Monday, May 29, 2006

Rally ‘Round The Flag, Boys

We were sent to the wars some thirteen years ago.

I say we were sent. The truth is we enlisted—volunteers, the two of us—but there was an air of inevitability to it. There was never any way we were going to leave this one alone. You were never one to run from a fight. And me—well, where you were going, I was following.

Or was it the other way around? I can never remember anymore; and we’ve gone back and forth so many times that it’s hard to tell who’s on point. We keep going forward, somehow, so we don’t question it much.

It was a hell of a day, I remember that. The pipes played “Be Thou My Vision” as we tore down the gangway, and we hadn’t even made it to our transport yet before the sky filled up with incoming fire. Friendly fire, as it turned out. Those knotted bags of rice were a bad idea.

The good guys wore black, mostly. I suppose we should’ve taken it as a bad omen later, when the Padre went down in a hail of cartilage and tentpole, but instead we decided to simplify the comedy = embarrassment + time equation by laughing our asses off right then.

funny ha-ha

Of course, the Magazine Man, God love him, had something to do with that, too...

He’s an object lesson in trench-fighting—mostly, he taught us about going over the top.


It’s important to surround yourself with people who aren’t afraid to carry things too far. The thing about this fight is that you can never quit. And for that reason, it’s vitally important to surround yourself with people who don’t know when to quit. Because when the Big Blow came down, and the old soldiers rallied ‘round the flagpole, when things got ugly, you didn’t quit.

And when I think of you, standing in the howling wind wearing your grandmother’s dress and your bravest face—maybe the bravest, the bravest face I’ve ever seen—I think that another woman, a saner woman than you perhaps, would have quit right then—sensing, probably rightly, that things were going to get uglier still.

And they have. And they’ve gotten better, and then worse again, and then better, more times than I can count. And that’s what keeps us going, I think—the promise that we’ll get up one more time than we fall down. We don’t give up, because if we do we’ll never know how it all works out. So we’re still in this fight.

You and me against the world, kid.

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