Former Corporal Andrew James sat on the ground, leaning against the cinder blocks holding the single wide trailer up. He raised a nearly empty bottle of Southern Comfort to his mouth, and took a long chug. As he let the bottle fall, he whispered, “To you guys.”
Andrew staggered to his feet, “No, no. I don’t need help to get up.” Swaying as he stood, he put an arm around the shoulders of Corporal Timothy Simmons. “Right, Tim?” He looked Timothy in the eyes, “Tell ‘em. Tell ‘em I’m OK.”
Andrew looked up, spotted PFC Arthur Richardson, “Hey, Arth! Rough day out there, or what?”
No one answered. Except in Andrew’s mind. I knew he’d get through the bottle, pass out on the ground, and wake up with a hell of a headache tomorrow. But he’d be OK. All he needed was time. And friends. And to keep taking his meds, and talking with his doc.
It was one year since the IED went off. Since half of Timothy’s head ceased to exist. Since Arthur’s neck got snapped by the shock wave from the explosion. Since Timothy lost his right leg from the knee down.
He’d wanted to celebrate. “An anniversary! We’ll make a quick stop at the ABC store. In and out with a quick swipe of alcohol.” I’d let him. I’d know what would happen. But I knew he was still mourning. I knew he needed the release. I’d take care of him. We were Army brothers.
I wrote this for Siobhan Muir‘s #ThursThreads, Week 83. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are good reading.