| THE LAST BODY BAG
I felt cold inside the day Hector died. I was not surprised; my man never had a chance. We had been friends for over twenty years. We met when we worked for a printer in downtown New York City. We marched in the ticker tape parade together. It took ten years for the country to say thanks. Losing that war left a bad taste in America’s mouth for a long time. Yea, no matter what anyone said, there is no dignity in defeat.
Hector and I were a lot a like. We were both drafted and only spent nineteen months in the Army. Back in those days if you had less than five months to serve when you were to rotate back to the States they figured it was just easier to let you out. They got what they wanted and you did your duty.
Hector was on the small side, which is good if you are a jockey but bad news if you are a grunt. They sent him down those holes looking for Charlie. In those tunnels, he traded his boyhood dreams for a man’s nightmares.
We both got married. I had two girls. He had two boys. His nightmares would only show up once and a while, he was busy living a life. Then the computers changed the printing industry. I moved on to other things but he was having a hard time.
The stress of not being able to find work started him drinking and that sent the nightmares into a stampede. At first, it was a couple of DWIs but he quickly lost control. One day his wife called me and she was scared. When I pulled up to his house his wife ran outside screaming, “What is he doing?” I knew; he was chopping down all the trees and bushes around his house. He was clearing the perimeter. The demons were trying to sneak up on him.
He spent the next couple of years in and out of the VA Hospital. One time when I went to visit they had him tied to the bed. The alcohol and Hep C had destroyed his liver. He was nothing more than a corpse looking for a way to die.
Two hours we talked. I told him that he was a dead man. The only way he could live was to get a liver transplant. They would not do it unless he stopped drinking. I told him his boys deserved more than this and that they needed a father.
He listened and I thought I had gotten through to him. He agreed and seemed to understand. It was as if his desire to live had returned. It was like talking to the old Hector. He asked me to untie him. I told him I could not. His eyes flooded with sadness and fear. He asked me to do him a favor. He wanted me to push the bed against the door to keep the demons from getting in.
A month later, he was gone. It took sometime but the nightmares finally got possession of the soul they stole from a boy over thirty years ago. At least Hector got a chance to live a life, many never got to their twentieth birthday.
© Copyright 2007 GEOFFREY ROBSON (UN: timerollin at Writing.Com).
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