Friday, February 7, 2014

An Afternoon Dip in the Pity Pool

It was funny in a sick sort of way. It was as if he’d closed his eyes on real life and instead had visualized the essence of his existence. The road that stretched on to the horizon ahead of him was exactly the same, dull, monochrome, curve less road he’d traveled to get to this moment, to his 19th birthday, a milestone that might very well be the last for Norbert the conqueror. Behind him was a decade of wrong decisions borne on a non stop trail of timidity, laziness and indifference. Ahead of him was a lifeless strand of dirt that only promised more of the same, unto infinity.

The platoon, Red Dog One had been erased from history, he was the sole survivor of a twenty two hour firefight; or at least he assumed the last enemy had been eliminated by his final live rounds. It was no matter, he was deep behind the Southern front line on a road he couldn’t identify without so much as an idea which direction he was facing. He had no maps, no food and no bullets. He would be found eventually, would be taken prisoner or unceremoniously put to death without hesitation and booted into the closest ditch. Whatever he did between now and then would be moot, a waste of energy. As if to punctuate his hopelessness, Norbert Pexa plopped onto his seat in the center of the road, crossed his legs as best he could and fumbled through his pockets in search of a cigarette butt he might salvage.

Regret suddenly gripped him like a clammy fist and a groan escaped from his lips before he could stifle it. He hated that. It was weak, a show of emotion, and his father would never have approved. That was one regret. Pop had always demanded that his son was a nobody and would remain a nobody until the day he died, and Norb swore on the family bible that he’d one day make his father eat those words.

“Ya could have told me I had less than 20 years” he said looking upward into the silver overcast; “It’s not easy to become someone by nineteen ya know, you could have given me a chance at least.”

By the end of the war he’d be able to bury his father in a silo tall pile of paper accolades, a dozen meritorious commendation medals and a bolt of multicolored ribbon. But this day, on his nineteenth birthday, he desperately needed an hour or two to bathe in a shallow pond of self pity; the last he’d have time to enjoy for quite some time.

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