Steven J. Newton
The Old Sergeant was sitting at his make shift desk drinking a Jack, smoking and looking through a photo album that Sam had sent to him from Missouri.
Dog was in his corner sleeping.
The sergeant was never much one to dwell on the past, but as he sat and started to go through the pictures of his career in the army a melancholy settled on him.
Military bases around the world. Some exotic places and some so desolate he would just as soon forget them.
Pictures of him at Ft. Leonard Wood. Pictures of his graduating class. As he perused the picture he saw that 60% of them were dead.
Others long retired.
Vietnam. Smith, Jones, Edwards, his buddies. Dead.
Pictures of his friends came floating by his eyes. Johnson, his mentor in boot. Dead.
Johansson who had saved his life during Panama. Dead.
Grenada. Sam, who had pulled him out of a burning helicopter. Dead.
Tears started to form in his eyes as he continued to turn page after page. War and death had followed him all his life. Or he had followed war. He took another drink of Jack.
The first Gulf War. Eddy, Tom, John, and Paul. Only one left that he knew of. Gulf War syndrome had claimed them.
Picture after picture. The smiling faces. How young they all were and full of piss and vinegar. He looked at his face in an old broken mirror hanging on the wall.
Where had youth gone? Where was the young man that was going to save the world from evil all by himself? Gone: like most of his friends.
A deep sadness settled over the old sergeant. Was it worth it? The loss of friends? The loss of his youth?
He had no family and few friends. He had never had the time. Now he was alone. Maybe, just maybe it was time to go.
He couldn’t see himself sitting on his front porch in Missouri and rocking away his time.
But maybe it WAS time.
A knock on the door and the old sergeant quickly closed the photo album.
“Yes,” he said in an uncharacteristically low voice.
His corporal poked his head in. “Pappy, the men are lined up out front and want to speak with you.”
“What? What for corp?”
“Pappy, I have no idea. Just relaying the intel.”
Grumbling he got up and followed the corporal out into the compound. Dog followed close behind.
“Ok I’m here. What do you all want?”
“Pappy,” one of the goon squad said “we figured we would take a picture of the whole platoon. We wanted you in it.”
The old sergeant stood stock still, memories flooding his mind.
Finally he walked over and took a knee in front of the men, dog beside him. His men: His kids and his family. They were all smiling and flexing their muscles for the camera. Weapons brandished in dangerous looking poses.
He felt their energy run through him. He couldn’t leave these kids alone. He would stay. For now.
The flash went off.
And there was a small smile on the Old Sergeant’s face.
One last smile for the camera.
©Copyright 2006 by Steve J. Newton