The Trigger day 5

I find myself back in the United States at a training camp in San Diego.  All of the soldiers are marching or jogging around with their designated Drill Sergeants and doing their chants.  I hear the firing range in the distance where they’re training boys and girls to shoot like men and women.  I walk by the future soldiers that are doing hand to hand combat with each other and see my General motioning for me to join him in his office.  I walk by and see Private Smith fighting with his mighty spirit in that little 5’5″ stature.  The biggest hearts are always in the littlest bodies.

The General’s doorway swallows me as the door is shut behind me.  I sit in that uncomfortable green chair as I look at him in his comfortable brown recliner behind his desk.  He has a smile that never seems to fade when he’s around me and it always makes me feel uncomfortable; even though I see him as a father I never had.  He says, “Well Jimmy, it’s about time to head off to war.”

I reply, “That it is sir.  Why does this excite you so much?”

“Because I always love a new victory.  And with you coming back to fight, I know we’ll win for sure.”

“How can you be so certain, sir?”

“You’re our secret weapon son.  No one, and I mean no one, has been trained to have the skills that you possess.  It’s like you were made for this kind of stuff.”

My lips clinch to the right of my face before I say, “Maybe sir.  But you do know that this is the last time I’m doing this.  After this, I’ll take my pension and continue my life as a civilian.”

The General stands up from his chair with disgust wrinkling his face as he says, “Oh come on!  You don’t really mean that do you?”

“I do sir.”

“Why?  Why are you so adamant about not coming back after this battle?  Have you finally gotten cold feet?  Is that woman of yours filling your head with pansy talk?”

I stare at him intently as I reply, “Sir, I’m finished after this.”

“Well tell me why?”

“My wife’s pregnant and I want to see my child grow up.  Having a mother and a father is crucial to the proper development of any person sir.  It should be raised with an understanding of love.”

He rolls his eyes as he replies, “Oh God, you’ve gone gay son.  She’s filled your head with pansy talk.”

“Sir, please watch your tongue.  This is my wife you’re talking about.”

“Oh have I offended the little girl?”

“You’re really making sure that I don’t come back after this sir.”

“Is that right?”  The General stares at me for a moment and sits down before he says, “So you’re really serious about this?”

“Yes sir.  I don’t want to be away from her or my child anymore.”

“Well what are you going to do after you’re finished here?”

“I’m going to pursue my writing career sir.”

“Oh back with that nonsense… I thought that we took care of that little dream when you decided to sign up for the marines and become a real man?  Even your mother was happy about you joining the marines.”

My cheek muscles begin to flare as I reply, “Leave my mother out of this sir.  It’s been a long time since we’ve talked about the home I was raised in and when I used to call you Mr. Freedmen.”

“Hey, you know I just want you to call me General.”

“Then leave my mother and the lack of a lifestyle I had growing up out of this conversation.  All that needs to be said is that I’m finished after this, and that’s that.”

He rubs his chin and his mouth before he says, “Okay… okay… well, we’ll see if you’re still so serious about this decision after this, ‘last mission’ as you say.”

“My answer will still be the same sir.”

He stares his cold green eyes into my fiery eyes and says, “Okay son.  Well then, I hope this mission goes well for you and you can get back to the simple life with your wife.”

The back of my head itches again as I reply, “Thank you sir.  Did you wish to speak with me about anything else?”

“That’ll be all Colonel.  As you were.”

“Thank you General.”  I salute him and make my way out of the front door.

My memories begin to spin me to the night before departure and I’m surrounded by testosterone driven boys outside of a bar.  Private Tagger says, “C’mon  Colonel, why won’t you party with us just this once and then go to the strip club with us?”

I reply, “Because unlike you boys Private Tagger, I have a loving wife that I love.  There’s nothing better than that.  But… until you find that one person that you can’t live without, have fun.”

Private Smith looks at me with his full black eyes as he asks, “How did you find someone that special to you sir?  You seem like a man of stone most of the time.”

Everyone chuckles before I say, “Well, I didn’t find her in a bar or at the strip club son.  But if you boys want to have fun, then don’t let me hold you back.  I’m going to retire, but you all better make sure you’re back at 0400; understood?”

Private Tagger replies, “Yes sir, I’ll make sure these douches are back in time to go to battle.”

I chuckle as I say, “Have fun boys.”

They all reply, “Yes sir” and then head into the bar.

I begin walking back to the hotel and hear the company of other footsteps.  I look to my left and see the newly shaven head of Private Smith at my shoulder.  I ask him, “Why didn’t you go in with everyone else?”

He shakes his little head as he replies, “I don’t want that stuff sir.  I want to be like you.  You seem so happy whenever you talk about your wife and you look like you have a reason to live.  I want a reason to live too.”

We stop passing the random buildings and I touch his shoulder in the middle of the sidewalk as I say, “Son, you will have that happiness someday if you keep on making the right decisions; like you just made tonight.”

“I don’t know sir, I really do want that feeling of fulfillment, but nobody ever gets over my size and… well…”

“What is it son?”

“I’m quite the awkward guy sir.”

I laugh as we continue walking down the street with the hotel coming closer to our right.  I say, “Son, the right woman won’t care about your size… and as for the awkward nature that you exhibit… I’ll help you with that when we get back.”

“You promise?”

“I promise.”

His ear to ear smile lights up the dark night as he says, “Thank you sir!  Thank you so much!”  His eagerness couldn’t control his arms, so he wraps them around me and tightly squeezes his happiness into my soul.

I pat him on his head and say, “Alright, alright, that’s enough of that.”

He squeezes tighter before he lets me go and asks, “Could you tell me about your wife sir?”

I grin at him and say, “Sure.  Her name is Sabrina and she’s quite a feisty one if she’s crossed.”  We both chuckle a bit before I continue with, “She’s Latina with blue eyes and she stands 5’9″ tall.  I think that she’s much smarter than me most of the time that we’re together and she knows how to make me laugh without trying at all.  Everyday that I wake up and I see her next to me, I know there is a God.  Every time that she kisses me, I know what heaven tastes like; even when she has morning breath.  Don’t tell her I said that.”

He laughs and says, “Don’t worry sir I won’t.  I most likely will never meet her anyway.”

“Actually, when we come back… I’ll introduce you to her.  You seem like a good kid, so I’m sure she’ll enjoy your company.  And… she’ll probably be bigger than usual because she’s carrying our child right now.”

His eyes take over his face as he says, “Really?  Congratulations sir!”

I chuckle as I say, “Thanks son. But there has to be someone in your life that you want to meet?”

“Well… there is this one girl.”

“Does this girl have a name?”

“Penelope.”

“Penelope.  You didn’t just make that up did you?”

“No sir!”

I chuckle as I say, “I’m just messing with you son.  But tell me about her.”

“Well… she has long wavy blonde hair that goes to her mid-back and the most beautiful hazel eyes.  She’s been dancing since she was twelve and now she’s dancing in college at UCLA.”

“Ooh dancer… very nice.  My wife was a dancer as well.  Keep going.”

“She was always so sweet to me, even when other people would talk about me behind my back because I’m such an awkward and nerdy kid.”

“How do you know they were talking behind your back?”

“It’s obvious sir.  I can hear them.  But I would always hear her talking back to them and making them change the subject.  I didn’t even know that she knew I existed.  Really made me feel like I’m more than just a loser.”

We make our way into the hotel and start walking to the elevator to go to our floor.  I say, “Hey son… you’re not a loser.  Those people were only making fun of you because they don’t understand that there’s more to life than high-school.  And besides, they’ll probably never end up being anything special besides another divorce statistic.”

He chuckles as we enter the elevator and I hit the button for the fifth floor.  He says, “Thank you sir.”

“No problem.  Well, have you tried speaking with her at all?”

“Not yet sir.  I’ve just been too intimidated by her and I don’t want to mess up too bad.  And… well…”

The elevator opens for our floor so we step out and face each other because my room is the opposite direction of his room.  I say, “Well what?”

“What if we don’t come back?  There isn’t a reason to talk to her if I might not be coming back.”

My face stiffens as I say, “You need to stop thinking like that.  One thing I’ve learned in all of the times I’ve gone back into battle is that if you don’t have a reason to come back, you most likely won’t.  And son, the worst way that you can mess up is by not saying anything to her.”  My face loosens as I continue with, “When we wake up and head out, I’ll give you some more pointers.  But for now, we do need to get some sleep.  Okay?”

“Yes sir.  And sir… thanks for talking with me.  Everyone else usually just looks past me.  It means a lot.”

I touch his shoulder and say, “You mean a lot to me John.  I will be your friend before your Colonel.  Remember that.”

He smiles and says, “Yes sir.  Goodnight sir.”

“Call me Jimmy while you still can.”

He chuckles out, “Okay, Jimmy.”

I  smirk at John and say, “Sleep tight John.  Have good dreams about Penelope.  And don’t worry, you don’t have to give me the details of what happens in your dreams.”

His laughter tickles my ears as he says, “Yes sir.  Thank you sir.”

I nod at him and then turn around to see the patterned carpet accompanied by the lifeless doors on either side turn into the image of John Smith curdling in pain on his own blood before a bullet silences his pure mind.  I keep on hearing the explosions and his screams repeat over and over and over and over again until I come to and grab the nearest scalpel and tackle the doctor that was checking my side.  The knife breathes on his neck as I hold it with death flaring my eyes open.  Other men rush up to me and see that I have the doctor pinned with the scalpel inches away from his throat.  I begin panting and yelling as tears begin to run away from my fiery eyes.  My hands begin trembling until I drop the scalpel away from the doctor and then drop my head while I’m on my knees.  My mind keeps on showing me the happiness that was known as John Smith and how much I wanted to help him.

When one of the nurses comes over and pats me on the back, I hear the General approach me from behind.  He says, “Glad you finally woke up son.  You were out for two days.”

I barely turn my head to him before I drop my head again with heavy thoughts tasting misery.

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