The claymore of love…AWID…A short story…

All to often, love is like a claymore mine. You see the flash before you hear the sound. When things go south it crumbles quickly. Take my former marriage for an example. I married my ex-wife on 19 May 1999. Yeah, I got married the year before the prophesied end of the world, for more information see Y2K.

I was married for 12 years. When the marriage was good, it was really good; when it was bad, it was really bad. There was no middle ground. The whole illusion of love is that love is the only thing you need to have a successful marriage. Take it from someone who is divorced, it takes a lot more than love. 

Y’all remember the saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?” Well, I beg to differ. Words are powerful. They hold the power to build up your partner or to tear down what you’ve built together. My marriage consisted mostly of the latter. I would never lay all the blame at my ex-wife’s feet. It occurred on both sides. To be fair, I am guilty of striking out verbally, and so did she.

In divorce, there is plenty of blame to go around. I fought, bit, clawed, and poisoned my marriage. Words were my weapon, and I wielded them mercilessly. I was no innocent victim. Trust me, I’m not proud of the damage I caused. 

Still, like a claymore mine, I saw the flash before the boom hit me. Of course, the shrapnel destroyed my marriage, and all I was left with are the remains of what used to be a good thing. Unfortunately, words are hard to forget. The pain caused by them all too often linger in the mind of the recipient. There is no salve to remove the stain of words said in anger. 

My ex has moved on to greener pastures, and I am happy for her. She deserves to be happy. If I could take back the words I uttered in anger, fear and all too often rage, I would but I can’t. The best I can do is grow from this past mistake and try to do better in the future.

Otherwise, my next attempt at love, if there is another attempt, will see me shredded by the claymore of love. 

Lifeless, unwanted things…A short story…AWID

The sunlight glinting off of the mountain ranges radiates orange hues off the crags of the mountain’s rocky face. I stare at it for a few moments while I search for my composure. “Look at the slivers of the morning sun, it looks like God’s fingers are reaching out to me this morning.”

Behind me, I hear the cause of my morning headache shift his feet. I turn and glare at him. “Tell me Private Morrison, are you always a world-class scrub, or is today a special occasion?” Jonathon T. Morrison stands 6’3, is built like a Mack truck, his hair is cut into the common military high-and-tight. He shifts nervously while searching for an answer. “No, Sergeant. I am usually pretty squared away.”

I raise my eyebrows in disbelief. “This clown thinks he is squared away. Don’t lose your cool. Just breathe.” To my dismay, following my advice to breathe causes the rage in my heart to come out my mouth. “Are you kidding me, Private? You’re dumber than dirt. Who in their right mind would punch their wife?”

“It’s not my fault!” I look at this man who towers over my 5’7 frame. He is whimpering like a child. “What’s next, snot bubbles?” I stare at this whimpering mass of blubbering waste of God-given oxygen. “Jesus. Okay. I’ll play, Morrison. Whose fault is it, that you sucker punched your wife?”

“Sergeant, you don’t understand. I love her.” I shake my head in frustration. “I want to thrash this kid.”

“Let’s get something straight, idiot. You don’t assault the people you love.”

“Can you help me repair my relationship with my wife?”

“No. Jesus Christ has the power of resurrection, not Larry. There is no chance I can resurrect your relationship.” Morrison begins squalling again. “You don’t care about my relationship.”

“Nope, not in the least.” He sobs and pants, stomps and kicks. “I don’t know what else to do?” I try to put the lid down on my temper. Maybe if I can explain what this idiot’s malfunction is, he will get it.

“Your problem is that you don’t make an effort. If you cared one whit about your wife or relationship, you would sort your business out and fix it. Instead, you want to blame everyone and everything for your lack of initiative.”

Morrison wipes at his tears. “See, you don’t understand.” I shove him against the wall. “What? What don’t I understand, Private? You have personal relationships-you leave them to their own fate. You have a marriage- you make no effort. You have a career. You make all sorts of effort, but you’re too stupid to take advantage of your opportunities. You are a SCRUB. YOU MAKE NO EFFORT, AND YOU’RE LEFT WITH LIFELESS UNWANTED THINGS.”

He cries and reaches for me. I shove him into a chair. “Don’t touch me, Morrison. Your stupidity may be contagious.” Private Morrison continues to cry, and I feel the anger swell up within me again. Struggling with the desire to choke him, I finally sit down across from him. “Let me show you how a normal person would react in this situation, Morrison. If I decked my wife with a right hook, I wouldn’t be here squalling. I would be looking for a counselor, anything to help me get over this temper. Your wife isn’t going to want to hear you blab about loving her. She isn’t going to care about your hollow locution. She wants to see you make an effort. Otherwise, go on down to the courthouse and get your divorce papers. What are you doing? Crying, complaining and blaming anyone in earshot for your failures. Do us all a favor and shut up. Either get with the program or get lost.”

I stand to my feet and walk out of the room. As I walk across the parking lot to the barracks, my own relationship with my ex-wife clouds my mind. “I guess I am angry because it wasn’t too long ago, I also made no effort, just like Morrison. All I am left with is lifeless, unwanted things.”

A lack of intelligence…A Walk in Darkness…A short story…

Whew. That bright orange ball of fury is scorching my flesh. “Who decided to hold a squadron briefing at noon? Did they forget we are in the middle of a freaking desert?”

I sit in my vehicle and wait for the briefing. I’ve been in the Middle East for less than a week, and I find myself growing irritable. It’s hot, sandy, and I’ve had a rocket shot through my room. From all appearances, it’s going to be a long year. 

Supposedly, this is a vital briefing which will impact the entire unit. 

Yay.

People slowly make their way into the motorpool and we begin to form up into our respective platoons. Squad leaders start checking for their soldiers, and the stragglers rush up at the last moment.

The Sergeant Major stands to the right of the Squadron Commander and we are called to attention. 

“Men, you have been called here today to brief you on how our mission has changed. Initially, we were assigned to this base. However, given the current trouble in various parts of this wasteland, we are going to be stretched out. Your company commanders has the details.”

With a call to attention, we are handed back to our company commanders. Jerry Smith, our platoon C.O. appears to be nervous as he puts us at ease. 

“Alright guys. You’ve all heard how certain places have turned out to be trouble areas. We are the support element here, and we’ve been hit the hardest. When your name is called fall out to the rear of the platoon for your instructions.”

Please don’t call my name….please don’t call my name…”

“Freeman.” So much for missing the war.

“Roger, sir.”

I fall out of the platoon and walk back to the rear. I join the ranks of those who have been selected to be separated from our unit and assigned to other elements to fight the war on terror. I am guided to my place in squad one.

“Squad One, you will be heading to a small city filled with insurgents, your briefing will be at 1345. Squad Two, you are heading to the Red Zone. Your briefing will be at 1400. All briefings will be conducted at squadron headquarters, don’t be late.”

Welp, it doesn’t look like I will be bored. At 1330, a handful of us start out for the squadron.

“Freeman, where do you think we will be going?”

“I don’t know. It could be anywhere. “

“Come on, man. You’re a Corporal. Surely, you have some idea of where we will be going.”

“I have plenty of ideas, but none of them are certain. We will find out in a minute.”

The hot sun soaks us but finally we walk into the air-conditioned bliss of our headquarters. Our Squadron X.O. nods at us. He towers well over six feet, has a flawless smile, and skin that appears to have never had a blemish. 

“Y’all here for the 1345 briefing?”

“Roger sir,” we chime in a singular voice.

“Down the hall, second door on the right.”

We move down the hall and walk into the room. A few people arrived before us, and their fear is prevalent in their eyes. It’s no different from the fear shining in our own.

“We lucky few, eh.”

In unison we all nod our heads in agreement. The aluminum chairs are cool to the back as we sit at the table.

“Where do you guys think we’re going?”

I smile, the tension in the room is so thick I think I may suffocate from it.

“Home! I have a daughter I’ve never seen before.”

“Whatever, Freeman. Why aren’t you nervous?”

“Ah, it’s overrated-like breathing.”

A small man enters and dread silence falls over the room. I’ve never seen a more nondescript human being in my life. White shirt, tie, glasses, and black hair. “He looks like a Muppet.”

Good afternoon. This is your intelligence briefing. You will be going to an undisclosed location. Insurgents range from the mid-hundreds to a couple of thousand. Numbers are unknown and seem to fluctuate. From what we can tell they have small arms but could have heavy ordnance hidden away. Your odds of returning from this action is zero.”

He gathers the loose-leaf papers and walks out of the room. We all sit in stunned silence trying to make some sense of what we’ve heard. Finally, I stand to my feet. My buddy Jim looks at me, his eyes have water in them. 

“Say something funny, Freeman.”

“I would say this intelligence briefing is sorely lacking in intelligence.”

A couple of guffaws come from around the room, and then riotous laughter breaks out. We exit the room and make our way to the barracks. Our attempt to cover our fear with humor is only temporary but the brief levity is enough to clear our minds.

“Into the furnace we go, we lucky few.”