A brother and sister attempt to confront their past after avoiding each other for decades.
|He didn’t know what to say to her, though they lived within minutes of each other, they rarely spoke over the last thirty-years plus. She, less than a handful of days prior turned fifty-years of age, and honestly, the decades of alcohol abuse, several failed, more than several, every relationship left her worse for wear. Her fate is that of a liar. Not that she is a liar by nature, more to the fact, she didn’t know the truth. She ran from it, a detrimental habit learned from their mother.
Their mother, Angela Merkle’s doppelganger could never face anything ugly in life, a pathological habit passed onto her daughter like a Xerox copy. No matter what happened, mom always had to put a smiling face on everything. It twisted her up to the point her son, John, didn’t bother speaking to her as he already knew the answer; Well speak to Jesus. That’s where Mrs. Stone eventually went with everything…Talk to Jesus when the conversation went from real to pointless. Their mother was the only person either knew that would call her children and want to talk about taxes or car insurance. Safe subjects, subjects most people would avoid unless they worked for H&R Block. That’s their mother, a woman that avoids anything upsetting in life even if it meant somebody, anybody could die.
That’s also BF, a woman who would rather die than face an ugly truth. BF, short for the Bavarian Fox, though the appellation derived from her military service. Understand that forty-four years ago, BF is a sixteen-year-old Army Reservist on Active Duty. She looked Bavarian, particularly a Bavarian with plenty of Russian in her, to the extent it took the KGB a year to dissect the fraud. By then, only a year, she was discharged as mentally unfit for service, Section 8…Resulting from a near lethal head injury sustained during a combat operation…Her brother John was there when it happened. She had already taken leave of her senses a few hours earlier, as the smoke cleared and the dust almost settled. Witnessing that, what John thought is ‘Odin takes the best warriors early like that…’ As he, they, discovered she failed to die, John went to his pack, retrieved a custom made 30-’06 carbine then loaded the last round. A gold-plated affair he saved for himself, and it looked like it was going into his sister’s head. He wouldn’t want to live with that injury, he definitely didn’t want her to live like that. A quadriplegic in a semi-vegetative state. That’s what should’ve happened. Instead, she gifted him the opportunity to experience a whole new level of fear, shame and resentment. The Army made a film of it, for the archives nobody would ever see aptly entitled; The Ballad of King Kong and Fay Wray, a Love Story.
Now the situation resolved after decades of silence to him staring at her in McKeesport’s Eat’n Park restaurant. He complimented her on her weight gain as she nearly finished a bacon burger with a side of coleslaw. She demurred saying her metabolism changed with age. John reminded her she should weigh about one-hundred -thirty pounds, and she previously wasn’t thin…She resembled a cancer patient. She said nothing. More silence, what he remembered is a few years earlier on Thanksgiving at yet another restaurant of her eating half a pancake, claiming she was full then saying that is enough for the entire day.
Nobody pointed out the behavior as a symptom of an eating disorder, everybody, her two sons (to different fathers, naturally) mom and dad took it as normal. John dissented, and the Stone family looked at him as if he is the one with a problem. That was and is the problem among the Stones, nobody faced anything dead on. Aggravating the circumstance, is the habit of encouraging the bad habit among the elected few. The face they showed the world cast a long shadow on the self, to the extent the two rarely met.
John could philosophize, with the rapier of sophistry, that this is what people did. What Americans did, all to ignore the fact it is what he did. He knew every time he wanted to, talk to BF about the flashbacks, the guilt, the shame and the remorse he shared with her, she’d ignore it. She’d shroud herself in the protective cloak of silence in a garden of illusions that everything is all right, that the world turned as it should. Now, he knew better, he knew years ago she started taking flashbacks herself. She spoke to him maybe twice, three times, over the years about it. Just short two or three sentence inquires, observations or statements. The hardest thing she ever asked is ‘Did I kill anyone?’
How the hell do you answer that? He didn’t know, for him, he is the man that would and did drink from the skull of a personal enemy. Before anyone gets the idea, John Wayne Stone is barking mad, that beer glass once belonged to a baby killing rapist. A sub-human piece of filth that frankly, stepped in shit when he put his paws on Animal Rabies, a cousin of theirs. For him, the action is a sparkling point of personal honor, a trophy to everything right and just. John understood most human beings, couldn’t do it as they didn’t have it in them. He did, and wouldn’t advertise that from a faux sense of shame. When she asked him that, ‘Did I kill anybody?’ he retreated into the cold, professional, calculating persona that lurked within. He replied, ‘You did what you had to do…I was proud of you.’ A cold truth, that lent silence to straightforward ugly. She insisted, he told, she cried, he felt like a shit-heel. He became her rock and held her in his arms as she cried. He hoped she would draw out of her shell and face it. He was there for her no matter what.
Authentic warriors have only one battle to fight. Authentic warriors only have one enemy. No matter how a man sliced it, diced it or Julienne fried it, it boils down to doing battle with yourself, always and only. One of the greatest ironies of it though, if not the only irony, is that one warrior doesn’t make a war party. To conquer yourself always takes two.
For decades, BF took medication for bi-polar disorder, while drinking on the meds. You could see that in the mild shaking as she drank her coffee. If somebody told the truth years ago, she’d be in a different place. Her problem is the same as her brother, PTSD and a head injury. Difference is, there came a point where he couldn’t hide from himself anymore. John spent most of his life alone with those abominations and after years of hauntings, of every specter known, he faced the dark alley of V.A. hospital psychiatry, alone. A last resort journey he wouldn’t recommend.
That’s how BF got to where she’s at, shaking mildly, drinking coffee over a half-eaten bacon burger in McKeesport. She hated to be alone, she hid from her monsters among other people. People who paved the road to Hell for her with good intentions. He could name those people and knew the power of well-intentioned lies. So, there they sat, making small talk, enjoying a tiny moment in time. Only thing John knew is he’d always be there should she need him.