Burst – Soldier Child

Soldier Child

“And introducing Melvin Sandobal, former child soldier and now stand-up comedian!”

Melvin walks to the microphone and puts his beer on the floor, label out.

“Hey Americans!  How are you?  I am Melvin Sandobal, I was a child soldier in Lubulibya.  No no, I’m not kidding, I really was…  Let me tell you, child soldiering is a great profession in Lubulibya, the benefits are excellent and the pay is awesome.  So who is in the crowd today?  I see a lot of white American people.  A few brown people – but really you’re white too.  If you were in Lubulibya, I would absolutely rape and kill you!  No no, I’m not kidding, I would!”

A waitress brings Melvin another beer, and he takes a drink.  “Ah beer.  We never had this.  I didn’t know what I was missing.  But let me tell you a story folks.  You see, a man named the Corporal took me from my village when I was five.  My brothers came too, but I was close with a little black bastard named Shia more than anyone.  Shia, me and my brothers beat each other to shit every single day, learned to shoot guns, all that stuff.  But then my brothers tried to escape and the Corporal caught them.  He said to me ‘Melvin, I want you to shoot one of these bastards’.  Have you ever thought about how hilarious a situation it is when you have to choose between shooting your older or younger brother?  They both line up in front of you, and there you are with a gun, being told to make your first kill.  So who do you shoot?  I mean come on, there’s the skinny older kid that used to walk you to school and whose shoes you always got as hand-downs, he’s just looking at the ground, and that Manchester United shirt of his is fucking black with shit.  And on the other hand there’s the younger one who’s just learned to say your name and is a devil with a soccer ball, and he just stares at you like he’s wondering what’s happening, but he must know cause he just wet himself.  Which one do you choose?  Well it was easy for me: I shot the queer one!”

The crowd laughs, but it starts slowly.  Melvin pumps a hand in the air and pretends to squeeze a trigger.  The laughter gets louder.

“Oh yeah so I got AIDS of course, who wouldn’t see that coming…  Yes folks, Marvin from Lubulibya has AIDS!  There’s a big fucking surprise!  Do you know the difference between an AIDS sufferer in Lubulibya and America?  Here you have to be careful who you fuck and how – but in Lubulibya, it doesn’t matter who you fuck because they all got AIDS before you did!  It’s like what I hear of your 60’s in America, all that free love.  In Lubulibya, it’s just like that – the love is free and so is the AIDS!”  A round of applause spreads through the crowd.

Marvin finishes his beer and puts it on the floor next to the other one.  Label out.  “Listen people, I will tell you about my friend Shia.  He was a smart one.  Shia always thought about the best thing to use for a human shield, a tribal or an ettite.  Well, we all know that ettites are fatter and have stronger bones, but tribals are more bloated from hunger.  So we went into a village and Shia had a tribal and an ettite with him, and when the bullets started to go mad, he said to me ‘Marvin, I’m going to use the ettite because he’s so fat!’.  Out Shia ran with the ettite, pumping his gun through the girl’s armpit, and don’t you know that a bullet through the ettite’s chest sticks Shia in the arm.  ‘Fuck’, he says, when he comes back to the truck.  Next time he goes out with a tribal and tries it again, but the tribal was so bloated with starvation that when a bullet hit him, he exploded.  I mean fucking exploded everywhere.  Shia came back to the truck with blood all over him and says to me, ‘Marvin.  I don’t care if a bullet gets me in the arm.  I don’t care if the bullet gets me in the leg.  I don’t even care if it gets me between the eyes.  But next I need a good shield, I’m bringing an ettite, because these tribals are so messy when they pop that it’s going to take me three days to clean my clothes!’.  But you know Shia was wrong on that account – it took him five days!”

The laughter reaches new heights.  The bartenders are watching now too.  No one is buying drinks.  Several people have run to the bathroom.  Marvin orders his third beer.

“Listen, I hear you Americans sometime fuck animals.  No that’s what we hear, I’m not joking, I think you Americans fuck animals a lot.  Big ones, little ones.  Let me tell you about fucking.  Once, there was this motherfucker farmer in a village that gave me a hard time about his chickens, always saying ‘I need these chickens, they are good chickens, they are for laying eggs, not for meat, so I must keep them.’  I think he was fucking them, you know.  Anyway, I killed the chickens, and that’s when the farmer finally got quiet.  I asked him why he wasn’t talking anymore, and when he didn’t say anything, I broke his nose.  His bitch wife came after me so I tossed her down and raped her there while the guy sat on the ground – still totally quiet.  I said what the fuck.  After I was finished with the wife I grabbed their little girl and did her too, what a fucking mess that was, lots of squealing and moaning.  The wife kept trying to jump on me, so I finally messed up her face with the knife.  And the farmer just sat there.  After I was done with his girl, he looked at me and said ‘Why did you kill my chickens?  Now I have no chickens.  I don’t eat chicken.  Only the eggs.  Only the eggs.’  Couple of minutes later some of the other boys come over and they’re laughing at me and I ask them why.  Well, that little girl I did was actually a boy!  So I said ‘That’s the ugliest girl I ever saw’.  Later that day, Shia came to the shack, and when the farmer finally said something, he burned down the hut and killed them all.  They didn’t make a peep.”

Near the bar, someone vomits, but a wave of applause spreads through the bar anyway, until Marvin has to call for silence.  He puts his third beer down.

“So let me tell you how I got out of Lubulibya.  You won’t believe this.  Some white woman rescued me.  A.  White.  Woman.  Rescued.  A.  Child.  Soldier.  From.  Lubulibya.  Say it with me again folks!  Anyway, she was a woman of god and wanted to save me.  One day I was in the bushes taking a shit when I saw her pull up in a van.  She got out and told me to come with her.  I never did a white woman before so I said ‘Sure, why not’, and got in with her.  Even forgot my gun.  She drove and drove and drove.  I fell asleep and woke up and she was still driving.  ‘Where we going?’ I asked.  ‘To the Lord’s House’, she said.  ‘You poor child.  This is going to end for you and I will make sure you have a proper life.’  That’s what she said.  Anyway, she sang these hymns all the way to Carlisso.  We stopped on the outskirts and she took me outside to show me the city lights under the stars.  I hit her on the head with a rock and raped her on the road.  She forgave me over and over even as I kept doing her.  Let me tell you, doing a white woman was a huge disappointment.  I always thought my dick would come out of one all clean, but it was the same as ever.  I left her on the road and walked into Carlisso, got a job dealing, and worked my way up until I could leave Lubulibya.  Two years ago someone found out where I started and they gave me a free trip to London to get some therapy.  I was 11 years old.”

People laugh.  One lady in the front row is laughing so hard that rum and coke comes out of her nose.  Three more people are vomiting.  One of the bartenders is on the phone.

“Labels out,” says Marvin.  “Always labels out.  You know the really funny thing though.  By the time I reached London, I was stealing everything around me and I’d stabbed two people in less than a week, and they still put me up before Parliament to show what a terrible thing child soldiers are, and how it’s possible to redeem us.  I nodded and nodded.  That night, I got drunk and puked on the street, and when the police got me, they took me back to the hotel and tucked me in.  That started it: that’s how I realized that I was invincible, that I had been invincible all along, that it didn’t matter what I did anymore, because I was DAMAGED.  I had been DAMAGED.  Life and circumstances and the Corporal and Shia and Lubulibya had DAMAGED me.  I had to look up that word.  It means ‘broken’.  And when something’s broken, you don’t fucking throw it away: you fix it.  They wanted to fix me.  They wanted me to want to fix me.”

Marvin pauses.  He looks at the crowd.  They become quiet, expecting the next joke, the one after that, anything, for everything that came out of his mouth was funny.  “But the fucking thing is, I liked it.  Back in the day, I could do anything.  I ruled a whole countryside.  I drove wherever I wanted, took whatever I wanted, no one said anything to me… It was the best time of my life… the best time of my life, and now it’s gone.  Now I’m a hero, now I’m saved.  Now I’m fixed.  How’s that for comedy, you fucking Americans?  I’m glad I was born in Lubulibya.  Glad I was a soldier child.  Glad I raped and killed anyone I wanted, stole everything I could get my hands on.  I loved it.  If I’d grown up here, I’d be just like you Americans.  I’d be in the crowd laughing laughing laughing laughing laughing while some other lucky motherfucker told these stories…”

When the show ends, Marvin goes out through the back alley and injects himself with something on the street corner.  A couple of police officers come by and ask if he needs anything; he shows them his beer and tells them to fuck off.  Marvin fondles a girl in a mini-skirt; her boyfriend gives him a twenty dollar bill.  Later, he takes a hot dog from a street meat vendor, and the guy asks him if he wants a smoke.

Marvin wanders the city, looking at the bright lights.  Later he finds a whore and takes her to his apartment.  He beats her and throws her down the stairs.  Someone calls the police.  They take the whore to jail as Marvin watches from the landing.  He sits in his room and sees the sun come up, sure that he’s been here before, in this exact place, in some other life that is not his.

66 thoughts on “Burst – Soldier Child

  1. Different strokes eh? Us Americans are freaky and I’m sure there’s a small part in everyone who wishes they could run around and just BE this guy for a little while, especially lately.Bunch of latent pervs and wanna bes.

  2. Charlottes eyes are burning
    her wings are tattered
    and yet the holograph only glitches
    The geranium on the window sill dies but the teacher goes on talking
    its dawn here
    and the bird said write some poetry….
    its already written

  3. I see. Only Siamese Susan saw from my point of view. It was more about the crowd. I think you are getting better at this direction of writing. Or I am just noticing?! You did something remotely similar with Adam’s dreams.

    • Yes, Susan seems good at facing uncomfortable truths and sorting them out, I think she gives me hope for humanity. We have to face our weakness/meekness, Doc. Even if some of us (like you and I) do so through a pall of madness.

  4. Now we know you have always been a storyteller, and of course lessons to be learnt. But Adam’s dreams and this are different from your general style of presenting your ideas. You have used very odd stories that might pass for an inane child’s story (for Adam’s dreams)…

    • These are all stories about children, Doc. All of them. But you have reminded me about the storyteller vibe… did I not promise to write about the difference between storytellers and writers? I shall finish that.

  5. Or pass for a demented old man’s tale (this piece). But they have carried sharp markings of reality. Good.
    Also, the shades of humour you have used is a grey twisted collection here. I know I am not very sane, but this was just odd.

    • No this is a young person’s play. A solitary harumph of some evil sick twisted bastard that would have been evil under any circumstances but in fact was likely enough to be taken by evil when he was a kid, and to freely espouse his evil anywhere he wanted… and then lo and behold, we figure that anyone in that situation MUST be innocent actually. They couldn’t really be monsters from birth. Right?

  6. Hehehehe! Yeah! Release through madness for such as us.
    Well, this story bears themes too ill/dark to be a bedtime story for kids. Let it be read to the aged -philosophers and “otherwise”!
    Monsters from birth? Heavy question. Yes and No. Let’s pretend it’s only a “No” -for effect.

  7. I read this and a few hours later it made sense to me after I watched a bit of Louis CK – someone I had never heard of. At first I found him hilarious and then he started to gross me out. So glad I still have a bit of innocence left and have not had my mind completely corroded by all this – on all levels – accepted brutality. I note that that his audience have to buy the whole deal – do they really? Does a comedian’s audience think he is so brilliant that he can never ever say anything wrong? They get hypnotized or something – it’s weird. I guess this seems a little simplistic but it is a point of view.

    • Well I don’t know Louis CK really, though have heard of him. I don’t know if I get my own post, but in my demented head I think I am saying something important. Still trying to figure it out. Good thing I’m not a comedian.

        • Too much credit you’re giving me. Half a bottle of wine and a pseudo-maniacal day at work in the midst of moving house with three children in tow will take your mind to strange strange places, some that you regret and some that you wonder about why you don’t regret.

  8. I came over from Le Clown’s because I heard you needed a troll. But I can’t troll THAT.
    Great post, Trent. I do think we tend to overuse childhood trauma as an absolution of all sins of adulthood. Damn that Freud and his theories.
    P.S. Why does Melvin turns into Marvin mid-post?

    • My neverending quest for a troll continues… Glad you liked the post, and that’s pretty much the point, we like to forgive on the basis of past sins and ignore on that basis the current ones.

      Crap. Melvin turned into Marvin? It’s totally possible but I didn’t notice and neither did anyone else.

  9. Pretty powerful, if not uncomfortable to read. I didn’t laugh, I sat there wide-eyed lol. But I love how it reminds us of the crimes that we forgive everyday and how spoiled and selfish we North Americans generally are. Yep.

  10. Trent,
    Can’t say I enjoyed this much, and don’t take it the wrong way. It’s like one of those really well crafted stories, like a Todd Solondz, or Neil Labute’s early movies, where you know you are watching art, without the movies being pleasurable experiences…
    Superb craft. Thought provoking piece. Kudos.
    Le Clown

    • Thank you Clown. I did not much enjoy writing it, and have no desire to re-read. One and done, onwards and upwards, all that jazz. Like the new look of your site by the way.

      • Trent,
        You get what I mean, right, by comparing this to a Neil LaBute fare? Love his movies, but they make me uncomfortable as hell, which is something I love…
        Le Clown

        • I do. Forgive the more pop culture reference, but I respect the hell out of Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream, but not the most comfortable viewing experience I have ever had, yet I think about it often. I take your compliment with grace and humility, Clown.

          • Trent,
            It’s a great example. Yes, the camera work, the shots, and the theme of Requiem make this a fine piece of movie making. Do I have “fun” when I watch it?…
            Le Clown

    • Hey I heard that one! I think Billy Crystal was telling it. Well, I’ll take horribly disgustingly brilliant any day. Sometimes, I just don’t know how else to portray the world other than in things like this, know what I mean? It’s a problem of not having the right words, so looking for the wrong ones instead.

  11. Pingback: The Two Years of Trent Lewin | Trent Lewin

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