In Rendezvous by Nelson DeMille, the reader is taken to Vietnam. The reader joins a combat mission undertaken by a ten man group forming a Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LURPS).The Lieutenant, the narrator, is on his last mission. When he gets back to headquarters (HQ) he will have 30 days left before rotation to the US. Custom says he would not have to go on more missions.
The radio operator dies first, hit by a sniper. The alternate other radio operator has been hit at the same time by the same sniper. Both radio operators were killed by a shot that went through the radio before exiting to kill the operator. The patrol was blind; they could not communicate to request helicopter extraction. There were prearranged helicopter extraction points if a patrol was unable to make periodic radio contact. The patrol survivors now had to make their way to a pre-arranged rendezvous.
But the sniper was tracking them. The sniper was also teasing them. She let herself be seen by the lieutenant and even communicated once with him by hand signals. She let him know by hand count what the current body count was. There would be more. She was able to communicate in this way because she was always out of range of the American weapons. She could, and did shoot at them. She could, and did, kill them. She was impervious to their attempts at return fire because she was out of range.
Throughout this Kindle short story, tension mounts as patrol members die one by one. Finally, as the lieutenant and sergeant, the last two survivors, are about to board a rescue helicopter, the lieutenant mentions that only one of them will survive to tell the story of the skilled female sniper. That was her intent all along. Both men get on the chopper, the sergeant lights up a cigarette and is shot to death while on the helicopter.
Now the lieutenant must extract revenge. Will he do it? The answer is the reason to read the short story.
This is a story I identify with as I spent almost seven years in Vietnam. I am very happy to not have met the lady in this story. This is a short story which relates what happened, what happened next, and so on. Don’t look for character development; there is none. This could have been a story told around the water cooler by combat veterans. For those familiar with the Vietnam war, military equipment, and small unit tactics this is a nostalgic read. Others probably should give it a pass. It would not provoke excitement in the uninitiated.