The Biography of Keith Rutledge

forward by Bill Latham

I met Keef back when were both renegade PFC’s in ‘Nam. The year was 1968 and our platoon was one of many in the now famous failed Tet Offensive. Those V.C. bastards bombed the living hell out of us and Keef and I were the only survivors from our unit.

We ditched our packs and all unneccessary weight we could, opting instead for our m-16’s and a pack of government issue smokes each. We even threw out our decks of playing cards and matches because we wanted to travel as lightly as possible.

It was hell, that ‘Nam.

We walked our way through jungle and swamp at night using the stars as our map, just trying to find our way back to base camp. It was 7 solid days of hell, the only thing we had to drink was water that gave us dysentary. But we trudged on, sick but strong, to make it back to camp.

On the seventh day we gave up traveling by night and instead went out in daylight. We were sick and hurting and figured if we were going to die, we had better do it and take as many of those V.C. bastards as we could with us.

We cut through a field when all of a sudden we heard a noise. We got down on our knees and could see what looked like black pajamas through the clearing.

“It’s V.C.,” I said. “It’s gotta be V.C.”

Keef nodded and steadied his m-16. We lept through the bush ready to fire. What we found suprised us even more.

It was V.C. It was the man in the black pajamas. But he was wounded fierce and at his sides were two children, nursing his wounds. They saw us and took several steps back.

Now, Keef was usually a lot calmer than I was, but then, on that fatal night of the Tet, I didn’t watch three of my best friends take bullets directly in the face. Keef did. I caught a glance of his face and could see all the rage pouring out.

“YOU SONSOFBITCHES!” he screamed and he unloaded half of his clip into the wounded V.C. “YOU DIRTY, YELLOW, SONSOFBITCHES!”

The kids were terrified. Now, like I said, Keef is usually very calm and very precise. But I suppose even I can’t blame him for what happened next.

“THERE’S A BOMB STRAPPED TO THAT KID!” He screamed and started firing at the kids. I was so shocked, I didn’t even know what to do. I did what any soldier would have done, I suppose.

I opened fire. We shot both of the kids and dug a shallow grave for our three kills with our bare hands. Keef was sobbing like a baby the entire time, and I kept cussing that goddamned geneva convention over and over again.

We made it out of there alive though. And to this day, Keef is one of the best friends that I have.

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