Today, we are proud to welcome “Night Vision” by Glori Simmons to our New Voices library. In this story, an American soldier stationed in Iraq faces—and crosses—moral lines. This story is deftly written, moving, and precise. It is part of Glori’s collection, Carry You, which is forthcoming from Autumn House Press in March.
“Patrolling that night, Clark had the feeling that they shouldn’t be there. . . . He hated the false security provided by the night vision goggles. They made it too easy to confuse oneself—to forget that while the goggles revealed what was out there, they did not conceal the man wearing them.”
The guy was just standing there, killing time. These were the words Clark used to describe the first guy he shot in the war—to Tibbs and Lyons and the other soldiers, to the lieutenants and the cheek-biting captain with his chest full of brass pins, but never to Ned. To get back on track, he’d take a deep breath, sniff hard, and spit the thick phlegm near his boot. Killing time, that’s how it all had started.
* * *
Clark and Lyons stood guard in the wide basement hallway they called the Dungeon, a place where weapons had been stored even in Hussein’s day. In the pitch black, Clark couldn’t see much of anything except for the blue glow of the light Tibbs kept on his key ring, which was dimming as he and Ned disappeared further down the hallway. They’d had a few beers, courtesy of a source that Ned refused to divulge, just as he’d refused to explain what it was he was looking for in the armory. It was a Tuesday, past curfew. This was one of the many stupid things the guys did to unwind and forget the gore of the day, one of the many things they did to kill time.
As Clark’s eyes adjusted he was able to make out the neckless outline of Lyons who was rocking back and forth like a boxer in the ring just before the bell went off. Clark didn’t like Lyons; the feeling was mutual. “You hear that?” Clark asked.
“I think one just ran across my boot.”
“I’ve been trying to stomp on their tails,” Lyons said.
“I can take about two more seconds of this.”
They stood in the dark a few more minutes until the armory door slammed shut and they could hear Ned punching in the alarm code. He and Tibbs hurried toward Clark and Lyons with four bulky contraptions in their uplifted hands: night vision goggles.
“Follow me, men,” Ned said, and once again Clark found himself following Ned without asking questions.