At one time he was powerful with muscle and strength. He wore stripes on his collar and soldiers cowered when he walked by. Now that is all gone, he is a mere shadow of his former self. A man with disappointments and a life almost done.
He has a place he likes.
A bench on the shore of American Lake.
He sits there now and looks across the water and wonders how he could of done things different and been one of those people with a big house and a boat on the dock.
He worked hard. He has rough hands from soldiering. He is stooped through the abuse he levied on his body.
What more could he have done?
He rolls a bit of bugle in a wrap and tries to not let the answer hit him all at once.
Maybe his life was hard. Maybe he spent more time in the jungle then he should have. Maybe he was proud of the necklace of ears he’d show off to new privates. Maybe he could do more pushups at fifty then any eighteen year old fresh faced boot. Maybe he was the best soldier that ever lived in the history of boots and infantry and god on high.
But he was a shit husband and an even worse father.
He lights his rollie. Takes a sharp painful drag and coughs. His time is coming. He knows that. Back in prison when be was waiting for his sentence to be over he thought death would never take him, but now it is and fast.
His only regret is they won’t answer his calls.
He doesn’t blame them. They have families now of their own. They have him as a model of what not to do.
Don’t hit your wife.
Don’t hit your kids.
Don’t drink to being black out drunk and wonder if the charges were true for the rest of your life where the end is spent homeless in the V.A. with the constant agony of if the end should come naturally or at the end of a rope.
He pulls the cigarette out of his mouth to flip off some loose ash and sees the foot of the smoke is soaked with blood.
He tosses it away and starts rolling another one.
Maybe tomorrow he will know for sure. Now he is just going to smoke, be decides.
Smoke and die slow.
Art by: Scott Johnson