Death On Arrival

Two years ago, I swore I’d never come back here again. And the bastard died just so I would. “He’s wasn’t the best at anything but living,” said some guy that barely knew Jake if that was all he could say about him.

I think Jake was a man of action. To the point where death was just off to the right, waiting to take his sorry ass to wherever he wanted to go. Jake would be the guy to pick whether he went to heaven or hell.

I think he’d treat them as vacation spots after the life he chose. I didn’t see him the other day at the memorial service. I couldn’t bring myself to go up to the coffin to see him one last time. From far away I could tell that the body in the coffin was just the husk. Jake was already gone, and I decided to remember the living man rather than the husk in a box. I could see it wore his uniform, will all the bars, strips and honors Jake collected like a good boy-scout over the years. But these badges had nothing to do with children’s games.

I don’t like funerals, but Jake deserves all the recognition he can get. Since there is only ten of us here, I know he didn’t have many witnesses to his own existence.

I think that the more people that recognize you were alive, the more you’ve lived. I hope there are damn lot more somewhere remembering Jake. Or maybe that damn lot is already waiting for him on the other side. I didn’t really know much about him, other than he was a great drinking buddy, a solid wing man, and crazy as a bat flying in daylight.

I always wondered if Jake could die, for all the crazy stupid shit he would do. Climbing up the wall to gather recon. Running into gun fire to drag another man back to cover.

I think four or five times everyone thought he invited Death with a smile on his face.

Cuz once I knew who Jake was, I didn’t want this guy to die. And I asked him to tell me what it felt like when he did chose to risk his life for another.

“Did you ever feel afraid Jake?”

I think of asking him that question again now, as he gets lowered into the ground. He said the only time he felt true fear was the day they buried the last of his unit. And here I am at his damn funeral and he’s the last and only unit I ever had. I’d always wondered what real fear felt like. I was sorry I found out today.

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