Monday, December 15, 2014

Late One Tuesday Morning - V

Bill unwound the story, at first attempting to paint himself as a wounded party, but then he glanced at Dan Rather and knew immediately it wouldn't do.  Without knowing exactly why, Bill just told the truth, admitting he'd been dogging Miss Boyle for weeks, with no success.

"Hell, I'm just a creepy old shit after all."  Bill had no thought of fishing for a compliment, there was just no other way for him to put it.  He grabbed at the proffered smoke and lit up again without thought, following his first lungful with a belt of his bourbon and water.

"Now just hold on there, Dude!"  Dan sat up, put down his drink and grabbed his guitar.  As he strummed absentmindedly he spoke further.

"How old are you really, Bill?"


"Heh.  You ain't old partner."  This last to a vague set of chords that sounded like "Paint it Black" played as a Spanish ballad. 

"You married, Bill?"

Bill just looked sidelong and nodded ruefully.  He'd forgotten all about her.  Christ!  The job seemed like no big deal compared to that.  It hadn't occurred to him that by the time he went home that day he'd be reeking of booze and tobacco. 

"Not gettin' any at home, huh?  She been through the big change yet?"


"Menopause, Man!  Has she been through that?"

Bill had to admit he didn't know. 

"Well, come on, Brother.  She's is your wife right?  How would you not know that?"

A good question, Bill thought.  He didn't have a good answer.  How could there be a good answer to that?

"I dunno.  Just haven't thought about it.  She kinda lives her life and I live mine."  Upon hearing himself say that, Bill felt an unpleasant heaviness descend upon him.  Years with that woman, and he hadn't once wondered about things that she might struggle with.  Was it him, or them?  Did he just not care about her, or did he just not bother because he was so concerned with himself? 

He looked at Dan and opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out.  There was just nothing to say.  Dan stopped strumming and took a drink, cocking an eyebrow at Bill over the rim of his sierra cup and staring at him for a minute.

"So, basically you've been blowing off the Old Lady and chasing young skirt and acting single when you're married."

Bill nodded, strangely lightened by Dan's words.

"Bill, that makes you different from almost no one.  Honestly, you're not really in that hard a spot; not if you think about what some people have to go through.  I mean, you didn't get caught doing this gal on your desk, by the boss, or your wife.  You didn't lay hands on her against her will.  You haven't lost your job . . . yet.  Sheeeit!  I could tell ya stories that would make you glad this is all that's happened to you."

Bill poured more whiskey.  Something about this guy prevented him from falling into the yawning pit of despair that beckoned, but he didn't expect to be too impressed.  "Do tell, Dan.  Honestly, though, that's what they all say.  There's all kinds of ugliness in the world, people die in wars, get mugged, get sick.  How does that ease my troubles?"

"Think about it a moment, Bill.  You ever wonder how people like me end up wandering around, no steady job, no fixed residence, no phone, no credit?  I didn't start out like this.  I had it all going on, a solid career in the United States Navy, good pay, nice pad in Coronado when in port.  Girls comin' and goin'."

He paused and stared out at the water for a moment, slowly shaking his head.

"Well, what happened?  You get caught shagging the Admiral's wife?"

"Nothin' quite that simple, friend."  He stopped again and took a sip from the cup, and stared at Yerba Buena Island, then turned to Bill.  "It's what the Navy did to me."  He stared for a minute at Bill for effect, which made Bill nervous and he gestured with his cigarette for Dan to continue.

"Well, I was on a Seal Team for a while and that just kind of takes it's toll."

"Iraq?" asked Bill.

"No, I was spared that, if spared is the right word.  We did some work around the Horn of Africa and North Korea and the South China Sea.  Mostly just blew shit up.  Probably killed a few Chinese commandos.  Definitely killed a few Somali pirates.

'That just wasn't enough, though.  I mean, I volunteered and went through the training and all that stuff and didn't mind that ops, but there was never a break.  Never a break.  They pushed and pushed.  Seemed like we'd land in San Diego or Florida then get shipped right back out a week later.  When my enlistment ran out I just walked and I just kept on going."


Blogger Don said...

All right. Sorry I've been missing. But I'm back and damn, dude. This is good. A little editing for rhythm will come later. This is good and getting better. Get back to it. You heard me! *snap*

2:52 PM  
Blogger Don said...

You hain't been readin' mine neither so I got no complaints. No fiction there, though. No meat. Just the usual fluffy self-obsession. But life is weird and getting weirder. I oughta be writing that shit.

2:53 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

Yes, Sar'nt Major!

7:59 PM  

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