The scent of cheap draft hits me in the face and makes me wish your breakfast smelled more like it was poured from a pot rather than a tap. You’re telling another one of your childhood stories about far away battlefields that make me squirm and wish I was a runner. Because if I had a pair of running shoes I would be lacing them up right now. I’d run down the street that turns into a country road that eventually leads to the on ramp where I could choose from east or west. I’d head out toward the water. Straight into the salty chilly air that soothes and comforts. The sound of the sea drowns out your inebriated voice and lulls me into believing everything is going to be ok. But I’m wearing flip flops today so I tell the bartender I’ve changed my mind. Line up a beer and a shot instead.
Forget what I said before. I blush at my selfish daydream and ask you to repeat that last part again. Because I want to be here for you. I want to comfort you and listen in a way that can erase the night terrors. In a way that will take away your loneliness because I know that although our family is intact you feel lost in this world stuck in a unit of one. I overhear the bastard at the end of the bar whisper the word crazy and nod in our direction as he’s talking to his pal.
Let me tell you what’s crazy. Crazy is giving a boy who is busy learning how to be a man a rifle and teaching him how to take a life and snuff it out as effortlessly as plucking weeds from a flower bed. Crazy is expecting that man-boy to dust off his pants, wash his hands and deplane that international flight in tact and unscathed when his tour is complete. Crazy is further anticipating that he will get back into his car as he did before and return home fully capable of functioning outside of the combat zone, able to give and receive love, able to raise a family with that nightmare as a constant heavy shadow.
I finally understand now, I completely get why your breakfast is poured into a tumbler instead of a coffee mug. Coffee just isn’t strong enough.