Wednesday Slice of Life: Combat

            He’d fought for his country in two wars, sustained injuries and received honors. At first the recognition he liked best was the $3,000 per month tax-free VA award for life. But the passage of time altered his focus to a point where the money no longer softened the pain and the memories that made it impossible for him to sleep.

            His apartment was sought after by people hoping to get rich in the world of high technology. Wood floors, high ceiling, crown molding, arched doorways—the kind of place some said was inspirational. But for Len, it was a cage he didn’t want to leave.

            His wife and their three-year-old son had moved a few months ago. The loss of his family was the cost of war that hurt most. He tried to dream about them but was always interrupted by the dark rooms he entered with children’s bodies piled high, blood-spattered walls, and someone sobbing out of sight. Now it was his turn to cry at night and alone.

            He mixed pain pills with alcohol—contrived peace. But each time the release was shorter until it did nothing at all but lose time.

            He slept with a pistol by the mattress and wondered when he’d pull the trigger. One morning his cell phone woke him up.

            “Thinking about you.”

            He had never been weak, complained, or shared pain. But the controls were gone—the words gushed out.

            “I need you, Jenny.”

            He couldn’t remember his wife’s response, but he cherished the flow of her voice as he carefully shoved the pistol under the mattress. Later that day with his wife by his side and his son in his arms, he turned the gun into the local police. The healing had begun.


2 responses to “Wednesday Slice of Life: Combat”

  1. Karen DeVantier Avatar
    Karen DeVantier

    This is powerful stuff! Many of us have no idea how much pain our vets experience as a consequence of their service. We just got back from a trip to DC with our grandchildren. Taking them to the Viet Nam war memorial, as well as the Korean and WW2, opened up a meaningful dialogue. Even at 10 and 9 they were able to get an inkling of the magnitude of the sacrifice. Again, thank you so much for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for taking your grandchildren to the Memorial. Rubbing fingertips on the etched names sticks with you.

      In basic we were told “your gun is your girlfriend, always keep her by your side.” Letting go of “it”is one step towards healing.


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