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.

The madness….A short, short musing….

“This is egregious! It reeks of conspiracy! You know what conspiracy smells like dontcha? It smells like rotten cheese and dirty socks.” 

Maddening.

I am in a locked room with a swirl of incoherent thoughts. Black, white, anger red, my thoughts are not my own. Sing song, upside down, there must be some rhyme or reason to this insanity.

Imagine a world where people live normal lives. What a horribly boring place that must be. Down the tunnel of madness we go, just as Alice did in her Wonderland.

Well, I haven’t seen the cat yet, but still…

Madness, what a wonderful feeling. The plush back of my chair is the perfect perch to watch the world burn. “Lookit, they’re nuts too!”

The whine of bullets, the roar of explosives, this horrendous ritual to bring the dead back to life, it’s all in vain. No one here has resurrection power. 

I don’t think they care, but what do I know? I’m succumbed in the madness.

Madness is sticky, and a wee bit chilly. My perch with a birds eye view of the unchecked chaos doesn’t serve me well. Sure, I watch the world burn, but what I really want is to fly away.

Fly, fly, fly. I want to flap my wings and leave the madness.

Far from the insanity which has overtaken the world. To a place where people don’t burn down their neighborhoods, or destroy property. Where a human life, born or unborn, has value.

I can’t.

The madness weighs on my feet and I’m stuck on my perch. All I can do is watch the world burn.

At least I have a front row seat.

It’s the end of the world….A short story.

The rain falls from the broken clouds turning my yard into a small marsh. I am at my stove cooking eggs to go with my biscuit and bacon. In the living room, my television is set to the local news. “In other news, the Speaker of the House has called for a proxy vote, which would allow one representative to cast numerous votes on behalf of others.”

I can feel my frustration growing. I reach for a glass, and slam it down on the counter. Shards of glass fly in every direction. Pain throbs in my right hand, I turn it over and look at it. Glass protrudes from my palm. 

“You okay, uncle. I thought I would come by and check on you.” I never heard the front door open. My niece Sara, standing behind me, has a look of shock that covers her face.

“Yeah,” I grunt as I pull the shards out of my hand with tweezers. “Why doesn’t that idiot just tear up the Constitution and use it to wipe her butt?”

“Why don’t you like her uncle?”

“Besides the fact she is nuttier than a fruitcake?”

“Yes, besides the fact you think she is insane.”

“Well, there is the fact she does all she can to tear apart the Constitution and Bill of Rights at all turns. Granted, most of the idiots in Washington are egotistical, whiny, thieving pieces of garbage but she makes it an art form.”

“You ever think maybe you’re just old and crotchety?”

“I know I am old and crotchety. It’s a perk of being older. It doesn’t excuse these out of control lunatics running our country into the ground.”

“I don’t see it that way uncle. If she is so horrible, why do people keep electing her to office?”

“Are you trying to get me in trouble? Votes can be added to or taken away. With the constant evolution of technology, it is a simple process to cheat an election.”

“So, you think she is going to cheat the upcoming election?”

“I don’t know anything definitive, but, I’ve lived long enough not to put anything past anyone. The problem with power is that once you get a taste, you will do anything to keep it.”

“Well uncle, I guess we will have to agree to disagree. I think she is just doing her job.”

“Sweetheart, we can disagree and still love one another. Just because we disagree politically doesn’t mean that we can’t be friends. Nothing in life is so drastic that a disagreement should sever the ties that bind. Hand me that iodine and bandage, please.”

I pour the iodine on my palm, the sting causes me to wince. I wrap the palm and turn off my oven, my eggs are burnt beyond edible. 

“Will you please make your old, grumpy uncle a cup of Joe?”

“Talk to me, unc.”

“What do you want me to say, Sara?”

“Tell me how you feel. You worry me when you get like this.” Her green eyes bore into mine, finally I relent to her request.

“Sara, when I went to war America was this great place. Sure, we had our problems but we still knew right from wrong. When I came home in 2005, I didn’t recognize the place. I had my own problems, and I was barely keeping it together. Then I went back to the Middle East. I left Europe, and came home. I felt like a stranger lost in time, I was the redneck version of Doctor Who. Now, all I can do is watch while these idiots destroy everything that I love.”

“Maybe things will turn around.”

“No, this the end. All we can do is hope we land on our feet.”

It’s a mad, mad world…A short story.

“BANG! SLAM!”

I roll over in my bed and crack my eyelids open. “What in the world is going on out there?” Hurried footsteps cross my porch and I hear a key get inserted into my door. Quietly, I exit my bed and reach for the handgun lying on my nightstand.

“Hey, unc! Are you in here?”

I resume breathing. It’s only my nephew. Turning around, I put the weapon on the nightstand. I put on my jeans and smooth down my t-shirt. 

“Yeah, I’ll be right out.”

My nephew is sitting on the couch when I come out of my bedroom. He rubs his hands together, and every once in a while runs his hand through his thick hair. His hair is unkempt, heck, his whole appearance could be filed under unkempt.

“What’s going on?”

Thom looks at me and shrugs. “I need to borrow five grand.”

“Dang, son. You don’t even start off with a good morning, you just go straight for the wallet. Have you ever considered a career as a politician?”

“You heard about that man that the police killed?”

“No.”

“It’s all over…”

“Stop,” I put my hand up to shush him. “I heard about the killing, it’s all people are talking about. The no was me telling you, I won’t loan you the money to go out there.”

Thom stops and looks at me. Fury shines in his eyes. He shakes his head and stands up, he towers over me.

“Why not? It was racially motivated. You of all people should know that injustices must be corrected.”

“Sit down.”

Thom throws himself back onto my couch. Angrily, he stares at the wall, and I take a moment to let the tension die down between us.

“Do you know all the facts concerning this case, Thom?”

“No, but I know a man is dead at the hands of the police.”

I chuckle and shake my head.

“That’s all it takes, huh. You’re ready to go up there and burn down the town because the police killed someone. What? Y’all going to go up there and tear down all the small businesses and harass the police? One for all, and all for one? Let me ask you something. Where was this guy’s parents? Why didn’t they teach their son not to screw with the police? If you put yourself in a position to be man-handled, you are taking all the risk.”

“You don’t understand…”

I put my hand up to stop him.

“Listen to me, son. If you go up there and pick a fight with law enforcement, they are going to hurt you. They will use non-lethal means to subdue a riot, right up until the first idiot throws a Molotov cocktail, or a police officer is injured. When that happens, you are looking at lethal means. You will be put down. Then I will have to go comfort your mother, because her son was an idiot.”

“So, we just let them get away with murder?”

“They didn’t get away with it. Their names are ruined. They will never be able to out-run the shame of what they’ve done. For the rest of their lives they will be known as racists.”

“A man is dead…”

“Fifty people were killed this weekend in a city with the strictest gun laws in this country. You know what the police were doing? Kicking down doors of churches and filming people, who were just trying to find some peace in the chaos. Why aren’t you upset about that issue?”

“I…”

“The man’s death is tragic. All needless deaths are a tragedy, however, if you’re going to fight, fight for the right cause. Going to a neighborhood and burning down their businesses is no help to anyone. It causes more problems. Use your zeal for justice to help the right cause. Torching a town doesn’t bring the dead back. Stand for equality by being a friend to all races. Stand together in the trenches. Be there for each other, protect one another. Don’t be an idiot.”

Thom leans back and crosses his arms. After some time, he leans forward and pushes himself to his feet.

“I’ll get the money somewhere else. I can’t let this go, the police need to pay for what they’ve done.”

I nod my head and shrug.

“Well, I tried. Good luck. Be safe.”

Thom walks out to his truck and pulls out of my driveway. I stand in the doorway and watch him leave.

Two days later, I see him again. He is on television lying dead in the street. A victim of a riot gone wrong.

“Another needless death taken by the chaos of a world gone mad.”

Oops…A short story…

“Good morning, sir. I hate to interrupt your morning, but we’ve been called to check a domestic disturbance at this address. Is everything alright?”

I stare at the police on my lawn and shove my hands into my pajama pockets. “What in the world?”

“Morning, officers. Are you sure you’ve got the right address? I live by myself. There is no one here but me and my dog.”

“We can’t just take your word for it, sir. May we come in?”

“Not unless you have a warrant.”

The short officer laughs. He reminds me of a roly-poly. He is about 5’3, 260 lbs, and has a shifty look about him. Greasy, that’s the word I’m looking for. He turns to his partner and smirks. 

“This hillbilly thinks he has us over a barrel.”

His partner, equally shifty looking, grins at me. He nods his head, as if contemplating what comes next.

“Then, I guess we better go get the warrant. We will be back, soon. Don’t go nowhere.”

“I’ll be right here.”

I watched their vehicle until it disappeared from view. I dial the police station and ask if they’ve dispatched a car to my address. 

“Sir, no car has been dispatched to your address for any reason. Did these two men say why they were there?”

“A domestic disturbance is the reason they gave me.”

“Can you describe them for me?”

“Sure, one was about 6 ft, about 165, skin tone was pale, sickly looking. His hair color was brown, with a thin mustache. The other was 5’3, 260 if he was a pound, brown hair, dark skin. He had no beard or mustache. They drove a beat up Chevy Nova.”

“Okay, sir. If they come back, call us immediately. We will keep an eye out for them.”

“Thank you.”

I walk back into my house and pull out my dad’s shotgun. I eject the birdshot and reload the weapon with buckshot. Satisfied that the weapon’s lethality is up to par, I check my handguns. “If those boys come back, I’m going down fighting.”

My Queen Anne chair sits next to the corner, so I drag it out. I changed out of my pajamas and checked my bug out bag. Then, I plop down into my chair and wait. Hours pass but finally, I hear the rumble of the Nova. I glance at my watch, 0418.

I creep to the shotgun and move to the corner away from the door. Heavy footsteps mark their position on my porch. The doorknob is tried, it’s locked. In the silence, I hear a lockpick being inserted, I use the noise to conceal my switching the shotgun from safe to fire.

Two shadows creep into my dimly lit house, and I wait until they’re standing in front of my television before I introduce myself.

“You take the bedroom on the left, I’ll take the right.” 

I don’t give them time to switch on the lights much less search my house. From the darkness, I pull the trigger. The buckshot rips through the night and shreds everything in front of it. Wordlessly, both shadows fall to the floor. I move to the front and sweep the area. It’s the same knuckleheads from earlier. Both are still greasy looking, the only difference is the shredded flesh ripped apart by the buckshot.

I am partially deafened from the blast, but finally I pull out my phone. Dialing 911, I wait for the operator to pick up.

“911, what is the nature of your emergency?”

“Hi, my home was invaded. Two greasy men, who posed as police, are dead in my living room. Could you send a meat wagon to my address?”

“Yes, sir. I have dispatched police and an ambulance.”

“Thanks.”

In the distance, the flash of lights and the noise of sirens fill the air. I lean back in my rocking chair and wait. The ambulance is the first to arrive, followed soon by two police cruisers. The paramedics ask me to show them the bodies, I lead them to the living room. 

“Jeez, man. You did a number on these boys.”

“No, man. It wasn’t me. It was the buckshot.”

They start loading them on stretchers, and I walk out on the porch. 

“Excuse me, sir. Could you fill me in on the details of what happened here this morning?” I turn and see an officer sitting on the bench outside my house.

“Who are you?”

“Detective Rosie Hernandez. You’re the one who called 911?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

I lean back into my rocker and recount the story, making sure not to leave out any of the detail. Rosie nods her head and scratches some notes in her ledger. 

“Do you know what they wanted?”

“No ma’am.”

“Did you identify yourself to them prior to pulling the trigger?”

“No ma’am.”

“You didn’t?”

I look at Detective Hernandez. She peers at me with those icy blue eyes. I take a deep breath and answer her query.

“No, I didn’t identify myself. They broke into my house. I shot them. They’re dead, and I’m alive. End of story.”

“Okay, we will be in touch.”

The medics are removing the bodies from my house when I go to walk in. As one of the bodies is being wheeled by me, I catch a glance at his badge and I’m filled with dread.

“Why in the world would the federal government break into my house?”

Tainted…A short story.

“Why are you so mean? Would it kill you to be nicer to people?”

I haven’t been up long, and already, I am being lectured by a 16-year old. Angie, my niece, sits across from me and watches me drink coffee. My preference is to start the morning with coffee and quiet. It appears, I am not going to get any quiet.

Yesterday, Angie introduced me to her new ‘boyfriend.’ Jody Nelson, the local football star, is a bit of a diva. Jody is 6’2, 225 lbs, and has movie star good looks. He is  the richest kid in the neighborhood. Daddy and Mommy buy him whatever he wants. Jody loves to show off his sensitive side. 

Yesterday, he asked me about a lost tribe of pygmies and their increasing death toll. Apparently, they are dying from consuming hogs which are being poisoned by algae growing in their wells. I cracked wise about tainted meat.

You get it? Tainted meat? Pygmies worried about pork?

Anyway, cue the hysterics. Angie switches gears, while I sip my coffee. Apparently, yelling isn’t working. I must be immune to the screams or the hearing loss working to my advantage.

“You could’ve said you weren’t aware of the pygmy situation, but no, you gotta be a smartie. Now, he probably thinks I’m a loser like my uncle.”

“Are you going to cry all day?”

“See, that’s exactly what I mean!”

“You would be the luckiest girl in the world if Jody brushed you off today. His family is a stain on the soul of this town.”

“He loves me.”

“Un-huh. I’m sure.”

I walk over to my coffee machine and insert a donut flavored coffee K-cup. “Just let her win.” 

“You will apologize to Jody. Here are a couple of articles on the death of the pygmies.” The black liquid pours into my steel Yeti coffee cup. Angie stands from the island in the kitchen and puts her hands on her hips. 

“Sweetie, there is no way I’m going to apologize for having a sense of humor.”

“We’ll see.”

Angie spins around and walks out. The front door slams shut and I add sugar to my coffee. “Maybe I should apologize. NAH, the kid needs to toughen up.” Sipping my coffee, I walk to my computer to work on my blog post.

Yearning for inspiration, I stare at my pencil drawings of two samurai warriors and their wives and crack my knuckles. “Well, it’s time to get to writing. Maybe Angie will calm down while in school. I would hate for her to be angry with me.”

My day passes without incident. Well, somewhat without incident, I am having a difficult time writing about non-lethal techniques used to incapacitate rowdy hillbillies. I walk into my library but it appears I don’t have anything on the subject. “Fine, I will Google it.” As I walk into the kitchen, the front door bangs shut.

“Hey unc, Jody and I stopped by before heading to his house to study. What are you doing?” Both Jody and Angie sit at my island, a smug grin stretches across their faces. I grin back. “Out of the frying pan and into the fire, here I go!”

“Hey, kiddo. Jody was it? You’re the great pygmy savior, right? I’m sorry Angie, but I haven’t had time to read the articles you left. I’ve been researching non-lethal ways to stop people.”

Her eyes narrow and nostrils flare, as she glares at me. Jody nods his head and decides to speak. Running his hand through his thick black hair, he smiles. 

“Yep, just doing my part to make the world a better place.”

This kid irks me. I put another coffee into the machine and press the button to make the magical formula which helps me deal with idiots of such magnitude.

“Un-huh. Well, the homeless population of our town has increased by 400%, the crime rate has increased by 600%. When you pick up your cape from the cleaners, why don’t you work on a local issue before trying to change the world?”

“You just can’t be nice can you? Come on, Jody. We are out of here.”

Angie leaps to her feet and grabs Jody by the arm. They storm out of my house and I walk to the door and watch them stride to his Corvette.

“Don’t be mad, it’s just something to think about!”

Jody slams the car into reverse and peels out of my driveway. I am beginning to sense a bit of hostility between the three of us. 

“Great, now who’s gonna save the pygmies?”

Unselfish love and the blanket of freedom…

This is my second Memorial Day post I’ve written today. I suppose all my emotions are mixed-up. It comes from having a firsthand look at places like Fallujah, Iraq. Being ‘boots on ground’ is much different than seeing it on your television screen. Then, I come home and watch these ‘elected idiots’ turn my country into the American version of some third-world dump.

It sickens me to my stomach.

I’m going to take you on a small trip through some of what I’ve seen. I’ll try to keep it clean. The first night in Iraq, a rocket was shot through our barracks. It didn’t detonate, but it passed over a friend’s head and became lodged in my door. In less than two weeks, my friend became a shell of his former self. He jumped at everything, his nerves were frayed.

In Kuwait, prior to us driving into Iraq, I watched a solid NCO melt into shambles from the intensity of his memories. The bonds forged by combat are stronger than most anything, but the chains that bind our minds seem unbreakable as well.

The best of us never come home. 

From the blood-stained beaches of France, to the jungles of Vietnam, some men and women have given all in the pursuit of freedom. When their nation called, they answered. The geographical location of horror doesn’t matter. American fighting men and women are the bulwark against the rising tide of evil.

I’ve heard many people, ‘experts’ I believe they are called, have stated innumerable times that America should have never gone to Iraq. Obviously, these ‘experts’ have never seen people beheaded for ‘shaming’ their families, or seen children sold as sex slaves. Or seen mass graves filled with bones of women and children. Clearly, these know-it-alls live in a nice bubble of freedom, which allows them to run their mouths concerning things they don’t know anything about.

That bubble is provided by the most unselfish folks I know.

My friends, you may be gone now, but I will keep your memories alive. Know that it has been my greatest honor to walk beside you, until God called you home.

Garry Owen,

1/7 Cav, The First Team.