A Sick Twist of Fate…A short story…

Tim Williams looked out his library window and stared at his vehicle under the open carport. His mind is aflutter with unfinished thoughts. Facing east, he waits for the sun to rise. “It’s Saturday. I may get my allotted two hours with her today.”  Starry Wilkinson, a woman of exquisite strength and beauty, is the woman referenced by his thought. Her grayish mane, bluish-grey eyes, and natural beauty are second place to her wit, intelligence, and kindness. To boot, Starry is a journalist who worked as an anchor at the local television station. She spent her weekends volunteering at the hospital in the children’s wing. Tim is madly in love with Starry. “Can you believe it’s been eight years since I began pursuing this woman? That must be some kind of record!” As with all things, the beginning started off hot and heavy. It took Tim two weeks to pop the question. Yes, Tim is slow. Still, after one failed relationship after another, Tim knew he had met the woman of his dreams. His eagerness coupled with her suspicious nature had led to a more restrained approach to their friendship. “Days have turned into weeks, weeks into months, months into years and I am still holding on. Hope springs eternal. Is this friendship/relationship going to be as futile as the war I fought in? Will there be a payout at the end?” Tim mentally shrugs his shoulders and waters his cactus on the windowsill. “I guess we will find out.”

A shadow crossed the window, and Tim looked up. A red hawk, perched precariously upon his carport roof, gazed into the window. Tim watched the hawk. Annoyed by his appearance in the window or Tim’s sudden movement, the hawk flew off. “I don’t blame him. What I see in the mirror frightens me too.” Tim’s free hand wiped at his bald head and he looked at his watch. “Crap. I need to get started cleaning. I want Starry to enjoy her visit with me tonight. She will like what I’ve done with the library.”

Tim began in the kitchen. He tossed empty Gatorade containers into the 42-gallon trash bag. “It has taken me time to make peace with whom I was during war, but Starry never doubted me. She is a godsend. Still, after eight years and minimum change in my status, I am growing tired.” Frustration settled into Tim’s mind. “What am I doing? Am I wasting my time? What if there is no future where we end up together?”

Time has passed with the quickness of molasses dripped from an overturned quart jar. Instead of drawing closer, Starry and Tim saw less of each other. The void in Tim’s heart grew with each day without her. Starry became a social butterfly. Blessed to live in a small town, she became the director for every social event within the city limits. Slowly, the chasm between the two seemed insurmountable to Tim. “From sunup to sundown, Starry is busy. I would call, but I’m sure she is working, and I don’t want to be a bother.” Instead, Tim tried to find other things to do to occupy his time. Finally, he hit upon an idea while he stacked lumber in his shop. “We could do a day trip today. I could make a picnic basket, we could ride to the lake and watch the waves come in. It’s not expensive and a bit redneck-ish but it’d be fun.” Tim walked back into the house and packed a basket. Spiral ham, tomatoes, a loaf of homemade bread, mayo, mustard and a few other ingredients filled the basket. When he completed the preparations for lunch, he took the basket and a clean blanket out to his truck. He picked up his phone and punched in Starry’s number.

“Hello?”

“Hey,” Tim said. A goofy grin crossed his face. “What are you doing?”

“Sleeping. Do you need something?”

“No, I stacked lumber in my shop and thought I’d see if you felt up to a day trip to Lake Homer. I made a basket and packed everything in my truck. All that’s missing is you.”

“We can,” Starry answered grumpily. The grin faded from his face.

“No, it’s okay. Get some rest.”

“Tim, wait. I don’t want you to be mad. We can go, I worked late last night and have to go back tonight. Let me get dressed.”

“Starry, it’s okay. I knew you had to work. It’s no big thing, okay? Get some rest. We can do it some other time.”

“Are you sure? Please don’t be mad at me.”

“I’m not. Sweet dreams.” He quietly punched the red button and tossed the phone on his workbench. “I guess I will unload the truck.” Tim took the basket in hand and walked into his cabin. He placed the food into the fridge and walked back to the truck.

Tim took out the revolver in the center console and checked to make sure he had loaded it. He closed the door and leaned against the porch. “This loneliness is too much. War took so much from me. Some of my friends never returned home, the ones who returned came back with serious issues. I am alone. It’s just me and the darkness. He flipped the gun around and stared into the barrel. The black frame reminded him of the loneliness in his heart and a tear rolled down his cheek. “There is nothing left for me here. I don’t want to be alone anymore.” 

The revolver is cold against his temple. He thinks of his friends lost in combat action, of the innocents who died because of the war. He closed his eyes. Tim’s loneliness dissipated in the hammer’s sound hitting the firing pin and the smell of burned gunpowder.

A glimpse at the past, a glare at the future….AWID

I stand in the middle of the road, fighting for the last good thing in my life. It’s hopeless. The church where we met is going to be the graveside witness of my last attempt to piece together my life.

“Let me make sure I understand this correctly. You have no interest in pursuing anything with me at this point? Not even a friendship? Because even friends communicate.”

“At this point, it’s not important to me-”

I put up my hand to stop her. “Words and actions match, this is over.”

I’m too old for this playground psychology. You want out, here’s your out. Goodbye-”

I turn and walk toward my truck. In the distance, I can feel her eyes upon me. Walking away is the last hard thing I will do. 

“You’re going to throw away a good friendship because I have no interest in pursuing a romantic relationship with you?”

“Yep, I told you I would.”

So goes another failed attempt at trying to piece together my desire to have something meaningful with another person. It collapses into a burning pile of rubble.

It’s time to cut out the desire to be with someone. I did it before, I will do it again. Besides it takes two to try. I am singular in my feeling to build a life with someone. 

The walk to my truck is painful, the drive home is worse. Being rejected is a most painful experience. To know that you could have something great with someone and then watch them discard you like last week’s garbage is heartrending.

So it goes.

I pull into my dark driveway and sit in the truck for a moment. It feels as if my entire world has been doused in gasoline and lit on fire with a broken match. The moon has come out from behind Pikes Peak. It’s a beautiful sight, but the moon looks lonely.

My marriage is over. I tried, I failed. It’s just another victim of exigent circumstances. The moon in its fullness appears to be shedding a tear for me.  

“Funny, I would cry but I can’t, but the moon has me covered.”

Little did I know, this process would be the end result of every relationship I attempt to have in the future.

A bleak future indeed.

A lifeless dream….

Sleepiness has vanished from my body this morning. I’m awake, and I don’t see any sleep on the horizon for me. I was asleep, tossing and turning, and dreaming. Vividly dreaming. Most of my dreams are of war or some other thing, but tonight it was of me and my internal struggles.

To be a gung-ho soldier, who didn’t want to come home, if I didn’t come home whole of body and spirit, I am a frightened child this morning. There is no doubt who was speaking to me in my dream.. 

All to often, I’ve allowed little things to cause big harm in my life. Looking back, the little things appear to be microscopic. Their impact on my life has been has been everything but minuscule. It’s time for me to get right, stay right and realize now is not the time to focus on anything but salvation. Step one is to unburden my soul. Pardon me, while I use my blog as a sounding board.

I love writing. It provides me focus and engages my brain. By nature, I am an over-thinker All I have wanted since my return from the sands of Iraq is peace. A moment to breathe and to shun the chaos which came from my time there. 

Y’all buckle up, you’re going to get a firsthand look at the wreck which is my life. For so long, peace has been a anemic dream which has never came to fruition. I chase it with my whole heart, and just as I reach for it, it disappears. It reappears and disappears so often, I don’t even know if it is true anymore.

I am so tired of fighting. The war is over for me, but it rages on in my mind. I’ve fought so long, it feels like my natural state of being. Everything sets my world on edge. I try to hide the pain of my internal war with a smile, but all too often, I fail to cover it up. Now, here I am crying about it in a post for my blog.

Still, I have to get it out before my internal struggle has eternal consequences.

More now than at any point in my life, I want to love and be loved. I watch the world implode around me with hatred and bigotry. Warped perspectives abound. I have never seen so many people with a hunger for blood gleaming in their eyes, like I see it today.

No, not even in Iraq did I see this level of hatred and bloodlust. The greatest enemy facing our nation is ourselves. We hunger and thirst after things which brings us misery. An unfulfilled life is rooted in the pursuit of things which are meaningless in the long term. If we pursue money, when we die we can’t take it with us. Love dies when we pass. In the end, all appears to be futile, save a relationship with our Savior. 

I don’t want to stand on a soapbox and bellow to the masses, if I sound preachy-it’s only to myself.

I’ve invested in everything but my own spiritual health. It’s my fault. Sure, it would be no hard thing to find someone to blame for it, but why would I do that? The long and short of it all, is I have been too busy accomplishing nothing to secure my spiritual well-being.

It’s cost me. I asked my dad yesterday, “can you imagine the world if I live to be 70?” I don’t think this rock will be spinning but it could be. I may not know peace in this life, but I don’t want to spend all of eternity in this state of frustration.

I would like to rest and know peace for once in my life. It would be nice to know peace isn’t a smoky dream, seen but never obtained.

Dark Thoughts…AWID

The quiet in my house is the opposite of my mind. I can’t shut off my brain. “You hardly use your brain, it should be a simple thing to shut it off.”

It isn’t.

Ever since my return home, I feel alone. The ghosts from war torn lands sometimes seem to be my only friends. That’s pathetic. I sound like a loser when I allow these thoughts to run through my mind.

It’s after five in the evening, and I am sitting in the recliner. I turn the lights off, except for my corner lamp. The A/C hums and Rambo: Last Blood plays on my television.

The longer I am home, the more I wonder about my return from the sand pits of Iraq. I’m home, I should be grateful to be alive and whole in body. I am. Many of my friends never returned, I sure do miss them.

My struggles with my thoughts and the chaos within seem to play throughout the latest Rambo movie. However, it barely scratches the surface of the pain that plagues so many veterans. 

It is of small comfort that I am not alone in this struggle.

This pandemic has drained me. We all are shut-in. Sometimes, it feels as if I am being smothered by the memories of a life I left long ago. As if someone is holding a pillow over my mouth and nose. 

Now, there is more trouble. Racist cops kill an unarmed black man. Or should I say, one racist cop killed him? Either way, a man lies dead because of the hatred in another man’s heart.

As I watch the world implode around me, I have to wonder what my friends would think if they’d survived. Would they be happy with the way things turned out? Would they wonder if their sacrifice was in vain? 

I survived and I would rather have my friends back.

There are many reasons why people are protesting the murder of an innocent man. I can understand their anger, their frustration with the justice system is not wrong or invalid.

Burning down communities, destroying the life’s work of people who had nothing to do with the murder is wrong. Yes, I can separate the two. Many innocent people have been hurt by their rage. Yes, their rage is justified. No one, regardless of race, should ever be murdered because of their skin pigmentation.

We are all God’s children. 

My brothers, those who never returned, would not approve of the actions of this police officer. They would not agree with the wholesale destruction by the rioters and looters. It is possible to stand against injustice without robbing, looting, and being a public nuisance.

My friends would stand in the trenches and fight injustice, at home and abroad. All I can do is fight to keep their memories alive and hope for a better tomorrow.

Monster…

I’m a soldier.

Of all the things I could have been, I chose to be a killer of men.

I am owed nothing but nightmares, trauma and scars,

It’s the life I chose, these are my rewards.

I’m a soldier.

Defender of free will, or so we are told,

Toeing the line, believing the lie, my psyche bears the wounds of my pride.

I am a soldier.

A killer of men, wretched husk of war worn flesh,

To damaged, to be good for anything else.

The fires burn in my mind, of ravaged cities left behind,

Of people frightened, of husbands lost,

Of those caught in crossfires, tracer fire galore,

Of children who skip over playgrounds in fun,

Shot to pieces, lifeless corpse,

I see my face, the fire in my eyes,

The glee on my countenance, as I shout “die.”

I’m a monster, run and hide.

Good for nothing, but killing and living a lie.