Wednesday, March 11, 2009

All Volunteer

"Hey! What's up, Stop-Loss?"

"Hey man, I thought you were getting out? Did you get stop-lossed?"

Sometimes I manage to stop and make eye contact. "How the fuck should I know?!"

Right now, I don't want to see any of these faces. The uniforms. The carbon copy buildings. My head turns into concrete and cracks. You couldn't chisel the scowl off of my face with a jackhammer.

I wait to find out if my situation is enough to warrant letting me go. Hinging on the college acceptance letter, sometimes even fooling myself into thinking that it'll work. I move from group of guys to the next every five minutes. The army talk gets to be too much and I have to find something else, anything. That doesn't work so well when it's everywhere around you.

"I thought you were getting out...?"

Just keep walking.

God I hope so.

For some reason, I guess I really believed that after I put in four years, that would be it. I'd be able to pick up where I left off, and move on. Start a new chapter and all that flowery poetic shit. It seemed so plausible. 2009? Shit, shouldn't be much going on by then, right? No?

"Hey man, you signed a contract, you knew what you were getting yourself into."

That is where I disagree. If we actually understood what we were volunteering for, we would have had second thoughts.

You volunteer to be shot in the head. Blown up. Drowned in the Tigris. Burned alive. Lose eyesight, a limb, an important function, or everything. If none of this happens, excellent! It's the dark ugly truth that sits in the back and stares at everyone else in the room, but somehow no one really notices it. You didn't even realize it, but you volunteered for it. You invited it into your life. You volunteered to learn more about death and loss than you ever wanted to know in a thousand lifetimes. You volunteered to have hope snatched out of your hands and blinders ripped off of your eyes.

I avoid the new guys, plenty of the old guys too. Someone from the University I got accepted to calls me to see if I have any questions. That's about when I swallow hard, pull the knife out of my ribs, and croak a response. Keep the conversation short, give your thanks, hang up, and roll over again. Sure would be nice to have the day off, go somewhere and chill, away from Fort Lewis. Away from combat patches and CIBs and desert boots. Try to blend into the crowd, fake it as long as I can.

I was almost there. That close. Now? Now I'm not so sure. So thanks, Iraq. Thanks, Afghanistan. Thanks, Stop-Loss. Thanks to the able bodied and capable would-be soldiers, college drop-outs, pot head burnouts, dead-end minimum wage peons. Thanks, me. Well played.

Ever have a REALLY good dream, and your alarm wakes you up halfway through it? You shut your alarm off and wish that you could go back to that, but you can't. That's what this is like, to put it lightly. It's a wake-up call. One MotherFucker of a cup of coffee. Extra Strength. Guaranteed to burst your bubble or your money back.

So here's what happens:

A) An update with some great news is posted

B) We'll see you in Part Four.

Suspect out.


Anonymous said...

Here's praying for option A.

Rat said...

Shit, man. Third time's a charm. I'll be keeping several appendages crossed for you.

Anonymous said...

Sounds to me like you're mad at two separate entities. # 1, yourself for volunteering
#2, others for not volunteering
Is this the case?
One way or another, this is going to resolve itself. All you can do is hang on. Don't beat yourself up for a decision you made when you were a feckless eighteen year old. I'm telling ya, there is a reason they put young people in the military. Thus it has always been.
On the other hand, please don't be pissed at those of us who have always known we want no part of the military. I couldn't even stand Girl Scout Camp, and that was supposed to be fun.
You will get out. One way or the fucking other. They don't own your soul.

bigD said...

On this sucky Russian roulette wheel that is your life right now, I am praying that the little ball lands on a winner, and that would be Option A - great news posted!

The only Part Four I want to read is "Ryan - The Unlikely College Student"

Hang in there Suspect.

"Trying to understand is like straining through muddy water. Be still and allow the mud to settle." ~Lao Tzu

Anonymous said...

Well writen song you'll understand
Red Gum , I was only 19


Shari said...

Yeah, I'm hoping part IV is "Ryan the Unlikely College Student" too... Stop Loss is an ugly thing. Had a friend get stop lossed THREE DAYS before he was to get out. He finally made it out last week... 2 yrs later than originally planned. It really sucks and I hope somehow you manage to escape! Got my fingers crossed for you....

themorethingschange... said...

My first thought upon reading "Suspect Out" was that both A & B had happened. We live in hope...

-written while listening to "Your Latest Trick"

"...don't know how it happened
It was faster than the eye could flick
But all I can do is hand it to you
And your latest trick..."


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