It was my first day back from war—Desert Storm, 1991, where I had been a Military Police First Sergeant.
“It didn’t mean anything,” she went on, pleading. “It was just physical.”
That was supposed to make me feel better? I felt like a frag grenade with the pin pulled.
I had seen it happen before to my soldiers. The “Dear John” letter. The young wife left at home. So the soldiers get shot at, the wife is lonely.
Without trust, there is nothing left. I grabbed my pack and bicycle and took off riding. I rode for days. Sometimes it rained, but mostly there was the burning July sun, like in Saudi. Each day I rode myself to exhaustion; one day across Oklahoma and Missouri was like the day before and like the day after. I rode, panting, sweating, burning underneath the sun.
“Where you going?” people sometimes asked.
“I don’t know. I went to war. When I came home I found my new wife was sleeping around. Where would you go?”
They wouldn’t look at me after that. “I don’t know,” they said.
I see them now: soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq with hollow eyes and grim expressions. And things change while they’re gone. Back from war and not knowing where to go.
My old grandpa used to advise how, “The toughest trees grow in rocky soil.”
Don Quixote never gave up. There would always be new windmills to joust.
“Together, these stories provide riveting personal accounts of what the war was really like for those who fought it on the two main fronts of WWII.” From Two Fronts, One War, by Charles W. Sasser. Available in hardback at your favorite bookstore or online at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.