The Thrill of Being Shot At

What it's lke to be shot at

We great authors sometimes write for fun but even then we still like to be read and noticed, so when people do not bother to read us and to comment on our Classic Works of Art, we wilt. Our ears droop down to our forelegs and we tend to bray in anguish.

So, to avoid this painful and unmanly condition, we try to find subjects which can somehow interest, elevate and amuse, though regrettably as a general rule there is a distinct shortage of subjects encompassing all three conditions together. So, I thought I would dig into my memory bag to see if anything of interest can come out of it and I came up with the time when I was used as a live target for shooting practice.

The novice writer should note that, as a general rule, the reader tends to find such adventurous situations to be of some considerable interest, because the reader is able to participate in the excitement of the adventure through the hero without having to actually risk life and limb by playing a part in the actual event personally.

In consequence, I shall tell you of a David and Goliath conflict in which I participated, with the only difference in this case being the fact that Goliath actually won. It is needless to say that I was on David’s side of the conflict.

In 1974 a country with 70 million citizens (the more observant amongst you will rightly deduce that this is the Goliath of the story) decided to invade a small island of 700,000 people, a.k.a the David of the same story.

The brain surgeons running the David part of the island needed time to run for the hills to hide so they wisely had their “army” stand up to Goliath in order to have time to pack their bags at leisure and not to leave anything of value behind.

I was in the reserves of the David army and, as is the custom in all such cases, being the original cannon fodder that Napoleon referred to, I reported for duty as the actual invasion was taking place. Regrettably those I reported to did not have any weapons to hand out, so I and large numbers of other David sportsmen spend the first part of the proceedings playing cards and listening to the pandemonium of explosions, machine gun fire and whizzing of bullets taking place about 200 meters away. We also listened to the radio for as many lies as we could comfortably digest.

We were pleasantly surprised when a cease fire was announced for 4 pm that day and since they had no guns to give us and nothing to feed us with, we were all told to go home immediately after the cease fire came into effect.

My house was thirteen miles to the North, in the direction of the invasion taking place, but since I had a five month old baby and a wife there, I was determined to go and see them. In order to get home I had to drive on a road which passed between the airport and an army camp.

When I reached the airport it was obvious that someone had stupidly omitted to tell Goliath about the cease fire, because Goliath’s airplanes were merrily diving onto and bombing the airport on one side and the army camp on the other, with admirable gusto. Huge colourful explosions and pillars of black smoke were evident on both sides of the road I was travelling and the combination created a strangely lovely work-of-art style appearance. I was driving this Mini with a sliding fabric sunroof, so I pulled the sunroof back in order to add a better view of the diving airplanes to the overall scenery. Certain that Goliath would feel a perfect chump once he realised that there was a cease fire on, I slowed down to a crawl in order to better enjoy his embarrassed look when realisation sunk in and he felt silly.

Those with a military background will know that it is customary for army barracks to be vacated during such spats, in expectation of inevitable bombing raids by the one side on the other. In this case, since Goliath was the only one with airplanes, the David barracks on the other side of the road to that of the airport, had been vacated in expectation of the ongoing courtesy visit. However, a company of soldiers remained behind to guard the road, taking cover on either side of it. In order for the reader to fully understand what followed next, it is important to visualize events from those soldiers’ point of view.

What those soldiers saw was a Mini approaching them at a calm, leisurely pace, completely ignoring the explosions going on all around it, heading towards the invading army. To them the Mini must have appeared as if it was yawning with boredom. Not being in a position to know that the De Greeks are not known for winning intelligence competitions or breaking IQ records, they could not believe that this was done out of, let us say, a misunderstanding of the situation. So, despite the continuous bombardment and in serious risk to life and limb, they all stood up as if someone gave a command, and cheered wildly as I passed them smiling and waving at my still leisurely pace. Those who have seen action will understand why the tears are running down my face as I write this.

I reached my home without meeting anyone on the road and found both the village and my home empty. Everyone wisely had moved to a safer place. I had a quick shower and a change of clothes and started back. I hardly left my home when a shell from a mortar exploded in a field about 50 meters to my left. Apparently the visitors wanted to welcome me to their new property. I increased speed to get out of there, something which I believed to be a reasonable and sportingly acceptable act. What I cannot understand to this day is why at the same time as I sped off, I closed the sun roof in the innocent belief that this would prevent a mortar shell from dropping into my lap.

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is apparently an emotional illness that usually develops as a result of a terribly frightening, life-threatening, or otherwise highly unsafe experience. Following this and my subsequent adventures I am quite convinced that in order to suffer from this condition, one must have a measure of intelligence and imagination, an ability to see oneself after a direct hit from a shell or a bullet. Thankfully for me I had neither in any quantities to count against me. The result was that at the time I did not feel the slightest sense of fear. In fact in my mind there was a well established belief that I would die in my bed at a ripe old age and the exhilaration I felt was devoid of any negative feelings.

On my return, I again had to pass by the soldiers on either side of the road outside the barracks, but this time I was prepared and I felt that I owed it to those boys to deliberately slow down only this time not out of ignorance. Again, they all stood up and cheered wildly the nutcase casually cruising in the middle of a deadly bombardment and waving at them with a smile. I learned later that they all died there.

Moving on briskly through the boring stuff, we reach the last day of the conflict and another cease fire is pending, again at four pm. The brain surgeons at HQ were no fools though. This time they suspected that Goliath’s communications might not be up to scratch and their front line might not be informed. So they send orders to our front line to hold on, as eventually the information would reach Goliath and the cease fire would actually take place. They also knew that whoever held land at the implementation of the cease fire would likely hold on to it permanently after that.

The area was (and still is) called “Domes” and I realised why it did not require any great imagination on the part of the godfather who named it, when I looked around me. Smooth dome-like hills dotted all over the place, like a lunar surface, without any cover. In 40 C (104F) August heat we lined up to attack the visiting team in order to take back one of those hills the visitors had unsportingly occupied after the cease fire. I knew from exercises we had done how difficult it is to run up hills loaded with gear, so I dropped everything to the ground except my rifle, my bayonet and my bullets. Despite the merciless heat, I made the conscious decision to drop my water canteen as well. I figured that in the unlikely event that I made it to the top of the hill alive, someone on the other team would have a canteen of water and that he would not object to my taking it off HIS dead body.

The signal was given and we moved on. Immediately the most exhilarating sounds erupted. We could not actually see the visiting team, as they were wisely dug in on that hill, thinking that we might even have artillery to support our attack. I imagined how red faced they would be when it downed on them that we were simply walking up to them "al fresco", without any artillery or any other support whatsoever.

We must have been quite close though, because we could actually hear the popping sound the mortars made as they left their tubes. A popping sound, a long screeching, wonderful whistle and then the magnificent explosion. What amazingly wonderful sights and sounds! You could actually see the direction of the gasses from the explosions, as they carried dry earth with them in needle shaped form on their upward travels, with the dirt partly hiding the reddish colour of the explosions and then showering us on its way back to earth At the same time the visitors' machine guns were firing without stop. We knew they were the visitors', because we did not have any ourselves. As the bullets hit the ground around my feet and ricocheted off in all directions, I was actually surprised that the ricocheting sounded exactly like in the movies. Zinggggg.

As I walked on I remembered the many discussions about the existence of God I had with two good friends of mine. One was religious, the other an agnostic and I was the atheist. At least I was an atheist in daylight. Sometimes on a dark scary night I could be flexible in my approach to the subject. All discussions would stumble and end on my friends’ expressed belief that if my life was in danger, I would call on God to help me. I thought that the position I found myself in at that moment qualified under the heading of life endangerment, so could I actually say it? I tested it out and whispered: “There is no God”. To be fair to my friends, I admit that at that exact moment, I involuntarily ducked. And because I ducked, I laughed at myself for it out loud.

Take it form me that it is not a good idea to laugh when you are being shot at. People tend to frown at what they feel is unbecoming frivolity in serious circumstances. As if laughing at a funeral, is a simile that comes to mind. I looked to the guy on my right with an apologetic smile at the ready and I saw the bravest man imaginable staring back at me in curious pazzlement at what I could possibly find funny in the circumstances. He was deathly white and his hands holding the rifle with the bayonet at the end across his chest were shaking and I could see terror in his face. Terror because of the surrounding violent death and destruction. Yet he walked on! I was so impressed with that man and I was filled with the utmost admiration and affection. I realised that he was cursed with imagination and he could envision the likelihood of not coming out of this alive. I really wish I knew who he was, or at least knew his name.

To my amazement I found myself at the bottom of the hill still alive and completely unhurt. An army Major to my right pointed upwards and shouted “take the hill boys!”

A curtain of reddish explosions from mortar shells went off in front of us at the speed of a machine gun and we walked on…


Dimitris Mita

De Greek


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Comments 48 comments

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS

You've done it again!! A masterful piece. Vivid, somehow humorous in spite of the seriousness of the moments. Very real and intense. Kudos! :)


Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 6 years ago from India

Very vivid retelling of an obviously memorable part of your life, DG. No one can say you had a boring life! And you have the facility of bringing things to life...I could actually hear the zinggg! :)


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK Author

Girls, girls, girls, it is a sad fact of life that we Great Authors are characterised by an overpowering modesty but your comments create the risk of making us expand our chest with pride. Please be more reserved and bashful in your approbation in the future ... :-)))


Merlin Fraser profile image

Merlin Fraser 6 years ago from Cotswold Hills

Hi DG... You may not fancy your chances in the Novelist stakes but you would be a sure hit in on the Short Story circuit.

Plus I am with you on the vine wilting for lack of readership. Maybe Izzy's lurkers are reading us and not saying anything. I've posted another sea faring tale or two if you fancy a swim after the trek up that hill.


glassvisage profile image

glassvisage 6 years ago from Northern California

I agree with the ladies: a fascinating story! I have heard that this experience is quite an ultimate thrill, from people who have been in the military, police, or security fields.


Merlin Fraser profile image

Merlin Fraser 6 years ago from Cotswold Hills

Trust me it's only the ultimate thrill if they Miss !


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

very nice story to share, it was a memory and story which is so interesting and I read to the last word. I could almost "feel" the tension in the battlefield. Nice one to share to us, and yes you've got my attention, thank you, beautiful! You made a nervous encounter fun -- nervous laugh, ah life, Maita


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK Author

Thenk you VERY much everyone.

We Great Authors always appreciate a good work, but did it make you smile, we wonder? :-))


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS

I smiled, I wept, I felt and tasted the hot, dry, Domes' dust and the thirst it caused. I smiled because in the first part of the story not only was that situation somehow amusing and ironic, but your talent for eeking humor out of a situation is so keen that it continued right on into the second part scenario, which would be expected to be almost devoid of any intrinsic humor of its own, especially for a reader unfamiliar with first hand experiences involving serious shooting to kill - and killing - on every side. Yet you did manage to provoke that smile in it and you made it feel somehow compatible, even as you conveyed the almost overwhelming sense of war and what it entails on a personal human level.


_cheryl_ profile image

_cheryl_ 6 years ago from California

This was great stuff De Greek! Loved the intensity you described that blended in somehow seamlessly with your casual minded humor! LOL! Perhaps you closed your sunroof for the same reason that people turn the volume down when they're lost...? =) I could vizualize clearly you driving as you smiled and waived, I really enjoyed this one! Thanks =)


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK Author

Nellieanna you are such a naturally kind person that I wonder if you are not being your usual kind self :-)) Thank you for your kind words, they mean a lot to me....


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK Author

Cheryl, thank you for taking the trouble to read through it all. I really need your approbation :-)


akirchner profile image

akirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

Terrifically frightening - just reading it made my blood pressure go up and I found I was laughing and almost crying at the same time. It is nice to know that you were so calm literally 'under fire' - I'm sure I would have reacted quite differently as stress is not my cup of tea. Great writing and so glad you came out of it with your sense of humor intact.


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK Author

akirchner, how kind of you to make such a sweet comment. Thank you uvery much...:-)


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

Another good one Demitris though I admit it's not my cup of tea! Keep em coming!


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK Author

Thank you Angel:-)


Lee B profile image

Lee B 6 years ago from New Mexico

I particularly like your definition of PTSD. It's funny that in a truly dangerous situation I'm usually oblivious, yet in a situation where I'm actually safe (like on a diving board) I'm shaking in terror. I THINK it's the same kind of thing that you described.

An excellent piece of writing, De Greek! I really enjoyed reading it.


IzzyM profile image

IzzyM 6 years ago from UK

I read this yesterday but then my computer crashed before I could comment, and today I have forgotten what I was going to say (it happens to us older folk, you know), so I'll just write 'great hub', made for a good read and your style is highly entertaining.


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK Author

Izzy my good girl! I am carefully monitoring your progress as an author and every time I pass by your site, there is something new and captivating there. You are putting us all to shame :-)

Thank youu for passing by and for your kind words...


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK Author

Soryyyyyyyyyyyyyyy... no offence meant. I have sent you an email :-)


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS

I lost my connection- I wasn't offended!

I wanted to say that kindness and discrenment are not mutually exclusive - and pull your leg a bit. You were too quick for me -


Cris A profile image

Cris A 6 years ago from Manila, Philippines

If only I have stories half-amazing as this (mis)adventure but then again, I don't think I could weave magic out of my fingertips like you could. Thanks for the journey :D


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK Author

Chris, a comliment from an accomplished author such as yourself, is obviously twice the compliment. Thank you very much for taking the trouble to read and to comment..:-)


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 6 years ago from Ontario/Canada

Being a reader unfamiliar with first hand experiences of getting in the way of bullets and/or shooting back - shivers are running up and down my back. Even though of the hair-raising experiences of being caught in the unfairness and horror of any war you're writing was able to provoke smiles and even a couple of chuckles from me.

Wow, what a great way to put your story into words ...

regards Zsuzsy


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK Author

Yes, but what about "Our ears droop down to our forelegs and we tend to bray in anguish"? I am rather pleased with that :-))

Zsuzsy, many thanks ... :-)


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 6 years ago from California Gold Country

An amazing story and a fascinatng rendition. You must have felt some thankfulness for the protection of that cloth sunroof.


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK Author

How kind you are... Thank you :-)


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 6 years ago from Ontario/Canada

........."Our ears droop down to our forelegs and we tend to bray in anguish" .....that's a typical stance for a writer isn't it, especially when the rejection slip from a publisher comes in the mail.

zs


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK Author

No, no, no, I can safely say that I have NEVER received a rejection slip. Perhaps because I never sent anything off....:-))


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia

I'm wowed! Love the descriptive language. I was on the edge of my 'puter chair!


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK Author

How kind you are Habee. A kind woord is always welcome.......:-)


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

You're really a former scriptwriter for M*A*S*H, right? ;D I couldn't picture *you* in this story, but certainly Hawkeye Pierce or Radar O'Reilly. And you probably already know that General MacArthur was famous for fearlessly walking through gunfire as if he was invisible to those doing the shooting. Perhaps you somehow made yourself invisible to the visiting team that day.


2patricias profile image

2patricias 6 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

Great read! You had us enthralled. Will be reading more of your Hubs.


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK Author

Jama, with respect, I think that you are confusing the bravery of a great soldier, with the stupidity of someone who had no idea what he was doing :-)))

But thank you anyway. It's sooooo pleasant to receive compliments from an accomplished writer that you read yourself :-)


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK Author

2patricias, how kind you are to say so. If I knew you better I would have attempted to amuse you with appropriate humour, but I shall refrain until I know you better.

Thank you very much for reading and commenting :-)


sabu singh profile image

sabu singh 6 years ago

What an interesting read and a great story wonderfully told. The touch of humour is excellent. Bravo!


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK Author

Thank you Sabu! How kind that is :-)


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa

Brother Dimitris - firstly let me apologise for not having read this earlier! Can't think of an excuse so I'll not bore you with an attempt at one.

I think the story you tell with such infectious humour here is just too real - I mean the scene you paint of you and your comrades in no arms sitting cooly playing Canasta or something while the invasion went on around you is just too funny and so typical of how such things work. And the brain surgeons, oh, the brain surgeons. I just loved this story!

Hope your ears are not drooping quite so badly now!?

Love and peace, dear friend

Tony


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK Author

Wow! Ears definitely at the perky postion and the braying is now one of pleased appreciation. Thank you Brother Tony :-)))


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California

This is another one of those fine pieces of story telling done in your inimitable voice and style. Pleasant reading is always at hand when I find myself at the top of a De Greek hub.


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK Author

Shades, I have read this again after Tony left a comment, and to my surprise, I actually like it. I think that it may be the best I have written and I had forgotten about it. Thank you very much for your support :-))


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

Just reread this, very entertaining and funny in retrospect! Hope you have many more such tales up your sleeve.


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK Author

Hi there Kid! Are back in your basket? Thank you for the kind words, but I am upset that you did not come for lunch :-))

I don't plan to write any more, as I have a project which keeps my mind busy :-)


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

Sorry but Wales is in the opposite direction :( Need to wack the weeds there before they take over! I am taking a sabatical too as I got kicked off adsense. I was aiming for 100 hubs and got stuck at 79. What is your project? (If it's not top secret!)


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK Author

I have been encouraged to write a novel and I am in the process of preparing it :-))


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

Wow! exciting news, good luck DG!!


katiem2 profile image

katiem2 5 years ago from I'm outta here

Thrilling, again as you make the reader feel there and in the moment, a great piece for a screen write. Loved it, well done and once again thrilling with you magical air of graceful and well injected humor. Rated up! :) Katie

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