(Last Sunday: Brazil is about to cross the Polish border into the Ukraine while Chartan drives four tipsy twenty-somethings.)
Julie and Gina are seated across from each other at a coffee house table. Although they had talked nonstop for a good five minutes, an awkward silence had set in with both women staring at their half-filed mugs.
Julie breaks the ice. “I just hope he comes back…alive.”
“I’m sure he will,” replied Gina.
The silence returned although this time they were looking directly at each other.
Julie closed her eyes. “I don’t think he can contact me. And maybe he doesn’t want to.” She began sobbing.
Gina stood up and put a hand on Julie’s arm. “You deserve a good cry—let it out.”
On the other side of the world Brazil cradled an M-16 as his back scraped the exterior of an apartment building in Kyiv. It was as if he were back in Vietnam, tension filling his body as he listened for sounds of life, this time fully aware that there were civilians nearby. For the last few hours he hadn’t thought of his wife, instead, he concentrated on having to make a split-second decision to press the trigger. Surely, not in this area, he told himself. But the daylight was fading as random shots echoed nearby and, as always, he had to fight off the memory of firing at an unknown shadow 50 years ago.
Chartan ran the vacuum head across the back seat, listening to the varying sucking sounds created by how hard he pressed against the leather. The occupants had left him a $30 tip but the trip for Chartan was draining, not rewarding. He had tired himself out by worrying about how he was trapped–he had no other option but to work with a baby on the way. Maybe I can start a life restoration classes again–I need an outlet as much as I need income.
When he turned off the vacuum, he saw Brazil’s grinning face on the front windshield. Why hadn’t his friend talked to him about going to war again?
(Continued next Sunday)