The Trigger

Day 1

I look into the mirror to see my golden brown eyes twinkling blankly in my direction.  My skin tone is a bronze coat that covers the obvious muscles hidden beneath my clothes.  I look at the medals on my chest for my time in the war and continue to wonder why I was rewarded for taking the lives of others that I didn’t know.  My posture stiffens as I remember the oath I swore to the country I love, so I give a salute to the soldiers that I called my friends.  They may not be at this ceremony with me, but at least I feel them within my soul.  My mouth continues to hide the joyous smile that I once owned, because joy is not something that I know quite like when I was a child.  I relax my salute and continue to stare at the man that I never knew would be me.

My wife walks into the room with warmth guiding her eager arms to surround my body.  She remains silent with me in her grasp to enjoy feeling my shell.  It’s obvious she isn’t ready for me to become a spirit just yet.  She says, “Welcome back… my soldier.”

I reply, “I love you too dear.”

“Are you ready to receive your Medal of Honor?”

“Sabrina, you are the only reward that I want to cherish.  It’s why I made sure I came back alive.”

“Well, you also made sure that you brought friends back with you.  I’m sure they’re very thankful you did that.”

My eyes lose life as I say, “But I didn’t save them all.”

Sabrina guides my empty face to her face of love and replies, “But you did your best to help them.  Right?”

I sigh as I say, “Right.”

“Then enjoy the fact that you still saved more lives than anyone else could have.  There’s nothing that you could do to change what happened because everything has happened as it should have.  I don’t know exactly how hard it is to deal with, but I know it’s going to be hard for you Jimmy.  Just know that I’m always here for you, and no one else.  Okay?”

“Okay.”  We kiss and then hug one another to feel life.

We remain silent to enjoy the embrace, until my General walks in.  I look at him blankly, and he nods at me as he says, “It’s time for you to receive the admiration you deserve, Colonel.”  I release my wife and salute him.

I reply, “Yes sir, General.”  He salutes me back and then turns to guide me into the main hall.  He says, “As you were.”

I walk with my wife grasping my arm to the celebration.  After the red carpet and the symmetrically placed pictures on the wall lead me to the celebration, I hear the applause of a full room clapping for my arrival.  I keep my eyes on the stage that I am going towards, but then I feel the whole room shake violently.  My vision begins to fade in and out as another vicious shake wakes me from my sleep.  I dart my eyes to the nearest person to hear, “Colonel!  We have to move!  They’re-” but his words were torn from his neck as his body falls limp to the ground.

My hands grab the nearest weapon as my feet continue to propel me into the chaos.  My eyes witness as my comrades are consumed by explosions; and the final hug that I receive from them is their crimson defeat.  I wipe my face and continue to scan for survivors.  Bullets continue to scream by my ears as I charge towards the friendly fire that’s fighting for our existence.  I join them and fire with precision between the tents and the stone buildings at the enemy that I don’t know.  Terrorists is what they’re called; but all they are to me, is a group of people that are killing my brothers and my children.

I yell to the soldier to my right, “What’s going on?!”

He yells, “It’s red on red sir!  We were just caught in the middle of it!”

“No one saw this coming!”

“No sir!  They entered as civilians and started fighting with each other!  Before we could warn the platoon, we found they had explosives strapped to their chests!”

“God Dammit!”

“Sir!  We have to move or else-”  His life explodes from the back of his head with his finger still firing his weapon wildly into the air.

I run over to his position and point the automatic weapon at the enemy as I yell, “Leave this position and surround the area!”

Everyone in the bunker scatters besides private Smith.  I quickly look over and then back at the enemy with my mind shocked by his disobedience.  I yell, “Private!  Why the fuck are you still here?!”

“I’m not gonna abandon you sir!”

“I order you to surround the area so we can contain this fucking situation God Dammit!  Now move!”

“Sir!”

“Move God Dammit!”

Private Smith hesitates before he leaves the bunker, but then he enters the world of fire to try and position himself.  I see the mind-numbing smoke of a rocket for a split second as I feel the explosion throw me into the wall and leave me stunned for a moment.  The blurred image of hell shows me the silhouette of Private Smith in pain as his knees squirt in search for his knees.  My heart rushes over to grab him, but the enemy’s desire for carnage takes away another one of my children.  As I take a step back, I hear a click between my ears.

A blaze of rage consumes my body as I grab my pistols and charge wildly into the enemy.  I show them one by one how much their existence means nothing to me.  My feet continue to charge me at the speed of hatred as I maneuver around the enemy’s poorly trained attempts to end my life.  I infiltrate the heart of their hideout and give the walls and sand a taste of my artwork.  Eventually, my weapons tell me that they need more ammo, so I throw them at the enemy to my right and then grab my knives to shove them into his throat.

As he curdles to the ground, I grab his weapon and blast through the child and the woman that were to firing at me.  After they fall to the ground, I scan rapidly for my next victim.  I hear the sound of hatred to my left, so I charge as a bloody tyrant and snap the neck of the unsuspecting soul.  His comrades turn to take away my life, but I shield my body with the memory of their friend.  As his former body spits defeat on me, I raise the weapon in his hand and fire at them until they know I was the true warrior in the group.  I continue to fire at the distant attackers and then radio to my squad, “Move in!”

I hear the warmth of “Hoo-rah!” after my command, so I continue to eliminate the enemy.  After the weapon of my body-bag is empty, I quickly load my pistols and charge towards the enemy.  The cowards begin to retreat, so I force my legs to catch them and violently slaughter their desires for life.  As I continue to fire with rage propelling my roar, I clinch my eyes and remember the stories that my brothers told me before they were forced into the afterlife.  I drop to my knees once I notice the only firing that remains is my own, so I let my eyes sweat from this brutal exercise of pain.

As I remain on my knees and scanning the hell that emerged during my dreams, I ask myself, “Why the fuck did I come back here?”  I reach into my pocket and pull out the picture of my wife and stare at her to keep my grasp of life.  I sigh as I look at her beautiful wavy hair and her piercing black eyes as I whisper, “How I wish I was touching that creamy skin of yours again.”  And as I was feeling love for her again, I felt the clicking pain between my ears begin to fade.

Day 2

 

I continued staring at the ground after the medics and the other soldiers were done collecting the tags of my fallen brothers.  My cot was never comfortable, but today it just doesn’t feel right to sit in this camp anymore.  As I look into the sky, I think of the angels that used to have bodies.  Their smiles that had the best texture of laughter will only be heard in a memory now.  Their families and loved ones have to deal with the news of a solemn message from a person they don’t know.  Yet here I am for some reason.  In the middle of my heavy thoughts, Private Locke walks in.  He says, “Sir?”

I reply, “Yes Private.”

“What are we gonna do about this?”

As I rub my eyes and stare him in his fiery eyes, I say, “We have to go to base and debrief.”

“But what else are we gonna do?”

“There’s nothing else we’re supposed to do, Private.”

“I’m sorry sir, but that’s bullshit.  We need to find those fuckers and fight.”

“No… we don’t.”

“Sir.”

“No!”  I stand up as my emotions take over my throat, “Do you really think that we should go into a world that we don’t understand and try and kill them all while risking more deaths among us?!  No!  We have orders to follow and we are not here to cause anymore bloodshed than necessary!  Understood?!”

“But sir-”

My eyes are inches from his face as I repeat sternly, “Un-der-stood?”

His lips clinch together as his eyes begin to well up.  He steps back and says, “Yes sir.”

I grab him before he salutes and hug him to let his emotions out.  We were trained to refuse any type of emotions and stay firm no matter what, but I was always a free thinker.  And hugging another marine may look weak to others, but I know that I can kill anyone in my path; so they can call me weak if they want to.  I say, “I know it’s hard private… but we can’t risk any more lives.  I already lost six men in that fight.  I don’t want to lose anymore.  And besides, we killed the ones that killed our brothers, so no more needs to be done.”

Private Locke holds me tighter as he lets his emotions drip from his eyes.  I rub his back as I say “I know, I know” before he composes himself.  He salutes me shortly after he steps back, so I give him the same compliment.  He says, “Sir, you’re not like any other leader I’ve followed.”

I chuckle as I say, “I know.”

His face remains stern before he says, “I’m glad sir.  Thank you.”

“As you were.”

Private Locke walks out of my tent and gets the remaining belongings he has prepared to hike to camp.  I inform the rest of the troops to do the same, so we head towards base.

We trudge through the desert with silence at our sides until Private Vargas lets his personality be known.  He skips past me and then starts to wiggle his butt like the character he is.  I ask, “Private, what the fuck are you doing?”

He turns around with his smile of youth as he says, “Gettin funky sir!”

“What?  Son are you on drugs again?”

“Fuck yeah sir!  Life has me fucked up!  Now say it with me!  I don’t know what I’ve been told!”

We all look at each other with grins on our faces as we mutter, “I don’t know what I’ve been told.”

“But I know that my life is gold!”

“But I know that my life is gold.”

“And I will make it back to home!”

“And I will make it back to home!”

“To fuck some bitches that I know!”

“To fuck some bitches that I know!”

“No matter what asshole will come!”

“No matter what asshole will come!”

“I’ll blow their ass to kingdom come!”

“I’ll blow their ass to kingdom come!”

He keeps skipping backwards without looking where he’s going in a silver lining of happiness.  As he’s saying, “And I will-”  I cut him off and grab him before he can skip anymore.  He asks in a chuckle, “Sir, what are you doing?”

I move him back to the remaining eight of us and say, “You should really look where you’re going son.”  I point at the explosive team and say, “This sand seems to have pricks in it that doesn’t look like any plant life.  Go check it out.”

Privates John and Abdallah say, “Yes sir” as they jog to the land mines.  They rig one to explode and cause a chain reaction that detonates the other three explosives around it.  Private Tagger and Locke begin to shake frantically and curl up with their weapons.  They scream in terror and aim their weapons in the distance for any possible threat.  I look at them and nod at their display of PTSD.  I walk towards them, and Locke says, “Sir they have us surrounded!  They have us surrounded!  What do we do!”

I say, “Come back to me son.”

They continue trembling, so I repeat, “Come back to me son.  Come back to me son.  Come back to me son.”

Their faces begin to relax as their trigger finger begins to extend away from firing their weapons at the sandy hills.  I repeat, “Come back to me son.  Come back to me son.  Come back to me son.”

They lower their shaking arms and then put the safety back on their weapons.  When they no longer show anymore desire to freak out, I touch their shoulders and nod my head.  I look at Private Vargas and say, “Thanks for the pick me up, but make sure you don’t blow your own ass to kingdom come.”

He nods his head as he says, “Yes sir.”

I shake my head and say, “Let’s move.”

After the journey comes to a close, our eyes are greeted by the salute of other soldiers outside of base camp.  Heavily armored vehicles drive to their commanded locations to a battle I hope they’re prepared for.  When all of us are safe behind friendly lines, I turn to my men and say, “Relax men, you’ve earned it.”

They join the other troops and the civilians in playing soccer or telling stories to the children.  Others decide to retire and get some sleep to rest their souls.  My feet carry me to my commander’s quarters to give him the details of our fight and the travel we took to get here.  I stare at my general and salute him out of respect.  He says, “At ease” so I relax into my natural posture.  He says, “So tell me why you’re here and why a chopper carried back six angels.”

“Well sir, I was sleeping as the enemy came to our camp.  They fired wildly at us and attempted to kill everyone without any possible chance of surrender.  I commanded my men to surround the area so that we may close in on the enemy and eliminate them from the outside in.  Yet, when I saw Private Smith taken away from me, I decided to go in and fight the enemy in close encounters.  I slayed the remaining number of terrorists and then suggested that we come here after such a rough night.”

“How many terrorists were there?”

“I honestly can’t remember sir.  Too many bullets and firing to recall.  It became pretty fuzzy after a while.”

“And the civilians that were with you?”

“Dead sir.”

“Interesting… but you took out the remaining hostiles on your own?”

“Yes sir.”

“Hmm…”  The General looks down and says, “It worked.”

“Sir?”

“Sorry, I was thinking of another fight that happened as well.  We’re testing a new weapon, not within the camp but it’s not too far from here, and it ended up saving a lot of soldiers.”

I take a deep breath and say, “I could have used such a weapon last night sir.”

“I know.  But we’re still working on some bugs.  We want to make sure that the best of our men get the best that we have to offer.”

“Sir, no offense, but all men should get the best.”

“I couldn’t agree with you more son.  But I’m just curious… Why didn’t you just wait for the chopper to pick up the rest of you when they were done transporting the angels?”

“We could use the exercise sir.  And it let me know that Privates Locke and Tagger are no longer able to fight.  I request that they be sent home early.”

“Why’s that?”

“They have PTSD sir and they are not able to fight at the top of their capacity anymore.  I would prefer to avoid anymore bloodshed of my men sir.”

“Consider it done Colonel.  Anything else?  Are you hurt?  How’s your head?”

“It’s fine sir.  I’m just ready to go home when my time is finished here.”

“You will soon enough.  You only have two weeks left.”

“Thank you sir.”

“As you were.”

I turn and leave my General’s quarters to join my men.  For some reason I don’t feel tired, so I figure I can join the men who are telling stories to the children to make sure they’re keeping it G rated.

As I’m walking towards them, I feel the same click between my ears that I felt last night.  Images of random faces and locations begin to flash in my mind until rage boils my blood into desirous action.  Stomps of determination push me to grab two pistols, a semi-automatic weapon and my knives.  I turn to one of the soldiers who is looking over one of the motorcycles at base and I push him off of it.  I didn’t expect to send him flying into a sandy landing, but I couldn’t think straight.  I lock eyes with my General’s curious face before the motorcycle roars me into the distance with destruction on my mind.

Day 3

As my eyes blaze with hatred on a path I do not know, I feel myself being pulled from within my body.  I see my face creasing until my teeth are growling like a beast.  No matter how much debris smacks me, I never twitch from the signs of pain.  I end up passing the armored vehicles that were at base camp without any desire to see if they know who I am.  My outer-body experience turns to see the faces of the soldiers stricken with confusion by my mad-man path.  When an unsuspecting civilian is crossing the street, their fear freezes them in place, but my desire causes me to speed up.  The screams of a soul wishing to live are heard by me, but not my body.  The brakes on the bike are hit until I’m in skid, and I watch as my right leg braces me and my bike whips around the civilian until my left leg braces me again to keep me on course.

A rocky terrain that resembles a baby mountain becomes visible to my blood enraged eyes.  I end up right outside of an opening on the baby mountain and leave my bike revving.  I rip off a piece of my right sleeve and then begin to tie it to the throttle with my other hand still on the brake.  The back tire begins to yell for whoever is inside while flinging dirt at anyone who may approach me from behind.  My rage desires to taste on the three bodies that are leaving the building with guns in their hands.  A demented smile takes hold of my hatred as I let the bike drive itself into the gun-wielders and takes them out like bowling pins.  My feet carry me as if I’m weightless until my hands grab my pistols and send three precise bullets into the spiritual eye of these men.  I don’t know what’s happening to me, but I can’t stop myself.

The noise of death definitely attracts the curiosity of everyone else inside as I hear them scream their battle cries.  Yet their screams are silenced as quickly as their seen without any wasted shots.  My possessed body continues to sprint deeper within the dimly lit cave without running into the oozing walls.  At every corner, another victim is taken out by the hands I used to call mine.  As soon as I see a great opening within the cave, I’m brought into the world of war as I stare at thirty different soldiers with nothing but hatred darting in my direction.  As I look at my face, all that I see is desire; and I don’t know why my eyes have started to bleed crimson tears.

I hear them shout, “Ah la la la la la la la” as they reach for their weapons.  I run along the edge of the platform above them and fire my right and then left pistol without any breaks between the shots.  I watch their turbans go from beige or grey to red, one by one.  The threats that had time to reach their weapons begin to fire at my maniacal body, but miss me to send threatening ricochets within the cave.  A rogue bullet grazes my left side, but my passions don’t flinch at all from the wound.  I leap from the platform as I sheath my left weapon and pick up one of the deceased with that free hand.  I have never had this kind of strength in my life; what’s happening to me?

Their former comrades body is continuously shredded by their screaming bullets as I continue to pluck them off like game.  When my desires for blood infect me to the point of no return, I realize that I’m almost out of bullets.  I sheath my other pistol and grab the body of another man I never knew. I hear that they’ve emptied their clips, so I throw their friends at them to trap them beneath their imminent death.  As they squirm and show fear in their ballooned eyes, I see my face giving them a preview of hell.  My eyes are still bleeding with crimson rage as my teeth are dripping with a liquid taste of iron.  My quivering mouth continues to grin at the six remaining men as I pierce their skulls with my knives right where their thoughts used to fear me.

Footsteps echo within the walls and cause me to grab the semi-automatic weapon on my back.  I wait until the footsteps become an image and I relentlessly blast them into the afterlife.  I watch the walls begin to mix its natural oozing liquid with the blood of my victims.  I slowly approach them and use the wall as a shield as I continue to empty my clip.  I stop firing when I don’t see anymore bodies to see if I can hear any life beyond the wall.  I hear the shaking of an inexperienced warrior, so I wait until he’s ready to die.  When my patience is about to run thin, I hear him running towards me with a feeling of victory; but I only give him the feeling of defeat.  I notice that my weapon is empty now, so I drop it to the ground with the empty bodies.  A sick part of me is enjoying this carnage.

My overused body begins to show that it’s coming to its limits in energy used as I watch me stumble before composing myself.  But then, like a machine that never stops until its duties are complete, I go deeper within the cave to find the face that has flashed in my skull.  I see a pole that leads deeper into the interior of the cave, so I walk back to my previous work and grab three more bodies and carry them on my shoulder, under my arm and one in hand.  I drop the bodies one by one to the bottom of the hole and then hear frightened people empty their weapons.  When they give that final click of defeat, I slide down the pole and slice the four men that were surrounding it as they are trying to reload their weapons.

Then I turn my attention to face the man my mind wouldn’t stop painting for me.  He’s surrounded by monitors that show the images of his deceased followers on every screen as well as the image of the armored vehicle from my camp parking outside.  His sandy skin and graying hair remain as motionless as his aged face.  The creases of hatred that his face has obviously held for many years remain relaxed as he examines me with his black eyes.  He stands his weathered body up and continues to stare at me as if he could still kill me.  My rage infested smile shows him that I’m not one for stand-offs as it approaches him while licking my demonic teeth from dripping anymore.  This covers my whole mouth with blood and finally lets his eyes show his true knowledge of fear.  The man begins to say “I surren-” but my right knife dug into his bronchial plexus and choked all the way to where his chin meets his throat.  His hands clinch my back with his fading eyes staring at my empty eyes until his legs get the signal that his brain is no longer on.

I pick up his body and then carry him back to the outside of the cave through the secret passage of stairs to my left.  The walls continue to ooze with the texture of the mountain and the lives that used to know this planet.  I make my way to the sunlight that hurts my eyes now until I see the armored trucks that left the camp waiting outside of the mountain.  The soldiers draw their weapons and yell, “Surrender!”

I drop the body from my shoulder and then fall to the ground as the clicking between my ears begins to fade.  All of the pain in my eyes and my side begin to gnaw on my peace as I begin to enter my body again.  I scream in pain as I yell, “It’s Jimmy!  I’m Jimmy!”  The soldiers look at each other with shock, so I say, “It’s Colonel Jack Dammit!  Aaaaaaagh!”

They drop their weapons and sprint to my location to see what happened to me.  They look at the body and then look at my work outside of the cave and carry me into their vehicle.  I remain moaning in pain as they send in two soldiers to check for any possible threats inside.  The officer in command looks me in my bloody eyes and asks, “What the hell happened Colonel?”

I stare at him with fear welling my eyes as I say, “I don’t know…”

His fear ridden face begins to move his mouth some more, but my mind begins to fade without holding onto any words coming from him.  Then, just as slowly as I felt my body again, everything goes black.

Day 4

I find myself within my memories of quieter times.  I scan the area to see palm trees dancing with the wind as my eyes lock into the beauty of the ocean.  My back is being imprinted by the threads of the hammock as Sabrina’s back rests on my chest.  I smell that flowing hair that kisses her fruity shampoo into my senses.  I enjoy how her skin sends tingles into my soul as she gently strokes my arms that refuse to let her go.  As our breathing slows to the rhythm of our peaceful hearts, I can hear the smile on her face as she sighs.  I ask her, “What’s on your mind dear?”

She replies, “I’m just so happy to be here with you.”

“Well the feeling’s mutual.  No one else could make me feel as happy as you do.”

“Is that right?”  I can hear the playful sarcasm spinning in her mind as she says, “Well you’re alright I guess.”

I chuckle as I say, “You little brat.”

We enjoy the warm laughter trickling from our mouths before she says, “But why do you feel that way about me?”

“For starters, you actually have a brain within that beautiful body of yours.”

“Good start, continue.”

My head shakes with laughter as I say, “And you make my soul realize it has a mate.  Every time you breathe, every time you smile, every time you speak, every time you yell at me,” we both chuckle before I continue with, “and of course… every time we share our bodies with one another.  Also, we both have the same spiritual beliefs.”

She gently squirms deeper within my body as she says, “You’ve made your point well enough.  And you know I love you most of all.”

“Oh yeah?  Why’s that.”

She thinks for a moment and then says, “Because you keep my mind from wanting anyone else.  You always show who you are without trying to force anything, and you naturally make me happy.  You don’t have to act like the perfect man to me; you just are.”

“That’s good enough I guess.”

She hits me as she says, “Oh shut it.”

I hug her tighter and kiss her fragrant head as we both enjoy some more laughter together.  As we continue looking into the ocean, she asks, “Why do you have to go back and fight?”

My eyes drop for a moment as I reply, “It’s my duty.”

“But why do you have to go back now?  I thought that your time was done and you didn’t have to fight anymore?  I want you to stay with me and be safe.”

“And I want to stay with you and be safe.  But something is telling me that I need to do this one last time.”  I scratch the back of my head and then put my arm back around her.

“Then forget whatever is telling you to leave me and stay.”

I chuckle as I say, “Sweetie, that’s not how it works.  And I already agreed to go and fight one last time.”

“But you know that you’re more of a creative mind than a fighter.  Why can’t you just find a job doing that or be a starving artist that continues to pursue his dreams in the safety of our home?”

“Because a job for a black man doesn’t fall into his lap, and I’m not about to mooch off of you.  I need to be a man and I need to do whatever it takes to provide, no matter what.”

“But I want you to stay.”

I pause for a moment and shake my head before saying, “What’s really wrong?  You’re usually not this persistent about me staying with you.”  There’s a long pause, so I nudge her and ask, “Sabrina?  What’s wrong?”

She turns her graceful body around and let’s those glistening blue eyes hold my attention.  She says, “Jimmy… I’m pregnant.”

Excitement throws out my composure as I say with saucer eyes, “Really?”  Her smile returns to her face as she nods her head, so I wrap joyous arms around her and say, “Oh my God!  We’re having a baby!  Aaaaaah!”

I attack her with kisses and almost capsize the hammock with all of our excitement.  She giggles as I squeeze her until she can’t move away from me.  Composure returns to our party as I ask her, “When did this happen?”

“Well… when you returned to receive your medal and we celebrated vigorously for the next couple of days… ta-daaah.”

We chuckle as I say, “This is unbelievable.  I can’t… wow…”

“I know… we’re having a baby.”

“Wow…” I stare at her again and ask, “Do you have a preference on a boy or a girl?”

“Honestly I don’t care.  A boy would be easier because they just break stuff, but I’d be happy with either one.”

“Me too… wow… Wow!  Oh my God WOW!”  I hug her again and taste the lips that send me to heaven.  I say, “I love you so much Sabrina…”

“I love you more than anything Jimmy…”

“I will make sure I come back to you… Even if it means my legs are the price for my return or an arm or something of that nature… but I have to come back to you and our little display of love.”

“You promise?”

“I promise.”

Her lips clinch together before she says, “Okay…”  Her eyes begin to well with emotions, so I gently stroke my thumb underneath her right and then her left eye as the air shows how much life her hair has.

I say, “Don’t worry… I love you too much to leave.  And I want to have a family with you too much to let some person I don’t know steal me from you.”

“Okay.”

We taste the mixture of our lips and tongues again before she rests her head on my chest to hear my heart still beating.  I sigh with a smile towards the ocean but then feel the same itch on the back of my head.  The warm breeze caresses us as I bring my hand back down and pet the beauty of my wife.  My memories begin to fade as I see the blurred interior of the camp’s medical quarters.  I look over to see an IV in my arm and then the face of my General.  He asks the doctor next to him, “Can you fix it so this doesn’t happen again?”

The doctor replies, “I’m not certain sir.  I wasn’t on this project in the beginning, but I’ll do everything I can.”

“Well fix it dammit.  No one can know about this.”

My vision takes me away again until more memories give my eyes a show.

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.

Day 6

After I was placed back into my bed, I must have fallen asleep until today.  I woke up with the searching eyes of many troops around me.  It looked as though they were allergic to blinking as they examined me with terror and awe.  I eventually broke their peace by asking, “Is there something on my face?”

A soldier I didn’t know replies, “No sir…”

“Well then what is it?”

Another soldier says, “Sir… how did you take out that many terrorists without any help?”

I drop my head before I say, “I don’t know.  Something came over me.”

Silence was heavy within the room as I reminisced about how I couldn’t tell them that a random clicking in my head made me do everything.  I would sound like a lunatic and would most likely be dishonorably discharged.  I don’t want to live with that burden, so I should remain silent about this whole situation.  Yet silence wasn’t what anyone wanted, so another soldier says, “Well shit sir… that was the most amazing thing out there.  We were going to that location to try and get Al-Zabad… but you showed up and took him out and all of the men that were protecting him.  We got word that they were the ones that attacked your camp, so we were going to get them back.”

“Is that right?”

Everyone nods with their eyes still glued to my face.  One of the soldiers says, “Sir… that was like an act of God or something.”

“Trust me.  That wasn’t God.  But thank you.  Shouldn’t you boys be doing something besides staring at me in bed though?”

The General walks in and says, “He’s right.  Leave him alone and give him his space.  He’s had a rough couple of days.”  The General watches intently as the peanut gallery exits the room with curiosity keeping their eyes on me.  After everyone leaves, the General says, “That was one hell of a job you did in there though son.  I honestly wouldn’t have liked the odds… but hey, you showed us what it means to be an American Marine.”  He begins to laugh but my face remains flat.

I say, “Yes I’m fine.  Thanks for asking sir.”

“Oh what are you being a pansy on me again?”

“Sir, no offense, but I don’t know what came over me and that was not something that I wanted to do or ever want to do again.”

The General thinks for a moment as he nods his head. He leans close to my face with his hands on the edge of the bed as he says, “So you didn’t want to avenge your fallen comrades?  What kind of a soldier are you?”

My lips begin to show disgust as I say, “Don’t twist the reality sir.  You know that I would want to avenge my brothers… especially Private Smith.  But that… that was not natural or safe.  It was completely outside of protocol and it could cause another attack on us in the near future.”

He laughs as he says, “I call bullshit on that one son.  When they find out that just one of us can take out over forty of their men without dying in the process like their dumbasses would do by strapping a fucking bomb on their chest, they’re gonna be scared shitless.  Good job trying to sound like the bigger man, but it’s okay, you can tell me that you enjoyed doing that.”

“The only part of me that enjoyed doing that was the devil inside of me.  You and I both know that I’m much more than that.”

He rolls his eyes while saying, “There’s no hope for you son.  Maybe this is the best time for you to stop fighting because you sound as threatening as a puppy right now.”

I snap, “Are you finished, sir.”

“General.”

We share a stare of death before I say, “General.”

We continue sharing our stare before he says, “I guess so.  Colonel.”

He turns and walks out of the room while slamming the door behind himself.  I mutter, “Prick” and sink into my bed to enjoy the warmth.  My mind spins around my thoughts until I come to the conclusion that I should try and control myself better than before.  I may be able to become a fighting machine at the drop of a hat, but the machine is not predictable.  All that I can feel is the click before the surge of energy takes me out of this world.  And it obviously takes a toll on my body since I was knocked out for two whole days before I realized that I could move.  But even that quick movement took out more than I was ready for because I just fell right back asleep.

The doctor that I held the knife to walks over hesitantly and quickly checks my chart before he scurries off.  I say, “I’m sorry about that” to try and ease the tension, but he awkwardly waves at me before he disappears behind the door.  It’s weird to be sitting in the medical quarters alone.  A couple rows of empty beds waiting for people to bleed or rest on them with the constant smell of sterilization can make any man feel uneasy.  I look out of the window and see life playing in the soldiers and civilians in the camp as they enjoy running around and relaxing in the sun.  I look up to see nothing but a grey ceiling with brown fans turning me into a vegetable. But I just can’t stop thinking about how I knew how to attack these men without being trained for anything like that at all.  Could there be something in the food or were they doing something to us in our sleep?  I don’t know… all that I do know, is that my head still hurts and I need to rest this whole thing off.  I should check the mail tomorrow to see if my wife has written me.  I don’t want her to worry about me at all.  That could be bad for our baby.

Day 7

My body feels its composure returning, so I get out of that bed whose definition of comfort is back pain.  My feet remember that the floor in this room is cold, so I quickly put on my shoes after getting dressed.  I open the door to the world of war I’m in and have the leeching eyes of soldiers staring at me promptly.  I say, “As you were” and continue walking to where the rest of my belongings are stationed.  Their eyes never stop touching me until I disappear into my green tent though.

I look at my desk to see if there are any letters for me, and my eyes are kissed by a handwritten letter from my wife.  Eagerness is never patient, so I grab the letter and let her voice appear in my thoughts as I read.  Nothing beats how soft she speaks while still having authority pushing out whatever she says.  I read,

Dear Jimmy,

I just needed to know how you’re doing and if you’re still doing fine.  I miss having you hold me and how much we laugh whenever we’re together.  I keep on thinking about this little bun growing inside of me and it makes me smile with tears.  I won’t think of anything bad happening to you, because I don’t want to put that energy out there.  I will stay positive and I will keep on expecting you to come home to me and our little bundle of love.  Although, your love has been making me sick lately, but that’s part of the process of making a baby.  And you’re definitely worth the sickness.

Work at the hospital has been steady and everyone is so happy for us.  Janet, the one that has a crush on you, couldn’t be more jealous, and it honestly makes me feel a little happy.  Not gonna lie.  I’m just waiting for when this little boy or girl starts to show through my clothes.  I am a little worried about getting fat though.  And, just to get this out of the way, I’m sorry for any mood swings that will happen when you get back.  Just remember, it’s not how I normally am and my hormones are going crazy and I will always love you.  But anyway, I just want to see your writing some more so that I know you’re okay.  I love you so much my perfect man, and write me whenever you have the chance.

Your loving wife,
Sabrina

I lick my lips to try and taste our last kiss after I finish reading her heart within this letter.  I promptly grab a piece of paper and a pen to write to her and let her know that I’m doing fine.  After I sit in my chair, I write,

Dear Sabrina,

You absolutely warmed my soul with this letter my dear.  I am doing fine and we haven’t had too many problems going on lately.  It’s been the usual routine excursions of protecting the innocent lives of others and so forth.  But all that I keep on doing is thinking of the two loves within my life that are waiting for me to come home.  I’m curious to see who’s eyes our little joy decides to take, but honestly, I’d prefer if he or she took yours.  Those eyes compliment the beauty of your soul, but they’ll never compare to the true beauty that you always present me.  It’s the best present that any man could ever wish for.  Which is why I’m so serious about always coming home to you and how this is the last time that I’ll allow myself to be in another country without you.

And let’s be honest, I miss the rush that your touch gives me.  Thinking about it right now causes my soldier to have rigor.  I constantly hear your beautiful voice telling me to come back to you and to make sure that I’m the best father for this child I’ve always wanted.  I want to give him or her what I never had.  And what you said about Janet made laughter come to life within this world full of death.  And this child will at least distract her from hating you for being a better nurse than her as well.  Keep it up my love.  And don’t worry about getting fat, you’ll always be beautiful to me.  Also, when I come back to you, I want to take a vacation, just the two of us, so that we may enjoy the solitude of silence with our bodies warming up to the passion of our desires.  Tell me where we’re going to go in the next letter; because I don’t care where we go, as long as you’re with me.  I send you many kisses and thrusts through this letter and I’m eagerly waiting for my eyes to be blessed with more of your writing.

Your loving husband,
Jimmy

I kiss the letter with my eyes closed to try and imagine her perfect face.  Yet when I open them, I still only see this letter.  How I miss her.  I put my heart within an envelope and walk outside to send it out.  After it’s put in the proper place, I turn around to see more soldiers staring questions at me.  I sigh as I say, “Yes.”

They take out a picture they have of me as one of them asks, “Could we get your autograph sir?”

My face wrinkles with shocked confusion as I ask, “You’re serious?”

“Yes sir.  That was the most incredible thing that I or any of us has ever seen.  We got the footage of inside of the cave and… yeah, that was bad ass sir.  I feel a lot safer with you here with us.”

A quick spurt of air jumps from my mouth after that comment.  I shrug my shoulders and say, “Alright, but after this, let’s leave this situation in the past.  Understood?”

They all reply, “Yes sir.”

I sign their photos that they have of me and then ask, “Where did you get these photos anyway?”

“The General gave them to us.”

I shake my head and then finish signing the photos.  I give them a quick pointer finger salute and then say, “Carry on.”

My feet carry me to the General’s office and I see him with a million dollar smile on his face.  He says, “So you see that you have quite a fan base now huh?”

“Why are you throwing fuel on this fire sir?  I want to leave it in the past like it should stay.”

“Oh come on and enjoy the perks of being such a great warrior every once in a while son.”

“Sir, this isn’t funny to me.  Please stop.  I wasn’t myself when that happened.”

“Alright, if that’s what you really want, I’ll stop.”

“Thank you sir.”

I turn around to leave but he stops me by saying, “But son.  You do make the camp feel safe.  Are you sure that you don’t want to possibly protect more of your brothers after this ‘last mission’ as you say?”

I don’t turn to face him as I say, “I have no more battles to fight after I leave sir.  I only wish to be with my family.”  I continue walking out before he can say anything else.  Guilt tripping me is worst way to try and get me to stay.  I go back to my tent and begin cleaning my guns.  I have to make sure everything is working properly in case there’s another fight.

Day 8

I wake up to another day away from my wife.  I keep on thinking of that beautiful letter that she wrote me so that my mind isn’t swallowed by this war.  So I promptly start my day with the routine personal hygiene and then I do a quick workout.  Having my own quarters is definitely a perk with being a Colonel.  First, I begin with eight sets of fifty push-ups and then I do the same amount with squats.  After the squats I feel the cooling victory of sweat welcoming me for another day.  So I wipe myself off and then walk outside after putting on some deodorant.

I see the other soldiers doing some group exercises and preparing for any threat that may happen.  One of the Sergeants at the camp approaches me and says, “Good Morning Colonel.”

I reply, “Good morning Sergeant Price.  What does the day have in store for us?”

“Well Colonel, I was sent to ask you if you’re ready to go out again on a simple security mission?”

“I am.  Will you be joining us or am I in charge of this group?”

“I’ll be joining you as navigation, but you’re obviously going to be in charge sir.”

I chuckle as I reply, “Yeah I guess that makes sense.  When do we head out?”

“0800 sir.”

I look at my watch and then say, “So in an hour.  Thank you Sergeant.  Carry on.”  He salutes and then leaves me with my thoughts.

I’m glad that the clicking between my ears has finally stopped.  I feel as though I may still be a human.  I look around and don’t see my old troops that I had the pleasure of fighting with on the first day of the clicking.  Maybe they’ve been reassigned or sent home with their loved ones.  Hopefully Privates Tagger and Locke have remembered the joys of laughter that life can offer.  But that may take some time.  Their sphere of influence is very important.  If they remain in the fast life of parties and such, their recovery is going to take a lot longer.  Hope is all that I can do now though.

Eventually I’m back in an armored vehicle travelling somewhere in this desert.  I don’t know why someone or a whole group of people would stay living out here when it’s so freaking hot.  But not everyone thinks like me, so it’s no reason to judge others.  Although, personally, I enjoy looking at more than endless sand with the occasional spitting camel that has boredom riddling its face as we lock our distant eyes.  In the middle of my thoughts, I feel the vehicle coming to a close, so I guess that we’ve arrived.

We exit in groups of two out of the rear to make sure that both sides are covered in case there’s an attack.  I emerge to do a quick scan of the area, and after we see no threats, we lower our weapons.  I walk over to the officer in command and say, “Sir, what are our orders?”

He smiles and say, “It’s an honor to have you here sir.  But we’re here to protect the voters from any possible attack.”

“So we’re basically security and keeping a close eye on anyone in and out as others are set up around the area to make sure that if any threat is blazing towards us we have a proper warning?”

“Yes sir.  Quite a mouthful sir.”

“Yeah it was.  Sir.”  We salute each other and then I keep my eyes on the civilians to make sure they aren’t stolen from their body.

Emptiness was the only emotion I felt until I started to see the expressions of life behind the cloths on the voters’ faces.  Hope was lighting their eyes and they were proudly showing their inked fingers as they would leave the voting offices.  I’m not one hundred percent sure what issue they were voting on, but just the fact that they were able to vote on it made them so happy.  I felt as though I was staring at a bunch of children on Christmas day; so amazing.  I almost lost my composure when one of them grabbed me and did a little happy shake and then went on their way.  Confusion creased my brow as another soldier looked at me with a smile on his face.  We all were becoming drunk on the excitement of freedom that these people felt they were getting.  Just the thought of freedom was so dangerous for them; but now, they care more about living than just dealing with life.  Priceless.

After a couple hours of standing guard, another group of troops came to relieve us.  Not having to fight gives me so much joy in how I might be able to watch my wife’s face as our little bundle of joy stomps its chubby legs around our house.  I want it more than anything else in the world.  I hop on the back of the vehicle that’ll take us back to camp and watch the distant sand until we return.

Upon our return, frantic eyes greet me when I step out of the vehicle.  I ask the soldier, “What’s wrong?”

He replies, “Sir, you have to come and see what’s on T.V.”

“What’s wrong?”

“No time to explain.  Follow me.”

We jog over to the television and he turns up the volume so no one would possibly complain about not hearing anything.  I hear a language I don’t understand as two armed terrorist have two soldiers under their custody with their heads covered by cloaks.  It’s obviously a possible beheading, so I wait to see who the possible victims are.  The cloaks are removed, and my eyes are stained with pain as I see Privates Locke and Tagger staring into the camera.  Their eyes are covering their fear before they drop their heads and stare at the ground.  I tap the person next to me and ask, “What’s he saying?”

He says, “The terrorists are saying that they’re going to behead these troops for the raping that we have done to their country tomorrow at noon.”

“Do we know where they are?”

“No… they were taken when they went out three days ago.”

“What?!”

The soldier starts to reply, but my anger already was propelling me to see the General.  I barge into his office and see him on the phone with someone.  He holds up his finger at me but I snatch the phone from him and hang it up.  He yells, “What the fuck are you doing Colonel?”

I yell, “Why the fuck were these men not sent home?”

“They said they were still good to fight so I let them stay!”

“Bullshit!  I know you and I know you convinced them to stay you dirty motherfucker!”

“Do you want a wall to wall meeting Colonel?”

“Motherfucker I’ll break the wall with your fucking back!  Why the hell did you do this?  I told you they’re not ready to fight anymore and now they’re going to be killed because of you!”

“Don’t blame me for this shit!”

“Fuck you Sir!”

I storm out of his office and run into my quarters to grab my guns.  I look out to see the sun starting to set, so I don’t have a lot of time.  I run over to other troops and say, “Who knows where they were when they were taken?”

None of them raise their hand.  I continue searching around with rage turning my head until one of them says, “Sir, I don’t know where they were, but I’m willing to go and search for them with you.”

They start saying one by one, “Me too sir!”

“Likewise sir!”

“Hoorah!”

I say, “Alright then let’s get clearance for one of these vehicles and let’s go get them after getting some food.  I can’t guarantee your return, but I can guarantee you that your bravery and your loyalty to this brotherhood means more to me than you know.  Now let’s move!”

We quickly scarf down a meal and then prepare ourselves for a long night and a brutal morning.  The General makes an appearance and says, “Normally I’d threaten you with a serious punishment son; but for now, I’ll let you do this because you aren’t forcing others to join you.  But if you get any of these men hurt or killed, it’s on your hands.”

I stare at him without a reply, so he nods his head and goes back to his office.  I send out troops in multiple different directions and go with one of the squads in a frantic search for our brothers.  Yet after we’ve searched all night until the sun emerges, we still have no idea where they are.  I start to lose hope as the back of my head begins to itch.  Then, as soon as I look to the blazing sun in the east, I start to hear the clicking between my ears.

Day 9

Dammit, that fucking clicking is at an irregular beat this time and my head is shaking from the images being shown to me.  I watch as I’m pulled out of my body again to see if I live or die.  The troops that are surrounding me are stunned with fright as I begin to growl and charge over to the vehicle we just got out of.  Three troops manage to jump into the vehicle before I speed down the road.  One of them asks, “Where are we going sir?”  Yet he’s answered by my silence as my crazed eyes remain on the road.  He nods and says to the other troops, “Be prepared for anything boys!”

The other two yell “hoorah” without knowing the dangers I’m putting them in.

We continue down the road and make a turn into the desert where no roads lead.  Our vehicle hops and bumps through the patches of sand until we come across a stone building in the distance.  It only looks to be the size of a shack from our angle, as if it’s just a holding quarters.  The distant threats see the dust from our vehicle roaring towards them, so they open fire on us.  One of the troops takes the weapon on top of the vehicle and starts firing wildly at them while yelling, “Get some!”

I watch him pluck off three of the threats in front of the building as we start to see the whites of their eyes.  The other two troops remain hidden until we come to a stop because the bumps on this drive are too ferocious for them to be able to fire anyway.  The gunner plucks off two more threats that ran out of the building before we come to a halt.  The soldier to my right asks me, “What’s the-” but I don’t listen to his request for direction as my possessed body darts into the building to give a light show of gun-fire.  My soul looks to the sky and sees that the sun is almost over-head, so I hope that my possessed body makes it to them in time.

Two of the troops run in blindly after me as one of them stays outside to protect us from any possible threats.  My desires lead us directly to Privates Locke and Tagger on their knees with two masked gunners behind them that are speaking into the live camera.  The executioner raises his hand with his weapon ready to steal their lives and begins to lower it to Tagger’s neck.  Shock forces his head to shoot up when he hears my growl echoing through the hall before a bullet forces his brains to splat on one of the gunners behind him.  The other gunner whips around to take away my life, but he’s bumped by a courageous Locke who jumped up and tackled him to the ground.  My demonic face is revealed to the world as I kick off the head of the person that was tackled while putting a bullet between the eyes of the other gunner.

I cut off the bondage that’s holding Tagger and Locke’s hands behind their backs and then crouch down for any possible threats that might come from the shadowed hallway.  The camera keeps on rolling, so everyone viewing this video is getting a free show of war.  Although, for some reason my possessed body growls out, “I want you men to leave now and tell the camp where I am.  That’s an order.”

They look at me in shock as Private Tagger says, “No can do sir.”

I growl back, “I’m not going to let you end up like Private Smith!  Now move and get more troops!”

Their fighting spirit deflates as they look at each other and then run back out to the vehicle.  My helpless spirit watches as my body prepares for possibly my final battle.  I grab one of the lifeless bodies and hoist it like a shield with one of my pistols in my free right hand.  I wait patiently for more masked murderers to come into my sights.  I think it’s funny they’re man enough to take away someone’s life, but they’re not man enough to show their face while doing it.

Eventually, I see the shadows of bodies approaching me from the grey shadowed hallway.  Gunshots fire into their heads until I have to switch weapons.  The same action is taken without any struggle until I eventually run out of bullets.  I throw the body acting as my shield at the door and then wield my knives in the corner as I wait for more threats to enter.  I patiently allow three of them to enter the room with their bullets firing at nothing until I slice two of them in the back of their necks and stab the remaining threat in his right side.  He tries to fight me, but I point his gun at his neck and cause him to commit suicide.

More bullets fly in from the hallway and manage to take me to the ground.  My body growls as I go down from the wounds in my right leg, but my fight refuses to quit.  They approach me from the hall with caution still firing their weapons, so I grab the weapon to my right and show them I’m more of an accurate shooter.  My body begins to shake from the blood loss, but I still manage to stand up.  Another threat runs in and I fire his weapon from his hand.  He still manages to plow into my weakened body and begins to tussle with me on the ground.  We exchange different punches until I manage to distance myself from him.  He takes out his knife and charges while slicing wildly at me.

I manage to dodge his attacks but another bullet hits me in my left arm from the hallway.  I whip around and pick up another gun and silence him, but the wild person slashing at me manages to hit the back of my head and bring me to my knees.  His arm goes up for a hail Mary, but I quickly fire upward and cause him to fall lifeless.  The clicking stopped completely after he sliced the back of my head, so I stumble to the ground with my consciousness returning to me.  Tears begin to fall from my eyes as I grab my body in pain and start to crawl from the other side of this blankly bloodied room to the hallway. My will to fight continues to bleed from my body as I move any further.  Eventually it becomes too much, so I drop to the ground.

My body turns around so I can face the brightly lit ceiling.  I only think of life back home and how much I wish I could see Sabrina’s face one last time.  My heart begins to slow down as I hear more footsteps approaching me from the hallway.  The sound of gunfire stings my ears and sends a chill of an end down my spine.  I just hope my wife isn’t watching this streaming video.   I hear the same clicking that was once in my head on the ground next to me, so I look and see some bizarre device.  It vibrates on the ground and looks as small as a computer chip with some pointy prick in the center of it.  I want to examine this alien device more, but then, I hear the footsteps next to my head.  So I let out a sigh before I close my eyes and prepare for whatever may come.  Yet my body is so tired, I drift off to sleep.

Day 10

I find myself sitting on my beige couch with a little girl bouncing on my knee.  Her black curly hair flows just below her shoulders as she claps her little hands with joy.  I look around to see the pictures of my family all around me as the television is showing a child’s cartoon show.  I look to the face of this little girl and see that she has the same blue eyes as my wife.  I look at the glass coffee table to try and find something else that makes sense for this happening right now.  I hear my wife’s graceful steps approaching me from the kitchen, so I shake my head to see if it changes my scenery.  The little girl on my knee says as she’s bouncing with excitement, “Daddy, did you hear that?  He said anything is possible if you try!”

I reply, “Yea sweetie… that’s great” as I continue searching for clarity.

My wife enters the room with a fresh cup of coffee steaming in her mug and gives me a soft kiss on my cheek.  Confusion creases my complexion as I look at her and then look around my home with these off-white walls holding me in.  I look at my chair and still see that my cat Shylah has claimed dominance over my belongings by bathing without a care of who’s watching.  Honestly I think she enjoys it when people watch her bathe.  She’s a freak, but I love her.  Sabrina stares at me and asks, “What’s wrong babe?”

I reply, “Uh… nothing… it’s just nice to be home.  Still trying to get used to it.”

She smiles and says, “Yeah it’s taken you a little bit to adjust from the chaos of war to the simple boring life we live.  But Cassandra and I are happy that you’re with us now.”

Cassandra says with her voice bouncing with her body, “Yeah daddy!  We love you.”

I turn her around from my knee to examine her little button nose with those plump cheeks.  I say, “And I couldn’t love anyone else more than you two my little angel.”

Kisses are smothered on my little girl’s neck after that comment; her giggling kisses my soul in return.  The touch of her beautiful young hair on my face makes tears want to well within my eyes.  We hug each other and then I stare at my wife who has the same twinkle in her eyes that caused us to have our first child.  Sabrina says after I give her a smirk, “Cassandra, why don’t you go and play with your toys so that daddy and I can talk about some stuff?”

Cassandra replies, “What are you going to talk about mommy?”

“Just some grown up stuff.  We’ll join you in your room after we’re done.  Okay?”

Cassandra hops down and says, “Okay!” as her footsteps radiate on the hardwood floor to her carpeted room.

Sabrina glides over to me and sets her mug on the table before she wraps my arm around her back with her legs straddling me.  She leans into my face as she says, “My man” and lets me taste the most delicious item on the planet.  Well, besides the place where life comes from on her.

My trimmed fingernails stroke gently on her back until I can feel her senses tingling with excitement.  I grab the back of her hair and pull it until I can slowly caress her neck with my tongue.  As she sinks deeper onto me, I feel that my desires for her are growing steadily in my loins.  She whips her head back down and bites my lip like the animal that she is.  We continue tasting on each other until I feel her eager fingers reaching for my concealed weapon.  She opens the slit in her pajamas and anticipates the feeling of life that we wish to share.  Then, as unexpected as ever, we hear Cassandra’s feet stomping steadily in our direction.

Sabrina shows her grace by quickly subduing our passions and making it look like we were just sitting on the couch watching television.  A grin of annoyed delight rests on my face as I stare into the distance.  Cassandra jumps onto Sabrina’s lap and says, “Mommy guess what!”  I’m so happy she didn’t jump onto my lap.

Sabrina replies, “What is it sweetie?”

“Thomas says that we should go to the park and play!”

“Oh he did?  Why does he want to do that?”

“Because… ummm…. because it’s a nice day!”

Sabrina looks at me and back at Cassandra as she says, “We’ll go to the park after we eat some breakfast.  So get dressed and I’ll start to cook.”

“Okay!”  Her stomping feet lead her back to her room so that she can put on some clothes.

Sabrina says, “You know you should make sure she gets dressed properly.  She always puts everything on backwards.”

I look at Sabrina and say, “I will when I calm down.  But… who’s Thomas?”

Her head drops with a grin on her face as she says, “It’s her imaginary friend.  It’s fine at this age, but if she’s still talking about Thomas at eight, then I’m gonna start getting worried.”

We chuckle for a little bit as I say, “I know that’s right, she’s not old enough for a boyfriend.”

“Oh is that right?  And when will she be ready for a boyfriend Mr. Dictator?”

“When I’m dead.”  We laugh some more before I say, “But seriously, Thomas knows how to be quite the cock-block, so I don’t like him already.”

More laughter is shared between us before she kisses my lips as she gets up.  She says, “Don’t worry, she does like to take naps at two o’clock and Thomas is sleeping whenever she’s sleeping.”

“Praise the lord.”

Laughter carries her to the kitchen as I sit there with a smile on my face.  I can only think that this is heaven because I can’t recall anything until now.  At least I know that I’ll always be with my family in some way.  But then, hell emerges again as I feel a serious sting in my chest and my eyes awake to me inside of a helicopter.  I scream, “Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck” as I punch the first person that I see.

The rest of the soldiers smile as one of them says, “He’s alive!”

My frantic eyes search the room and then look at my chest that has a needle sticking out of it.  I ask, “What the fuck is in my chest?”

A soldier says, “The medic that you punched out gave you an adrenaline shot.  It brought you back sir.”

I sigh as my head falls back down and then pull out the shot quickly.  My head shakes as I look out into the vast desert that almost stole me from my family.  The soldiers take turns patting me and bouncing in their bodies with a grin pointed in my direction.  I remain silent until we land back at base and then I’m taken into the hospital.  The doctor puts me under so that he can surgically remove the bullets in my body and stitch up the wound on the back of my head.  I’m just looking forward to the pleasant dreams that will accompany me without feeling the pain of this reality.  These beds still don’t know what comfort means either; I freaking hate hospitals.

Day 11

After being put to sleep so often and living within a dreamworld so much, my consciousness seems to be able to enjoy whatever comes now.  Especially after the last dream of how I almost enjoyed the touch of my wife; so now I focus my mind on the day that our future child was conceived.

I see my queen sized bed sheets sleeping on my bed and mimicking the lotion they feel like.  The wooden headboard is standing guard between the two matching nightstands on either side of the bed with lamps ready to illuminate any bedtime story.  I feel the woven rug caressing my feet from the bitter touch of the hardwood floor.  The walls are stricken with joy with every picture of my wife and I and the relatives that we love.  As I’m in the middle of enjoying the light blue room away from chaos, I feel the medium sized hands of love sliding from my stomach to my chest.  Sabrina’s head eventually rests on my back and I can hear how her breathing is waiting for an exhale.  I feel as though I’m smirking on my operating table.

Sabrina says, “It feels good to finally touch you again.  Especially without any bullet holes.”

I say through my grin, “It feels good that you’re touching me.  It always sends my thoughts to another galaxy.”

“Well stay here with me so that we can enjoy the night.”

I turn around and place my mouth close enough to feel her breath as I say, “Your wish is my command.”

Her eyes twinkle desire into my fire, so I bring our lips together as I hoist her into the air.  Her free flowing lingerie dances in the air until I place her on the bed.  I slide my fingers down her propped up legs with the lingerie allowing me to free them from her with my thumbs.  Those finely tuned legs begin to tense and pulse when I glide my tongue around their defined muscles.  My mouth mimics a jellyfish as I continue to make my way to her portal of seduction.  Her left hand scratches on the back of my head as I enjoy tasting my other most favorite meal in the world.  I allow my hands to free her breasts and  caress her nipples as I continue to lick her into a squirming delight.  Every single twitch and every single spasm lets me know whether I should speed up or slow down my commanding tongue.  And when I feel the much desired arch of her back, I let the stream of happiness she has to offer flow continuously.

I work my way up her stomach slowly without worrying about rushing this act of love.  Yet, her hand guides my face to her lips so that she can taste the passion on my lips.  So we continue to taste each other as my legs wiggle from my boxers so that I can slide in the key to our new child.  Her jaw drops from the numbing sensation, yet I continue to kiss and nibble on her lips as I slowly stroke her into comfort.  Her legs wrap around my back to make sure that I never let our desires separate until the job is done.  I feel the back of her v telling me that I’ve gone far enough, yet my desire to expand her adventure tells me to continue to stretch her.  Her hair jumps from the thrusts of love as her throat fails to hold back the yelps that cause my soul to melt.

Her back slides across the bed as we continue to make ourselves one until she’s pinned against the headboard.  She puts up her hands so that her head stops making a continuous beat to match our thrusting hips.  The tempo continues to speed up until I feel the cooling rush of her love soak me into an eye-rolling world.  Our lips are brought back together as I slowly slide back and forth within her to enjoy the subtle squish that we’ve created.  Our souls lock within our eyes without any expression showing on our faces.  I stare in between the blue parts of her eyes to see the expanded black hole that leads me to her soul.  I find myself lost within in her as I continue to enjoy our subtle squish of love.  Eventually, a smirk appears on both of our faces as I bring my lips back to hers.  After our tongues have danced enough with each other, she turns over and rests on her elbows and knees.

She looks back with a smirk and motions with her neck for me to continue.  I mount her as I grab a full grip of her locks and begin to tug on her hair as I ram into her body.  The applause of sex rings on all of the walls with the company of her screams.  I hunch over her back and begin to bite my mark upon her while trying to taste her blood.  Several marks on her creamy tan skin show the greed within me.  After I feel satisfied that others will see that she’s my wife, I lean back and slap her butt to see the reddening of a beating on her.  I continue slapping and scratching her until I feel my insides begin to tingle.  A surge of delight begins to crawl to the shaft of my penis until a full load is ready to erupt.  She feels my thrusts beginning to change, so she pants out, “Do it!” and I let the possibility of life flow inside of her.

Her body melts into the bed sheets as I hunch over her back and continue to slide within her until I’m completely out of my gift for her.  I feel her release spurts of joy upon my pulsing manhood some more, so I refuse to exit her just yet.  She grabs my right hand and locks our fingers together and says, “Don’t leave me.”

I whisper in her ears, “I’m not going anywhere, my love.”

We remain panting with joy on our faces until eventually she moves so that she can lay on my chest.  The pillows cradle my head as I lay on my back.  We subtly kiss each other before she lays her head down and I stroke on her hair.  She says, “You better fucking come back.”

We chuckle before I say, “You know that I’ll do whatever it takes to come back to you Sabrina.  You’re the only thing that keeps me living anyway.”

She looks into my eyes and asks, “Really?”

“Of course.  I love you more than anyone else in the world.  Never forget that.”

“I love you more than anything else in the world Jimmy.  I will always remember that.  You, never forget that.”

I smirk as I say, “I won’t” and then we let our lips do the talking before she rests her head again.

My eyes close and then open to the bright light of the operating room.  I see my General next to me saying to another soldier, “What do you mean you’re pulling him out of the project?”

The soldier says, “Sir, besides almost getting killed and the trigger being damaged, the President said that he’s served enough and that he deserves the right to be with his family.”

“Are you fucking with me!”

The soldier’s eyes bolt over to my questioning dazed face, so the General marches over in an instant.  I leak out, “What are you talking about?”

The General replies, “Nothing son.  You’re going home.”  He turns the gas on next to me and covers my mouth with the mask.

I try leaking out, “What do you-” but then I find that my eyes are closed again.

Day 12

Confusion swirls within the fumes that take me away from reality again.  My mind asks what project was I the test dummy for?  Does this project have to do with this chip that was clicking next to me?  Was I ever in control of my mind when I was in the service?  How long have I been a part of this project?  Is everything that I’m fighting for and living with a lie?  Will I be executed because of the secrets I can think about now?  Is my family in danger?  Oh no, what are they going to do with my family?  Will I still have the love of my life?  Is my unborn child going to be a victim of my fate?  Are they already in danger?

The tomb of darkness that’s holding my mind burns away as I see my wife running scared down the once welcoming cream hallway in our house.  The sun’s rays bleed in through the window of our living room and caste a silhouette of the General holding a pistol pointed at her back.  The General’s darkness blackens out his eyes as a bullet fires through her back and sprays what could have been my child.  Her life leaks into the cracks of the wooden floor as she crawls with tears showing her wishes for mercy.  Her once pure soul looks at the grim reaper as he pulls the trigger again to send her into the afterlife with a flash guiding her away from me.  I tremble within my helplessness before I charge at this murderer with everything I am.

I continue kicking the ground to try and catch this motionless man, yet I can’t seem to reach him no matter how hard I try.  My screams only echo within my soul as tears give me the salty taste of no return.  Eventually, the walls stop expanding so that I can reach him, but every punch that I throw at him goes through him like a ghost.  I stand there in a screaming fit as the General gives the demented smirk that I remember from my childhood.  He turns away from me and disappears as quickly as he came.  I turn back around and rush over to my wife and try grabbing her but end up grabbing a lifeless body.  I turn her face to see if she’s still there, but her eyes stare at nothing as a trickle of blood leaves her mouth to form droplets on the ground.

My screams shatter the hallway that I’m in and leave me in another area of black empty space as I hold the body I used to know.  I disassociate from myself and watch as my body appears next to a grave with a tombstone that reads, “Here lies Sabrina Jack, the most loving wife and friend anyone could have known.”

Sniffles and pants continue to run from my body as I walk up to see the closed eyes of Sabrina.  My head drops as the ground turns into sand and I see that chip again.  I look around and see my body next to my feet and the approaching soldiers cautiously entering the room.  I pick up the silver device with blood carefully coating it and examine its features.  The needle on it is no more than an inch long and could barely be seen by how thin it is.  A flashing light shows that this device still has juice as the design of intricate wiring shows how artfully crafted it was.  The lines are symmetrical with each other and none of them cross over the other.  The green flashing light seems to be pulsing at the beat of the clicks and runs energy into the needle.  My curiosity touches the needle and shocks me into the battle field.

Explosions cause my head to whip around in terror as I watch my soldiers being plucked off like game again.  I look at the terrorists that were firing at us and see that they’re missing me on purpose but hitting my troops.  I feel as though they were trying to trigger this device in some emotional way before I could be fully controlled.  I see the back of my head flashing as I watch the slaughter I don’t wish to relive.  Blood is the constant shower that I take on as I slash every soul into the afterlife.  The burning rage in my eyes matches the creases around my mouth as my teeth show how much I can’t control myself in that moment.  I look back down at the device and hold it up in front of the distant explosions accompanied by the light show of bullets until it disintegrates into the air.

A face waves into perspective as I feel myself returning to reality.  I see the face of my General as he’s asking something that only sounds like muffled gibberish.  My eyes squint as I try to grip my brain before I hear, “Can you hear me son?”

Caution rests in my throat as I reply, “Yes, sir.”

“Good.  Then know that you need to get yourself dressed because you’re getting a ride to your plane back home.  Do you think you can do that?”

“Yes sir.”

He nods his head as he says, “Good.  Then come outside when you’re ready because we’re all waiting on you.”

I nod my head, so he exits the room.  I look around and see that my clothes are sitting on the bed next to me.  There’s also a cane for me to get around, so I’m glad they were thoughtful enough to give me that.  The covers are taken off of me, so I swivel around and use the cane to prop myself up as I grab my clothes.  After I carefully get dressed, I make my way out to our vehicle and see Privates Tagger and Locke both in the truck already.  I smile at them and say, “Let’s go home.”

The privates smile at me as the General enters the vehicle and says, “I hear that.  I’m coming with you boys.”

My eyes flare open as I look at him before I sit across from him to keep a close eye on whatever he may do.  The truck takes off down the road with my eyes never leaving the proximity of the General.  He smirks and says, “You know Jimmy, you should get two dots on the back of your head to match that smiling scar of yours.”  I smirk with disgust, so he says, “Oh come on, relax.  We’re all going home now, so we don’t have anything to worry about.  I’m personally going to make sure that you boys make it home safely.”

Privates Tagger and Locke reply, “Thank you sir” and smile at me without knowing what I know.

I smirk and remain silent, so the General asks, “What’s wrong son?  Something on your mind?”

I reply, “Just can’t believe I’m going home sir.  I don’t know what to feel right now.”

“Just enjoy it.  You’re fighting is finished now.”

I nod my head and remain silent the rest of the ride as Privates Tagger and Locke talk with each other over the loud sound of the truck.

After miles of sand are left in the past, we arrive at the airport for our final ride home.  We walk up the stairway to freedom with our luggage and enter the green military plane.  I sit in the back away from the General’s hands, but close enough to watch the other soldiers.  I hear the engines fire up and feel the bumping of our take-off until we feel the g-force of flight take us away from the ground.  The altitude lightens my breath as my ears begin to pop; but it weighs down my exhausted eyes until I’m back asleep.

Day 13

The turbulence of the plane knocks my head to the side and causes my eyes to open.  My focus clears up to see the seats on the opposite side of the plane still lined up parallel to the wall on either side.  I hear, “Aw shit!” whispered from my left, so I look over and am shocked by the blood I see running in between the metal cracks on the ground.  I see Privates Tagger and Locke with their heads in between their knees as crimson deception leaks from their head.  I look up to the General who’s wiping off his hands before he tries to stick something into a freshly cut open head.  By the shaven blonde hair, I know that it’s Private Locke.  I blink rapidly to see if this image in front of me changes; but I just see the General pound his fist into the back of Private Locke’s head to try and nail this device into him.  I yell, “What the fuck are you doing?”

The General stops using his fist as a hammer and looks at me with the his eyes taking over his face with guilt.  He says, “None of your fucking business!  Now stay quiet as I try and save a revolutionary device!”  He keeps on pounding his fist to try and lodge the trigger into Locke’s head.

My crippled body squirms out of my seat as I hobble with my cane in hand.  I yell, “Stop it now!”

The blood and sweat on the General’s face are wiped together with his right hand as he looks down and says in a panting mess, “Eh, it doesn’t matter if I get the damn thing in anyway, they’re both fucking dead now… son of a bitch!”  He kicks the leg of Angel Locke before he slaps Angel Taggers head.

I grab his shoulder and shout, “Dammit!” but then he kicks me down by my injured leg.  He begins to reach for his weapon, but my rage controls my reflexes so that I swat his gun from his hand with my cane and then whack him in his knee.  He yells as I continue to chop him to the ground until I hear his legs break.  I manage to stand up as he reaches for me, so I repetitively crush the bones in his hands and arms until he refuses to fight me anymore.  I’m so glad they gave me a metal cane instead of a wooden one.  Bad move on their part.

His acceptance of defeat allows him to say, “Alright, alright!  Enough God Dammit!”  My anger hits him one more time in the face before I hobble over and grab the gun he was going to fire at me.

He stares down the barrel of the gun when I come back as I stand over him.  As my face trembles with tears wanting to kiss my cheeks, I ask, “Why… why did you kill them you selfish bastard?”

The General spits out the excess blood in his mouth and stares at me with cold green eyes.  I point the gun with more ferocity, so he says, “They’re nothing but bodies anyway.  Why do you fucking care?”

“Those bodies had souls within them.  Souls that love and feel and had other souls that were excited to see them come home safe.  Not everyone was raised like you were… or like you raised me.”

Chuckles bounce his chest and neck before his coughing stops him.  He says, “Well… not everyone was lucky enough to be my son… son.”

“You don’t have the right to call me your son.  I never met my father, but even though he was never there, he was still a better father than you’d ever be.”

“Is that right?”

“What the fuck do you think?”

“Well I hate to break it to you… son… but I am your father.  Your mother just didn’t want to tell you the truth and I didn’t want to believe it myself.  But blood tests don’t lie… son.”  He starts to laugh some more as I stand there without knowing how to react.

The gun in my hand begins to drop before I compose myself again and say, “You’re lying…”

“Afraid not.  You’re the bastard that I was cursed with.”

“If I’m such a fucking curse to you, then why didn’t you just kill me?”

“Tried to with this chip.  And other times when you were a kid.  Did you really think that your house caught on fire by accident when you were sleeping every couple of years?  Or even when you were taken from your high school at sixteen by those ‘random thugs’ where they were supposed to beat you to death?  But it turned out that you were a fighter more than a lover… so that’s when I really knew that you came from me.”  He laughs even harder as I stand there with reality staining me with the sins of my father.

“You’re a monster… and I will never call you my father.”

“Oh come on… let the past be the past.  I made you into an unstoppable force!  You took out more than fifty terrorists on your own.  The fifteen that came to your camp the first day they attacked you, the forty three that were waiting in that cave for you and the last twelve that were about to kill these two boys!”

“What do you mean the forty three waiting for me?”

He pauses with shock after he moves his eyes around to frantically search for an answer.  He replies, “I didn’t say that.”

“Yes you did… what do you mean the forty three waiting for me?  And why do you know how many there were in exact detail?  I don’t even remember exactly how many there were…”  After the truth shows in his eyes, my mouth drops before I say, “You sent them… you sent all of them and you were testing your project on me… You just can’t stop trying to kill me can you!”

The veins in my right arm flare as I point the gun sternly at his forehead.  He says, “Come on… you wouldn’t kill your own dad would you?”

Emptiness distances my eyes as I say, “Like I said… I will never call you father…”

His eyes flare for the split second that he still owns his body.  I release the flash of the gun to send the evil within his mind splattering onto the ground.  His hatred mixes with the innocence that he stole on the ground before I hobble over to the cockpit.  I knock on the door and say, “It’s Colonel Jack!  I need your help!”  The cockpit opens with the co-pilot holding his gun to my face, so I throw up my arms and say, “I’m not here to hurt you… Take my weapon if you truly don’t believe me.”

The soldier stands there cautiously for a moment before he drops his weapon and says, “Come in.”  He shuts the door after taking my gun and then says to the men on the other line of the radio, “Sir, we have Colonel Jack in the cockpit with us.  He says that the gunshot we radioed you about was because General Freedmen was killing other soldiers.”

The man on the radio says, “Son of a bitch… bring in Colonel Jack for questioning when you land.  Since there was a crime, we have to investigate thoroughly.  Do you comply with our demands Colonel Jack?”

I reply, “Yes sir.”

“Good.  We’ll see you when you return home.  Over and out.”

They hang up the radio and the pilot and co-pilot begin briefing me of what I have to do when we land, but my mind is running too fast to hear their words.  They put hand-cuffs on me and then move their mouths in a way that looks like, “Do you understand?”

I reply, “Yes sir” and ride on the plane to a place I used to feel safe whenever I entered.  I can’t stop questioning whether or not they’re just going to kill me when I land because of the secrecy of this mission.  All that I want to do is be with my family.

Day 14

Sleeping wasn’t something my mind was capable of doing last night.  I kept on thinking of how many people died by General Freedmen, my father’s hands.  Then, just like his father, I was the one that was slaughtering men without thinking anything of it like some animal.  Most people couldn’t just take a life without feeling any remorse for them at all.  I just don’t care that I killed those people because they were hurting people that I cared for.  A prison may be the best place for me because remorse is something that I should feel; even if it’s just slightly.  Or maybe I’m just in shock because the truth of me killing the very man that created me makes me question my whole existence.

As my ears start popping again, I know that we’re descending for my definite trial.  Even though I was sitting in the cockpit with the pilots, I felt as though I was alone with all of those gadgets and blinking lights the entire ride.  As they focused on hitting the certain switches and deviating their flight path to make sure that we landed safely, my thoughts were running around the fantasy of life with my loved ones.  I feel the plane touch down on the strip, so I sigh as I await my trial that’ll surely put me away.

After we stop whizzing past all of the hangars at the airport, we turn into our main hangar and shut off the engines.  The co-pilot stands up with a pistol in his hand and unbuckles my seat-belt.  He says, “Let’s go Colonel” as he motions for me to go outside of the plane.  We walk by the smell of death before we make it to the flight of stairs that lead us to the concrete floor below.  Two soldiers are waiting at the end of the staircase holding their rifles and then follow me as I’m escorted into the tin looking half-cylinder.  They place me in the right chair in front of a desk where a commanding officer was waiting there to get the story of what happened to these men.  He says to the co-pilot that escorted me, “Could you take these hand-cuffs off of him please?  We don’t need them for questioning.”

The co-pilot replies, “Yes sir” as he uncuffs me and stands behind me with the other two soldiers that are holding their rifles.

The commanding officer leans his elbows on the desk and asks with his fingers locked in front of his mouth, “What happened Colonel?”

I sigh as I look down and say, “Well sir, our men were betrayed by General Freedmen after we boarded the aircraft.”

“Please explain.”

“I was sleeping on the aircraft as we were heading back home, and then I woke up… when we hit some turbulence.  I looked around for the other soldiers on the plane… but then I saw General Freedmen hitting the back of Angel Locke’s head.”

“What was Angel Tagger doing at this time?”

“Angel Tagger was already dead sir.  Blood was coming from both of their heads before I was awake.”

The officer sighs as he says, “I see… continue.”

“Okay… well… after I saw General Freedmen punching the back of Angel Locke’s head, I picked myself up from my chair and tried to stop him.  He talked about some device that was going to revolutionize war, but I was confused about what he was talking about.  When he showed me the chip-looking device, that is still on the plane if you wish to see it sir, I recognized the device because I saw it before I was approved to come back home lying on the ground next to me.”

The officer’s eyes widen before he quickly composes himself.  He says, “What do you know about this device?”

“Honestly sir… it sounded to me like the General had gone crazy.  The idea of some little device like that controlling our troops in battle didn’t seem ethical or logical.  So I’m afraid that battle may have gone to General Freedmen’s head too much.  Sir.”

“I see…” the officer nods his head before he says, “Continue.”

“After General Freedmen was finished explaining what he believed this little chip could do, I yelled at him for what he did to my former troops, so he attacked me.  After he attacked me, I hit him with my cane until he was brought down to the ground after I knocked the gun from his hand.  I then picked up the gun when he was on the ground, and I lost my train of thought before I shot him out of anger instead of bringing him in for trial.”

The Commanding Officer thinks for a moment before he says, “Being the decorated soldier that you are, why didn’t you bring him in for trial?”

I shake my head as I say, “I let my anger about losing so many soldiers get to my head sir.  I killed him in cold blood when I should have brought him in.”

He sits back as he says, “Well shit…”

“I take full responsibility for my actions sir… and I apologize for killing a fellow soldier of war sir.”

He shakes his head before he nods.  He then looks back at me to say, “Well… we’re going to have to hold you in custody until we find all of necessary evidence to put you on trial for this crime.  Your trial date is in fifteen days, to be held at three in the afternoon.  Do you understand?”

“Yes sir… although I do have one request.”  He solemnly nods his head, so I ask, “May I please call my wife and speak with her to let her know that I’m okay and safe back in the United States?”

“Yes you may Colonel.”  He spins around his phone and takes it off of the line so that I can call my wife.

I punch in her number and then listen to the dial tone with my nose running because of anticipation.  I hear Sabrina answer with a shaky voice and sniffle shortly after saying, “Hello?”

She hears as I smile while saying, “Sabrina…”

Breath falls out of her heavy heart as she says, “Oh Jimmy… I though that you were dead…”

“No… no I’m fine sweetie… I’m fine…”

“Oh thank God… I saw you getting stabbed and shot on T.V. and when I saw you fall down around all of that blood… I thought that I lost you…”

“Hey… I told you I’d come back to you right?”

“Yeah…”

“Well I don’t want to break my promise to you… How’s the baby?”

“The baby’s fine… the baby’s just fine… we were worried about you coming back, so I set up a sonogram to figure out what the sex would be to try and distract myself.”  We both chuckle for a little bit before she asks, “When are you coming home?”

I sniffle a little bit before I clear my throat and say, “I don’t know sweetie… some stuff happened that they have to check me out before I get cleared to see you.”

“Are you alright?”

“I’m fine… I’m fine… it’s just protocol you know?”

I hear her crying some more before she says, “I know… but you’re not fighting anymore are you?”

“No not at all.  My fighting days are over sweetie.”  The commanding officer nods his head as he motions for me to end the conversation.  I nod as I say, “But Sabrina… I gotta go okay?  I will call you whenever I can and I will let you know as soon as possible when I’m coming home.  Okay?

“Okay baby…”

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

I look at the phone before I hand it back to the commanding officer so that he can hang it up.  He says, “It’s time to take you in Colonel.”  I nod my head as he stands up and puts handcuffs on me again.  He motions for the soldiers holding rifles to escort me out, so they put me in the back of a squad car and take me to base.  Officers are waiting in front of the base camp for me as I’m transferred from vehicle to vehicle.

Even though I was in custody, it felt good to see trees and civilization rather than endless sand.  I allow my eyes to drink in the short dose of freedom I’m given before they take me out of the car and escort me into the big brick fortress where my cell is calling for me.  I walk into the massive double wooden doors and have my belongings stripped from me as I’m given my temporary clothes before trial.  My fingerprints are taken right before they take a picture of my hurting eyes.

An officer takes my arm and leads me down the hallway of caged animals before I’m brought to my cell.  I hear the clinking of the cell-door sliding shut as my eyes are alarmed by the stains on the bed.  They don’t look like blood and I’m not one hundred percent sure if they’re from someone that drooled when they slept here before me.  The other person in the cell who manages to have a smile on his face creased with age says, “Don’t worry, they’re drool stains.  Everyone always has the same question when they come in here.”

I chuckle as I reply, “Good to know.”

He watches my face closely and says, “From the looks of you, you could go for some sleep.”

“That’s what I plan to do.”

“Well… don’t let me hold you from having the slightest freedom we can in here.”

“Thanks.”

He nods his head and lies back on his top bunk.  I trudge my feet over to my bed and lie on the side without the stain.  I sigh as my eyes close and my body gives in to how tired I really am.

Day 15

My eyes take in the effect of the metal bunk bed above me.  Even though it’s cold and lifeless in here, I’m still comforted by the walls holding me in here safely.  I highly doubt any of these men would be able to harm me any more than war already has.  And if any of them try anything, I’ll just try to beat them so badly that I would be locked up in solitary confinement.  Or if things get too hairy, I’ll have to hit an unsuspecting guard to be locked up quickly.  The last thing I want is for someone to forcefully convert my sexuality.

In the middle of my thoughts, I see the cell door open.  My cell mate lets his hairy feet dangle above me before I see him plop down on the hardwood floor.  As he’s putting on his shoes, he says, “You better get up because if you don’t leave the cell in time, you won’t be able to eat.”

I reply, “I don’t care too much about eating right now.”

“Oh come on… It may taste like a rotten baboon’s ass but at least you won’t be too hungry.”

He holds his hand out for me to grab it, so I examine him carefully before I take his hand.  He smiles as he says, “That’s better… the name’s Ramos by the way.  Yours?”

“Jimmy.”

“Jimmy… nice to meet you.  You’re a lot more ripped than how I remember seeing you yesterday.  Were you a personal trainer or something and you killed a client?”  He chuckles with a slap on my back as we make our way into the hall and are guided like cattle to the mess hall.

I reply, “No… I was… eh… I can tell you later.”

“Hey no rush.  I’m sure we have some time to get to know each other pretty well since we share a room and all.”

I nod my head and continue to look forward as we make it into the dining area.  The chairs look as comfortable as my elementary school cafeteria and the kitchen is set up with cooks that I wouldn’t trust to wash their hands serving food down this assembly line.  I watch the slop splat onto the plate and ooze like it’s already been turned into vomit.  After the last slop is curdling my taste buds on my plate, I make my way over to the seating area.

My eyes scan for a place to sit alone, but that is a dream that will never be answered.  I see Ramos flick his neck up to grab my attention, so since I don’t have a choice in who I can trust, I figure he’s the safest best.  The eyes of everyone searching for fresh meat continue to lick me until I take a seat next to Ramos.  He nods at me and says, “Glad you could join us Jimmy.  I want to introduce you to some good people here.  I think everything happens for a reason, so I feel like we’re cell mates for a special purpose.  As long as you stick around me, everything should be fine.  But anyway” he points to the man to his right, “This here is Tony.  He was locked up for some mob type of shit.  Killing to be exact.”  Tony nods his head as Ramos points to the man across from Tony, “That there is Fingers.  He and Tony were working together and they call him fingers because they’re so sticky, you might lose your watch as you’re wearing it around this guy.”  Ramos points to the man directly in front of him and says, “This here is Mac.  He has quite a temper problem so don’t cross him or he’ll cut you.  Actually, that goes for all of us.  Although Mac is in here because he crushed a man’s skull with his hands.  Don’t think it’s possible?  I wouldn’t test him.”  Ramos points to the man in front of me and says, “That’s Johnny boy.  A sweet kid that was cheated on by his wife; or should I say former wife.  He was coming home with flowers and chocolate early from work as a surprise and ended up seeing her fucking his cousin.  Long story short, they were shot in the head shortly after.”  He points to the man next to Johnny and says, “That there is our connect to the outside.  We call him DM, standing for delivery man, because he gets us whatever we want whenever we want very quickly.”  He points to the man to my left and says, “And last but certainly not least, we have Sean here.  Sean has been in the joint so long that he doesn’t want to leave.  He was given bail a while ago, but out of the understanding of where he wants to be, he beat the shit out of the security guards to the point they chose to give him twenty five to life.  Which in simple terms is fifty years.  And as for me, I’m in here because I like helping out a new fish like yourself.  Based on your haircut and physique I’m guessing you were in the military.  That tattoo on your left shoulder blade of the Marine Corps crest was a dead giveaway.”

I ask, “How did you see my tattoo?”

“I like to check out whoever gets into my cell to know if they’re a threat or not.  But don’t worry, I was gentle and I’m not a homo.  Now that big kahuna to your right staring at you from the end of that table… that’s another story.”  I look down the table and see the hungry eyes of an eager rapist licking his big lips at me.  Ramos laughs as he hits my back and says, “Don’t drop the soap as they say.”  The rest of the group laughs and begins to eat their meal.  I look down at the vomit and sigh without saying a word.  Ramos whispers to me, “Just to let you know, it tastes even worse than it looks.  But it only gets worse the colder it gets.  So dig in or regret it with the runs.”

I pick up a spoonful of creamy muck and let it enter my mouth.  Tears well up from the amount of disgust stabbing my taste buds, so I quickly swallow it and begin to choke after it’s gone.  The men around me smile as they continue to eat their meal without flinching.  I shake my head before I gorge myself before my taste buds can react.  After the meal is gone, we’re escorted back to our cells.

Ramos jumps onto his bed and asks, “So… what brought you in here?”

I reply, “Well… I figure it’s confidential.”

“That bad huh?  Let me ask you this, did they have a predetermined court date for you?  Something quick like within the month before any evidence was taken?”

My eyes flare open as I say, “Yeah… How did you know?”

“I didn’t.  But I’ve seen this before.  Either way, it doesn’t look good for you Jimmy.”

“Why’s that?”

“I think we both know why.”

My head drops as I say, “Yeah…”

“Damn… well… if I were you, I’d take these next couple of days to relax before you try and figure out what to say to whoever loves you on the outside before you go.  This is definitely going to end with your death.”

“Yeah…”  I sit on the bed and lie down to collect my thoughts.  I ask, “Was the last person that you saw in this situation your cell mate too?”

“He was.  But now, he’s gone, along with his name.  I’m sorry Jimmy.”

“It’s not your fault.  I should’ve just kept my mouth shut.”

“Did you kill someone important?”

“He was my General.  And apparently… my father.”

“Damn kid!  That’s some tough shit!”

“Tell me about it.”

I can hear him thinking before he says, “Get some rest.  We’ll have recess pretty soon and then the day will end shortly after.  Time goes faster than you think in here, so no worries.”

“I’ll take your word for it.”

And just like he said, we were let out with each other to play on our concrete playground.  Different clicks of people were all associating with one another as I examined who may be a threat.  The gangsters were all playing basketball with each other as the meat-heads were all pumping enough iron to swell into body-builders.  They seem to have forgotten about working out their legs though.  The smarter groups of people were sitting on the bench next to the basketball court and conversing deeply about things to where they weren’t paying attention to anyone else.  Then there were the lifeless drones that were just walking in a circle like the sheep they are.  No one seems to be paying attention to me though, so I make my way over to the brain trust on the benches since that’s where Ramos is.

They continue to have their conversation without me, so I enjoy the amount of solitude I’m being given at this time.  The sun shifts in the sky until we’re told to go back inside and eat some more filth.  As I find myself staring at the one good apple remaining on my tray, I look around to take in the grey surroundings some more, and then I look back down to see my apple has disappeared.  The sight of Fingers eating my apple with a grin on his face helps to confirm his nickname, so Ramos says, “You’ll learn how to guard your plate soon enough.”  They laugh as he pats my back, so I shut off my brain until the next day.

Day 16

Fourteen days was repeating in my head continuously like a coo coo clock was rewinding itself.   Even when I was in the shower with all of the glistening bodies, I just kept on hearing that reminder of my doomsday.  Although, it’s very easy to tell who’s gay or straight in the shower; pretty rude awakening for the eyes.  So I made sure to shower next to Ramos or anyone in the Rat Pack so that we could watch each other’s back.  And when I wasn’t watching their back, I noticed the rusting details of the shower head along with the faded prints of hands on the walls.  Normally I would think that somebody, or I, should clean this shower head, but right now the water in these closed walls raises my comfort with the steam.

Mac taps me on the shoulder, so I look over to see his chiseled smile directing me to look to my left.  As I look over I hear him say, “The big Kahuna got shower time with us.  Pretty nice coincidence for you huh?”  Everyone laughs as I tense my butt hole.

Ramos taps me on the back and says, “Aw you can relax your butt my man, we wouldn’t let that happen to you.  A fight would break out before you’re converted.”

I remain clenched as I say, “Thanks guys” because I don’t know them enough to let my guard down completely.

Mac asks, “But I got one question, is the reason you limp around because of some of these scars on your body?”

My head rolls around in the running water before I reply, “Yeah…”

“Like from battle right?”  I nod my head, so he continues with, “Looks like you’ve been stabbed and shot quite a bit.”

“Thanks for the observation.”

“Sorry.  But now I know why you’ve been limping.  You may want to do whatever you can to hide that.  Because guys like that are just looking for a reason to attack you.  It’s like they don’t know anything better to do.”

“Let’s hope they never get the chance.”

Mac nods his head and stops inquiring.  We successfully make it out of the shower without having to get ourselves dirty with a fight.  They continue herding us through this fortress until we’re back at recess; at least I like to call it recess.  I make my way over to the brain trust and expect to be left with my thoughts again.

Ramos turns to face me as soon as I sit down and says, “Word in the pen is that the wolves have noticed your weakness.  You’re gonna have to stop limping like that or else they’re gonna test your durability.”

I search around before I ask, “Who’s trying to fight me?”

“Anyone that’s bored and is looking for a way to become one of the top dogs.  After you gave a sweet display of your tattoo, they figure that you’re a great way to get out of the bottom rankings in here.  Sadly, none of them realize that when you do take someone down that looks like a top dog, then a target is put on your back for the rest of the time you’re in here.”

“That makes sense, although I’m going to die soon anyway so what does it matter?”

Ramos laughs with a cough as he says, “True… very true.  But if I was a betting man, which I am, then I would bet that you would want to relax before you go.  Am I right?”

“You are.”

“That’s what I thought.  But, one other thing was bothering me.  How much about this whole thing have you told your wife?”

My head drops with a sigh as I say, “Nothing.  I couldn’t risk her life or the life of my unborn child with this mess.  I just told her that I have standard protocol of leaving war and I would call her whenever I get a chance to.”

“Well… I hate to break it to ya, but you can’t call her from in here without being busted.”

“I know… so now I have to live with the fact that she’s not going to hear from me or of me again until she watches the news and my face is plastered up there as a murder scene.”

“At least you won’t be thinking about it much longer”

I shake my head with a slight grin as the basketball bounces up to us.  I catch it and hear the player approaching us say, “Thanks for catching that Marine.”  I nod and toss the ball back to him.  He says as he turns around, “Semper Phi!” and then laughs over to his group who’s also laughing.

Ramos says, “Don’t worry about them, they’re not really a huge threat in here.  They think they run everything and that everyone is afraid of them, but really, nobody thinks they’re worth the headache.  They bark big, but their bite is as ferocious as a baby Chihuahua.”

“Good to know.”

“Don’t worry kid.  Your last days as Jimmy won’t be as bad as they could be.  Also, you can sleep easy that your wife is not gonna be harmed because of this whole mess.  You’ll die with her still loving you the most, and that’s all that most of us could ever wish for.”

“Having a widow?”

“No… having someone that loves us, even after we’re gone.”

“Yeah…”

“I’ll let you get back to your thoughts.  Just wanted to let you know that you’re a target now, so stay on your guard.”

Ramos joins his friends as I stare at the eager eyes that glance in my direction.  Some think that they’re being sneaky and that I don’t see them, while others want me to see them looking at me.  I just hope that they’re looking at me with fighting eyes.

Day 17

It’s honestly pretty quiet in here compared to war.  Besides the obvious muffled raping that happens at night to the unlucky roommates, it’s not too bad.  My mouth has habituated properly to the meals that they serve to us and I haven’t been forced to exercise since I’ve been in here.  I’ve found when I can shower with the guys that have been watching me since the beginning, so this bum leg and hurt arm aren’t having to fight.

I make my way over to the table in the open center of the jail where all of the cells are pointed towards, because I have a game of chess set up to play against Johnny Boy.  He’s a very sweet kid like they said and his eyes remind me of my wife because of how blue they are.  I could never tell him that though because who knows if I’m the guy that he decides to come out of the closet with?  I’d rather leave that as a mystery because its never the same if someone confesses feelings for a person that doesn’t feel the same way at all.

So I sit down on the concrete slab and see that Johnny has already set up both sides of the chess board.  I say, “Aw thanks Johnny, you didn’t have to set up my side as well?”

He replies with his sheepish smile in his country accent, “It’s nothin Jimmy.  I had the time and I figure it shouldn’t be too much of a bother.”

“Then I’ll enjoy the good ol’ southern hospitality you offer.”

“Well don’t get comfortable ’cause I’m pretty good at this and I like to win.  Just warnin ya.”

“No need to warn me because I’m not very good at this game.  I seem to only be good at one thing.”

He makes his first move as he asks, “What’s that?”

As I think on what move to make, I reply, “Killing people.”

We continue playing as we go through our conversation.  He says, “Well I bet you’re better n you think at a lot of stuff.  There has to be a hobby or somethin that you like?”

“Writing, if you should ask.”

“Oh yea?  What do you write?”

“Lots of stuff.  Books mainly because they’re the most descriptive and personally the most enjoyable as a writer.  I don’t have to worry about a bad actor screwing up the material I’ve written and so forth.”

“I hear that.  But based on talkin with ya, I’m sure you’re good at writing and a very smart man.  Me personally, I thought I was only good at takin care of my family and my wife.  But it turns out I’m quite a loose canon.”

I avert my attention to his face and ask carefully, “So… if you don’t mind me asking, how long, or do you know how long, was your wife… you know?”

A solemn smirk comes from Johnny before he says, “Well… honestly I knew that she wasn’t gonna be faithful to me from the get-go.”

“How?”

“Well she already was with my cousin before she married me.  And on top of that, everyone in the family told me she still was with him.  I thought maybe they were tryin to split us up or just make me jealous, but it was true.”

“So you found her, and you…”

“Yep, her and my cousin.  I had just gotten off of the graveyard shift, my fifth overtime shift that week because with overtime I was makin over three sometimes four thousand dollars a week.”

“Wow, nice.”

“It was… but anyway, came home, saw my cousin inside of my wife and I didn’t know what to do.  It was like I instinctively just walked over to the secret little drawer in my dresser, pulled out my gun and shot them square between their eyes.  I instantly called the police on myself and turned myself in.”

“You turned yourself in?”

“Well ya.  Because I figure, if I can just snap like that rather than filin for divorce or what not, I need to be locked away immediately.”

I shake my head with a grin of disbelief as I say, “I’m sorry she broke your heart like that.  At least you know that it was wrong because most people wouldn’t have thought twice about it.”

He makes his last move and says, “Check mate” with a country grin on his face.

My eyes wiggle along the board as I say, “How the hell did you do that?”

He licks his teeth as he says, “Just good at what I’m good at.”

His face cautiously turns to the side and then he looks around to try and confirm what he’s thinking.  He leans in to me and says, “You better get on guard because there are no guards watching us for some reason and Big Kahuna we told you about is comin over here right now.  I can’t see his hands, but he always has a shank with him.”

Right after he finishes talking with me, I feel something cold sliding on the back of my neck back and forth.  I hear the heavy breathing of this man before he says, “You know… you look too pretty to just look at.”

My face aligns with Johnny boy before I quickly grab the king on the chess board and stab it into this man’s right eye.  He stumbles back with his right hand on his eye and his left hand slashing violently.  I kick out his right knee and bring him to the ground as I fall over the concrete bench and have Big Kahuna’s shank landing into his meaty shoulder.  He screams some more, so Mac’s attention has him darting from his downstairs cell to my location.  He punches out the other two criminals that were coming to kill me and then says in a sharp whisper, “Get the fuck to your cell now!”

Johnny Boy helps me hobble away from the fight as I hear Mac’s punches cracking the skulls of any new threat that approaches him.  As I get a memorable whiff of the blood I actually missed smelling, a smile creeps onto my face as I hobble up the stairs.  I look back down to see Mac getting electrocuted by the guards’ tazers.  Johnny Boy asks me, “Why are ya smilin?”

I reply, “It reminds me of what I’m used to.”

We both laugh to ourselves as he helps me get to my bunk.  Ramos is lying on his back reading something I can’t make out as he says, “So… they tried to make the hit on you huh?”

As I sit down I say, “Yep.”

“So I’m guessing that you have an even bigger target now huh?”

“Yep.”

Day 18

Today is one of those days where I feel like everyone is watching me.  Probably because I see death shooting from the brown and blue eyes passing by me and undesired love, for a straight man, shooting at me from other brown, black and hazel eyes.  But I continue to hobble with a straight face looking towards my imminent death in the distance.  Making eye contact will only stir them to a reaction of some sort, so the concrete walls are very enticing today.  The symmetrical grooves run themselves along the wall with the freedom we all wish we had.

Yet those grooves led us to the cafeteria for another meal.  So after I hobble past the eyes of desire and sit in my seat, I look down the table to see Big Kahuna grimacing at me before he turns his head in shame.  I guess he didn’t want me to get a good look at his fresh new eye patch.  I then feel a nudge on my back as I’m about to take a bite of filth, and then I see one of the gangsters that always plays basketball looking at me like he smelled something nasty.  Maybe he should brush his teeth some more so that his breath wasn’t so repulsive.  Could be what he’s smelling.

I shrug it off and continue eating.  Tony leans in and says, “This should be an interesting couple of days for us boys.”

Ramos replies, “Very.  Looks like you’re a basket case of troubles Jimmy.”

I sigh out, “I’m sorry guys.  I wish my life wasn’t so chaotic.”

Tony says, “Don’t sweat it.  I’ve been missing the action since I’ve been locked away in this joint.  If anything you’re like an answered prayer and I might start believing in God again.”  They all laugh as I smirk and continue trying to eat faster than my taste buds.  Tony continues with, “But don’t worry about these boys in here, we’ll make sure you last until your time to leave is set on your court date.  Right boys?”

Johnny Boy says, “Damn right.”

Ramos says, “Yeah we’ll watch out for you.  But without Mac with us since he’s in solitary for the next three days, you have to be a little more careful.  Can you do that?”

I reply, “I can’t promise anything but I’ll do my best.”

Ramos says, “That’s all we can ask for.  But until we have to fight, lets enjoy our future diarrhea.”  We laugh some more and then continue eating our meals.

After I find myself wandering with a purgatory stomach feeling, I end up back at the bench during workout hour with the brain trust.  They continue talking as I continue to let my mind take me away from here.  But reality brought me back with the same basketball as before bouncing towards me.  I calmly catch the ball and then look up to see the gangster with a sleeve of tattoos on his arms.  He flashes his fingers to his thumbs a couple of times, signalling me to toss him the ball.  So I toss the ball back thinking that this will end our interaction.  Yet I hear the same bounce in my direction, so I pick up the ball again.

He says, “You wanna play with us Marine?”

I toss the ball back as I say, “No thanks gentleman.  But I appreciate the offer.”

He tosses the ball back and says, “What, are you afraid of a lil’ basketball with some real players?”

I toss the ball back and say, “No, I just don’t like basketball that much.”

He holds the ball this time as he says, “Why, because you’re not good?”  His squad of brainless soldiers all say, “ooooh” like it was a death defying blow of words.

Nonchalantly I reply, “Well no, not really.  But it’s really not a big deal since I don’t want to become a professional basketball player.”

His soldiers hoot and holler like I just slapped him in the face with my privates after having sex with his mom.  I look over to my newly acquired friends who are playing cards on the bench for any suggestions.  They observe what’s going on and just shrug as they keep on paying attention to their card game.  The gangster says, “Oh I see.  Well then how about you just take a shot to humor me?”

“Will you leave me alone after I take this shot?”  His men hoot and holler again, so I roll my eyes.

He says, “Yeah sure cuz.  Just take the shot.”

I say, “Okay…” as I pick myself up.  I catch the ball that he tried to throw at me forcefully without any struggle.  After I test the ball with a couple of bounces, I take the shot and prove my basketball skills to the world.  The ball flies into the air and falls as gracefully as it flew without hitting anything but the peaceful sound of air before it bounces on the ground.  I shrug as I ask, “Are you happy now?”

He rushes over to me and gets a grip of my butt before I shove him off.  He says with his men surrounding us, “You ever been to a Mandingo party?”

Thankfully my guys work their way to the center and then smile at the gangster who’s backing away slowly.  Tony says, “Is there a problem here gentlemen?  Or were you just playing games like I suggest you were?”  Tony looks at the guards that are rushing over and says, “It’s alright boys, we’ve got it handled.”  The guards nod as if they’re under his control and then break up the outer barrier of gangsters that were surrounding us.

As the guards watch us diligently, the gangster says, “Na we’re coo.”  He licks his lips as he looks at me and says, “I’ll catch you later marine.”  He snaps his fingers, so his gang goes back to shooting around the basketball.

Tony looks at me and says, “I’ll make sure to shower with you tomorrow.  That’s where they like to force back their dick skin.”

I cringe as I say, “Could’ve done without that image man.”

Ramos says, “That makes two of us.”

Tony says with his hearty chuckle, “Sorry.  Been in the pen for some time now.”

Johnny Boy looks at Fingers as Fingers says, “Force back their dick skin?”

Johnny Boy replies, “I almost threw up just now.”

I shake my head with quiet laughter as we make our way back to the bench.  We end up going through the same routines of counting the hours until I find myself looking out of my cell as Ramos is sleeping on his bed.  I lock eyes with the gangster that looks like he’s been watching my cell from his cell that’s diagonal from mine for a while.  He kisses at me, so I shake my head no, and then go back to bed.

Day 19

While my mind is still dreaming, I see my wife holding a baby.  Her black locks are draped over her face and look as if they’re shielding the baby from any harm.  She’s cooing and bouncing with the baby’s chubby caramel arms clapping together as the little one’s tongue is figuring out how to move.  I walk towards my family, but I see that with every step forward, I’m pushed farther away from them.  I speed up my walking, but it seems to do the opposite effect I desire.  Running seems like the best option for me to get to my family, but after running long enough, all I can see is the silhouette of happiness I wish to to enjoy with them.  Eventually, reality stops my eager feet from running and causing anymore damage, so I drop my head and feel a tear drift down my cheek.

When my eyes open to see the bunk bed above me, I notice that the tear was actually on my face.  Even in reality I’m a crybaby.  So I shake my head and get on the ground to exercise.  I start doing push-ups to try and strengthen my weakened arm and to prepare for what might happen on my last remaining days.  Every single time I extend my arms into the locked resting position, I hear, “10 days.  10 days.  10 days.”

As my breathing becomes a bit more obvious, I hear Ramos watching me from his bunk.  He asks, “Got a lot on your mind kid?”

I continue doing push-ups as I reply, “Yep.”

“Bad dream?”

“Yep.”

“Involve your family?”

“Yep.”

“I couldn’t tell.  Are push-ups the solution to this problem?”

I chuckle as I say, “No… but they distract my mind and keep me busy with something.”

He shifts on his bunk, so I stop and sit down to relax for a little bit.  He has a solemn grin pointed at me as he says, “Well, I’ve never seen someone so attached to his family quite like you.  So I have an idea.”

“What’s that?”

“How about you write a letter to your wife every day, for the rest of the time you’re in here and are still Jimmy, and I’ll mail them to her after you’re gone.  She should know that you were thinking of her every day and how much you love her.  It’s really refreshing to witness to be honest with you.  If anything, you’re making me into kind of a softy.”

We share some laughter before I reply, “Thanks Ramos.  That’s actually a good idea.  Are you sure that she’ll still be safe by me writing these letters?  And can I really trust that you’ll give these letters to her?”

“It’s the least I can do.”

He hops down and helps me up from the ground as I reply, “That really means a lot to me man.  Thank you, for being a friend when I need it the most.”

The cell door opens for breakfast as he says, “Don’t mention it.  Now let’s go eat and then you need to shower.  I don’t want my cell smelling like B.O.”

We chuckle some more and then make our way to the cafeteria.  After our slop is on our plates and we sit at the table, Ramos says, “Tony, I’m gonna need you to shower with our lover boy over here.”

Tony asks, “Who?  Johnny Boy?”

Johnny Boy shakes his head as Ramos says, “No stupid.  Jimmy.”

Tony says, “Oh.  When’s he goin to the shower?”

“Right after we eat.  Can you do that?”

“Well I don’t know, I have a couple of conference calls and I have to meet with the President later.”  We all chuckle before he says, “You kiddin?  I don’t have any jobs right now besides staying alive and dreaming of the Italian food waiting for me when I get out of this joint.”

I say, “Thanks Tony.”

“You want me to scrub your back while we’re in there Pumpkin?”

We laugh as I say, “No I’m good.”

“You sure?  You don’t have to worry about me poppin a boner?  Even though you are an attractive man.”  Everyone laughs as Ramos looks at him with eyes full of questions.  Tony shrugs with a full grin as he says, “What?”  So Ramos shakes his head and continues eating his meal.

I reply, “I’m very sure…  Good lord.”

The table laughs some more as we continue eating our meals.  More small talk is shared among the table before I make my way back to Ramos and I’s cell.  I use the bathroom really quickly and then I make my way to the green rustic shower room.  I see Tony waiting for me with an open shower next to him, so I take off my clothes and then make my way over to him.  Everything was going perfectly with the flow of the steam, but then I hear footsteps approaching me from behind.  I turn around to see the same tattoo sleeves from the basketball court and I notice 666 tattooed on the left side of his chest.  He grins at me, so I turn and face the wall after I give Tony a look of caution.

He says, “Can I ask you something?”  But I don’t say anything in return.  He says again with more oomph in his words, “Can I ask you something?”  I remain silent.  He says, “So you a mute now cuz?”

I reply, “No… I just don’t want to talk to you.”

“Aw come on cuz, it’s just a couple questions.”

I turn and face him with happiness vacant from my eyes as I ask, “What is it?”

“You ever see trainin day?”

“Yes.  Why?”

“What’s your favorite part?”

“Seeing Eva Mendes naked.”

He laughs as he says, “I get that, I get that.  But do you know what my favorite part was?”

“No.”

“It was when those gangstas asked if that lil’ white boy ever had his shit pushed in.”  My eyes focus as he says, “Have you ever had your shit pushed in cuz?”

He throws a punch at my face, but I block it and hit him in his left eye.  Tony shoves me out of the way and starts to punch him in his face.  More of the gangster’s crew rushes over after they hear the splashing of fists and kicks in the water.  I hobble up from the ground and defend myself from the two people attacking me.  Tony is kicked in the face as he’s making sure the leader is knocked out, but then he tackles the person that kicked him and pulls down the other gangster next to him.

I manage to kick out the leg of one of the people fighting me, so I kick the one still standing in his crotch.  I could’ve done without feeling his balls around my foot, but clean fighting is only possible in an arena.  Another kick to crouching gangster in his face sends him to the ground.  The other one that I kicked picks himself up and attacks me with wild punches.  When his lack of fighting skills is revealed to me, I simply grab his arm and put him in a lock as I tear it from his shoulder.  I kick him back to the ground and look to Tony to see if he needs any help.

Tony is continually bashing the two gangster’s heads together even though they aren’t showing any fight in them anymore.  He sees me looking at him, so he observes the heads that he’s holding and sees that they aren’t moving at all.  He laughs and says, “Come on kid, we gotta get outta here.”  He helps me to my clothes and we leave before more guards can enter.

I ask as he’s helping me up the stairs, “Aren’t the guards going to know it was us even though we got out?”

He grins and says as we make it into my cell, “I told you, you got nothing to worry about.”  He nods at Ramos and then leaves the cell.

I stare at Ramos blankly before I say, “I think I’m just going to write those letters from now on.”

Ramos asks, “Tired of fighting?”

“Very.”

Day 20

It’s interesting how my emotions can make me know that I’m alive one day, and then on the next day, I feel as though everything inside of me is dead.  The usual threats and the stares that were so obvious to me earlier and would make me feel the necessity to be alert, have all of a sudden not seemed important at all.  All that I can think about is how in 9 days, I’ll no longer be alive.  Everything that I have done up to this point was basically for not because it was always going to end with my death.  No matter how much I wanted to live a happy life and be prosperous and the whole nine yards, I was eventually going to have this fate.  No matter how it comes, it always is how every life ends up.  One moment I’m here, the next I’ll be floating around somewhere until I find another home.

I didn’t even realize that I’ve been sitting at the cafeteria table with the guys until I feel Ramos nudge me on my arm.  My empty eyes drift to his eyes as he asks, “Are you alright kid?”

I look back at my food as I reply, “Eh.”

“Thinking about your family?”

“Not really.  Just about how I was always going have this fate.  After everything that’s happened in my life, this is how things should be.”

Fingers says, “What?”

Ramos buts in before anyone can ask anymore, “Hey, I know that life in the pen is a little rough, but you just gotta keep your mind occupied my friend.  Remember how you said you were going to write letters to your wife?”

I reply, “Yeah.”

“Well then keep your mind occupied with that.  Also, you haven’t used the skills of our friend DM yet.  I’m sure he can find a way to get something that you want in here.”

“My wife?”

We chuckle as Ramos says, “No not your wife.  And trust me, you don’t want her around all these animals.  But come on, there has to be something that you miss from the outside; other than your wife.”

The right side of my lips subtly crease as I say, “Well… there is one thing that was a secret love of mine.”

“What’s that?”

“Nutty Bars.”

“Nutty Bars?”

Tony asks, “You mean the chocolate peanut butter wafers?”

I reply, “Exactly.”

Tony says, “Oh those things are delicious.  Could you get me some pork while you’re at it DM?”

Ramos says, “We don’t need to shove any more dead animals into your body Tony.  But can you get the Nutty Bars for our friend here?”  DM gives the okay signal and continues to eat his meal in silence.

Before Ramos can say anything, I ask, “You don’t say a lot, do you DM?”  He just shakes his head no and continues to eat his meal.

Ramos says, “That’s why he’s so good at what he does.  You never hear him talk, but he gets everything we want somehow.  He’s a miracle worker in here.”

Tony interjects, “He’d be more of a miracle worker if I got that pork.”

We laugh as Ramos says, “For the last time Tony, no.  Lover boy is more of a priority for us since he won’t be here for too long.  You can get your pork later.”

Fingers asks, “Where’s he going?”

Ramos and I lock eyes before he turns back and says, “They’re going to transfer him to another prison.  Minimum security type of deal.”

Tony says, “Well I’m happy you won’t have to guard yourself as much as you did here kid.  If you end up in Hutchinson Kansas, say hello to a buddy of mine in there named Tyler.  He’ll watch out for you and be a friend until you’re out makin whoopee with your wife.”   More laughter comes from his comment.

I say, “Thanks Tony.  I’ll keep that in mind.”

Ramos stands up and says, “I’ll have a pen and paper ready for you when you get back.”  He pats me on the back as he leaves.

I sit alone with the rest of the group as they chat and I exist.  The food didn’t seem to even have a flavor today, so not feeling anything on a day like this actually worked to my advantage.  I should have been depressed earlier.  But I say my goodbyes to the group as I make my way back to Ramos and I’s cell.

A pen and a piece of paper is waiting for me on my bed, so I sit with my legs crossed as I calm my hand that shakes with anxiety and turmoil.  I write,

Dear Sabrina,

I was hoping that I would see your face again and feel the comfort that you give me whenever we’re cuddled together, but I guess that I need to face the facts that I won’t be able to keep my promise of coming home to you.  They have me locked away in a prison for things that I discovered overseas, so I won’t inform you of what they were to protect you from the evils I have to face.  So my Sabrina, my life, my love and my soul, always know that I have loved you and only you for these unbelievably perfect five years of marriage and the two beforehand.  I told you that if I came back when I was twenty two that I would marry you; and thankfully we’ve kept our love through all of these years.

I know that I’m going to miss how your head would shake so much that your hair would shimmy all over your head when you were mad.  Also how your eyes actually turned red whenever I saw my jokes were only funny to me; and that I was, and still am, an idiot.  But I’m so glad that your happiness was there a lot more than your anger.  It’s probably why I appreciated it so much because I saw that you actually were a real person; and someone as perfect as you could love a lass like myself for so many years.

There are only nine more days until my imminent death, so I’ll make sure to write you nine letters before my final hour so that you know I was always thinking of you; even until my last breath leaks from my mouth with the wish of tasting your lips just one last time.  So today is hard, very hard, on me for trying to figure out what to say to someone like you.  How do I sum up my love for you in nine days?  The honest answer is that I can’t, my loving Sabrina.  I just can’t.  But, I can show that I love you with every single sentence and with every single letter.  For that’s all that I really know to do at this moment.  I would love to break out of where they’re holding me, but that selfishness would only get you and the true sign of how much we love each other in your womb, killed.  That’s the last thing that I ever want you to experience.  I’ve had enough nightmares about how they could hurt you, so I don’t want them to be a reality.  I’ll sit down and think until my next letter so that I know how to write with more direction in every letter after this one.  I miss you my love.  And don’t be afraid to love another person when I’m gone.

Love,
Jimmy

Day 21

My eyes are growing tired of staring at the bottom of this metal bunk bed.  I figure I’ve been looking at this sight for over an hour now.  So I turn my body to see that a fresh sheet of paper is waiting for me to write on it.  A sigh comes from me as I shake my head with bittersweet delight.  I look up to hear Ramos still subtly snoring, so he must be faking, or he put the paper there when I was sleeping.

I roll out of bed and then sit on the ground with the paper in front of me.  After biting my bottom lip and tapping the pen on the ground for a little bit, I write;

Dear Sabrina,

You have no idea how much I miss the present of your presence.  Your aura and the essence that makes me submit my desires for your happiness is all that I ever wanted to live for.  I never cared about doing some career for my whole life or trying to just make a lot of money to live a crazy adventurous life; I only cared about, and still care about, how I only wish to make a beautiful family with you.  Seeing whose eyes the child takes and which personality vibrates from that little body would be such a joy.  I would love to be able to watch our little girl become the perfect little student or the best athlete or whatever she may want to be.  Also, if we had a little boy, I would love to see what he chooses to do and I would want to be able to either help support him or let him know that’s not a good idea by strategically guiding him to a new dream.  I never want our children to become strippers or anything like that.  Nothing against those people, I just know that it takes a psychological toll on someone.

But enough of that, I’ll make personal letters to our possible daughter or son.  Although I will tell you that I had a dream of us having a little girl.  She was more beautiful than that fall sunset we saw in the Midwest when we were stationed in Colorado.  Her personality was obviously stemmed from you because she knew how to get what she wanted, no matter what we were doing at the time.  I understand after writing that, you probably have no idea what I even mean.  Well the quick version of that dream is that she was bouncing on my knee before we wanted to get intimate, so you sent her to play in her room.  Then, right before the great entry of love, she came running back out and wanted to go to the park.  You compromised with her and I enjoyed every moment of that dream.  So no matter what, know that I’ll always be with you in some way.

I truly believe that we’ll always be together in some way because I do believe that we really are soul mates.  No matter what obstacles came to me in the past, I only thought of you.  And I saw when Oscar, that two timing bastard who said he was my friend, tried to flirt with you but you slapped him when he touched you.  You have no idea how happy that made me.  But what made me the happiest, is how when he didn’t stop after you slapped him, you called me and said to pick you up from your friend’s birthday party.  I was already going to surprise you with my appearance, so you ended up giving me the surprise when I think about it.  Thank you my dear.

But I do have to admit.  The reason that I spoke about that memory is because I know that you are and will always be a very attractive woman.  Even though you will be a widow, well are by the time you read this, and a single mother, I want you to know that I understand if you still wish for the companionship of another person.  Maybe he’ll be able to spend time with you the way that you wished of me so often and he may even be able to take you on all of the vacations that I couldn’t.  You deserve the best, and since I couldn’t give it to you, please feel free to do as you wish.  Your happiness is my only goal, so even if another man is what will keep that smile on your face, then please, please, get that man.  I only want you to be happy, especially because of the hell that I put you through.  You deserve the heaven that’s been waiting for you.  All that was holding you back was my existence apparently.  So my Sabrina, the one woman that actually made me comfortable with the word love again, make sure that you always do whatever it takes to keep yourself happy.  I’ll be watching from afar, but know that I’m only watching with a smile.  I love you my dear and I’ll be writing some letters for if we have a boy or a girl.  Girls and boys need to learn different things, so I’ll do my best to teach in their letters that I normally would’ve had eighteen years to do.  But normal is nothing we ever had was it.  So long until the next letter, my love.

Sincerely,
Jimmy

I put the pen down and stuff my face into my knees.  Tears begin to kiss my cheeks as I rock back and forth trying to understand comfort again.  Ramos rustles above me until I can feel him looking at the top of my head.  He says, “Hard to write those letters isn’t it?”

I sigh, “Yeah.”

“Well you’re much more of an emotional man than the last guy.  He wrote two letters and then started to fight anyone that looked at him wrong until… well you know.”

“That doesn’t sound like something I’d do.”

“I know.  Which is why I feel sorry for you kid.  I wish there was a way to change the ending to this scenario, but we’ve lived in the real world long enough to know that fairy tales only happen in books.  They forget to leave out how the prince got tired of the princess’s nagging and put her back in the tower he found her in for the next sap.”

I chuckle as I ask, “What?”

“Just trying to make you laugh.”

“Well good job.”

“Thanks.  Are you gonna join me for breakfast?”

“Kind of have to right?”

“Got that right.  So come on.  I’ve seen how you can shut yourself off from the world, so just do it until the end.  But stay conscious for your letters.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

“Come on, let’s eat.”  He jumps down from his bunk and helps me up from the ground to drift through the day.  Because today, all that I did was eat and sleep.

Day 22

A fresh sheet of paper waits for me as I decide whether or not I wish to show I’m alive.  I look out of the cell to see the sun’s fingers tapping the walls as fast as the clouds go by.  A rub of the eyes blended with a sigh was all that I needed to decide I should get out of this lumpy bed; that and back pain.  So I sit with my legs crossed as I grab the pen hidden in my underwear to write on this clean sheet of paper.  After staring at the paper plainly for a moment, I write;

Dear Sabrina,

It’s funny that after all of the times I went over seas to fight, I thought that I would be killed by one of our enemies.  Turns out I’m going to die by the very hands that I used to protect.

I quickly scratch out that part of my letter so that none of the letters can be seen.  I rub my head as I say, “fuck” and think of another way to start this letter to my wife.  How the hell am I supposed to act like everything is fine and dandy when my wife could be getting hunted right after I’m gone if I slip up in any way?  This whole scenario makes me shake my head and question why I ever defended a country like this.  But then I sigh and say, “no” because I shouldn’t be thinking like that at all.  So I pick the pen back up and write underneath the scribbled out words;

Dear Sabrina,

Sorry that I had to omit those last sentences; they could have endangered your life.  That’s the last thing that I want to do.  Although I have to admit, all that I can think about when I’m away from you is the next time that I can feel you inside and out.  It’s as if my libido is feeling my puberty days while my brain craves the humor and stimulating conversations that you offer.  Everything about you is what I miss and which is why I have to make sure that I don’t make careless mistakes, like I almost did on this paper, that could harm you.  It’s just hard to swallow the fact that I won’t be able to protect you in this physical world anymore.  But you know that I’m going to to everything I can to still protect you when I’m gone.

One way that I can protect you is by letting you know that I have a secret stash of weapons and of money in the house.  You know how you were always curious as to why I would be in the closet for a little while sometimes?  I’m going to miss how you said, “finally came out of the closet huh?” with sarcasm evenly coating your words by the way.  Priceless.  But anyway, behind the dresser in the closet there’s a little outline of what looks like some renovations to the wall.  Well, that renovation is actually a very weak wall.  Behind that wall is a one foot wide and three feet long metal container.  Inside of that container is some rainy day money, or if shit hits the fan money, that should total out to a quarter of a million dollars.  I’d love to tell you how I came into possessing that money, but that exposure could and most definitely would get you killed.  Keep that money safe and use it if you need to for you and the child.  Since I cannot protect you when I’m gone, the least I could still do as a man is provide for you to be comfortable for a couple of years.

Now underneath the case is inside of the wall, there is another box that contains some pistols.  If you feel to the right of the box, there are some automatic rifles with four clips next to each one of them.  I lost count of how many rifles I own, but all that I know is that if there is something crazy, like a zombie apocalypse from that show you turned me onto, then you’ll be fine for a little while.  Although, I don’t like how they make the black people in that show look so weak.  You already know what I don’t like about the show, but all in all, you got me hooked on it.  So anyway, you’ll be safe for a little while with or without me.

Also, I would try and avoid any military personnel and any phone calls that they might try and pry information out of you, because that could be a trap.  Try and lay low for as long as you can and make sure that nobody, and I mean nobody, knows that this happened to me.  Because if you do, it might not just happen to me.  I can’t emphasize that enough because I can’t fathom anyone ever harming you or even putting their hands on you.  The thought of that makes me want to do things that makes a crucifixion look like an easy way out.  So please, please watch out for yourself.  I would love to give a sappy story of how you’ll be fine and how no harm will ever think of coming your way, but sweetie, you know that I’m not one for fairy tales because I write them.  I know that they aren’t true and they’re just a means to escape from the reality of this dark world.  It’s sad that so many people believe that stuff so much that it separates them from possibly being happy in life.  Once again, thank you for being a logical woman most of the time we’ve known each other.  You’ve actually brought me back to reality sometimes; like the time I thought we were surrounded by aliens when we were on our porch, so you bought a telescope and made me realize that I’m an idiot.  But I still think they’re out there.

I honestly just wanted to end the note on a laughing matter my dear.  I’ll write letters for our little girl or boy or the joy of twins.  But for now, I’m sorry for not being a safe bet Sabrina.

Love,
Jimmy

I hide the pen in my pants again as I stand up.  Ramos says, “Lets eat lover boy.”  So we make our way back to the cafeteria.

Mac has joined the table again and he’s talking about his time in solitary.  He says, “So yeah it’s really not that bad besides the dim lighting.  They bring the meals to you and you just relax for a couple days in the dark.”

My eyes flare open as I look at him and ask, “How did you only get three days again?”

Ramos interjects, “Geez, the guy hasn’t been back for too long and all that you can ask him is how he got in there?”

Mac chuckles and says, “Hey it’s no problem.  But I only got three days because the guards saw that I was just defending myself.  So they let me off pretty easy and said I should cool off for a couple of days.”

I ask, “That’s it?”

“That’s it.”

I look at DM and ask, “Can you still get the Nutty Bars into solitary confinement?”

DM nods his head and says, “I’ll find your cell.”

Johnny Boy asks, “Whatcha thinkin bout?”

I stand up to put away my tray after I lock eyes with one of the men looking at me in disgust from his seat.  I scoff at him and then get rid of my plate to see if he follows me.  I can hear him breathing behind me, so I turn around and stare at him blankly.  I look around to see the guards staring at us intently, so I say to the heavy breather, “What’s up dick licker?”  He throws a wild punch at me, so I swipe his hand to the right as I shove him back slightly.  In a quick swoop of my arm, I land a punch on his chin and cause him to fold onto his legs.

The guards surround me with their guns full of rubber pellets pointed at me.  I throw my arms up and then place them behind my back without resisting.  One of them says, “Let’s go.  Looks like you need to cool off for a couple days.”

I smile as he takes me away to my friends.  I look at them and say, “Please make sure I have paper in my solitude.”  Ramos nods without acknowledging me too much as I’m taken into solitary confinement.

Day 23

Contrary to popular belief, solitary confinement isn’t that bad.  Well, at least for a person like me that’s used to being stuck with my thoughts for long periods of time.  Although staring at darkness with the single ray of light coming from the slot that they put my food and messages through can get old.  And that subtle sound of something crawling around me is a little disheartening; but after war, this is nothing.

As I’m sitting on the ground with nothing but my thoughts, being put in timeout like a child, I hear something slide into my cell.  I look over to the beam of light and feel my eyes taking over my face.  The yellow box with familiar lettering is sitting there, waiting for me to touch it.  Underneath the box it looks like there are some papers, but my curiosity is too impatient to just think anymore.  So I crawl over and see the letters “N-U-T-T-Y-B-A-R-S” shine in the light.  I then see that Ramos and the guys found out that I’m going to be in here for four days.  So I will thank them when I get our of here for the four pieces of paper.  But for now, I want to taste my secret crack.

I slide my pointer finger slowly around the glued flaps of the box to free this caged princess without letting anyone know what I have in here.  The flap is slowly pulled back as I see the shiny plastic flicker in the light.  I pull out one of the packs containing two Nutty Bars, then I gently set down the box and put all of my focus on these two delights in my hands.  The plastic is pulled apart where the flap is, so I unveil one of the Nutty Bars as I keep the other one safe within the plastic.  The first bite is always the most important entry to this experience of home, so I carefully let my teeth lock onto an inch of the chocolate and peanut butter wafer.  I turn my wrist up as my head tilts down for a perfect first bite.  I sigh out, “Ugh… God yes…” as I let the flavors mix with my tongue.  I chew it up and swallow before I let my greed turn it soggy; I don’t want to destroy this experience.  I then peel apart the wafers and eat them one by one until the rest of the wafer is within me.  The second wafer gets the same treatment, and a smile is what remains with the wrapper.

After I rub my stomach, I lick my fingers to make sure I don’t get any chocolate anywhere other than my mouth.  I grab one of the pieces of paper and sit quietly as I think of what to write.  The images of my dream daughter keep on popping into my mind, so I figure I should write this first one to her.  After some tapping on the ground, I write;

To my little princess,

What a joy it would be to see all of your beauty in person.  I know that your mother must have picked a name that’s perfect for you; I just wish that I could let you know that I see you and that I’m always going to be watching out for you my dear.  You may only know me through pictures or videos or through what your mother has told you about me; but all I can tell you is that I have a very dangerous job that has me out for a little while.  I just wanted to write you a couple of letters to let you know that I love you more than you know.  It may be hard to understand that right now, but I’m sure that your mother will fill you in properly; she’s very good at that.

And it may be hard to accept that a man that you’ve never met actually loves you in an unconditional way, but sweetie, having you was something that your mother and I had dreamed about for many many years.  So I know that you came out even more perfect than we both could have imagined.  Just make sure that you always present yourself as a lady and never sell yourself short for anything less than great.  And know that your emotions and your happiness is more important than any amount of money in the world.  It may seem like life is easier when you have a lot of money; and honestly it really is, unless you’re unhappy.  So when you are dating and you are around other boys, be sure to look out for key components in his personality.

Certain traits like, what do other people say about him, how do his friends act, how does he act with them versus when he’s alone, what kinds of goals does he have in life, what is his religious background because that can really affect someone’s personality and their outlook on life, are his parents still married, if they aren’t then try and find out why because certain personality traits in the ancestors are inherited by the child just like their physical appearance, and see if you can be comfortable just talking about anything with this person.  I only ended up with your mother because she matched my desires perfectly.  Do not compromise when it comes to initially getting in a relationship with your perfect person because it will only end badly.  Or you’ll have to keep on compromising your whole life.  And of course, make sure he’s attractive.  Don’t make yourself suffer, there’s nothing wrong with standards.  And no matter how much I would want you to stay a virgin until you find the right man and I could analyze him with the help of your mother, I know that’s not going to be the scenario.  Especially since you came from your mother and me.  She’ll explain what I mean when you’re talking about the reproductive nature of human beings with her.  I’ll just say we’re a very sexual family.  Not all families admit that to their kids and it ends up making them feel guilty or doing things that could have been avoided.

Also sweetie, I want you to know that you come from a very strong family.  Not just mentally strong but physically strong as well.  I was a star athlete when I was in school and your mother was a collegiate athlete in soccer and then she decided to play volleyball for fun in her off season.  So know that you have many opportunities for you in either sports or your studies.  You will also have creative abilities because I was an aspiring writer and your mother is a very talented writer, photographer and artist.  She still amazes me every day.  So I’m not worried about you having any type of handicap with your abilities because I believe you will succeed in everything that you put your mind to.  Just never do anything halfway.  If you’re going to commit to something, then fully commit.  I would rather you be the best grocery store clerk than an unemployed genius.  But I’m not worried about that being your fate because your mother doesn’t allow excuses.  Trust me.  Although you probably already figured that out the hard way.

I’ll write more in the next letter for you my dear.  Until that letter, stay as beautiful as you are.  And never ever let a magazine tell you that someone else is better or prettier than you, because that’s not true.  And that doesn’t mean that you can look down on other people because of that.  Just know that you are worth more than the average person while understanding that everything you receive is a gift.

I love you,
Your Dad, Jimmy

I put the pen away and figure another nutty bar and a nap is a great plan for the rest of the day.

Day 24

Some more of those Nutty Bars is just what I need.  So I crawl over to the corner of the cell that I placed the chocolate and peanut butter wafers and take two more out of the package.  Savoring the flavor was such a joy yesterday that I don’t want to ruin that moment of happiness.  Also, it doesn’t look like self control woke up with me this morning since I devoured the two servings so fast that I thought I dropped a bar.  Shortly after enjoying the flavor of food again, I hear footsteps approaching my cell until I see what they pass as food slide into my room.  I hear, “Bon appetite soldier boy” before his footsteps leave the hallway.

After enjoying those wafers, I cringe from the smell of prison food.  So I hold my breath and devour what they gave me without dealing with the taste until it’s all gone.  The plate is instantly pushed out of my cell; I don’t want to remember the food in here.  And since I don’t have anything else to do, I pick my pen out of my pants and I grab another sheet of paper to write to my daughter.  I write;

To my loving daughter, letter #2

I hope life has been treating you well my dear.  I just wanted to write you one more letter since I won’t have the opportunity to share in a lot of conversations with you; or any at that fact.  I just want to emphasize one thing while talking about some other stuff you might deal with in life.  But the main point of this letter is to say, always always always practice safe sex unless the person is worth it.  What do I mean by safe sex?  Use protection; condoms, birth control etc, and also be sure to get tested when you go to the doctor.  It doesn’t matter how nice a person may seem or how clean they may appear because sometimes there is something in their body that you would never want inside of yours.  Always make sure that the person you decide to risk pregnancy with by not wearing protection is being as faithful as you are to him.  If you happen to be a lesbian, still practice safe sex.  I don’t care what your sexuality is, but based on our lineage, I’m pretty sure that you will be a straight female.

Also, when you do have sex, you’re going to have emotions that will make you think that you are attached to this individual.  I don’t know everything about the anatomy of a woman and what happens during sex, so your mother should, or might, explain everything to you.  I will just do my part in saying that you should refrain from succumbing to those feelings until that person you allowed inside of you shows in the other areas of their life that you two are meant for each other.  Honestly I don’t think there is anything wrong with a little experimentation.  Your mother and I didn’t lose our virginity to one another, but after we did realize how much we loved each other, we wish that we would’ve waited.  That is just my advice from how I’ve lived.

And based off of what your mother told me, you will be very emotionally vulnerable from the ages of 14 through 22.  You will be becoming a lady at this time and a lot of boys, that I’m sure you’ll meet from school, will be becoming horn dogs.  I won’t say men because just because someone can make a baby, doesn’t mean they are man enough to raise a baby.  So I will tell you that you have the gift of seduction on your side.  Yes, seduction.  It’s how your mother made me notice her and it’s how a lot of couples actually come to be.  Here’s what I mean.  You can and will move in ways that will trigger a sexual desire or some type of a need for action inside of men and some women.  Your mother grabbed my attention by knowing how to touch me in conversation, flicking her hair the way she does, moving her body in certain ways when picking up items and also with how she walks.  She knew when she saw me that she wanted to get to know me.  I was a wreck and was in the military but I was on vacation for a couple months.  She approached me when I was working out in the gym by my parents, your grandparent’s, house.  How she walked up to me was with complete confidence as if she didn’t need anyone and was just wanting to use the dumbbells next to me.  She bent over to pick them up, I noticed, and she stood right back up as if she had an itch on her side.  She lifted her shirt to show me some skin but then put it back down before I could enjoy what I was watching.  Then she acted like she didn’t notice me looking at her so she smiled at me and we started to talk with each other.  The rest of the story is she wouldn’t sleep with me the whole time we were together before I had to leave to fight again; I was a Marine sweetie.  And when I was leaving, I told her that I’m going to marry her when I get back, and we did.  It was the best decision I’ve made in my whole life.

So the reason I say that my dear is because you will move in a way that attracts a certain type of man.  You need to be careful with how you move because certain people will act like the person you really want for a couple months, or even a year sometimes, just to get into your pants.  Your mother will show you how to move because her mother showed her how to move for certain men.  So don’t dress like a girl whose legs never close if you want a good man.  Don’t dress like a proper lady if you want a rugged man.  Understand what you want in a man and act accordingly to get what you want.  Just be sure to weigh all of the pros and the cons with certain types of people.  I did and your mother does it daily it seems.

Be sure to listen to your mother with everything she suggests to you.  No matter what quarrels you will have with her during your teenage years, always remember that she is your mother and she will do whatever it takes to take care of you and to love you.  And do not, I repeat, do not take advantage of your mother’s emotions because it will only backfire on you.  You will never hear about certain aunts and uncles in your family because they took advantage of your mother’s emotions when she was younger and still wanted to treat her poorly when she grew up.  I’m not one to get into that, but if you really want to know, then ask her about it.  I mainly say that because I just want you to have a very solid relationship with your mother.  I really want you to see how much you two are alike rather than trying to find something you two differ in.  We made you out of love, so know that we will always love you.  I wish that I could say more to you, but just know that I’ve dreamed of you many times and I have thought about you more than you know.  Stay the princess that you are until a king makes you a queen.  I love you sweetie, and I send you many kisses from where I am.

Love,
Your Dad, Jimmy

I put the pen away and then drop my head.  I say, “God, I know that we don’t talk too much because I don’t want to bother you.  I mean, you must get a lot of requests all the time.  But if you can hear my faint voice and listen to this simple prayer I send out… please, watch out for my family.  I would love it if you would let me be with them, but I understand that sometimes that isn’t how it’s written for an individual like me.  So please, please, heed my prayer and watch out for my family.  Let no harm come to them because of the blood I’ve shed.  Only make me pay for those sins, not them.  Amen.”

Day 25

I can only remember eating four meals from the prison so far, so it must be my third day of solitary confinement.  As I’m about to reach for the remaining Nutty Bars, I hear more footsteps coming towards my cell; so I quickly hide them behind my back.  The usual slide of the food and the exiting footsteps of a bored officer are the only thing that happen though.  So I leave my Nutty Bars to devour my meal and then go back to them to eat away the taste in my mouth.  When I feel into the box again, I see that there are only two packages left.  I mutter to myself, “fat ass” as I take one more package out and eat them with a grin on my face.

I lean back and hear the two remaining papers crinkle as I place my hand on them, so I quickly adjust my seating so that I don’t damage the paper any further.  I pick up one of the pieces of paper and I place it into the light before I write;

To my loving son,

It would be such a joy to see how much you’ve grown my son.  I just wish that I could have been there for your first steps and for the first time you broke something in the house to make your mother mad.  But that isn’t something that we could enjoy together, so I’m writing you this letter and one more to try and explain what it means to be a man in this family.  First things first, listen to your mother.

I know that she isn’t the type of male figure that you most likely want to emulate.  And she may even make you want to punch through the wall sometimes because she doesn’t let you go out with your friends or something of that nature.  But I need you to understand and think about why she probably didn’t let you go.  One reason could be that you were being a little prick.  I’m not going to sugar coat anything because that isn’t how the men in this family are.  We are honest and loyal to our word because our word is our bond.  Anything that decides to come from my mouth has a purpose; as should anything that comes from your mouth.  And this goes without saying, never hit a girl.  I don’t care what may have happened, never hit one.  No matter what.

But another reason that your mother may not let you go out is because she may not trust whoever you’re with enough to leave you alone with them.  I’m not worried about you being a good man, but she may not feel the same way about your friends.  I’m sure that she will let you have them stay over for a little while so that she can get more acquainted with them, but never lash out at your mother because it will only end badly.  If you think that men have the worst temper, make your mother angry and tell me if going to hell would have been an easier option.  Now don’t take this as I don’t love your mother, because I do love her more than anything in this world, it’s just that I’ve ticked her off before and I’m giving you fair warning.  It is funny and cute to see how her nose crinkles when she’s mad; but when the whites in her eyes are red, yes they actually turn red, you’re fucked.  So that’s a warning son.

Also, always respect women.  I don’t care if she’s a whore or if she’s the biggest bitch that spawned from Satan, she’s still a lady and all that you have to do to get rid of her is walk away.  Or if she keeps on calling you, block her calls.  People can act irrational a lot of times so be prepared for any type of unforeseen mood swings.  We are a very logical family, so that may make it hard for you to sympathize with a lot of people.  I’ll explain that for you further.

One of the main reasons that I fell for your mother was because of her mind.  If she did not think and act the way that she does, then those looks that she is also blessed with would not have made me want to stay with her.  She actually thinks about different situations that she has dealt with and she acts out the most logical, not emotional, reaction to present situations as well.  So when you really do become a man, you will find a woman like your mother.  Not in the sense that she will be exactly like your mother, just that she has the same moral guidance and understanding of the world that you do.

It may sound impossible, but it worked out perfectly for your mother and I.  So never ever give up on finding the right person and be sure to treat her like a lady, first.  Always try and see if she slips up and does things that a girl on the streets would do so that she solidifies if she is the right person for you.  The only people that get mad about being tested in a relationship is the dishonest person that is trying to act in a certain way to get your attention.  You don’t want an actress, you want a real woman.  Now some real women are probably actresses as a profession, but I mean that you don’t want someone who is acting out who they are rather than being who they are.

Another thing that I want to point out is that you are a naturally strong man.  It’s been that way for all of the men in our family and you came from me.  So with this strength I will say that you need to be careful when you are playing with your friends.  A little more careful than the average person.  I’ve accidentally broken my friend’s ribs when we were sparring, I’ve given people concussions when I played football as well as broken legs and arms, and I’ve thrown many friends to the ground in a fit of rage to get at someone who angered me.  So be sure to always take a couple of seconds to think, if that option is given because other times you will need to fight, and breathe slowly to calm your nerves.  But if you do have to fight, kick the living shit out of them.  Do not show mercy until they can’t fight anymore or they are helpless.  Yes I told you to do that.  There’s nothing wrong with choosing not to fight, but if they force you to fight, make sure they remember never to test you again.  Be a man.  Know when to fight and when to relax.

I really wish that I could be sitting with you and explaining this over years rather than on these two pieces of paper I have.  But for now, think on that stuff son and I’ll write you one more time.  Know that I’m proud of everything that you do because everything in life gives a lesson.  Be sure to remember those lessons and improve your life daily by being a student of life.  I love you more than you know and I’ll always be watching over you.

Love,
Your Day, Jimmy

I put down the paper and say, “This fucking sucks.  But what can I do.”  I then curl up and remain as motionless as my desire to feel.

Day 26

As the words, “Last day” sigh out of my mouth, I roll over and feel the floor for the last piece of paper.  I hear it crinkle under my hand, so I grab it and write;

To my loving son, Letter #2

Hey son.  In the first letter I talked mainly about respecting your mother, women and about standing up for yourself when it’s necessary.  I also want you to always understand that family comes first; no matter what.  At least in an emergency situation.  Now I understand if your mother is calling you every single day, like she might because she’s a very big lover, you may want to let it ring a couple of times or even let her leave you a message.  But if it’s urgent, you better be there for her as fast as you can.  And that also goes for when you are starting a family of your own.  Take care of the family before you take care of yourself.  Now enough about that, I want to explain a very, very important subject matter with you.

Son, when you’re at the age of thirteen until you are dead in a grave, you are going to be off the charts when it comes to your libido.  Your libido is your sex drive, in short.  You will want to have sex with or fondle or do all kinds of things with all of the pretty girls that you see.  Now I will be the first one to tell you that there is nothing wrong with that at all.  People will try and tell you it’s a sin and all of these other things to scare you, when they forget that this is how all of us came to be alive.  But I will say that you should always wear a condom.  I didn’t save myself for marriage so I can’t be a hypocrite and tell you not to have sex before you get married.  But I will say you better not get anyone pregnant and you don’t want to get an STD or STI, whatever they call it at your age, you don’t want it.  To put it plainly, your penis will feel like it’s on fire whenever you pee, you could get bumps that ooze puss whenever someone touches it and it hurts like needles pricking your privates continuously, your penis could literally fall off, you could go insane and have your brain eaten by a parasite and eventually you could get a disease that just kills you.  So with that said, choose who you share yourself with wisely and always use protection.  Your mother is a nurse and she loves to remind people of how dangerous sex can be.  That’s a warning for you.

And when it comes to sharing yourself with another individual in some seriously intimate time, be sure that it’s someone that you care about.  Chances are, she’ll break your heart and then you’ll have sex with a lot of other random people for no reason because that is part of the healing process.  People like to call it a war path.  A lot of people will judge you as a man whore or anything of that nature, but I would understand completely because I have been there.  So, actually build a relationship with the girl and do the whole meeting her parents and taking her to dinner and romancing her.  It’s something that all girls will appreciate and it will make things a lot easier for you when she tells her friends about what a gentleman you are.  Trust me, you always want to make her friends love you.  It makes her want you that much more and it keeps her on guard for if you decide that she isn’t meant for you anymore.  People that don’t understand relationships will say that’s manipulative, when honestly it isn’t manipulative unless you’re a bad person that’s sleeping around with everyone when you say that you love one person.  Don’t be that kind of a person.

Also, I want to explain to you what love means to someone like me.  Love is an unconditional feeling that you can have for someone else.  A lot of people confuse this with sex, when actually anyone can have sex without being in love with someone.  If anything, sex can complicate the growth of love in two people because it releases chemicals in the brain that make people feel the effects of love without being in love.  Love is when you find that you want to do anything it takes to make this person happy because you feel as though they are a part of you.  Nothing they say or do can hurt you because you know without a shadow of a doubt that they care about you and if they say something hurtful then you most likely needed to hear it.  But if a girl is sleeping around on you as you are providing a lot for her, stop providing and leave her alone immediately.  She doesn’t care about you, she cares about your stuff.  So when you are with a girl and you feel like everything is gold when you’re with her, really ask yourself if she is with you for you or for your stuff.  It will save you a lot of pain in the end son, trust me.  And if you do end up having the blessing of someone wanting to marry you, then ask yourself one question and be honest about it.  Ask yourself, “Can I live without her?”  If the answer is yes in any way, then you need to man up and leave her now because you will end up leaving her anyway.  Don’t torture yourself with false love.

And son, never ever ever ever ever ever say I love you to a girl first.  Never.  She needs to be the one to say if first.  Even if your eyes are screaming with tears that form into hearts that say you love this girl, DO NOT SAY IT FIRST.  That moment is for her and you will appreciate the gift of her revealing that to you when she is ready.  If you rush it, you might as well start looking for a new girlfriend.  Because once it’s out there son, it’s out there forever so don’t say it unless you mean it.  There’s no taking it back and you might wish that you could take it back in the future.  But love is forever, not situational.  Remember that.  If I could be there for your mother every single day then I would be.  If she was paralyzed or burned in a fire, I would have still been there for her no matter what.  Because I love her, not her body.

So son, play sports, always excel in yours studies, treat everyone fairly and figure out how to read people’s personalities and emotions.  It makes life a lot easier and it gives you an edge for when someone is using sarcasm or trying to hide something from you.  And also when you’re talking with girls because she may say everything is fine, when really you’re about to find out who really wears the pants in the relationship.  I’ll give you a hint, it will never be you.  You’re a man, so you will provide and protect.  Nothing in there says that you will always do the thinking and most of the other stuff in the relationship.  You may disagree with me in your teens, but when you hit your late twenties, you’ll agree completely.  But son just know that I love you and that I wish I could see what you look like face to face rather than from where I am.  I just want you to be happy and to know that your mother and I will always love you.  You were made out of love so you will have the gift of love.  Be careful with that gift and become the man that you want to be.  No matter what obstacles get in your way, just know that you are on the right path if it isn’t easy.  It’ll make everything that you get from that quest worth the journey.  I love you son.

Love,
Your father, Jimmy

I fold up the papers neatly and in order as I hear the muck slide under my door again.  My tired eyes look at the plate and say, “At least it’s consistently on time.”  I reach into the box of Nutty Bars and see that there aren’t any left.  I say, “Shit out of luck” before I fold the box up and hide it in my shoe to throw it away when I get out of solitary confinement.

Day 27

Instead of the usual food that comes with the footsteps to my cell, I hear a loud click before the door opens.  An officer wielding a loaded rifle says, “Come on Jimmy, your time’s up in here.”

I pick myself off of the floor and follow the officer to the cafeteria.  I see my old friends, so I grab my food and take the open seat they left for me.  Ramos pats me on the back and says, “Welcome back from the hole.  How was it?”

I reply, “Not bad actually.  Didn’t have to smell your morning breath.”

The table laughs as Ramos says, “Sounds like a dream.  But we’re glad you’re back kid.”

“Thanks Ramos.”  I look at DM and say, “Thanks for the gift by the way.  When I find a safe trash can I’ll dispose of the evidence.”

DM nods as Fingers says, “Hand it to me under the table and I’ll take care of it.”

I ask, “Won’t it be obvious that I’m handing you something secretly in here?”

Fingers says, “If you make it obvious, yeah.  Just don’t be a screw up and slowly take it out of where you have it.  Then nod at me when it’s in your hand and under the table far enough for me to reach for it.  I’ll take care of the rest.”

“Okay.”  I slide off my shoe and pick up the folded box with my toes and place it in my right hand.  I nod at Fingers and he grabs it from me so fast that I barely feel it slide from my hand.

He says, “Alright, now I could just get rid of these the boring way, or I could plant them at a certain group of people that have given you some shit.  It’s up to you.”

Tony interjects, “How about those fudge packing gangsters we had the pleasure of meeting in the shower?”

Fingers asks, “What?”

I say, “That sounds perfect.”  I scan the room and see the gangsters and happen to lock eyes with the main one that wanted to push my shit in.  He creases his chin as he bites his bottom lip with anger, so I turn back to fingers and say, “Plant it on him.”

Fingers says, “I’ll be back.”  He stands up and walks without trying to conceal himself at all around the other tables until he’s at the table of gangsters.  It looks like he just takes a quick hobble step and then continues to walk past them.  He continues walking towards a guard and whispers something in his ears as he points at the group of gangsters.  The guard walks towards the gangsters and Fingers makes his way back.  He sits down and says, “Watch this.”

The guard motions for them to stand up and sees the empty box of Nutty Bars on the bench that they were sitting on.  The guard asks, “How the hell did you get those in here?”

The gangster replies, “I never seen that box one time.”

The guard calls for back up as he reaches to put hand cuffs on the gangster.  The gangster and his crew decide to test their fighting skills again and manage to force spit from the guard’s mouth.  As they continue to unleash their rage on the guard, their attempts to continue fighting shock them to the ground by the other guards’ tazers until they’re all hand cuffed.  I look at Fingers and ask, “How the hell did you do that?”

He snickers and says, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

We all laugh for a little while and continue eating our meals.  After everything is consumed, Ramos and I make our way back to the cell.  Ramos pats me on the back and then says, “Time to do what you need to do Jimmy” as he points to another piece of paper on my bed.  I nod and walk over to the piece of paper.  I place it on the ground and write;

Dear Sabrina,

The letters to the children have been written.  Whether they are successful or not is up to your beautiful eyes, so feel free to omit or add anything that I left out.  But I have to admit that writing these letters is not something that I look forward to.  I don’t want to imagine the tears that try to comfort your pain or the fact that you’ll be in that delivery room without me.  Yet this curse of my life seems to keep me stuck in the muck of reality.  Every time I try to pick myself up, I feel the weight of memories melting me to the ground.  If only there was a way that I could just hear your voice or see your smile or taste your life.  It’s the only life I know that can keep me from the hell of my thoughts.

Yet I want to apologize for saying those last words.  But you know that I could never lie to you.  Honesty is what held us together all of these years and I believe it’s the only thing that can truly keep any real couple together.  The fact that I was honest enough to admit to you that I love you and only you kept me from ever cheating on you or even thinking of cheating on you.  I know that you did the same and that’s what causes me so much pain.  The fact that you, the love of my love, was actually given to me for such a short period of time is breathtaking.  It’s the greatest feeling that anyone could ever ask for and it honestly still makes me feel warm when the coldness of death is breathing down my neck.

You are the only person that I want to be thinking about when I’m gone.  I never had a mother that really cared if I was breathing and my own father tried to kill me.  I bet a lot of confusion comes up from that last line, so I’ll explain.  It turns out that General Freedmen, the man you said probably rapes puppies and kittens as he drinks wine with Satan, was actually my father.  It was hard for me to accept that news, but I have to admit that I do kind of resemble him and he was always around me for some reason when I was a child.  Although, just because he turned out to be my father doesn’t mean that he wasn’t a scum bag.  I say wasn’t because he is no longer with us.  I personally shot him in the head.  I can’t tell you why, but that’s all that you need to know.  Anymore information might put you in danger.

But on a positive note, I still can see what you look like when the sensations of love have taken over your face.  Right when you would release and I would see space within your eyes, I knew that your soul was and still is the perfect soul.  The stars that would twinkle as you moved your grinning face towards mine from its cocked position to your right, always replays in my mind.  Even though it would take about a minute for you to come to, it was worth the wait to see you come back to me.  The fulfillment in watching your face and the sexual passion within you release is way better than anything else out there.  I just feel sorry for anyone that doesn’t know what I mean because seeing someone that you love and can express love with sexually is better than anything.

All of your accessories like that hair that flies to the beat of air, those lips that long for the perfect kiss, those legs that trapped my mind into a gaze, your figure that set the standard for my desires and that face that didn’t have anything to waste inside of those oceanic blue eyes of yours are perfectly wrapping the true beauty within your soul.  Not a day went by where I didn’t know I was the one who received the true blessing of the world.  I just wish that I could have seen you age my dear.  It’s hard to continue writing these letters, but I will continue writing them until I can only write within the air, my love.  I love you.

Love,
Jimmy

I put the pen away and then sit still on my bed.  Ramos clicks for my attention, so I look up and see him nod at something for me to look at it.  I look over and see Fingers strolling across the the top walkway in the open area and then nonchalantly take away a guard’s nightstick.  He begins to hump and be obnoxious with the stick until he notices the guard turning around.  He holds up one of his hands and I read his lips say, “I think this is yours sir.”  Confusion cocks the guards head as he slowly takes the nightstick away.  Fingers strolls away with his tongue out at Ramos as he continues to play around taking other people’s possessions.

I ask Ramos, “How the hell did he get caught?  He seems too good to be caught.”

Ramos says, “A rat.”

“That sucks.”

“Eh it’s not too bad.  Rat’s aren’t immune to poison.”  He smiles at me and then walks out of the cell.

I shake my head and lie back in my bed.

Day 28

I see the usual golden fingers on the wall as I lie in a tomb of awaiting defeat.  The last two pieces of paper are calling for me to confess more love for my wife, yet my slow weighted breaths show my reluctance to write.  My eyes search around the cell for anything to break, but nothing I could break would help my desires to live.  So logistics takes my heavy carcass and places me in front of a piece of paper.  The pen dances between my fingers for a moment before I write;

Dear Sabrina,

I feel as though I’m just rambling right now because I just want to actually have a real conversation with you.  It feels as though I’m trapped on the battlefield no matter where I go because I’m always fighting to come back to you.  Yet this fight is going to come to an end apparently.  So I just want to basically apologize for putting you through all of the hell we went through together.  Like when I had the bright idea of introducing you to my mom and she wanted to greet you by putting her cigarette out on you.  It’s a good thing you have quick reflexes; and I apologize for that again and we never talked to her after that, so no worries.  But she was right when she said that you would ruin me, because after you showed me what love really is, I could never be the same again.  So thank you Sabrina.

I also want to apologize for being so distant on our first dates.  Like when we went to the amusement park and I got on the ride when there was only one seat left and said that I’ll see you at the bottom; looking back on that one shows that I was one smooth operator.  Just kept you coming back to your chocolaty fix.  Even when we were at that restaurant and you caught me checking out the waitress, you forgave me.  Yes we were only seeing each other for five days at that point, but it was still wrong to be looking at other people as openly as I did.  But you locked my eyes onto you when you showed me your personality.  And just the little things that you do make me enraged about this situation, but I’m thankful I was able to experience your life.

Whenever you sneeze, the cutest little wrinkles form on your nose right before you squeak like a mouse.  And I loved how it always came in pairs of two.  I also loved how when you were sleeping, I could have a full conversation with you and you would never remember them ever happening.  So thanks for telling me what to get you every year for your birthday.  And sorry that I cheated on how to get you the perfect present, I just wanted to make you happy as much as I could.  It was like the thought of you and the smell of your peaches and cream perfume would turn on my half of our soul and realize that I could only be complete as long as your part of our soul was happy.  At least now I’ll be able to watch over you much better than before.

And every time I saw the child within you scream and flail your arms and do a little happy dance when you were excited, I could barely keep myself from laughing.  It’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.  I loved how you would always get so excited for birthdays and the holidays because it was an excuse to dress up and be with family.  Thank you for taking me around your family and letting me see the welcoming smiles and sharing so many laughs with your father.  And after being around your mother and seeing how she cooks and is always pleasant, I knew exactly who you got your personality from.  I’m still a little annoyed by your little brother kicking me in the balls when he first saw me, but he was only ten at the time so I should let it go.  I did want to hit the little prick; but at least you got a good laugh out of it and I guess I deserved it for being a jerk in the beginning.  I am really going to miss the outfits you would wear on Halloween as well.  I never knew that a cat or a princess or a nurse could look so sexy.

But I feel as though this pen is writing everything itself because I really don’t know what to write anymore.  The only thing that I want to really do is rip up all of these letters and go through the inferno of trying to reach you.  Although, if I was that selfish then that would hurt the one person that’s worth protecting on this planet.  Just please, feel for me whenever you feel lonely and I’ll be sure to warm your spirits with my company.  You may not be able to see me, but know that I’m there.  I will always be there for you.  They said til death do us part at our wedding, but even death won’t keep me away from you.  The only heaven that I know is when I’m with you, so there’s no reason to go anywhere that you are not present.  You are the gift from God that I really want so there isn’t any need to keep on searching for anything else.  You know that I’m a man of special tastes, so it’s assuring to know that you cover every flavor that I desire.  Just another taste of love would give my starving soul the satisfaction it craves by the second.  Just know that I love you more than anything and I won’t miss you when I’m gone because I will always be with you in some way.  Always.

Love,
Jimmy

My neck rolls around as I wiggle my jaw until my emotions grab my body.  I grunt out “Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!” as I continually stab my mattress.  I hear Ramos jump down from the bunk and he grabs me to holds onto me from behind.  I keep on grunting as I tremble with my eyes welling with sadness.  I reach out one last time to stab the mattress, but Ramos grips me tighter and holds onto me.

He says, “I know… I know…”

As air jumps from my mouth with mucus, I slowly descend to my knees.  I fold my arms and rest my head on the mattress as I continue to cry.  I ask, “Why the fuck does this have to happen?  What did I do to deserve the life that was given to me to just be taken away like this?…  Fuck!”

Ramos sighs before he says, “I don’t know.  All I do know is that this will all be over tomorrow.  So come on.  I know it’s hard, but you gotta keep your composure until it’s over.  Okay?”  I sniffle and clinch the mattress in response.  He says, “Come on, it’s time to eat.”

“I don’t want to fucking eat…”

“You have to.  So come on.”

I take in a couple more deep breaths before I rapidly blink away my emotions and wipe my face clean.  I say, “Sorry for being so transparent for a second there.”

Ramos chuckles and says, “No worries.  Now come on.”

We make our way to the cafeteria, but my mind still finds itself in our cell.  So throughout the day, my face remains blank and my eyes look into nothing towards the ground.

Day 29

After soaking in the anger and sadness that had me paralyzed yesterday, I’ve come to accept my fate.  So I swivel out of bed and place myself in front of the last letter to my wife.  I write;

Dear Sabrina,

I feel as though fighting this whole ordeal was just a waste of time.  Why fight when life will eventually end in this way.  Life won’t always end the way that mine will; but after thinking about it deeply, I don’t really have much to complain about.  You were always there for me no matter what the circumstances were.  Even when you were still in your pajamas and you had to pick me up from the bar when I was young and stupid.  But hey, it was the first time I was actually going to fight in a war so I was scared.  I’m just glad that you understood.  And I’m still sorry for ruining the interior of your old car.  It was a good idea to get rid of it because air fresheners couldn’t even get that smell out of there.

But sweetie this is it.  I don’t know what to write anymore because it’s not like I can see your facial expressions or even know how you’re going to respond to these letters.  Oh and don’t be surprised if Shylah starts to act very strange when she knows that I’m gone.  You know that her and I are very connected because she’s my little daughter in a cat’s body.  And even though I see you two arguing from time to time, I know that you love her too; it was always funny to hear you scolding her as she was back talking you with meows though.  But believe it or not, she will comfort you more than you realize.  She definitely reads off of our vibrations, and since my vibrations will no longer be emitting from my body, she’s going to reach for you since we were so close to me.  Although, be careful when you’re around her too much because she can and most likely will become a little diva.  Don’t underestimate her.

On a good note though, I kept my sexuality the whole time I was in prison.  No one had the liberty of sodomizing me, so at least you were and will always be the last person that I made love to.  Which is a great and uplifting realization, trust me.  I’ve been offered multiple times by some forceful individuals, but I know that you’re the only one that can really please me.

Also, I made some good friends.  They’re not your average bunch of guys, but they’ve been watching out for me through this whole ordeal.  Turns out my cell mate, who I’m not going to name out of protection for you, has already dealt with another soldier who was in my kind of situation.  It wasn’t the same scenario, but the ending will be the same.  The other men in his crew were very pleasant as well and I’ve been playing chess with a nice boy from the south.  So besides all the gangsters and rapists and killers in here, it’s really not that bad.  Just imagine going to a big city where all of the criminals are your neighbors.  So there’s basically no difference.

But my love, I’m going to have to end this letter here.  I want to imagine your smile as the last thing I see when I go.  And please, don’t name the child something obnoxious because I was black.  Nothing like Red Iris or Laquefima or something stupid.  My name was Jimmy, so you don’t have to worry about that embarrassment burdening our child.  Oh how I wish I could joke with you in person.  So I’ll enjoy joking with you in the afterlife.  Endless hugs and kisses in your direction Sabrina.  I love you more than life itself.

Your loving husband,
Jimmy

I carefully fold the paper up and place it under my mattress with the rest of the letters.  I look up to see Ramos staring intently at me until he says, “Today’s the big day.”

I reply, “That it is.”

“How are you feeling about it?”

“Honestly?  I’ve made peace with my ending.  Everyone has one, why not go out with a bang?”

Ramos slightly smirks as he says, “Good deal.  Let’s go and eat your last meal.”

I chuckle as I say, “You have no idea how happy I am because I never have to eat this shit again.”

Ramos pats me on the back as he laughs and says, “I’m actually a little jealous now that you say that.”

We make our way over to the cafeteria and sit with our usual crowd.  Everyone looks at me with questions holding their eyes.  None of their words know how to make it to their mouths until Tony says, “So how are ya feelin cupcake?”

I chuckle while replying, “Not too bad Tony.  Thanks for asking.”

“It’s no problem baby.  Are you gonna try out the man meat before you go so that you don’t have any questions?  I could set somethin up for ya.”

We all laugh as DM remains silent and shakes his head.  Ramos says, “Only you Tony.”  He then looks over to Fingers and nods at him.  Fingers gets up from the table and glides over to the serving line.  He swoops up an object and then makes his way back to the table.  He smiles and hands it to Ramos under the table, so Ramos says, “Thank you sir.”

I ask, “What was that?”

Ramos sighs as he says, “Well since you’re leaving, I’m alone to defend myself.  During these times I have… sharp tastes, if you know what I mean.”

“Hey, whatever it takes to defend yourself.  Unless you’re always around Mac here.”

Mac laughs and says, “But then I’ll just be put back in solitary.  I’ve actually gotten pretty used to it at this point.”

“How many times have you been in there?”

“Probably around ten or twelve times.  Not a big deal.”

I shake my head as I say with a grin, “Good lord.”

Johnny Boy leans into the table and says, “Hey, since you’re gonna be gone and all later today, how bout we play one last game of chess?”

I smile at him as I say, “I’d love that.”

“Maybe this time you might win.”

We chuckle as I say, “It’s okay, I know that I’ll lose.”

“Damn skippy.”

The meal continues with small talk without bringing up my ending too much.  Johnny Boy leaves to set up the chess game, so I pick myself up and hobble to where we play in the center of the prison.  I see him sitting there waiting for me, so I take a seat and then crack my knuckles as I say, “Time to enjoy my last game with a friend.”

Johnny Boy pushes his lips together as they move to the right side of his mouth while he nods.  His eyes seem to lack conviction, so I ask, “What’s wrong?”

He replies, “Time for you to go pretty soon.”

“I know, but lets just enjoy this game.”

“That’s not what I mean… I’m sorry for everything that’s happened to you.”

Confusion pushes my eyebrows together until I feel someone put my hands behind my back.  He stands me up and keeps me still with his strength.  I look around to see who’s holding me, but I figure it has to be Mac.  I ask, “Mac, what are you doing?”

He says, “I’m sorry Jimmy.”

I face forward again and see Ramos directly in front of me before I feel my stomach being pierced repeatedly.  Shock flares open my eyes as I continue to slide to the ground.  I stare Ramos in his eyes and leak out, “Why Ramos?”

He stabs me one more time as he says, “Nothing personal kid.  It’s just business.”  He looks up and says, “DM, time to deliver another body.”

I feel something stab into my neck as my life continues to leak out of my stomach.  My body looses its ability to move as I feel like I’m only within my head now.  I hear Ramos say, “By the way, I can’t send off these letters… It’ll be better if you keep them with you for a nice memory.”

He shoves the letters down my bloody pants, so a tear trickles down my cheek.  I hear guards’ footsteps approaching us rapidly as everything begins to fade from my sights.  The only thing I seem to be able to do is listen to everything around me.  But everything is so loud and clear, that none of it can be comprehended.  So as I feel myself escaping my body, I only whisper, “Sabrina.”

Day 30

Sabrina turns on the television and sits down on the sofa with a cup of coffee in her hand.  She takes a sip and then wiggles back to wedge herself in.  Her eyes are locked on the screen as a woman who’s reporting the news says, “As well as three soldiers were killed on their way back home by a terrorist that secretly boarded their plane.  One of these soldiers was the famed Jimmy Jack,” a picture is shown of everyone who was killed as she continues with, “who was the soldier we all witnessed save the lives of two of his fellow marines from being publicly beheaded.  Sources say that the other two soldiers with him, Privates Tagger and Locke as well as their leader, General Freedmen, all fought with the terrorist and ended up killing him as well.  But by the time they had landed, they were no longer with us because of excessive bleeding.  We are now live with a soldier who knew and respected Colonel Jack as well as all of his fallen brothers.”  The television cuts to a press conference of a commander wearing his blues, so everyone watching sees him say, “It’s an absolute tragedy that something so terrible can happen to men like this.  General Freedmen and Privates Tagger and Locke were all good soldiers.  And as for Colonel Jack, there will never be another soldier quite like him.  He was the most courageous, tactical as well as the most family oriented soldier that I’ve ever had the pleasure of serving with.  My condolences go out to the family and friends of all of these men.  May they forever rest in peace.”  The television cuts back to the woman reporting, so she says, “Security on military planes is now doubled for any possible chances of a counter-attack.  When we tried to inquire more of the situation, we were stopped because of military protocol.  But on a personal note, I just would like to say rest in peace Colonel Jimmy Jack because you moved millions of Americans with your selfless acts of bravery.  My heart goes out to the widow and his loved ones.”  The television cuts to the newscasters at their desks, so the man on the right says, “And my heart goes out to them as well.  In other news-”  Sabrina shuts off the television and takes a deep breath.

She sets down her coffee and looks over to Shylah who’s sitting next to her to say, “It looks like we lost him my dear.”  Shylah stops bathing her stretched out furry legs and stares Sabrina in her eyes.  Sabrina continues with, “Now we just have this stranger in the room next to us.”  Shylah licks her lips and then continues bathing like nothing matters.

I chuckle as I say, “Thanks for the concern Shylah.  But they couldn’t have given me more of a racist name than Jaquon Albertson.”

Sabrina says, “Sweetie, no offense, but you used to have two first names.  White ones at that.”

“You just always have to be the smart one don’t you?”  I start to tickle her so I can see those usual legs of love kick with excitement.

She says with joy suspending her smile, “Hey, hey!  Stop it!  You could hurt the baby.”  She rubs on her stomach that shows life is growing soundly.

I place my hand on her stomach and say, “You know I would never want to do that.”  I bend over and kiss her stomach with a slight wince in pain from my wound.  I sigh as I come back up and stare into those oceanic eyes to lose myself like the addict I am.  We bring our lips together and taste the love that we both longed for.  After we hold our mouths together until the long exhale of relief exits our nostrils, I pull back to say, “Thank God I was able to come back to you Sabrina.  You have no idea how much I wanted to see and be with you again.”

She pecks me again and says, “The same goes for me.  I just wish they didn’t stab you in the stomach like they did.”  She touches my fresh bandage concealing my stitches.

I wince and take her hand off as I say, “Easy, it’s still fresh.”

“Oh don’t be such a baby.  I’m a nurse remember?”

“Yeah but you know how much I hate the hospital and I don’t want to risk the stitches coming out.  Just like you don’t want to risk the baby getting hurt by me tickling you.”

“Eh okay.  But why did they have to stab you before they knocked you out with that shot in your neck?  I mean who the hell is in charge?  I don’t want any more holes in you.”

I chuckle as I say, “Babe, there’s no reason to ask those questions because we’ll never get an answer.  We should just be thankful that we’re together again.  The chances of that were slim enough, so I’ll take a little scar on my stomach to remind me of how I was able to get out of the military indefinitely.”

“I guess you’re right.  And the pension that they’re giving us is very nice.”

“Yeah thank God, because this whole aspiring writer quest was going to make money tighter than clinched butt cheeks.”

She slaps me with a grin on her face and says, “Weirdo… but that’s very true.  And we do need to be able to take care of our little boy.”

“But I told you I had a dream of a little girl.”

“Well… usually the mother, me, has a dream that tells what the sex of the child will be.  I dreamed of a boy, so that’s that.”

I kiss her before I say, “Well I’ll be happy with whatever we get.”

“Even if it’s an Asian?”

As we’re laughing I say, “If it’s an Asian I’m enlisting under my new name.”

“Well then safe travels Mr. Albertson.”

“Why thank you Mrs. Albertson… you cheating whore.”  She slaps my leg and I hug her tighter than before.  We remain cuddled for a moment of silence until we bring our lips back together to enjoy every mixture of ourselves that we can.  The future looks bright for us, and I’m going to do everything that I can to please her for the rest of my life.

She asks me, “So can you tell me about what happened these last thirty days?”

“Well… it all started when I was dreaming of you.”

Afterword

Two days later, he received a call from a literary agent that works in New York. One week after that call, his book series he was working on got a seven figure signing bonus and his books sold more than he could’ve ever imagined; and he was very happy when he was able to finish the series without outside writers doing anything more than editing his grammatical errors. He and his wife no longer have to work unless they choose to for many generations to come. Struggles and strife are a distant memory that continue to remind them of how thankful they are; everyday.

The End

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s