know what you think!

First Lieutenant Wilbur Dunbar had never done a single courageous thing in his entire life, until tonight. If anyone from the office knew what he was doing, or about to do, the lieutenant would be arrested and court marshaled.

It’s 10:35 pm when Lt. Dunbar knocks on Olivia Christopher’s front door.  He can see a light come on in one of the rooms upstairs and a moment later Olivia is at the door.  She moves quickly for a widow in her seventies.  Olivia touches the frosted glass on her side of the door to make it transparent. The two-way audio system is well hidden.

“Can I help you young man?”

Wilbur removes his hat. His hand shakes only a little as he shows his ID card.  “Good evening ma’am.  I’m so sorry to bother you at this time of night.  I’m Lieutenant Wilbur H. Dunbar from Fort Belvoir. I have a letter from your grandson Ben.”

Olivia is a little surprised but gets over it quickly. Her grandson, Private First Class Ben Christopher is her entire family.  Ben is in Korea and Olivia is in Alexandria, Virginia. She passes her hand over the door sensor to unlock it. “Come in young man.”

“Ma’am, I don’t think—”

“Listen sonny, it’s the least you can do after waking up an old woman from her much-needed rest. Come inside.”

Soon the Lieutenant and Olivia are sitting in the front room of the house.  He’s nervous about being there. “Ma’am, I just meant to deliver this and go.” He lays the envelope on the coffee table and gets up to leave.

Olivia stops him with a raised hand. “Wait. Why are you delivering this letter? Why didn’t I just get it in the mail? Tell me how you got a hold of it.”

 He hesitates for a moment and then decides that Olivia deserves to know.  “Ma’am, I’m with the Information Service.” Olivia lets out a small gasp and he can see that his words have made her blood run cold. Wilbur picks up the envelope and continues. “This letter shouldn’t be here. I shouldn’t be here. Good night.”

He drops the envelope and makes it all the way to the far side of the room before Olivia stops him with two words.

“Read it.”

“Excuse me?”

“No, I will not excuse you. You obviously read this letter addressed to me. It’s only fitting that I hear it from your lips.  Besides, my reading glasses are upstairs.”

This old woman has a quiet power that surpasses Army rank.  Wilbur walks back to his seat and removes the letter from the already-opened envelope.  He carefully reads aloud.

“Saturday, March 14th, 2037.  Grandma,   I always go to you when I’m in trouble and I need your help now.

“During this tour, we have engaged the enemy many times. Usually, the Modified Pulse Rifle lets us attack from hundreds of yards away, but last night was different. We had to scope out some caves and a metal in the rocks made the scanners useless. Five of us went in to check it out. We were twenty feet in when a Kevlar helmet. The person who shot at me took off, running deeper into the cave and I used my rifle’s heads-up display to follow.

“I caught up with the shooter and spun him around.  I looked at his face. He can’t be more than fourteen years old. Were fighting kids Grandma! The boy spat at me and kept saying ‘nan niga silh-eo, nan niga silh-eo’. I hate you, I hate you.

“They’re training kids to hate us and then kill us. They’re not soldiers Grandma, just children. I have a job to do but I don’t think I can do it anymore. The enemy didn’t have a face until tonight. Please pray for me and write back what you think I should do. I know I have to decide for myself but your opinion matters to me. I love you. Ben”

Wilbur looks up from the letter and into Olivia’s eyes. Her thoughts are thousands of miles away with her grandson. He hates to disturb the trance but he has to go.

“I’ll be going now. I just thought you needed to know what’s on your grandson’s mind.”

Olivia is brought back to the here and now. “Thank you Wilbur. I’ll walk you to the door.

As Wilbur steps onto the porch, he turns and asks the question that was on his mind since he first saw the letter. “What will you tell Ben?”

Olivia’s gaze was tired but steady. “I’ll remind him that I love him and more importantly, God loves him.” The serious look on Olivia’s face is transformed into a smile. “Good night Wilbur and thank you again. I’m very grateful that you came.”

With a nod, Wilbur Dunbar places his cap on his head and walks back to his car. He looks back to the house in time to see Olivia lock the door and turn out the foyer light. He gets a feeling in his heart that this will not be his last courageous act.

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Published by

James Moore

A beginner Storyteller

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