The Tired Old Veteran…a sleep deprived musing…Beware the unguided pen…unedited…

Flightless birds dream of flight,

I wish for a brighter future.

The severely injured dream of health,

I wish for love and acceptance for all.

Singles dream of marriage, of companionship, 

I dream of a lack of homeless veterans.

We all dream but forget them upon waking.

Thus, the folly of dreaming, of forgetfulness. 

A dream with a goal attached is a vision. 

A vision combined with hard work, dedication, and a fighting spirit becomes reality. 

Chunk lies on the bed, on his side, the side that is mostly black with fingers of white breaking through the darkness. Like rays of light piercing the oppressiveness of depression and anxiety. His eyes keep dipping down, sleep beckons, but he refuses to succumb to the temptation. On my hickory dresser a single wick candle burns, the corpse glare illuminates the inanimate objects scattered about the top. The single flamed wick flickering in the mirror. 

A mishmash of blankets covers my bed spread, to keep the sharp claws of Chunk from ruining the cloth underneath. He doesn’t mean no harm, I know this, but with the astronomical cost of living skyrocketing-now slowly descending in time for the mid-term elections in November- I must protect the spreads I have until new policies are made, or bad ones disappear.

He’s asleep now. Chunk snores lightly, the candle still burns, and I shove my sidearm underneath a pillow. Soon, I will lay my head upon a pillow, and pray to God I don’t dream. Chunk’s dreaming. His little legs are kicking against the imaginary dirt as he races to an unknown location.

When I dream, it’s of dead children. Of grown men crying for their mothers, wondering if their spouses will love them if they lose a body part. I taste blood and dream of sand so thick it clogs my throat in dreamland. Sometimes, I choke on the blood, or maybe just the dreams, and in the morning, I go about my day as if nothing is wrong. Nothing is further from the truth. 

I stare in the mirror, my aging reflection staring back at me. It wonders what became of the man I once was. 

Chunk stretches out, and my eyes grow heavy. I lean back against my pillows and consider the question. What happened to the man I used to be? How do I answer that? I don’t know what happened to him. Or why he quit caring about what goes on in his country. He should care, I know that much, but he doesn’t. 

“I did my bit,” he answers those who question his patriotism.

It’s all he can say, because to say anything else would cause a scene. “Go do your bit, and then come back here and see me, pudgy.” He doesn’t say that, but dang if he doesn’t want to. He closes his eyes and smiles when he thinks of it. Most like, these so-called patriots wouldn’t make it out of basic training, but they’re so tough in their jacked-up trucks with the big winches, stickers cluttering up their back glass, a free advertisement of who to knock over should the worst happen. They might as well hang a sign on the back glass that reads: Free equipment and food.

Alas, that’s the way of the world now. 

The aging, tired veteran lives alone in a cabin, drives a broken truck and car, and dreams of a better tomorrow. Maybe even one where young people don’t go to war or isn’t called upon to do police duty in lands not our own. He has nothing against other places, he has traveled the world, but there is only one home for him. 

But America doesn’t feel like home. It feels like hell. His kind isn’t welcome here. Once upon a time they were, but now, they’re called terrorists, traitors, and fascists. There’s no room for their kind at the table. A table they protected with their lives, their limbs, and their futures.

There are no thanks coming for a job well done. No ticker-tape parade, no half-naked cheerleaders waving their pom-poms with a glint of lasciviousness in their eyes, their lust for the heroes pulling her full lips back in a ‘come and get it’ smile. There’s only silence and questions, and what was once a dream with no goal attached. 

A future that holds nothing but the promise of trouble and a need for fighting men once again. But in the end, it won’t matter. Because he won’t be here, neither will the warring types. Death comes for us all. He prays that smarter people, heck kinder people, are in charge. He prays his children, his grandchildren, and everyone else’s learns to stand united under the flag he and many others like him defended. 

And if they don’t, he prays that the descent into madness happens swiftly, unlike the slow and painful death he watches now.

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