James ran out of the jungle as it exploded behind him. Six planes flew over the men spraeld along the riverbank. Tex yelled into his phone, “Cprl. Smith is back. That’s fourteen… Fifteen casualty count. Six missing.”

“Shit, that was close. You coulda died,” Tex said as James pulled up to the river. “What the fuck took so long, Smith?”

“I had to—” He was totally out of breath, crouching over.

“Hey, chill,” Tex said, going to pat him on the back. “Woah, Smith, there’s a baby on your back.”

“I know…Was just… lying there… crying…”
“James,” Tex whispered. “That could be a ‘Cong baby. You can’ keep it, Lieutenant won’t letcha.”
“I know.” James pulled the baby from his back. “Bu’ I couldn’t just let him die.”

Tex took the baby from James and held it at arm’s length, examining it. “Looks like a ‘Fred’ to me, so ‘till we find some’un to take it, it’ll jus’ be Fred.”
“I think it’s a girl.”
“Fine, Frederica … so Fred.”

James pushed the baby back into his pack.
“C’mon, let’s go find this chick a home.”

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