Last Known Position

Last Known Position

Last Known Position

Last Known Position

Synopsis

Most of the nine stories in Last Known Position were written upon James Mathews' return from combat deployment to the Middle East with the D. C. Air National Guard. Life under fire provided the author with both dramatic events and a heightened sense of observation, allowing him to suggest the stress of combat as the driving factor behind extreme yet believable characterization and action. Military experiences and settings cause certain human elements and truisms to emerge more profoundly and dramatically.

Excerpt

Trace Mullins stole an M67 fragmentation grenade from his father—the post weapons range instructor who, according to Trace, had “a whole closet full of stuff”—and we all spent one Saturday afternoon in the dugouts behind the Officer’s Club pool deciding what we were going to blow up. It was the beginning of our last summer vacation on Ft. Bliss, deep in the heart of Texas. Well, maybe not the heart. More like the intestinal tract. the four of us—Trace, Danny Ticker, Marvin Woods, and myself—were still a month away from enlisting in the Army, each one as invulnerable and bored as every other recent high school graduate on the planet. But even though we’d done everything there was to do (in our minds), we still couldn’t shake the feeling that we’d be spending the rest of our lives patting at our pockets, as if for a lost key, unable to pinpoint that one vital reward we missed out on. Such misconceptions have watered the weeds of not a few epic disasters.

“Symbolism is important here,” Trace said. He was picking at the steel loop that dangled from the cotter pin of the grenade. “This baby has to speak. I don’t want to just blow up a trashcan.”

He passed the grenade to Danny who cupped it with both hands, as if receiving a communion wafer. “Wow,” Danny said, his voice catching. “It’s light.”

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