I had trouble getting to sleep last last night.
I was thinking about my team (pictured at right) and what they're all up to now that I'm out of the Army. My shoulder was being a regular bitch, and I couldn't get comfortable no matter how hard I tried. Even the pain pills weren't doing anything, so after tossing and turning from midnight to three AM, I got up and decided to tackle a story that's been on my mind for awhile.
A couple of my readers from the old blog liked the series of entries I did there about my past relationships, and told me I should write romance novels.
Now I'm never going to be that guy that writes cheesy Harlequin novels with Fabio on the cover... I think I'd have to shoot myself if I was. Mainly because those of you who know me well know that from my experiences, love just doesn't happen like it does in romance novels in the real world... my world anyway.
I can probably pull off a short story or two if I draw from my own past experiences, but Harlequin material it ain't. Over the years, "love" has always seemed to leave an acrid, bitter taste in my mouth.
This one is a first draft, so feel free to let me know what you think. Be gentle though, I'm not at my best at 3AM.
Two Weeks In August - by Jonathan K. Lee
She told him she loved him.
He had somehow missed it, partly because of one of those little glitches in communication that all relationships have, and partly because he was preoccupied with trying to figure out how to tell her that he loved her.
He stumbled, and stuttered, hemmed and hawed, and finally, when he felt as though he would explode, he finally just blurted it out, and waited for the stunned silence and rejection that he was sure would follow.
He closed his eyes and waited.
There was a moment of silence that felt like three years passing as opposed to the three seconds it really was, and she told him that she loved him.
His heart sang with joy. He thought of all the things his future would hold, a new world of possibilities to experience, and someone by his side to experience them with. Home, family, a sense of togetherness and belonging that filled the immense hole in his heart that he had longed to fill for twenty years. It was like a dream.
They didn't waste any time planning their life together. They found that they were able to agree on almost everything, which was surprising, considering that their backgrounds were so different. In a surprisingly short time they agreed on where they should get married, where they should live, how many children they should have, and even agreed on names for them.
"I've been waiting for you all my life" they told each other.
In the blink of an eye, they had moved in together, and started living together as husband and wife. They had met each others families, which were as different as the two of them were.
He came from a hardscrabble, urban bunch that was fiercely loyal to one another, and quick to play judge, jury, and if necessary executioner to anyone that would harm one of their own. Where he came from, his family was respected by those that mattered, and feared by outsiders who would try to bring darkness and sorrow into their community.
She came from a place far from the city that on it's surface was more quiet and sedate, free from the threats that were accepted as a matter of course in his world. Her family reflected this in their quiet, yet spiritual and authoritative way.
After the initial expected trepidation from the people who cared about them on both sides, his people gave their approval, and hers did the same. Some referred to their relationship as two nations coming together for the greater good, not unlike a contemporary Romeo and Juliet. The two of them decided that they would live and raise their family amongst her people, and from time to time, he would return to where he came from to handle his affairs when problems arose.
"I'm not happy." She said. He was stunned.
"What can I do to make it better?" He asked.
She didn't have an answer.
"I'm leaving" she said.
He didn't reply, just sat there in silence. He felt a sharp pain, but in his head, not his heart, which he thought was somewhat strange. He got up and left the house. When he returned a few hours later, she was gone, along with all evidence that she had ever been there. The pain in his head was still there, and sharper now. He sat alone in the dark, a single tear rolled slowly down his cheek. He closed his eyes and slept.
He awoke, but didn't open his eyes. He instantly became aware of the sharp pain still resident in his head, but now it was accompanied by a rhythmic beeping sound from his left. He heard fleeting, murmured voices, and wondered who was in his house. He opened his eyes with some difficulty, and became aware of an antiseptic smell, and the fact that he was in an unfamiliar bed.
There was someone sitting in a chair to his right.
He turned his head to look at the person, and as his eyes struggled to focus, he saw the person in the chair was wearing a camouflage combat uniform... a U.S. Army ACU if he remembered correctly. The man wearing the uniform was Hispanic, and his right arm was in a sling. The nametape above his pocket said FERNANDEZ.
The man spoke softly: "Welcome back Sarge."
He realized that he was in a hospital.
He didn't know why he was there.
"Where am I?"
"You're in the Army medical center in the Green Zone in beautiful downtown Baghdad." Ferdandez answered.
Baghdad? the Sergeant thought. I'm in fucking Baghdad?
Fernandez sighed. "You got your bell rung pretty good Sarge. The docs said you might suffer some temporary memory loss even though your head is harder than a bowling ball. In case you don't remember, you're a Senior NCO in a 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment. They call us Lucifer's Nightmare" he said proudly.
Suddenly a picture filled his mind, a smoke trail coming from his left, an explosion, the humvee in front of him lifting into the air and the feeling that he was being thrown backwards into something hard and unyielding.
"I saw a smoke trail..." he said.
"Yeah," Fernandez replied. "We were clearing a street building by building, and a fucking Haji materialized in a doorway and fired one of those RPG's on steroids they've been using on us. Somehow I got thrown out of the turret, and didn't land too hard. You were shielded from most of the blast, but still caught enough of it to get tossed into the wall behind you. The ISF officer, two of his guys, and one of ours weren't so lucky." He looked at the floor briefly, then back at his Sergeant, a steel-hard glint in his eye. "I was able to pull my backup SAW out of what was left of our ride and got the son of a bitch that got us... he won't have an open casket." He added grimly.
Fernandez gestured to his injured arm with his good hand.
"Tore up my wrist and shoulder in the process, but it was worth the expression on Haji's face when he saw me step around the wreckage and I lit his ass up. Raghead motherfucker thought he took us all out."
It all came flooding back to him then, the last-minute orders, the eleven-hour flight in the belly of a C-5, the strange feeling that something wasn't right this time...
He snapped back to reality.
"What's our status?" he asked.
"They're pulling us out. A five man team with four injured members is pretty useless. Bradshaw doesn't have a scratch, Bachman and Kellogg were evacuated to Landstuhl this morning, and now that you're awake, you'll be heading there too. I'll ride that far with you, then it's back to Bragg for me. Once the docs at Landstuhl clear you, you're Stateside bound. Probably for the rest of this one."
The Sergeant interrupted him, "What's today's date?"
Fernandez looked at him. "You've been out cold for three days. It's August 24th. We've only been here for two weeks. This trip was supposed to be a quick in and out... didn't think we'd be out this quickly."
He stood up.
"I'll go tell the doc you're awake." Fernandez started to walk through the door, then paused and turned.
"Sarge, the last couple of hours before you woke up you said a woman's name three or four times... you got a new girl back home you haven't told us about?"
The Sergeant laid back, sighed, and closed his eyes.
"No," he replied. "I must have been dreaming."
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Remember, this is just a first draft, and I know that it needs to be fleshed out here and there. Your input and opinions are most welcome.
See you tomorrow.