Grand Mare, 1994
“It was a classic South African outflank,” Klaas said. “We massacred them, frankly speaking. We stayed close and we kept killing them. They kept retreating. You could see them panicking. They were throwing away their weapons. It became a rout. They were running full on. We were running full on after them, killing them.”
“How long did it last?”
“An hour. Two. It was a good battle in the end. We won.”
“Not us. The Grand Mare army counted sixty bodies. One of our guys lost an eye.”
“Yeah. South African guy. Jerry.”
Klaas put his own hand over his eye. His fingers were short and stubby and the hand was tanned so dark it surprised me. It looked as if he’d been working the soil and forgotten to wash.
“He came up to me afterwards holding his hand over it. He said, ‘I’ve got something stuck in my eye.’ I pulled his hand off.”
Klaas took his hand off. His eyes were small and close to the surface, nicks in his skull like an African mask.
“There was nothing left, just a great bloody gash. I said, ‘Wait a minute. I’m just going to put a bandage on it.’ I slapped a bandage on. We stayed there for three or four hours, during which time the vehicles were repaired.”
He had slipped into military report-speak. Klaas was not lacking in compassion, but he was a field man. A tactician. The lights in the bar flashed off, then on, then off again.
“Well, look at that,” Klaas said. “Night falls on the city.”