Hell

Like most men, I’ve often admonished myself for not having joined the military. I was in my mid-twenties when 9/11 happened. I watched with pride when the all-news channels embedded themselves with the military to cover Operation Iraqi Freedom. Think of this what you may now, realizing that hindsight is 20/20; but at the time, nearly the entire country was unified in a frenzy of intense patriotism & national pride. CNN’s website even had a war tracker complete with a section that listed each category of US war-fighters containing a unit profile & common weapons complement. CNN! Even Oakley’s website, if memory serves, featured a ticker somewhere on its page streaming live updates. At the time, I worked in one of the numerous cubicle farms that have paid my way through life. A co-worker who frequently purchased Oakleys once declared facetiously, “I think Oakley is sponsoring this war.” In case you don’t know, Oakley produced trendy sunglasses & related accessories. I don’t bring this up to offend anyone; but to create context. All due respect to the men, women, & families who made sacrifices to uphold their sworn duty. In addition, all due respect to all the groups that advocate peace & question our government’s decision to go to war. I’m not here to debate politics. I’m here because I have a story of my own to tell.

It was the summer of 2016. I had endured a tough time financially. I had lost confidence in my value as a potential employee for any company; & began to question my ability to continue “playing adult” when the truth was I felt completely ill-equipped for life. I had been drinking at a level only previously experienced during my college days; & frequently pondered the question of legacy. Having had some time off, I had just recently read Chris Kyle’s autobiography American Sniper. Now that was a man who, in my opinion, had lived & honorable life & had died an honorable death. Now there was a man who knew the meaning of bravery; who could face down any danger without fear, not out of mindless bravado, but out of earned confidence that could only come through survival. I wanted to be a survivor! I wanted to know that I was brave. Well, you know how the saying goes:

Be careful what you wish for . . .

Hamlet

CHAPTER ONE: Can I See your ID