Life During Wartime

In the backrop of the Viet Nam war we heard of kis being killed on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. JT never once believed his brother James would be one of those statitics. It was an uneasy time and the youth of America learned firt hand how to self medicate.

I Heard The News Today Oh Boy

We partied through the night, Patrick tried once to put the move on Sue but I took him aside and set him straight. No harm no foul, it was the ludes that really made the move and Patrick wasn’t the kind of guy that would steal his friend’s girl. That is to say not without being coerced by a number of Quaaludes and herbs. It was late and time to head home so the three of us headed out. We first dropped Sue off at her house, then Carrie and I hid in the bushes just on the side of her house. We made out for ten minutes and we both wanted to make love, but doing it on her front lawn was not a good move. It was late and we had nowhere to go to exercise our throbbing hormones so time to cold shower our desires. I gave her one last kiss goodnight and began my trek home.
A myriad of thoughts were flooding my head and I began hallucinating wildly. This was a common practice when you have been trying to maintain all night so no one would know you were tripping. When you let your guard down the hallucinations flowed with the fury and passion of young love. Which by no accident was one of those swirling thoughts. The smile on my face was so huge that my ears had to take a step back and make more room. The delirious joy from the ludes and the spiritual wonder of the mushrooms had begun a tag team match. They both won and I felt unbelievably great. “Jesus shit, nothing in the world could possibly take me down. Not nothing!!” But as we have learned, never say never.
I walked up the driveway and noticed the kitchen light was on. “Oh fuck. Someone’s awake, this can’t be good.” I walked into the house with an uneasy feeling. That wonderful feeling of good life was quickly replaced with trepidation. I could hear my Mom whimpering in the kitchen. When I walked into the kitchen I could feel the tension in the air. It was obvious Mom had been crying for some time. The old man just stared at the floor with a blank expression on his face. “Whats going on?” The silence only made the tension more evident. After about 10 seconds of eerie nothingness my Pops broke the spell. “We got a visit from the army. James was killed in battle.” Mom broke out in a renewed set of loud heaving cries that I was sure had been going on for quite a while. I knew it. Jesus shit I fucking knew this was gonna happen! The rage built up quickly and I felt my face fill with anger, sorrow, and total disdain. I looked over to my old man and he never took his eyes off the floor. Not even the balls to look me in the eye. I glared at him and all I could think of was how Ken had described punching his old man out. I wanted to go over and wail on him but my Moms crying stopped me. I walked over to hug her and my eyes filled up with salty rivers of sorrow. I began to cry as well and just held her tight as she cried in my arms. My whole world was now upside down, inside out, half assed, and backwards. The various drugs teamed up with the raw emotion and the result was a vortex of confusion.
Mom had an empty soul at that moment. Her eyes were empty, all red and beaten not just from tears but from many years of worry and stress over her kids. I knew I was a major contributor to the weathered and worn orbs and felt somewhat ashamed at the moment. Her expression was blank, vacant. I had never seen anyone so detached and it worried me. As I held her I reflected on the better times James and I had, arm punch contests, purple nurples, and wet willies aside we were very tight as kids. Jameson always let me play ball with him and his friends and I thought back to the time when we played quarterback and helped me score my first touchdown. “Okay JT, you take one step over the line, I’m throwing you the ball. You catch it, turn and run to the endzone.” Ha, the endzone. An obscure piece of real estate in between two large trees. The promised land of schoolyard football. He then turned to the rest of the guys in the huddle. “Any one of you mother fuckers lets JT get touched by anyone gonna get their ass kicked by me!” We laughed for days because I caught it, turned and ran my little ass off down the field and James and his friends used the most unethical and illegal forms of blocking, but not a soul touched me. For weeks all anyone talked about in my Jr. High school was how JT made a touchdown playing football with the high school kids. It was gold. Jesus shit I’m gonna miss James.
I looked my Mom in the eye and said “Mah, remember the time James was chasing me around the house and I ran through the sliding screen door Dad had put in that morning? I thought you were gonna kill us both.” I could see the smile taking root on her face and her eyes lit up just a tiny bit for the first time since she got the news. “Oh good god JT, you two were such terrors. You have no idea how much you guys put me through.” Mission accomplished, Mom was now reflecting fondly too. We exchanged stories for what seemed like hours, but it just felt good just to not see her crying. As for the old asshole, still not a word. Most likely he was wallowing in guilt and remorse. He was pounding down beer after beer and he looked drunk. I almost felt sorry for him because his sorry ass aura had no glow at all. Nothing, nada, zilch! Zero emotion as though he didn’t even have it in him to shed a tear. Beneath those eyes it was an empty sandlot.
I sat up with Mom for a few more hours until the sun began to shed light on what was a normal day for everyone else. Mom offered to make breakfast but I declined. My head was now pounding from the loss of James compounded by a killer hangover that promised to take residence. My worst fear compounded booze and drugs. Fuck this war. Fuck this world! I went to my room slapped on the headphones and lay on the bed, not even bothering to take off my clothes. I have no idea how long it took, but I stared at the ceiling until I fell asleep. I slept hard all the time hoping when I woke up it will all have been just some shit ass dream.

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