Some artillery training exercise in the distance tenses everyone up for a second, that flash moment where the brain demands to know what this trickery is, when it remembers Iraq but it sees Fort Fuckin' Lewis. Then it gets everyone throwing around Iraq stories. Hot potato. One story overlapping another. Arguing. Corrections. Laughter. New guys' ears perking up like dogs.
I look at them, then I look at myself. We're all wearing those weird uniforms that the All American Boys wear in the magazine ads, GoArmy this and that. I got my hair cut just right and my boots bloused, I have my pen and paper on me at all times, my beret tucked away in my cargo pocket and I am fully programmed to routine.
Except I don't give a shit. Iraq is over.
We aren't hitting the training all hard again or anything. Busy work. For whatever reason. Counting down days or weeks or months. But you don't want to make that known. You don't stop being a soldier once you come back from deployment. I got it.
So why don't I FEEL like a soldier? I got this uniform, but I don't really know what it means. I live in this building, but it isn't mine. I don't care to remember it these days. Ready to wash all that dirt off my face and change clothes. Flush my brain out too, full-service, the works.
Just ready to put it all behind me. Disappear like Kaiser Soze. The Great Escape complete with Men In Black memory wipe. "Put that stuff away in a shoe box." Never even mention any of it, never explaining the four year lapse of existence to anyone but potential employers.
And one day when you see me on the street and you won't even realize it. It won't even dawn on you that I was one of those one percenters. Or the one percent of one percent, whatever it is they call us. That was a different lifetime buddy!