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A tribute to casualties of war, both physical and mental
Solitude was what the old man wanted and a bar in the morning was perfect for just that. How long had it been? The man wondered counting with his fingers. He had never been good at doing math in his head. He went through several fists over and over again before he actually got to the 40s, then half way through a fist he stopped, now remembering how many years it had been.
Damn...” he whispered softly
He knew it had been awhile, but he never thought it was this long. Searching through his leather jacket he found one of his cigarettes, a loose one which had been bent so many times it held a partial L shape. It didn’t matter to him it was a cig and he needed his fix.
With a swift motion he pulled out his lighter and lit the cigarette. The barkeep whom had paid little attention to the man noticed the word “Airborne” written on the lighter, feeling obligated considering the day it was, he walked over and passed him a bottle of beer.
“On the house,” the young man told him.
The older one grabbed the bottle and nodded, his form of thanks to the young man. While the barkeep went back to work the old man after his first swig from the bottle turned around to the large T.V., to the Memorial Day parade. Other then the T.V. the place was silent. He rarely got silence, his construction job never allowed such a thing. Instead they worked him to death, which was fine by him it was better then most of his generation, just quitting and going on their social security checks.
He was supposed to be in work today, his snot nose brat of a boss whom is barely even half his age, probably got his job from some fancy college degree from his rich parents, whom spoiled him from birth. A boss with no experience on his job and has a pick on the old man.
His boss doesn’t understand why he wanted this day off, but he wanted him and a few others to stay and finish a project. He recalled his boss’s angry look when he said he wasn’t going to be there. The old man was threatened to lose his job, but he didn’t care. He never took any days off, even sick days for all year. He deserved just this one day.
The old man bit the end of the cigarette to get some rage out, he had been working with that construction firm for a good part of his life when he was stateside. Was there any real reason for this? No. Was it one bit right? He worked there for so long only to have a man like that tell him what he could and couldn’t do with complete disrespect!
“Jacka**,” the old man whispered under his breath as he took his second swig of beer. The beer was warming up fast and he wanted to drink it all before it got warm, so he took another and another. It wasn’t long as the parade on T.V. continued, did the old man remember to take his pills.
Reaching into another of the many jacket pockets, this one zippered so he couldn’t lose them. The orange and white bottle labeled what he needed, two capsules of Sertraline before every meal to prevent the effects of PTSD.
He was told never to mix the capsules with alcohol, but to him it not only made the pills go down easier it also makes the beer taste better. Taking the cigarette out of his mouth he popped the two pills in his mouth, took one of the final swigs and sighed. It was just what he needed to calm himself.
He breathed a few times through his nose, a tactic his therapists told him could help him calm down faster. What did therapists know? They tell him to take these pills, to do these breathing exercises because if he gets too excited with his weak heart then it’s all over with.
After the small unnoticeable episode subsided and the parade was near it’s end, the old man turned back toward the counter, sat down and from his jacket pulled two dog tags. The first he laid on the table, it read “Corporal Thomas Gagner, 7th Calvary.” The other one, which he dangled in his hand read “Private Eric Johnson, 7th Calvary”. With a final look at the bottle the old man looked and saw enough for the toast, just enough so that he may drink to his dear friend.
“Here’s to you Eric, you were like a brother, and just like one you took a bullet for me, you died a man, while I live a casualty.” The old man said before he chugged the last of the drink. He was finally ready to leave when his cell phone went off, the damn thing hardly did except if it was work.
“Get your a** to work Tom.” Was the first thing he heard when he picked up the phone, It was his boss; the b****** didn’t even have the respect to say hello. Thomas thought for a moment, then without any pause after he replied.
“I never took one day off, never this whole year, how many did you take.”
“I’m your boss that’s different.”
“You’re nothing more than a brat no doubt a b****** from the moneybag’s that you call dad and one of the w****s he goes to.”
“THAT’S IT! YOUR-.” Before his boss could finish, Thomas closed the cell phone, and threw it aside. He then gathered his things, and ultimately left, flicking the cigarette bud outside.
Several days later the local newspaper reported a shooting that occurred at a construction site. The victim was a young man in charge of the site who came from a old money background, he had a wife and one little boy. The shooter was a elderly man and veteran of Vietnam, he suffered from post traumatic stress, his wife died several months ago from natural causes, and he had no children.
That section was on a sidebar of the newspaper, the top news was a celebrity coming out of rehab for the third time, this time instead of drugs, he had recovered from alcoholism.