The Adventures of Chartan: Fire Outside/Fire in the Belly

            (Last Sunday: Brazil doesn’t fire his weapon in a combat situation; Chartan and Gina talk in bed.)

            Two nights later in their apartment bed, Chartan was on his back staring at the ceiling while Gina slept soundly on her back next to him. His thoughts drifted from the coming birth of their baby, due in two months, to his friend, Brazil, fighting the Russians somewhere in the Ukraine. He weighed the guilt of not thinking more about the baby—he reasoned that most of the time he should be considering the ramifications of becoming a father, but, in fact, his mind swirled with such matters as the financial importance of driving a limo, the strange encounter with a young woman who wanted love advice and, of course, the adventure of his friend overseas. Now he couldn’t sleep. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the darkness in the window turn lighter as if it were dawn. He checked the clock on the nightstand: 4:12 a.m. .

            For a few minutes he returned to the balance between fatherhood and everything else until he could no longer ignore the strange window light. Up close there was horror beyond the window. The pine trees some 50 feet past the parking lot were torches with bright orange flames reaching for the sky.

            He woke Gina as he fumbled for the cell phone to call the fire department.


            Brazil was nursing a vodka tonic on a sofa in a below ground room in Kyiv with three other veterans, one from Canada and two from New York sitting on the floor,  drinking beer to celebrate the Russian retreat. Brazil, a good 25 years older than the other men, was in a somber mood. The retreat simply meant the enemy was going elsewhere with their new campaign of killing civilians and employing chemical weapons—he saw no cause for high-fives.

            “You’re quiet,” said the Canadian, looking at Brazil.

            “Partly old age and partly because there is no end in sight,” offered Brazil

            The room went silent. Brazil stopped himself from saying more about the situation he thought to be hopeless. Is this why he had come to Ukraine? He had seen enough to know this war wasn’t going to change the world or him, unless he died this time. Whatever the outcome, another war would follow this one.

(Continued Next Sunday)

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