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One day after the 120mm rounds stopped #0004  

SilyconBond 54M
250 posts
7/4/2020 1:58 pm

Last Read:
7/4/2020 2:32 pm

One day after the 120mm rounds stopped #0004

I was 28. In the desert of Qatar, around midnight. Most of the rest of my company of soldiers were at the assembly area, bedding down for the night, setting up guard duties almost at clicks away. I stood by the M3 Bradley that was loaned to by the first platoon so they could rest while I watched over this sector. This duty confused somewhat. I had performed guard duty lots of times but had only driven the vehicle during my training class over a year before. I was dropped off next it by my first sergeant, along with I received from home. The crew soldiers from inside the track moved his Humvee. They had been awake over thirty hours by my guess.

“So, after check-in at 0500, drive it back the AA. Do I need get someone stay with you tonight?” He asked.

“I’ll be fine, I’ll radio check every half. I got lots of rest today, but I’ll feel like shit during equipment turn in, First Sergeant.” I said.

“You did good work this mission. If you think you can’t manage until morning, call out to third platoon’s RTO.”

I laughed. I felt like all I did was watch the radio and set up comms the whole mission and sleep. Other people trained to kill, not me. My job was always more important than that, which made no sense to me. “Problem Specialist?” He asked.

“No problem, just I would rather stay awake for days than have the ‘Chillster’ rearrange duty rosters so I could take a nap First Sergeant,” I said jokingly.

“Well, I’ll give Sergeant Williams orders do that if you have the need.” He said seriously.

“Yes, First Sergeant,” I replied matching his tone.

He nodded his head and got back into his Humvee, and drove off towards the north.

I gripped my M-4 rifle, and walked around the Bradley, checking line of sight. Desert, flat, grey, no moon, but the stars illuminated the ground for miles. I lowered my night vision goggles over my eyes anyway, and the landscape went green within my sight.

"Night" vision was a wonder to me. I didn’t even know before I joined the army that it was possible. I was blessed just a couple months before with a broken set handed to me at my duty station. I took the thing apart to figure out how it was assembled and understood what I needed to fix it. So, I ordered just the broken part. I had to order ten of them. When they came in, I fixed it.

My Commander was so happy that he announced to the company that I would be responsible for checking over broken ones in the future. I fixed four of them since that moment. The one with the broken lens, I couldn’t. The Army would not let me order that one part through our own logistics. It made me physically ill to watch the supply sergeant casually mangle it more with a hammer and throw it away.

Back then, the night vision showed the eyes of some creatures as points of light. That aspect confused me. I didn’t have the internet in the desert of Qatar in ’98 so I could not understand the why of it. Hell, I didn’t even own a cell phone yet.

I got sidetracked. Back to my story.

Luckily, the rear ramp had been left down on the Bradley. I dropped off all my gear on the left bench and unhooked my rifle from my webbing. I took my rifle with me into the turret control. I raised the ramp. Checked the radio settings, turned on the thermal night vision of the track and did a complete sweep. Nothing, for miles and miles. I opened the top hatch to let in some air. Turned on the light to read my letters.

The one from Mom, expected. The other was from I address I didn’t recognize, feminine writing. It made me nervous to open it.

The first couple of paragraphs were good memories. The next section not so much. It was obviously a Dear John letter. I had seen many of my guys get them. Lots of different reactions from them, most of the reactions were anger. I didn’t understand why I was getting this one though.

We had broken up a month before I left for Basic training. I wrote to her from Basic training a couple times. Not to get back together, but just to tell her what I was doing, new experiences I was having. We parted as friends, but maybe she thought I was? Who knows?

Then the last paragraph.

She says she has Alzheimer’s Disease? She can’t have it, she’s only 44, I thought. That’s an old people disease. The letter made no sense. I reread the thing, my watch chimed, and I did a radio check. I reread it again.

The letter had made me angry. Not at what she said, but the utter helplessness I felt. In this over a million-dollar machine I was sitting in, I could kill quite a few people at a distance with its 25 mm rounds or its loaded machine gun. I couldn’t kill the disease she had. My technical skills were almost a superpower in my mechanized infantry company and I couldn’t wrench it, or hit with a hammer. I stood upon the seat and screamed my rage at it into the night.

I doubt anyone heard me.

I was alone. The brightness of the stars was no comfort. I opened my Mom’s letter. I couldn’t even get past the first page. Always the same…poor me…send money. She knew I would. What would a few hundred dollars matter to me anyway in the desert? No shopping out here, and the camels and goats don’t take bribes.

The night past. I drove the track back towards the AA. Stupid thing wouldn’t go above thirty-three for some reason. I had no experience driving the thing so I didn’t know if that was a good speed for it. I just know I was tired but didn’t run over anyone. Would have loved run over that camel that spitted on me while I was catching Z’s in the Kuwait desert.

It took me almost a year to get back to the states. Without telling anyone, I went to visit her at the address on the letter. I knocked on the door of her apartment in a retirement home, which was<b> weird. </font></b>Her answered the door.

“uh…” I said. We had a history, it was complicated.

Her pushed me out into the hall and closed the door behind her.

“She talks a lot about you. Yet, she thinks I’m the nurse. What are you doing here?” She asked.

“Is it really that bad? Will she remember me?” I asked.

“She doesn’t recognize faces anymore. She gets angry when someone comes into the room that’s not a ‘nurse’ or ‘doctor’ because she says she’s sick. She spends about sixteen hours a day just sleeping now.” She said.

“Is there anything I can do?” I asked like an idiot.

“No, but…. You were very good her, and I guess . Why did you choose her over me?” She asked.

“Choose? In her letter she wrote me, she just wanted you to be happy. I wanted you be happy. Only, I wasn’t happy that week with you. I did everything I could discourage you by being a real douche. Did I give you any indication I was interested in you since we met at the pool? As I recall, I slept with your mom that night.” I said trying to make her angry. I was young then, and having this woman angry at me was a good thing. She would go almost a month not talking to me, and the peace of it I enjoyed.

“I married Chichon.” She said deflecting . She waited for my reaction.

I relaxed. “I heard. Is that good? He’s happy, I talked him a couple weeks ago anyway.” I said.

“I thought it was. Until you knocked. It could have been you.” She said frowning at me.

That night, staring up at the stars came back to me. The anger, what did my rage accomplish? The fact she mentioned it this way was somehow important her. I stepped back a step, looked more closely at her body language. She stepped closer narrowing the space again.

Would saying Chichon is a good man do anything? Her tone, no matter what she was saying, felt off. Russell would have been proud of me. It was the really the first time I recognized the double feeling and tell as he called it on someone else.

All those lessons he gave me, on how other people can make you feel if you let them. How did I want to feel? Or rather how did I want this girl to feel, really. The younger me…would have done something different.

Me, the 28 year old, got closer to her. I put my hand on her right tit, and said. “Let’s do it then”.

Her expression changed dramatically. Her mouth dropped as she looked around the hallway. I massaged it a little since she did not back away or slap me. It was a total douche thing for me to do. After all, we did have that one week where I touched them a lot.

She stepped away, turned, and walked down the hallway, saying nothing to me.

I could not read her mind. At the time, though, I thought “she didn’t say goodbye, how rude.”

I went inside her Mom’s room. It looked like a tiny apartment. No pictures of anyone on the walls, unlike her place where she had pictures of family all over the place.

“Doctor?” She asked from her bed.

I lied and said “Yes. Here take your pulse.”

I didn’t look like a Dr. Wearing blue jeans, and a Van Halen T-shirt, the one she bought for me. Only this time I had a military buzz haircut.

I held her hand, and all she did was smile and close her eyes. I cried. Looking at the woman that me before was so full of life just a few years ago. Still beautiful. Not sure how long I was there. Even now, over twenty years later…I’m crying as I write this.

Let’s finish this post on a lighter note.

Later, at the funeral months later, Chichon and her sat next to me at the funeral home. I was surprised by how few people came. Only about twenty people in total. I had a really good time talking to my friend overall despite the sad situation. Her dauhter, said nothing to me the whole time. Later, as people were leaving, I was holding the door open for her Mom’s coworkers when her snuck up behind me and pinched my ass really hard. The look on her face was pure pleasure with my yelp, and then she walked away. I have not forgiven her for the bruise she put on my cheek.

I started traveling and lost track of them.

Mighty, Mighty Out.

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