Get me a fsking butterfly, NOW!

Bullets whined around them, sending chips of old Soviet concrete flying.

"Goddamn it, Corporal, get some suppression on that. There's no civilians around, so don't worry about engraved invitations. Flip 'em a flash bang and a couple of frags. I don't want to be here all day for this bullshit."

"I'm on it, Sergeant." Corporal Tilden braced himself behind the wall, flashed around for a quick check of distance. A spray of small arms fire erupted a moment later. The Corporal grinned. "They do like those 7.62s, don't they, Sarge?"

"Stop talking and take them out."

"Yes sir. I estimate 150 yards. I'm going to have to use the slingshot." He nodded at the Sergeant's left hand. "How bad is that, sir? Can you hold the other end?"

"It's just a scratch, Tilden. Give it to me." Holding his injured left index finger at an odd angle, Sergeant Noland wiped his other fingers on his pants leg. When they were dry, he took hold of the section of rubber tubing Corporal Tilden held out. It was an awkward grip, but he wrapped the tubing around his good fingers and held it firmly. He held his hand so that the tubing stayed dry; the blood, still oozing from the long cut on the side of his finger, dripped onto the ground, making a muddy pool in the dust.

The Corporal fitted a grenade in the cup of the slingshot.

"Order of fire, sir?"

"A flash bang, lobbed high, followed in close order by two frags, bounced off the far wall. Then we'll come around and mop up."

Twenty minutes later, it was all over. The bad guys numbered two dead, one (maybe two) about to die from injuries sustained, and three (maybe two) who would be taken into custody and given medical care. The good guys were untouched, which made it a very good day indeed. They set up a perimeter and called it in: evac order for the wounded, paperwork for the dead.


"Yes, Corporal?"

"You called it in as us being unharmed." He pointed at the wound on the other man's left hand. "Are you OK, sir?"

"This isn't worth calling in, Tilden." One-handed, Sergeant Noland rummaged through the first-aid kit in the Humvee. "Shit! Who the hell used up all the butterfly bandages?" He held up a small roll of surgical tape, almost empty, then threw it back in the box in disgust. "Corporal!"


"Get up into the tool box and bring me a roll of duct tape."

"Yes sir!"

Noland tipped his canteen over his finger, then used a wad of surgical gauze to wipe away the caked blood. The wound gaped, ugly and wet, but the bleeding had subsided to a slow ooze. He tore open an alcohol pad with his teeth and scrubbed at it. This brought a fresh flow of thick blood, along with a string of cursing. He kept scrubbing (and cursing), using more wipes as they became soaked. By the time he was finished, the blood was flowing freely again, clean and bright red, dripping onto the steel floorpan of the Humvee.

"Cut me a couple of butterfly bandages, Corporal."

"Uh... sir?"

The Sergeant looked up at him. "Are you telling me you don't know how to make a butterfly bandage out of duct tape? Jesus Christ, Tilden, you've been in the army how long? And you've never had to make do in the field?"

"Uh, Sir, we have a first aid kit, shall I -"

"The first aid kit, Corporal Tilden, is distinctly lacking in butterfly bandages, for which sloppiness you and every other man in this squad will pay dearly. Now, do you know how to cut a butterfly bandage or not?"

"Sir, no sir."

The sun slanted across the Sergeant. He squinted upwards.

"Corporal, do you even know what a butterfly bandage is?"

"Sir, no sir."

"Jesus Christ." It was said in such a sighing, sad voice that anyone who heard the simple exclamation would know that Sergeant Noland had just written off an entire generation of U.S. Army soldiers as a lost cause, a complete waste of taxpayer dollars. "Tilden, a butterfly bandage is a bandage that looks like a butterfly."

"Sir, yes sir."

"It's wide on the sides, narrow in the middle. It's used to grip on either side of a gaping wound, just like this one -" he waved his bleeding finger in the air "- to reinforce the stitches, or, as in this case, in the place of stitches."

"Sir, yes sir."

"We have no butterfly bandages, Tilden."

"Sir, no sir."

"So I want you to tear a thin strip of duct tape off that roll, maybe a half-inch wide and a couple of inches long."

"Sir, yes sir. Like this, sir?"

"That's fine. Now, take these scissors from the first aid kit and cut the strip at an angle. No, not all the way through, just enough to make a little notch in the middle of that strip. Good. Now fold it back. Turn the strip around and do it on the other side."

"Like this, sir?"

"No, cut it in line with the other cut, but leave some tape in the middle. Good. Now fold it back, too. There, see how it looks like a butterfly?"

"Sir, yes sir."

"Bullshit. It doesn't look anything like a butterfly. That's not the point. Give it to me."

Using his good hand, Sergeant Noland squirted antibiotic cream into the wound, then stuck one side of the tape to the lower part of his finger. He pulled it up, tight across the wound and secured it. The wound was pulled closed, with the narrow part of the cut piece of tape resting atop it. Blood oozed around the tape, but the wound was secure.

"Cut me two more, just like that one. Then let's get the hell out of here. It's taco night tonight, and I'm hungry."

"Sir, yes sir."

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.


  1. Your dialogue is amazing - so real! Great job!

  2. This feels like a transitional story. I kind of bridge between DIY Tony and writing Tony. With the finger injury blurring between realities.

    Agreed on the dialogue, I think it's your strong suit.

  3. lol "Bullshit. It doesn't look anything like a butterfly."

    Priceless bit of the dialogue. :-))


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