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The Efficiency of War

Updated on March 9, 2015



Right in the center of the battlefield, Private James Barker held his best friend Corporal Terry McCoy’s bullet battered body in his arms and screamed at the gathering smoke clouds forming above him. He shouted so loud that his voice was heard over the explosions and the rapid fire that continued.

Then rain fell in heavy, cold drops, mixing with McCoy’s blood as it marked the soil beneath Barker’s feet.

“This was my best friend!” Barker shouted as he felt the pounding rain on his wrists. “If you didn’t know who he was, let me tell you about him. He had a wife and a six month old baby girl he will never see again. They will never have him again either. This is the result of what is happening now!”

With a sudden surge of adrenaline, Barker raised McCoy’s loose-limbed corpse towards the sky. More importantly, he made it visible to friendly and enemy fire. It was a bloody battle that packed all the corners of the field.

“Fighting brings this!” He shouted.

Barker wasn’t the only soldier with a dead man in his arms. There were hundreds of others from both sides of the battlefield who were clasped by friends, grim evidence of the efficiency of war.

For a brief moment there was a silence. The silence in itself was a satisfying sound. It was during that silence when the shadows of the fallen soldiers gave their responses to the war in guttural demands of vengeance and promises of destruction. Barker couldn’t make out the faces on the shadows, but the words were clear. He felt the anger and the terror emanating from the dark spirits.

Barker looked around and saw men littered across the field as if they just fell from the sky. Some were so young it was as if a terrorist just blew up a little league baseball game. Then he wondered if Heaven had room for so many dead soldiers.

In truth, he didn’t know where they were going to end up, Heaven or Hell. Taking lives came from both sides of the field. There were no good guys or bad guys; there was just war between two nations who were exactly the same, and humans killing humans for political and religious gains and/or losses, or angry dictators who were making their presence felt.

Barker closed his eyes and thought about the leaders of nations who sit back in their chairs not once coming to a battle as they go on living unscathed. Then he wondered what he would tell his enemies on the other side of death.

Putting one foot before the other, he moved in a slow pace still carrying his friend across the battlefield. On one side and then the other, soldiers pushed out to protect him from enemy fire. Barker walked toward the enemy line without fear. In his heart he felt that his death would be their condemnation.

He made it across enemy lines and all the soldiers that were protecting his movements were lying dead in a trail that guided him there.

Barker stood in front of his enemies like Moses stood on the mountain. He dropped his best friend by his feet and spoke to his enemies. “Is this what we want? Do we want our friends to die and end up like this? Tell me, is this what we want?”

The answer to his questions were so deafening, so powerful, Barker thought that the battlefield around him might crumble. It was like being in the center of a storm, the likes of which the world had not known and no soldiers could stand against it. For a moment he thought God came down and stood behind him. Protecting him from all dangers, but that was not the case. Barker felt blood pouring out of his body. He looked down and saw bullet holes in his chest and abdomen. He slowly fell to his knees, and that’s when he felt a hot piece of lead entering his brain, and then he collapsed on top of his best friend.

For a single, astonishing moment, he thought he caught a glimpse of his lovely wife standing behind the soldiers. She seemed to be waving to him, standing proud and beautiful in the fading light…






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© 2014 Frank Atanacio

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    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      This was an amazing and touching story Frank. you expressed the futility of war, which like your tale never has a happy ending. Love it! Voted up.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
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      Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

      thanks Jodah :)

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      Oh boy, this is powerful! Lots of votes and shared.

      There is no good about war. It's futile, it's wasteful, it's evil. Will we ever learn? I doubt it, sadly.

      You have a talent for portraying scenes so graphically that we are there, on the battlefield amongst the fire and smoke and despair. Ann

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 3 years ago from California

      Such a tender write really --at least for me--war is a terrible thing--

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 3 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      I am speechless.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      This is utter poetry -- sad, soul-searching. Frank, this is marvelous work. My God.

    • Diana Lee profile image

      Diana L Pierce 3 years ago from Potter County, Pa.

      This is so beautifully written. It touched my heart and I know it will touch others. War is every bit as terrible as a deadly disease yet even with the power to stop it, man lets the fight go on to protect what is his. Our veterans deserve a big thank you.

    • VVanNess profile image

      Victoria Van Ness 3 years ago from Prescott Valley

      Wow! What a beautifully written piece! It really sounds like you've been there.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      My goodness, dear Frank, I have no words ... except that this profound write is superb. This is wrought with emotion and your words painted a graphic scene etched in my mind for a good while, I suspect. Up and more and sharing ...one of your best. Blessings, Faith Reaper

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
      Author

      Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

      Thank you so much Annart, and Audrey for sharing your comments and thank you Becky Katz for reading my war. Anyway, Flourish it's good to see you on my pages.. Diana Lee and Vvanness thanks for stopping by and sharing your comments with me. and Faith what a delightful comment bless you all for visiting this war piece

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

      It has taken me awhile to comment Frank. This was so vividly written. Tears are flowing. I could see him as he fell on the battlefield. Your words , so heartfelt, yet beautiful in spirit. Thank you...

    • Ariel-Cal profile image

      Evelia Veronica Rivera 3 years ago from Bridgeport, CT

      War is a terrible thing, great read!

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      It is with sadness and not anger that I read of these deaths. They volunteer their lives and as much as it hurts it is of free will and no prouder way to day whether rightfully so or not. ^

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
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      Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

      thank you so much Always for your thoughtful comment.. @ Ariel War is terrible @ Jackie it is with pleasure that I thank you for reading my war

    • lcbenefield profile image

      lcbenefield 3 years ago from Georgia

      The intensity unequaled by anything you've written before. I could smell, hear, feel what was going on. Wow!

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
      Author

      Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

      thank you so much Icbenefield :)

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Frank, only one word: Magnificent!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      The information in your introduction to Barker make us pay attention. I like that. Good again!

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
      Author

      Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

      thank you so much Msdora

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Frank, there can be no doubt about your ability as a writer, this is truly outstanding. It's been such a pleasure watching you grow and mature, you've really come into your own with this touching story about war and the sheer wanton waste of life. Excellent write my friend.

    • profile image

      Susan from Toronto 3 years ago

      Hi Frank,

      It angers and saddens me. When will we learn that in War there are not any winners.

      I use to publish my poems on hubpages but cancelled my account for personal reasons. I would like to thank you for leaving a comment on my last hub "Words and Thoughts" and all the other hubs that you were kind enough to read. Much appreciated. (sueswan)

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
      Author

      Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

      thank you tobusiness, Oh Sue sorry to hear you are not publishing will miss your work :)

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      Powerful and gripping frank. A vote up for sure and you are a wonderful story teller.

      Eddy.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
      Author

      Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

      thank you eddy

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 3 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      My gosh, Frank, my gosh. Is this what we want? No - it is not. And it is not what the soldiers want -- it is, as you say, for those who sat behind their desks and push buttons for ever more power in their warped minds. Awesome, Frank, truly awesome and so very passionate.

    • tsmog profile image

      Tim Mitchell 3 years ago from Escondido, CA

      Enlightening and harsh glimpse of realities and war. A great work Frank full of emotion searching . . . searching amongst fellow man.

      tim

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
      Author

      Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

      thank you so much Tsmog and Phyillis for stopping by and checking out my war :)

    • LadyFiddler profile image

      Joanna Chandler 3 years ago from On planet Earth

      My phenomenon is you "the government" make your WAR then get your hinds off you leather back chair and go FIGHT IT! I ain't risking my life for something you started.

      Private James Barker sure has a big mouth lol.

      So sad about his friend's death and that poor fatherless baby :( but that is what war brings, death and poverty.

      Thanks for sharing

      ~~~Have a great day Frankie~~~

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
      Author

      Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

      your welcome

    • parrster profile image

      Richard Parr 3 years ago from Oz

      No wasted words here. Beautifully expressed piece Frank. I could well imagine its real life enactment on desperate battlefields of history. The Barkers of each so afflicted of soul at wars horrors, they go forward to preach their conviction. Martyrs for a hopeless cause.

      Voted up.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
      Author

      Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

      thank you so much again parrster

    • old albion profile image

      Graham Lee 3 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Frank. A sad story indeed but you make the point so well. Tip Top.

      Graham.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
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      Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

      thank you old albion :)

    • Frank Atanacio profile image
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      Frank Atanacio 21 months ago from Shelton

      that's all it takes :) LOL thanks Genna East

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