These are the words that I began to write but did not finish. Â These are words that belong to me about a time and place that might never have been and people that I never knew. These are words about things I have done, places I have seen and people I knew. These are words that belong to another who might have been me had life been different. These are words that are sometimes sad and words that are sometimes glad. Â These are nothing more than words/
â€œShe put him out like the burnin’ end of a midnight cigarette
She broke his heart he spent his whole life tryin’ to forget
We watched him drink his pain away a little at a time
But he never could get drunk enough to get her off his mind
Until the night
He put that bottle to his head and pulled the trigger
And finally drank away her memory
Life is short but this time it was bigger
Than the strength he had to get up off his knees
We found him with his face down in the pillow
With a note that said I’ll love her till I die
And when we buried him beneath the willow
The angels sang a whiskey lullaby”
Two tours of duty are an inadequate description for days that felt like months and nights that never ended but I am not the man who wrote that dictionary. I am just an ordinary Joe who threw his own fool hardy nature found himself wandering through mountainous terrain in search of ghosts.
In a different life we sat glued to our television sets and watched the towers burn and crumble to the ground. Amidst the images of those who jumped and the ashes of a million tons of office supplies we swore vengeance upon those who orchestrated that day.
When you are young, dumb and full of cum you are ruled by your passions and I was no different. She begged me not to serve, told me she feared what would happen and cried on my shoulder. I held her tight and told her that the bullet that would end my life hadnâ€™t been invented, said that no man living or dead could kill me.
She cursed my stubborn nature and desire to prove my masculinity, told me that I was a fool and she couldnâ€™t support such stupidity. I wasnâ€™t cowed by her words or swayed by reason. In my anger I accused her of at worse being crazy and at best ruled by the visit of her monthly friend.
Instead of tears or screams my words were met with silence. For a brief moment an icy glare met the laser beams in my eyes and then they were both gone. She walked by me without a word and passed through the front door into the night air.
Youthful arrogance and anger prevented me from trying to contact her. No letters were sent from Camp Pendleton nor Germany or any of other places Uncle Sam sent me. I was determined to show her how tough I was.
A smarter man would have learned from the experience, especially after the things I saw. If you knew what sort of things happen to a body that has had the good fortune to be on the wrong end of various types of weaponry you would understand. It is a fancy way of trying to avoid writing I.E.D.
Wires, batteries, cellphone and explosives intermix to build a device that devastates hearts, minds and bodies. One moment we’re listening to music or should I say feeling the music. There is a beat that has us nodding our heads. We are a team of boys turned men who can act as angels of mercy or be as vicious as the hounds of hell. Ask for our help and we will greet you with a smile and an outstretched arm. Poke, punch or kick us and we will come at you with something far worse than a bad attitude. We aren’t locked and loaded.
We are death incarnate and our sole purpose is to wreak havoc and sow the sort of devastation that the Roman legions couldn’t possibly have dreamed of. When they took down Hannibal and destroyed Carthage they made history but that was only because there were survivors who were left to write of their passing. That is not our style nor our desire. If you gain that sort of attention from us we will wipe the earth clean of your memory and end your line as if it had never begun.
That is not hyperbole or melodrama. It is what we said and what we believed. We weren’t a bunch of ignorant fools who signed up to be all we could be. We were patriots. We were educated men, students of history who believed that if war is hell than we should be Satan’s Messengers.
What no one told us was that we were sowing the seeds of our destruction. No one told us that we were raping our minds and ravaging our souls, at least not in ways that we could understand. That is the great irony of warfare. You can’t really understand it unless you have been there and once you have you can’t come back as you were. Once you cross the line you pay Charon to ferry your ass across that river and then you run like hell so that you can find shelter that doesn’t allow you to sleep as you wish. Not that it matters because when you come home you can’t sleep either.
Drink a fifth of whiskey and maybe you start to take the edge off. Think about calling your girl to tell her that you are back but hang up the phone because you don’t know what to say. Take up running because you think that maybe you can find a way to run to a place where your mind can’t follow. The miles pass and the day turns to night and you keep on running.
You apologize to the guy at the gas station. It is not really your fault that you punched him. He should know better than to stand behind a man in uniform. Ok, maybe it is not entirely his fault. He can’t know that he you spent all that time watching the back of your brothers as they watched yours. He can’t know that loud noises sometimes make you hit the deck or that when you aren’t with the guys you turn around with your fist extended. Â And during the few hours you see the things that you try to forget. Sometimes you wake up and find your mother standing over you, trying so very hard to reassure you.
But mommy can’t save you. She can’t reach you because she hasn’t been where you have been. She doesn’t know that you heard her telling someone about how sometimes you scream in your sleep or Â that you heard her crying about not being able to help.
And then one day when you are out at the mall you see that girl and she sees you. Months have passed and you haven’t called her, even though she called you. You see her and she still makes your heart pound but you don’t know what to say. There aren’t any words to share. Still, when she runs into your arms and cries on your shoulder you let her be. She looks up at you through tear stained eyes and you don’t recognize the face that is reflected in her eyes.
Life has changed. You used to use words like ‘I’ to describe it but now ‘I’ has become ‘you’ because that you don’t feel like a participant anymore. Now you just float through the days and nights wondering if you’ll ever feel whole again. Â You live in a world of shadows and she lives in sunshine. Â And because you remember once loving her you break the embrace and start to walk away, destination unknown.