…ZAK TURANGO’S FLIGHT OF FANTASY
One of the reasons for Zak Turango to return to the blogosphere for his personal enjoyment, was a critique from his son, Tim, an accomplished Hollywood screenwriter, that Zak’s writing skills were unsuited to the screenwriting genre, and with all due respect, and a loving admonition from a loving son, my talents were best suited for blogging and writing prose.
Desperate for copy, what with the startup of Wildomar Magazine, I reprinted a piece of fiction originally printed in Elsinore Magazine that I have always thought humorous. The following reprinted piece combines all of the elements that I like, military history, weapons, subterfuge and prose.
Adding to my mirth, is the confusion that I, as Zak Turango caused Sheryl, who originally thought the author was permanently and physically damaged.
As recently as yesterday, Zak received an e-mail from a person I’ve already met, but who does not understand that Zak and Gil are one and the same. The e-mail complimented “our” writing style and hoped to meet one of us someday, primarily Zak.
Enough already, please join Zak and I for a brief journey to the past.
February 17th, 2008 by zakt
Not long after graduating from Lake Elsinore High School in 1952, I answered the patriotic call of our nation, as did thousands of other young American males, and joined the United States Army. It was with the purest of motives that I envisioned my service in the American army as being heroic and gallant. If I had to forfeit my life in the defense of my country, then so be it. It was the least that I could do to defeat godless Communism.
But the Fates dealt otherwise. Never one to question one’s destiny, I have rarely looked back at my unfortunate accident nor have I ever divulged the exquisite injury…. until now. The why of exposing one’s most profound and life-altering secrets cannot not be fathomed. Perhaps I have become bored with my own prose. It is enough that I bare the truth.
The most significant part of training for battle in the modern world is the necessity of becoming proficient in the use of war’s machinery. Not the airplanes and the tanks or the ships. No, the most important tool of the foot soldier is the basic infantry weapon, the rifle. The Army had replaced its’ proven shoulder weapon, the 1903 Springfield, a bolt-action thirty caliber rifle, with the M1 Garand during the early days of World War II.
A bolt action rifle fires a single shot and requires the shooter to open the action after each shot, which ejects the spent cartridge and inserts another. The new weapon used the gases generated by the firing of the bullet to automatically push a bolt backwards, ejecting the spent shell and inserting another cartridge. This could happen a total of eight times before the rifle required reloading. When the rifle was emptied, the bolt remained open until further cartridges were inserted.
There was, however, one serious flaw in the weapon. Once a soldier had pushed a magazine of eight fresh cartridges energetically down in the maw of the rifle, he was required to quickly remove his right thumb before the action closed or he would suffer a painful slamming of said thumb in the metal action. The result was quite visible in its’ deformation of bony tissue and would subject the wounded to much manly derision amongst fellow soldiers.
Late one evening, long after the lights had been turned off, a young soldier, feeling the need to improve his dexterity in the process, without the ruthless scrutiny of men of war, reached for his unloaded M1 Garand, a fresh magazine of eight cartridges and practiced by the light of the moon coming through the barracks window. Tragically, the soldier had chosen to sit naked on his bunk and lay the M1 Garand carelessly across his lap. While reaching for the cartridges, he heard the familiar snap as the action closed crisply, without warning.
The pain was appalling in its’ intensity. Dental surgery sans anesthesia could never attain the acute level of severe and painful impulse that propelled up his nervous system, groin to brain, save for the briefest of pauses that serious injury allows the victim. The young soldier instantly felt as one with his comrades already in the foxholes on Pork Chop Hill. Surely somewhere, some soldier was, at that precise moment, experiencing the shocking impact of an enemy slug. His pain could not be any greater, were he to survive. Young Zak, at that precise moment, envied the dead.
In the years that followed, even the professorship at the Ivy League junior college and the many successful books on Fate/Destiny only partially masked the emotional scars that lurked just beneath the surface of an otherwise happy life. Marriage, understandably, had always been out of the question. Unable to bear up under the burden of the private disfigurement, I have recently taken advantage of a generous government’s offer to its’ veterans and have submitted to reconstructive surgery.
Re-aligning delicate but altered tissue takes time for healing and the threat of infection is one’s constant companion. As a result, I have had to allow my insights into politics to take second place to recovery. However, with the removal of stitching, I am again ready to offer my thoughts, for your consideration and reflection.
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