by Donald Zagardo  My head doesn’t hurt so much anymore, not like it did back in Iraq or where the hell we were. Maybe I’m getting better, yeah maybe, yeah.

It was very late at night, nearly dawn, I think. She was standing in the middle of the damned road with her silly little white dog. “Is that you Dwight Jr.?” I heard someone shout, but from where, I don’t know. “Dwight, that you?” The voice was familiar, but I can’t tell ya where from. Sometimes I forget where the hell I am altogether, Delaware, Iraq or Afghanistan.

My wife Jasmine left for a few weeks after I threatened to kill her. She said that I smelled like gunpowder. I don’t remember what happened. When she returned two weeks later, all was forgiven. Things were good at home for the first time in a while. Still in uniform, a purple heart on my shirt-pocket and two more stripes, things are good. Sometimes all I can think about are the people I’ve killed and raped in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was so easy there and then. I could kill someone, go to sleep, wake up and forget that it ever happened. Some VA doctor told me the other day that it never did happened., but it happened. What the f…?

So, the old lady stepped off the damned curb. I sped up to hit her and laughed when my bumper broke her legs. Her stupid little dog ran away. The old lady was laying in the middle of the road screaming. I picked her up, took her in my arms like she was a kid, put her in the backseat of my Hummer. Told her that I’m driving her to a hospital. I did this so she wouldn’t fight much and maybe she’d shut up. I was looking for someplace to dump her. Someplace quiet, remote where no one would notice her, maybe a graveyard.

She was wearing a clean, quilted white jacket, loose jeans and a pink wool cap. I was calm most of the time, then who knows? I tore off her jacket then her jeans. She was pale and soft. She was still screaming, so I stuffed the wool hat into her mouth. It worked pretty good.

A couple of years ago, in Iraq we took a woman. She was young and pretty and there were three of us. Two held her down and the other screwed her good. We took turns. I remember it well, but the VA doctor told me that it never happened. But I remember it, how it felt, and looked. We finished-up, then I slit her throat. Blood was everywhere. We put her in a hole with garbage and animal carcasses. Nobody came looking for her. Nobody cared. That really happened.

The old lady was still fighting. This got me excited, so I ripped off her silly white panties and old lady bra then raped her hard on the graveyard gravel path, just outside my Hummer. The early morning was cold and Christmas lights were still on. It was a beautiful time of day, but I was drenched in sweat. She was bright pink from the cold.

We were finished. She was wildly flailing, throwing mud at me. The wool hat was working as a gag. She was nearly silent, but Jesus, what a mess – all that mud.

We would go on raping and murder missions in Afghanistan all the time. There is something addictive about rape and death, the kind of freedom you don’t find any other way. We patrolled in groups of six back then. We’d find a secluded family, rape the women, then kill the whole family one by one. We did this in Afghanistan many, many times, but the VA doctors say it never happened. How can that be? We’d leave them all by the side of the road. An entire family of dead Afghans lined-up in a row.

I used a camp shovel to bash in the old lady’s head after all the fun, then left her naked-body leaning on a gravestone. Then I forgot about her for a while and went home to my wife. My head was clear and I felt good, but I know what went down. Yeah, it was bad.

And I’m just waiting for some VA doctor to tell me that the damned thing never happened.In December of 2015 Dwight L. Smith entered a plea of guilty but mentally ill for the December 2011 rape and murder of Marsha Lee of Wilmington Delaware. He was found guilty of both crimes. In April 2016 he was sentenced to two life terms, without possibility of parole, to be served in a psychiatric facility and prison.  About the Author:Donald Zagardo is a former Professor of Modern History at St. John’ University. He has a life-long passion for literature of all kinds. In the past few years he has directed his writing efforts toward short stories – searching for unusual topics. He is presently assembling a collection of his own work. Donald lives and writes in New York City and enjoys international travel, foreign languages and photography.