Home » A Wasted Life » Short Stories » Ole’ Tin-tin – Chapter Nine

Ole’ Tin-tin – Chapter Nine

“I don’t know why it never occurred to me that I would be killed,” Grandpa said. “I think, sometimes you just know…you just have a sense…but if you do survive, you never really recover from what war does to you…and you never forget.”

“Time does heal those wounds a bit, but there will always be this emptiness…this hollowness…this void…this inner anguish that nothing will ever be able to assuage.”

“And as I said. The rage was almost all consuming. I had never been a particularly volatile or vengeful man, and I had never wanted to cause ripples, but I became almost blinded by my hatred for these people we were fighting against…and for.”

Grandpas’ voice became almost mournful as he continued.

“I can’t tell you everything that happened over there. It’s clear…now…that I had lost my mind, I think. I couldn’t find peace. There were no comfort zones anywhere. There was only death and destruction…and ripples. Ripples that I caused but they were anonymous. Firing a weapon at moving targets always leaves room for doubt.”

“But I remember this one soldier. We were just walking along a path and he was hiding in the bush. He stood up and smiled at me. He was just a young boy…probably around my age, but I didn’t care. I looked him right in the eye and remember thinking that he was no more than an animal…and then I killed him. I unloaded my weapon into his body and I kept firing, even after I had run out of ammunition. It was almost like I had stepped out of my own body. There was no noise…no shudder…just one minute this boy was alive, and the next, I was filling him full of holes. One of the other guys…I can’t even remember who…came over and said, ‘he’s dead and he’s not going to get any more dead’.”

Grandpa sighed and said, “he still haunts me to this day. I had a choice. I could have let this young man live, but I chose to end his life. I think about him and wonder…who was the real animal?”

“He was someone’s son. Maybe he was someone’s brother, or husband…or father. I caused a ripple that day. A ripple that wasn’t anonymous. A ripple that would forever be felt. A ripple with never ending waves. And that day was the day that somehow, my thirst for revenge was quenched. I don’t ever expect absolution for what I did over there, but I hope if there is a higher power, my actions will at least be understood.”

He continued. “Anyway, I was getting short. Just another month and I would be on my way back to the states…back to the before time and the before life I had left a year ago. I knew that I would be expected to act the same, but I wasn’t the same. I would never be the same.”

“We had one more mission before my papers came through. I didn’t want to go. I was sick of war. I was sick of fighting. I was sick of killing. I was sick of seeing death…but fate is fickle. The last conflict was another brutal, bloody battle. We managed to push back the enemy and hadn’t lost a single man in our platoon.”

“Defiling a corpse was no longer stomach churning, so we did the usual check to see if any of their men were still alive and could become prisoners. We searched for explosives and ammunition in their clothes, but didn’t find much. Sometimes, we’d find letters or pictures soaked with blood and we just tossed them away like trash. Occasionally, we’d find what looked like a Bible, but we couldn’t understand the language of course. If I found one, I would just place it on the soldiers’ chest. I still had a reverence for the Bible, no matter what language it was printed in.”

Grandpa put his hands together, almost like he was going to say a prayer, and said, “I found one soldier laying on his back with his eyes open. He was clearly dead but there was no expression of agony or surprise or sorrow on his face. I checked his pockets.”

I thought Grandpa was going to break down when he said, “the only thing he had in his pocket was…a rusted old harmonica.”

To be continued__________________

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