Just love – A soldier story
Just love – A soldier story
This night I was in Washington State at Fort Lewis. I was in the NCO(Non-commission officer) school. 8 weeks of training to be a leader. It was a Friday night and I decided to stay on post and drink alone. The NCO club was across the street from the training center and living area for the soldiers. I went early with my journal and pen to the NCO club. I drank my beer slowly and wrote down my thought.
I looked in the bar’s mirror and laughed at myself. One year ago. I was living in Ann Arbor. Trying to drink myself to death and thinking death was more worthy than life. Love was useless and my heart was dead. I remembered when a Colonel called me from the Detroit recruiting station in December of 1990. New war was coming. He told me. Taking prior service. Do you want to serve again? Two weeks later I was at Fort Dix, New Jersey for the second time. Time went quickly and I ended at the Iraq border. A refueling and water point. I learned many lessons. After putting Iraq soldiers into frozen storage container. I learn. A new day was a blessing. I was alive.
A woman with pretty brown eyes sat next to me. She had soft tears falling from her eyes and looked down at the bar. I touched her shoulder gently and I asked her. You are looking pretty sad pretty lady. Are you alright? She turned to me and she looked at me from head to toe. She decide I was okay and looked safe. She whispered. “Me and husband are fighting like dog and cat. I don’t know what to do. Stay or run? I came here to decide my decisions.
I asked her. What is your trouble. Whiskey or beer? She gave me a slight smile and she told me. “It is a whiskey night”. I told her my name is Johnnie. Just a visiting soldier from Fort Ord, California at the NCO training academy. She reached out her hand and she told me her name was Laura.
I ordered her a double shot of Jack Daniel and a cold tap beer for me. She drank the whiskey quickly and she asked me. “If both people are wrong. Who is right?”
I thought a minute and I told her. The right things can be hard to do. All things will add up to poor and good decisions. Negative or positive can be made fall apart and be alone. If the bad out-do the good. Maybe you can’t fix. She looked at me with serious eyes and she told me. “I love him still. He was my first love from my high school days. Once we were crazy in love. Now he is empty and always tire.” I asked her. Did he serve in Iraq? She answered. “Yes he did and he came back different.” I asked her. Do you want to save the marriage? She whispered quietly. “Yes”.
I smiled and I told her. Please call him and tell him. Come to us. Maybe a calm voice can quiet down a bad situation. Laura gave me a weak smile and she told me. We were high school sweethearts. He use to laugh, make jokes and we went dancing every weekend.” I told her. Love and marriage is hard work. Take two to know love and take two to forget love. Better to apology and make amends than run like the devil. One wrong decision will become two wrongs if both see dead-end.
An hour later. A man walked in and he saw me with his wife. He was young, solid and he was pissed off. He walked toward us with anger in his eyes and face. He faced me and he asked. “Who are you?” I reached out my hand and I introduced myself. My name is Johnnie and a Iraq veteran. I’m at the training academy across the street. I’m just having a polite conversation with your wife. The soldier’s eyes soften and he reached out his hand and he told me his name was Paul. I told him. Good to have met you Paul. Please allow me to buy you and wife a drink.
He looked at me with cold eyes and he agreed. Laura tears begin to fall again and Paul looked at her. She was hiding her face in her hands and she raised her face and she faced him. He asked her. “What did you leave me? Where are you going Laura?” Her eyes filled with tears, she answered. I was going to leave you. Drive away and not look back. But I stopped her and Johnnie talked me down. Paul, I want you to come back to me. Please allow me to be your safe zone and the place of comfort for you. I love you Paul. I want us to remember who were. You are my first love and I hope my last love.” His angry face faltered to the face of sorrow and remorse. He told her. “Baby, I’m sorry, so damn sorry. When I found the house empty and you were gone I thoughts about blowing my brain out. You are the only kindness I have known.” Laura wrapped her arms around him. She whispered. “I’m sorry my baby.”
The drinks came. I raised my glass and I said. “To love, the never-ending battle. Without knowing love. What would we become. We would die alone. Paul took my hands and he told me. “Thank you Friend”. I smiled and I told him. You are a lucky man, pretty wife and the tavern playing good song. I recommend my friend. Hold on tight and ask the pretty lady to dance.
Tim Mcgraw song “Don’t take the girl” is playing. Paul and Laura danced on the empty dance floor. I told the bartender. Another round please. Maybe a good day.
They returned and Paul thanked me often. We drank till we couldn’t drink no-more. Paul held Laura closely and he kissed her often. The taxi came and Laura came to me. She kissed both my face-cheeks and she whispered. Thank you dear friend for listening and the wise words.
Paul came to me and he held my hand tightly. He told me. “Thank you brother. You saved my life tonight.” I told him. War is shit, the Army is shit and good woman are gold. Be kind to her. Love is balanced on a thread of emotions. Forget the war and create a fire. That won’t be put out my friend.