Gunfire. This dust-covered street of this desert town has become my personal hell. My squad is spread on either side of the street. Enemy bullets kick up dirt and knock plaster off of the building by them. Ryan is on the machine gun, perched up on a car covering Darvon who is on the radio calling for backup. His screams into the mike are lost to me from across the street. The gunfire is deafening. A tap on my shoulder, Paul is behind me. He tries to say something, but it’s lost in the noise. Gunfire, shouts, bullets flying angrily through the air. A target appears on a roof, rifle raised, I fire a burst and the target falls as quickly as it appeared.
We know we are in a bad place. The enemy just keeps coming. I watch Darvon get hit in the shoulder. He yells something incoherent, pulls out his pistol and fires at something. Another tap on the shoulder, it’s Paul again. He points at Darvon. I nod and signal him three with my fingers. I pump my fist at zero and he takes off across the street, while I stand and give covering fire. He gets to Darvon and begins to administer first aid. And then suddenly, the sounds of angels flying overhead: Blackhawks. They begin their circling death, sending fire and brimstone down on the enemy. Ryan cheers, letting loose a fifteen second burst from the machine gun.
The gunfire subsides, and quiet returns to the dust covered streets. The angels above were mopping up the last of the resistance. Slowly standing up, rifle at the ready, I bound to cover, nearly getting to Paul and Darvon. There is a faint whoosh sound in the distance. “RPG, RPG!” Looking to Paul, I follow where he’s pointing and yelling at. I see it, flying right towards me.
Awaking with a start, I immediately begin to pat down my body. Searching for any marks or blood. Finding none, my breathing begins to slow. I slump back onto the bed. “ It’s only a damn dream again,” thinking aloud. “I’m probably going to be reliving that damn street forever. I’m just lucky to be here”. Checking the bedside clock, it’s only 8am. “Damn, but at least it’s Saturday.” Rolling out of bed, going through the normal routine. Quick stretches, letting my back pop, then stumble into the kitchen to ready the coffee. From there, it’s to the shower to let the warm water run over my body. It’s only ten minutes, but it’s a relaxing eternity. Drying myself off and getting a fresh set of clothes on, I walk back to the kitchen.
It doesn’t take long to get my coffee the way I like it. Nor does it take long to drink the first cup and pour a second. Grabbing the TV remote, I change the channel till I find a news show. The News Anchors go on about the economy, the escalation of violence in the Middle East, and then political pundits talk about the different candidates slotted for election. “Same shit, different day,” I mumble to myself. The second cup goes down just as the first. Thankfully I am able to find the remote before the newscast starts on their celebrity gossip. Besides it’s all bullshit anyways. It’s Saturday morning, there’s something better on anyways. Ponies. It’s quite strange that I would be ecstatic in watching My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. A military man that has dealt death watching a show targeted for ten-year-old girls. I don’t know why either. Hell, it just makes me happy. I jump the couch and land on the cushions just as the theme starts. Sipping my coffee slowly with a smile, it’s thirty minutes of bliss. Thirty minutes of watching Twilight Sparkle (whom I think personally is absolutely wonderful) and her friends learn about friendship and about themselves. It’s something about her character that draws me to her. Her caring nature, her smile or voice, could it be her love of knowledge, or maybe the violet stripe through her mane.
Whatever it may be, I am just content with watching her and her friend’s adventures on the screen. Lost in into their world. It’s a guilty pleasure, something I know all my battle-buddies would laugh at. I chuckle at that thought, finishing off my coffee as the show ends. The routine continues, but with a smile. Breakfast is made, bacon and eggs with a side of more coffee. Reading the newspaper on what is now wrong in the more local world: new city policies, the mayor’s scandals, what the school districts are apparently doing wrong, what might be in our water. Just same ole shit. By this time, the coffee has been drunk dry and I’m about to bounce off the walls like Pinkie Pie. But it’s a Saturday and usually, like today, I don’t have work. I have to keep weekends off for Training Exercises or drill that my Battalion has on occasion, but not this weekend. Glancing at my desk and all my drawing. I’m in no mood to draw, whatever inspiration I once had, has long since past. There’s still nothing good to be seen on the television. My body decides to collapse back on the couch. My mind decides to spend this time lost in thoughts.
The next few hours go by fast. My thoughts adrift, my feelings send me on a roller coaster. “What went wrong,” I ask myself. Of all the things that I could’ve done to put me here, what could it be? I never really drank before my deployment. Then it was only for special occasions or a Friday night out with the guys. Now, it has become an everyday occurrence. I can’t drown my feelings or thoughts, they always return, with force. Most of my friends are either at home with their family, becoming distant with me, or have been killed. There isn’t really much I have going for me. Just waiting around in one job, awaiting another deployment back into the God-forsaken desert. Which is bound to happen sometime soon. Same shit, just another day.
Pulling myself off the couch, “fuck, whatever.” Rubbing my face, “I need to get out of here.” But where? I really don’t have any place to go and I don’t have to work. “But where?!?” I asked myself again. An idea just appeared. “The Library!” standing up off the couch and grabbing my coat. “What a brilliant idea,” I thought to myself as I walked out the door, locking it behind me.