Nothing

Nothing

A Story by Dms

                Fog had rolled in with the front that morning, masking the dawn and isolating the small house on the hill.  It was a tiny residence, with two bedrooms, one bath, and a small basement constructed of limestone.    It sat on the corner of Main Street and Church Hill Road; named appropriately, for the church was only a block away.  The driveway jackknifed steeply up to the right, terminating in a small one car garage that had seen better days. 

            The house sat upon a double plot with an oversized bush out front, and a weeping willow sapling out back behind a small wooden model of a well that had once held flowers, but now held only weeds.  The flowerbeds that had once grown all along the edge were also gone, replaced by burdok and a mishmash of crabgrass.  Smoke rolled from the chimney into the cold morning air; the only sign that any life existed within.

            No one knew the man in the little house.  He left for work in the evenings, when most of the small town went to bed, and he came back early in the morning, just as the school bus came around.  His car was seldom parked in the small garage, rather in front of the small broken walk up to his rickety front door.

            The town was right not to know him.  He had nothing extraordinary about him.  Just an ordinary man with ordinary problems.  He had an old wound in his chest that ached when it got cold, giving him a start from time to time.  His lower spine was bent with scholiosis, and so he couldn’t run, and he had to be careful when he worked out in the gym outside of town.  He kept his budget balanced, but rarely made enough to put into savings with repairs and medical bills absorbing most of his profits.  He worked several jobs, bouncing on the weekends, and putting in eight hours a night during the week at a factory.  He did some freelance writing for online journals, and order by mail portraits as well. 

            This morning he sat alone at his electric piano, heavy hands working at the keys in an attempt to play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.  He went for a few minutes until his fingers ached, then he stopped and went across the living room to his kitchen to make himself a cup of cocoa in the microwave.  Paul, his black and white persian cat, meowed from the bedroom, finally waking from a ten hour nap.

            “Hey there buddy.” He sighed, “Bet you’d like something to eat wouldn't you.”

            He reached under the sink and took a can of wet food, opening it roughly by the tab and dumping the contents onto a small dinner plate that had been designated the cat’s dish.  He then took his cocoa from the microwave, had a satisfying sip, and went back towards the piano, stopping in front of the window that looked out over main street and into the country beyond.  His relfection in the glass was pale.  Dark circles shaded the skin under his eyes, and flakes of grey poked out among the hair around his ears.

            "Jesus," He mumbled, "What ever happened to me?"

            Diverted fully from his playing, he went back and sat on the couch, setting his mug on the coffee table in front of him.  It wasn’t as though he hadn’t done anything interesting with his life.  He had been a soldier for ten years, only leaving after a medical board decided he was no longer fit for duty.  Thinking on that, he scoffed angrily.

            “I was ten times more fit than that shake and bake sergeant they brought in.”

            He winced, a needle of pain shooting through his chest.  Then he pounded against the arm of the couch in ratalliation, which only aggravated the ganglion cyst on his right wrist.  Cursing, he gripped it roughly.

            What did it matter anyways?  He was better off now.  No more long training days out in the cold mud in all that heavy gear.  No more deployments to foreign countries, and fighting for something that the world had stopped believing in.  No more waiting to see whether or not a group of high ranking strangers believed that he could still do his job.  No more laughing and joking with his many friends.  No more staring out over groups of young soldiers, eyes fixed upon him with respect. 

            “Whadda you think Paul?  Should I try to get back into the army?” He asked as his cat munched and snorted over his meal.

            Paul gave no reply, but he took it to mean the question had made him uncomfortable.

            “Sorry Paul.  I know you don’t like to think about that.  Besides, then I’d have to leave you behind.”

            So why had he joined in the first place?  He'd told himself it was for college money.  He’d grown up on a farm, and times were always tight.  He and his siblings had all provided for their own college education.  As for patriotism, he supposed he felt as proud to be an American as he felt proud to be a Pisces.  He’d never understood the whole national pride thing.  Wasn’t it all just a roll of the dice as to what country you’d be born in?  Wasn’t it fate?  National pride only perpetuated the us against them mentality that kept everyone apart. 

            He believed in the cause.  That hadn't changed.  The people of the world may be fickle, and change their minds with every change in the wind, but he was like a stone.  He'd set his mind on believing, and so he did.  Simple as that.

            Why?  He knew why.  He’d wanted to be a hero.  A real hero.  Not a fireman, or a policeman, or a good teacher, or a good father.  Those were every day heroes.  Those were just nice people doing their jobs, or their duties.  He had wanted to go above and beyond.  He’d wanted to do extraordinary things; to protect the oppressed, fight the evil, and save the world for God’s sake! 

            But how could he have done it?  War was no longer what it used to be.  There were no great battles, or force against force confrontations.  The enemies of this day didn’t have huge bases of operation, or a code of ethics.  Worse, was that half of the enemy were simply oppressed into fighting for the wrong side!  How were you supposed to be a hero fighting men who didn’t really want to fight?  How could you look at yourself if you only killed desperate men?  It didn’t play out like the movies.  A soldier couldn’t run through a shower of bullets to save his best friend.  In real life, he was shot down, and his friend died screaming his name.  If someone were captured a soldier couldn’t go out and rescue them unless given the orders.  There were no individual choices to make.  If you became a hero, you were made so by command.

            “No more heroes.” He sighed, taking another sip from his cocoa.

            So here he was, sitting alone and talking to his cat.  A strange civillian who had failed to achieve his only goal.  And here he sat knowing that he could never achieve it.  An ex soldier, wilting away, rotting away, eroding away into absolutely…nothing.

 

© 2008 Dms


Author's Note

Dms
Just bored today so I wrote this.

My Review

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Reviews

Wonderful. It was touching, sad, but I of coarse couldn't help but enjoy it. You are simply and amazing writer and I hope you never stop, I really enjoy your stuff and will continue to read more from you!

~ rae

Posted 12 Years Ago


I liked it. I loved how vivid the picture in my mind was about him, the house and the lazy cat. haha What caught my attention more was the fact that it isn't a very happy story. I'm not saying life isn't worth living or anything, but when it comes to life there are only a select few who get to have happy endings.

Posted 15 Years Ago


"No more waiting to see whether or not a group of high ranking strangers believed that he could still do his job"...when I'm feeling lonely and troubled and somewhat hopeless, well, this line pretty much bangs my thoughts on life right on the head. In the end, are any of us really the captains of our own destinies?

Dave, you wrote this when you were BORED? Man, the last few pieces of yours I've read have been extremely powerful, not to mention as honest as can possibly be.

"Worse, was that half of the enemy were simply oppressed into fighting for the wrong side! How were you supposed to be a hero fighting men who didn't really want to fight? How could you look at yourself if you only killed desperate men? It didn't play out like the movies. A soldier couldn't run through a shower of bullets to save his best friend. In real life, he was shot down, and his friend died screaming his name."

HOLY S**T! One of the best things I've EVER read, man. Seriously, there's so much depth in this bit that I wouldn't know where to begin in writing it all down.


"There were no individual choices to make. If you became a hero, you were made so by command."

Damn. I mean, really, bro, DAMN.

An old, used-up soldier, contemplating his place in life beyond his number-one career goal, after said goal is over and done with. Perhaps there isn't a place at all in life for this man. Very sad, but all too common in the real world.

This is a real story.

Man, you must NEVER stop writing. Ever.

S**t. I hadn't forgotten how good you were, but...damn.

Hawksmoor...From The Bleed.



Posted 15 Years Ago


Sad tale, but well told. I truly enjoyed it in a sad sorta way. I love stories that look at the sides of the Human Condition that are harder to deal with. I've read enough happy endings to last ten lifetimes. this was very believable and it sheds light on a part of life that's honest and dark. Great writing.



"No more heroes."

FF

Posted 15 Years Ago



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Added on November 13, 2008

Author

Dms
Dms

Plain, WI



About
For those of you visiting me for the first time, my name is David Stienmetz. I'm 25 years old, and a six year Army veteran. Since getting out, I've started college, bought a house, had a bad.. more..

Writing
Wolf's Head Wolf's Head

A Story by Dms