I drove back across town to my home. It did not take long for me to realize my efforts to please anyone would fall short. My house no longer seemed like a home. It was a deserted, haunted place where true love once existed. This was no longer the case. My home was now another battleground, I fought another war. This war wasn’t needed, there was no justification for the horror that befell either of us.
As I walked into my house I am lanced with hateful glares. The television blared out some horrendous wannabe singer on American Idol, and Simon read them the riot act. His British accent made words like “horrible”, and “distasteful” sound like “yummy.”
My wife glared at me but said nothing. That whole sentence summed up our marriage. We didn’t talk about the things that lurked in the cockles of our heart, we ignored it. I shouldered past and walked upstairs.
“Whoops. I came home at the wrong time. I wonder what I have done wrong now. Marriage shouldn’t have anything in common with warfighting, but at least in training when you screw up, they tell you what you have messed up. They don’t just tear into you for no reason.”
I sighed as I put my backpack into my closet, and I prepared for another fight. Flexing my hands instinctively, I started to loosen up in preparation for whatever may come next.
To my surprise, she never moved. I walked into the kitchen and poured myself a glass of tea. She stared at me with disdain once more.
“I want a divorce from you. Go get the papers drawn up, you are keeping me from living my life.”
I put the glass down on the bar. The glass made a clink! I looked at her in astonishment. My mind raced as I searched for reasons as to why this was happening to me.
“You want a divorce?”
“Yes, I have guys lined up around the block who want to get with me. You’ve held me back from being happy. I am done with you!”
I couldn’t think of anything to say in response to her request, so I walked upstairs to my little room and shut the door. My body was weary from the day’s hike, but my mind and heart hurt. I stretched out on the futon and closed my eyes.
Silent tears of rage ran down my face. The darkness closed in as I realized how much damage I have done to my marriage. It hit me like a train running down a helpless deer.
Ever since my return from the war I’d been unable to sleep. That night was no different. I closed my eyes, and the dead of Iraq came to visit. Some came with bodies riddled from gunfire, others beheaded, some burnt and disfigured. All of them are victims of a war that I had lost faith in. The last of my visitors was a small boy who came and stood by my bed. In his hands, he held his brains. He is the only one that spoke to me.
My fitful sleep is interrupted by my mutterings and attempts to flee from the horrible sight that I witnessed. In my dream I am paralyzed. As I gazed upon this young child, tears wet my cheeks. I am ashamed.
I woke with a start in the dark room. My heart raced from the fear I felt. I was alone in the room. My throat was parched, and I felt as if I had swallowed all the sand in the Sahara.
“Jesus, what a nightmare.”
I took the bottle of Bacardi 151 from the nightstand and took a long drink. The burn of the rum settled my nerves. I took another long pull from the bottle.
“That should do it. Why can’t I forget and move on?”
I drifted off into an alcohol-soaked sleep. I tossed and turned in restless slumber. The roar of my cell phone jarred me awake.
“Hello? It’s 0230 in the morning, this had better be important!”
“Sergeant Freeman call your guys. This is an alert. Be at the company in one hour with your “A” bag, dog tags, ID and in your PTs. Do you copy?”
“Check roger! One hour, “A” bag, ID, dog tags and PTs.”
I hung up my phone, and then called my squad. After I relayed the instructions, I showered and headed out to my vehicle. Traffic was light as I drove in. As I neared the gate, I reached for my wallet and removed my ID. The gate guard looked at me and wrinkled up his nose.
“Sergeant are you drunk this morning?”
“No, I was drunk last night.”
The guard smiled and looked me in the eyes. I covered my mouth and burped into my hand. He backed up and cleared his throat.
“How far do you have to go?”
I pointed out the general direction I was headed. He looked where I pointed.
“That way Corporal, I am less than a mile from my destination.”
“Can you make it there without having an accident?”
“You betcha! I am a high functioning alcoholic! I gots this!”
He tapped the door panel of my truck and handed my ID back to me through the window.
“You be careful Sergeant. God bless you, and may you find peace.”
I drove off into the early morning hour to meet my destiny