Author: A. V. Meren
Title: My Name is Rizzo: Dance, Old Bones, Dance
Series: Yes, Patriots. Third in ongoing series.
Feedback: Yes, please!
Email: [email protected]
Dedication: To Meredith (Bronwen Mallory, since there's more than one Meredith on the list), who kept asking for more Patriots. I know this probably isn't what you hoped for, but there's more coming, don't worry! ;-)
Author's Notes: Uhm, I've got a confession. I'm a myths/fables/religions/etc. junkie; I just love all that stuff and I know so many different versions of every possible myth that it's scary, so you should expect to see that kind of stuff showing up in various future fics. Like this one, for instance. ;-)
Also, some of the words will be strange, but I've tried to put context in the fic. Let me know how that worked out. Plus, read *all* of the fic before commenting on strange words, because...well, once you've read, you'll see why.
Hope you like! ;-)
My Name is Rizzo: Dance, Old Bones, Dance
Like Papa Samdi, ol' Hawkeye is. Like Papa Samdi, all dark and glittering, bright as a bayou night sky, all stars and shine. Pretty, pretty, but dangerous--kind of dangerous you can't help but love, can't help but see, no matter what else might be around. Ain't never hidden, that kind of dangerous--just sparks brighter and brighter, like moonlight in moonshine. Just as explosive as moonshine, too.
I grew up in the bayou, just another backwoods boy that married a backwoods girl. Never went to no real school like them docs did, but I did well enough. I ain't stupid, just ignorant, and I did just-damn-fine. Wife and kids and good-paying job in and out of the army--yup. Just damn fine.
Like Hawkeye. That's a damn fine man who's made a damn fine life for himself, even if it only works here in the shit-hole of Asia. Man scares the goddamn hell out of me, but I'm proud to have a man like that for a friend. And I am his friend, yes sir. Maybe I ain't no Trapper, and I ain't no B.J., but what the hell, don't think I'd want to be. There's levels in everything, my grandad allus says, and I guess that means that there's all kinds of friends.
Me, I'm pretty close to a few guys in the motor pool, like that fella Steve, that guy from Chicago. He's north, I'm south, but we got a few things in common. Like we're both Catholic, for one thing. May not seem like much, but out here, you take what you can get. So he shows me pictures of his brother, sister-in-law, and nephew, and I brag about my Nancy and Billy Bob. Sometimes we talk about other stuff too; we ain't bosom buddies, but we're close enough. And there are a few other people as well, like Mei-Mei, a girl over at Rosie's. Sometimes after we fuck we talk, and she tells me about her family and I tell her about mine. It's all about family, over here.
So we may not be as close as all that, but Hawkeye's a good poker buddy, and hell if it isn't amazing the kind of things that he gets up to. Like Flagg.
Oh, I know he don't think anyone knows about that one. Bullshit. Can't nobody in this camp so much as take a shit without half the camp looking for him and the other half telling them where he is.
Never took Hawkeye for a faggot, though. I ain't sure that I entirely approve, but then I don't got to, do I? War makes men do strange things, and damn if I haven't seen the truth of *that* one over'n over.
Even so, I don't think it's one of those things where a man needs another warm body and there ain't no women around. For one thing, there's plenty of women what'd be happy to jump into the sack with good ol' Hawkeye, and not just cause he's one of the prettiest things around. Women get hit by pain the same as men do, and like a little slap-and-tickle just as much as anybody. So it's only sense that they'd find the same comfort in it as any man would. Like Hot Lips, fer instance. Can't tell *me* that her thing with the Ferret wasn't at least half-way on that. Oh, I know that there's more to that weasel (just like there's more to everyone), I was there for that thing with Klinger and the bastard Baptist Bible-thumper, but still, doing the sideways samba with a guy called 'Ferret'? I guess it takes all kinds...
So there're a lot of different 'understandings' around here that'd never happen back home, mainly cause damn few of us would have the balls to do it anywhere near our wives or husbands. Oh, they know what we're up to, over here, but it ain't cheating unless there's feeling behind it, and as for me, I love my Nancy and little Billy Bob, and a quick fuck now and then ain't going to do nothing to that, specially since it won't mean nothing more than being buddies. That's where the word 'fuckbuddy' came from, after all--a friend that you can fuck once in awhile, and still be friends with. It don't mean that you're a faggot, cause I sure as hell am not. It's love, but it ain't married-with-a-kid-love, it's stuck-in-a-dirt-and-blood-covered-hell love. It's an understanding.
But Hawkeye and Flagg--I got it in mind that that's a whole new kind of understanding, as the priest said to the goat. Those two are two of a kind, aces both. Aces of Spades, at that, the goddamned death card. Like still, glimmering pools, sometimes they shiver wildly with ripples and waves from something moving deep inside, crazy words and laughter just bursting out as they throw themselves around. Sometimes they're still, still, still, light sparking off the surface, shining bright as tears. Sometimes they're like night-water, deep and black and warm, slipping away into the dark behind the stars, the shadows in the light. Like Papa Samdi, flashing bright teeth and fast heels, dancing, dancing, dancing, a rattle of bones and the pounding of drums.
Like the Loa of Death.
I could generally give less of a shit who Hawkeye's fucking, but this thing--scares me. Not so much the 'doing a guy' thing, or even the 'having feelings for a guy' thing; like I said, I could give less of a shit. Ain't none of my business, what my friend does, and Hawkeye *is* my friend.
But this is something else. This is bayou.
When I first got over here, my grandad sent me a gris-gris that old Mama Marie had made for me, said it'd keep me safe so far from home and kin. Now, I may be bayou, but I never had all that much patience with that kind of stuff, don't know why. Just never seemed real, all a bunch of nonsense and no-sense. My grandparents believed, and my parents believed, and my brothers and sister and wife believed, but not me. I was always respectful about it, though, never did any mocking or acted like I was better than anybody; had more sense than that. And they respected my not-believing. Was a whole lotta respectin' goin' on.
Funny I had to come to Korea to get that changed. That's true for a lotta people, not just me; you get stuck smack in the middle of Hell, and you start thinking in whole new way. Me, I maybe never believed before, but I seen things now...well, let's just say that I sure do believe, heart, body, and soul. I went to church back home more out of duty and obligation than anything else, and I never really looked at Mama Marie as anything more than an old woman, though she wasn't but my Mama's age.
First time I got shot at, I ran, saying 'Ave Maria' so fast that only Gran Bon Dieu could probably understand me. First time I got shelled, I said 'In Nomine Paters' in my sleep for goddamn weeks. So when I wrote home and home wrote back and Grandad sent me that gris-gris, I wrote a real nice letter of thanks for him and Mama Marie, and I always wear the gris-gris.
First time I put it on, I thought all those city boys'd laugh at me. A few did, new rookies just in--I was an 'old man' after just a few months, somebody they didn't want to piss off, but this was just too bayou for them--but my sarge shut them up right quick. All that tough bastard had to do was look at them and they like to have pissed themselves. Me, I was near to pissing myself, cause what if he went all Christian on me?
That tough old bastard didn't do anything, though, just acted like he'd never seen nothing, and so did everybody else. And I soon got to learn that we all got our little rituals over here--all kinds of little makeshift charms and magic like B.J.'s picture of his wife and kid, and Frank's Bible, and Winchester's records of cats dying. And we all keep every letter we get, reading them over and over, the Bible, the Torah, the Koran, and Grey's Anatomy all in one thick pack of dirty scraps of paper all worn out from being read and read and read.
Hawkeye--he's got his still. And doesn't that say something about that boy, that his charm and his magic is Korean-made, bred and born? Sure does, yes indeed. He's like a Loa arisen, that one, like Papa Samdi and B.J.'s Papa Legba, a loa danse all of their own.
Oh, yes, I know all about such things; hard not to, being bayou. My Mama Marie, she was mamaloi, but she was no boko, never worked any evil in her life. Not her, not Mama Marie. But what she was, *was* mamaloi, and that's a fearsome thing all on it's own. She would loa danse, do the rituals and dance and bring the loa down to ride her, body and soul. My kin, long as we can remember, we served the spirits, and even though I didn't believe then, that don't mean that I never knew what that meant. But I guess I really *am* serving the spirits now, with honest belief. So I know what see when I look at Hawkeye, even if I *don't* know what I be seein'.
He looks like normal, does Hawkeye, like any other man, but in the eyes is something fierce. Something black and warm as bayou water, with strange teeth flashing sharp and bright and surging up and up from places apart from Dieu and the Devil. Flagg's no better; I don't know what rides him, and I don't want no part in guessin'. I think he's zombie, that one, I think his true soul, his ti bon anj, has gone up to Gran Bon Dieu ahead of its time, leaving behind only his gro bon anj, with his body for a govi, a spirit-jar. Or maybe he's a Gede, come to haunt Hawkeye, Baron Samdi, Baron Saturday, his master. Though from what I've seen, neither seems to be the master of what they got. Maybe this thing, it's riding them both, loas and all, and Steve and B.J. besides.
And not a single damn one of them knows what to do. Got to say that I don't, neither, not being no hougan, no voudou priest. Mama Marie might know what to do, but this ain't the kind of thing you put down on paper.
Funny thing, though, iffen I didn't know better, I woulda thought that Papa Legba would go to Hawkeye, if anyone, and Papa Samdi to Flagg. But I do know better, this bayou boy does, so no surprise there: Papa Samdi rides Hawkeye, and Papa Legba rides B.J., and Gran Bon Dieu alone knows what rides Flagg. Hawkeye's long past alla his crossroads, I think, and even if not, Baron Samdi has a long way yet to ride. And that poor fool B.J. who don't know *what* he wants, the Lord of the Crossroads, met-kalfou, Papa Legba rides that one.
He thinks it ain't right to love somebody not his Peg, but he thinks it ain't right not to love his Hawkeye, too. Ripped this way and that way, and not helping Hawkeye any. And Hawkeye sure does need help; it's a hard, hard thing to carry a loa. All of us here carry *something*, but a loa is different; it takes everything. True, though, it gives everything too. So maybe two men who carry powerful, powerful loas can rest on each other, and maybe soon it'll be the *right* two men, Hawkeye and B.J. together, and Steve with who he wants (even though it's Flagg, ridden by some stranger Gede).
At least, that's what I pray. It's the last day of November, the month of the dead, the Feast of St. Anthony, who reaches down to Earth from Heaven and represents Papa Legba in the Catholic Church. Every year this month we who serve the spirits call on the Gede and on the master of all the Gede who are the Spirits of the Dead, Baron Saturday, Papa Samdi.
A skeleton all dressed up in black undertaker's clothes, holding out a black top-hat in one hand and a silver-topped black cane in the other, with the silver of the cane a figure: a hawk in flight. Dancing and dancing and dancing, Papa Samdi rides behind Hawkeye's eyes, moving swift and fast and sweet to the beat, beat, beat, the humming and the drumming of the drums.
Like Papa Samdi, ol' Hawkeye is, the skeleton of Captain Benjamin Pierce rattling as it dances yet another jig, fearing to stop lessen it fall apart, shattering into flakes of bones and an empty top-hat.
Dance, old bones, dance.