A Novel in Three Partsby Rick Bass
I was as wild for glory as any of us, but before too much time had passed, we all changed our minds, gave up on dreams of glory, and fought only for victory. And not too much longer after that, all that was on our minds was a good cool drink of water; and before it was over, all we wanted was to get back home.
How much of it was hate, and how much love? In our expedition, there was plenty of both. Our commanders, Thomas Jefferson Green (named for his great-uncle in Virginia) and Captain William S. Fisher, were adept from the start at braiding the two together, love and hate, in such a fashion as ultimately to possess us. We became a rope that they kept coiled, and then used for their purposes—Thomas Jefferson Green pursuing love, I think, while Fisher was intent on chasing down his hatred. It’s a miracle that any of us got out alive, and though I was only sixteen when they came riding through asking for volunteers, I do not hold them accountable for my own free-will choice. They were passing through: one counseling patriotism, the other vengeance. Between them, they caught those few of us left unclaimed by the one emotion, or the other.
The purpose of our militia, Fisher informed us, would be to hunt down a band of infidels, Mexican nationals, who had come across the new border of Texas and staged an attack on San Antonio. Fisher had not actually seen the bandits but asserted that we would know them when we saw them, and that we were certain to find them. There would be plenty of fighting, he assured us, all we could ever wish for. The glory existed just beyond our reach, he told us, but only barely. All we had to do was go out and search for it, and it would be delivered to us.