Chapter 4: Depression

4-8-13
Hey bro,
How are you? Everything with the job and Atty and Brittany good, I hope. Weather’s better so you get outside to go biking. That’s good for you.
I’m afraid my mental health continues to deteriorate. Depression and thoughts of death. Wishing I was not alive all day every day. Poor me huh? Usually I end up praying that God will show me mercy and end my life. I should be the first of us siblings to go. And if I should pass before you rest assure that I’ll no longer have to suffer from this mental illness and a life full of tragedy and tragic consequences.
Bunch of bullshit huh? There’s just nothing good left inside my mind. Just a bunch of neurological maggots feeding on the rotten meat of my consciousness. Spoiled, diseased and putrid.
My mind is a cesspool for all that’s worthless and pitiful. Existence is a joke. Family is all I have but I’m afraid my existence is just causing them all more grief and pain. What a waste. A waste of what? Nothing fucking matters anymore. Eat shit sleep. Eat shit sleep. Fuck ‘em, I hate this fucking existence.
Here’s a stupid, sorry song for myself, shit ass worthless song:
EVERYBODY (A Failure’s Muse)
(Chorus)
Everybody was cooler than you,
they all did much better things than you.
(Verse 1)
And you, just wanted to stay inside
nice and close to the flesh.
You couldn’t open your eyes when
everybody was cooler than you …
(Break)
This is insane, it’s one big fucking lie
Things don’t get better only worse until you die
It would’ve been better to not be born at all
To never have to feel the pain
(X2)
of a life that makes you shit
of a life of tears and pain
of a life that steals your breath with death
of a life of guilt and shame.
(Verse 2)
Everybody is cooler than you
(Guitar riff)
And you, never wanted outside
to be aborted unborn cold and despised.
(Chorus)
Everybody is cooler than you
Now they all have found better things to do.

Other times I’m in front of the mirror combing chunks of dandruff off my scalp. Sometimes until I bleed. It’s funny because I can never get it all. All I have to do is comb some more, and more dandruff scrapes up. You figure that after a while you could comb it all out. ‘Tis not the case. Always more to scrape out if you need a diversion from the insane.
Bro, it only gets worse. Frustration until I have to smack my head against the wall, over and over again.
Sorry bro. But I’m now taking Invega, a medication that treats schizophrenia. But it only works a little bit and then the bottom drops out again and I’m back in hell. I don’t see a way out. Thirty-five years to life doesn’t seem like much of a way out. There’s not a bright side for me anymore. I’m not going to pussyfoot and say there is. I’m a miserable failure. Least I can do is admit it.
You insane, almost retarded, stupid ass brother,
Aaron

4-19-13
Aaron,
First of all, I gotta say it was a pleasure speaking with you the other night – thanks for giving me a few rings and sorry I wasn’t able to answer earlier. Your calls are some of the most important I receive, and I always feel a pang of regret when I notice I missed one.
It was good to hear you’re keeping your chin up, and I appreciated your homemade joke. And be sure to jot down Paul’s address for me, so I can send him a little money for some copies if the music he’s recording.
Sorry if I seemed clueless about the poem/song in your letter – I hadn’t read it yet so didn’t know what you were talking about really. Just got the letter yesterday and read it a day after we spoke, and …
Well, I don’t really want to read it again. Maybe I’m trying to deny reality, but it’s hard to hear the brutal truth of how you’re feeling at some of your darkest moments I guess. I feel for you, brother … you’re stuck between a rock and an asphalt wall, and the future looks dim indeed, I’m sure.
But however you feel, what you can really do now for the best of everyone concerned is to stay strong and keep plowing ahead. As slow and painful as the inability to “plow ahead” may seem.
Call me selfish, but I’m looking forward to seeing you again in person – at your trial, and then again afterwards during whatever opportunities present themselves to us. And they will be there to some extent or another. And I have to ask you to not be selfish … me and the rest of your family who love you want and need you to be there to talk to and to share memories with, and we all just need to know that you’re just there – wherever that may be – and that you’re alive and as well as you can possibly make yourself.
Before I address what you wrote in your dismal letter, I want to reflect on something fun. Don’t know what exactly, but now that I think about it just a good memory – like of you jumping like a crazy man off that damned huge cliff in the Black Hills. I don’t remember the name of the lake, but I recall there was a spot to jump off about 20-30 feet up, then another at 50 feet or so, and finally a death-defying high jump of around 80 feet maybe.
We both did the 30-footer, then I hesitantly did the 50-footer with you. And that hurt enough that I was done with it. But you, of course, pumped full of adrenalin I’m sure, had to conquer the big jump.
And I remember standing up there, totally freaked out, watching as you ran down the trail (cuz you had to run down a trail just to get enough motion to do this damned jump, otherwise you’d bounce off the rocks jutting from the hillside on your way down) and I felt exhilarated myself just watching you leap off the edge and plunge down into uncertainty.
You said afterward that it felt like the water’s surface split open your butt cheeks and slapped your arse. And I believed it. I think that was the same trip when we caught about 30 trout and had a massive fish-feast. Good times indeed!
By the way, Willie Nelson just played on the radio – you would enjoy his newer songs, I’m sure.  I think he released an album in just in the last year. Johnny Cash and Willie have always been my favorite country greats. Now I’m listening to Ray LaMontagne – did you ever check him out? Slow and mellow …
Anyway, I hope your spirits are a little less low than when you wrote your last letter. I hope that new med is helping a little maybe. Fuck it all, let’s just admit it, it sucks dealing with mental illness, and you’re dealing with it hot and heavy. I’ve only got a tinge, maybe more than I want to admit or ever show, but you have definitely been dealt a full hand of mental bullshit.
But listen brother, you’ve done what you can with that hand you’ve been dealt. And now you’ve got to make the best of what you have. A life that involves even the smallest pleasures is better than nothing. Listen to me, I sound like a freakin’ therapist and it all probably sounds like B.S., eh? It almost does to me too, but I mean it man, I love you and if you were gone it would hurt like hell. So basically I’m just saying stay strong for me and for the rest of us who love you and want to continue to communicate with you and see you whenever possible.
I like how even though you were feeling lowdown as you jotted down your “shit-ass” song, you still made the effort to write out the musical parts to it. And guess what? A lot of people have done stuff cooler than you or I, but a lot of people have done things a lot worse, far more reprehensible and putrid.
Stop getting down on yourself so much, man.
OK, by the next time I write I’ll try to have a couple more pages of the book ready … I’ve only done a tad now and need to get back on it.
At my job at Pearson now, I work in a quiet, windowless room with other office types, a few of whom are beginning to drive me mad. It’s the sort of cubicle-life that would drive you nuts, I’m sure.
Call me again soon Aaron – it’s always awesome to talk to you and hear your voice again.
Love ya,
-Adam

4-22-13
Obsessed and compulsively impulsive: OCI.
Adam,
Like a candle on the darkside of the moon. Indeed my brother the future looks dim. Wouldn’t it be funny if scientists found billions of microscopic rats running around on the moon?
Yes, that jump off the cliff in the Black Hills was quite the plunge. Butt cheeks and subsequent rectal cavity felt split and ripped by some sea monster proctologist. Physically traumatized a little but quickly back to normal.
So yes, some very dark moments. Relentlessly disturbing thoughts. But I need to be grateful and satisfied with food, water and shelter. It’s not easy; I’m a spoiled American.
I have guitar riffs in my head for the “shit-ass” song. Maybe someday I’ll have access to a guitar and try to play them. Then I’ll look back and chuckle.
So I’m looking forward to anything you’ve written or will write in the book. To reading it, I mean. Sorry, I’m restless and having trouble concentrating.
I love you guys very much. I’ve just been beaten up by life. And my heart has thoroughly instructed me in Misery and Shame. I’m well acquainted with the “Sorry Sap” of Despair. We have tea on a regular basis. Sometimes Depression and Anxiety stop by and we play Parcheesi. Then we have group sex (metaphor). Pardon me sir, do you have any Grey PoopOn? Poop on yourself a-hole. I’ll have a glass of left field with a splash of tangent please. Pardon me sir, do you have any Brown PoopOn? Uh, I hope not. Would you fancy some tea, old sport? Nah, think I’ll pass. Thanks anyways.
Thanks for writing and talking to me on the phone bro. You’ve helped me immensely.
Your bro,
Aaron

5-5-2013
Aaron,
Thank you for the drawing – it was, literally speaking, tits! Robot women smoking cigarettes in an abstract, futuristic art-world – I want to be there!
Seriously man, I love your artwork – most of your pieces are simply amazing. And bizarrely beautiful.

Robot Women 4-22-13

Well, I hope you’re maintaining. Sorry I missed your calls Wednesday – I’ve been waiting for you to call every night since then. Hopefully you’ll call later tonight (Sunday).
Hey – funny story. Atty’s soccer team is like the Bad News Bears – always playing the role of the underdogs. But Saturday it started raining during the game, and they all got stoked. The “Longfellow Lightning” team struck as the rain poured down, going berzerk, and won 2-0 as real lightning flashed and the game was called due to the pouring rain. It was awesome!
So there’s $200 enclosed with this letter; hopefully it suffices. I’m sure any balance you have left will carry over.
I’ll be up there on Tuesday – it will be nice to see you in person regardless of the circumstances.
Stay strong my brother.
Love,
-Adam

5-6-13
(Note: Greeting card with “Thinking of You, Today and Every Day” and “Just to remind you that my thoughts are always with you” inscribed on it.)
Adam,
Hey bro, thought I’d drop a sentimental note your way.
Thank you for being by my side through this most difficult time. I love you very much and I don’t know where I’d be without you. Thanks for taking the time to write and sends checks to me.
And as the days, months and years pass we as brothers shall continue to carry on and love and make jest at my petty and sometimes miserable life. Damn it, I just messed up! Oh well, it’s the thought that counts.
Anyway my brethren, I always look forward to reading your letters and our conversing in sounds however unrhythmic or piggish they may be. Ha-ha! Damn it, here we go again. I can’t write a normal letter anymore. I’m always getting off on some other thing and now I just don’t know. Oh well, it’s the thought that counts.
Battling through depression here. But I’m winning with the help of a loving and caring older brother named Adam.
I love you bro,
Aaron Von Harris

5-31-13
Hey Aaron,
Thought I’d write you a little letter to say HELLO! It was nice talking to you on the phone the other night, but I’m not sure when I’ll hear from you again, and I’ll be up in Spencer this weekend, so my phone will be working so-so … meaning, if I miss a call from you, it’s because I don’t have service.
So I’m heading up to Fostoria tomorrow so we can hit Grandma Groth’s 80th birthday deal Saturday – I’m excited for Atticus to hang out with Bob’s boys and all the Durst girls’ kids – a bunch of second-generation cousins mixing it up in the old Fostoria park is bound to be interesting. We’re bringing a Nerf football, a soccer ball, a Frisbee and Atty’s skateboard – gotta give the kids some options, right?
Don’t worry, if any relatives ask about you, I’ll tell them the basics, let them know you love your family, and move on. I’ll be sure to give Lavon your love, and I’ll let you know later on how the relatives have been doing, too.
I was happy to hear that you’re staying strong, ready to meet the next change/challenge in your life. Only one more month in county, thank goodness. Just keep your head up, bro. By the way, I’ll have a chance to write a little bit on the book soon, and will be sending you an update when I write you again in a couple weeks.
Like I said, your friend Pete was in touch with me and would like to visit you. I don’t know his last name, but his phone # is 702-419-0323. You should get him on your visitor list ASAP and let me know, or call him and let him know.
Let me know when you could use another check, but like you said, it’s a good time to tighten down. Don’t worry though – you’ll always be OK. And I can send you some more June fundage whenever you need it.
When I’m in Spencer, I plan to stop by Dad’s grave to say “hello, Old Man”, and I’ll kneel down and give him a little prayer from both you and me. Last winter, Atticus and I had a little snowball fight there, which I thought Dad would have appreciated.
OK brother, I’ve got to get to bed, but I’ll send this letter out tomorrow … I love you man.
Your bro,
ADAM

6-5-13 billion
Adam,
Hey bro. Well, my sentencing isn’t until July 26th now. Mostly I miss you guys. You, Mom and Don, Albert, Andrea, Atticus and my son Nickolas. If I could see you all for a few hours face-to-face and talk and give you all a hug before we said goodbye then I would feel a whole hell of a lot better.
This isolation shit is getting to me. But another month isn’t that much longer. Would be nice if they would tell me why. They aren’t nice though. What, are they trying to make me feel on edge or something? Like I’m going to sit here and wonder whether or not I’m getting sentenced to life? I know I’m getting sentenced to life in prison. It’s not that bad of a thing really. They may want me, or ask me, to say a few words at the sentencing. I’m not sure about it. Most likely I won’t be making any statements.
I wanted the drawing I sent to be a total surprise. Like you just open the letter and pull it out, then you’re like “Holy freakin’ upside down and backwards. That’s two shit wholes just a staring at each other. Or is it? Yee-haw and whoopy dingdong with a long rope and a porcupine. Give me a dollar for every time a butt cracks.” Living it up bro … living it up.
But I wound up telling you about it ahead of time. Trying to arouse your curiosity I guess.
Just got off the phone with you. Hope you feel better soon. Being a little down or fizzed out can be tough. Maybe you were really having a rough time. It’s okay bro, keep your head up. I know sometimes life is cruel.
Here’s a little bit of differential equation that I’ve learned: (Note: Mathematic illustration drawn.)
Thanks for getting that check out to me. I’ll do my best to stretch it out. They take some out for my meds every month, $50 or $60 I think. But I’m cutting down on snacks so I can keep commissary under $50 a week. Then I can still get four or five phone cards. Right now times are good financially. Thanks for all your help.
I will leave you with a little song I wrote:
STIR STIC, by Aaron Harris
I found my favorite stir stic
Now I’ll never be lonely again
oh yah, oh yah yah yah
I made it from a black
5-inch comb, the comb was made
in China but my stir stic
was made right here in
the United States of …
I found my favorite stir stic
oh yah, oh yah yah yah
Love you bro,
Aaron

6-16-13
AARON!
Hey there man – only a little over a month now before you finally get a change of pace.
First off, I gotta say, I love the drawing you sent me. It looks like two tunnels going around the side a fantastical cylinder, and I like how it appears that I could walk down and around that cylinder. Now I’m going to have a tough time deciding which piece of your art I’m going to want tattooed on my left calf. Oh decisions, decisions.

Cylinder II

I agree with what you said on meeting face-to-face and hugging and all that, but opportunities for that will exist in the future, once you’ve been moved. And I wouldn’t want to say “goodbye” to you; instead, I’m looking forward to being able to have those sort of interactions on a regular basis during visits. It will happen, brother; we just have to wait for everything to play out, I guess.
I was a little upset when you told me that your sentencing had been delayed. To me that just seems like you’re being forced to suffer in county jail for a while longer before you can move on to a different environment. But I know that you’re strong and at this point, you can handle about anything, so I’m just looking forward to you going to Oakdale soon and figuring out what will happen after that.
“I know sometimes that life is cruel.” I think that is a rather brilliant of sentence from you, and I appreciated your sentiments when I read it.
Man, that differential equation that you wrote up is freaking crazy. My old roommate Ricardo was a graduate student in mathematics, and would have stuff like that written on the white board in his bedroom all the time. I’ve always thought that once you take math to that level, it’s like reading and creating its own sort of language. It looks like an ancient Egyptian script, but on a much more advanced level. Props to you for exercising your brain on complicated math activities, dude! I’m totally impressed. And now I’m writing like a surfer, I guess
I dug the “Stir Stic” song, man. I think it would grand to hear you sing that someday while strumming an acoustic guitar.
I’ve finally been getting a little creative again too; here’s a page or two that I wrote tonight. I think you will especially enjoy the conversation between dad and Jesus. (Note: I’m including the last paragraph from my earlier writing, I just want to confirm that I sent you that part already. So if you’ve read that paragraph before, great, if you haven’t, let me know.)
—————————
The sergeant looked him square in the eye, shook his hand, and said, “Welcome to the Army, son, you’re enlisted as of today. You will be officially inducted on August 16th, 1971.”
—–
The two of them moved in with Rose’s friend Ann in Dickens a week later. They wanted to live together outside of their parents’ homes, and Ann needed roommates in the big 2-bedroom house she was renting.
Randy felt like he was finally growing up, turning into a real adult. He and Rose spent all their time together, making plans for their baby. Ann was like a rowdy sister to both of them, and even though they were only staying there for a few months, it felt like their first home together.
—–
Rose and Randy tied the knot that July at the First Baptist Church, where Randy’s parents had taken him to services his entire life. It was one the largest buildings on the northeast corner of town, with a sparkling crown of a cross poking up on the top of a shiny stone tower.
Rose was three months pregnant but you could barely notice, and she looked absolutely resplendent in her light lavender dress. Her sisters Connie and Martha framed Rose beautifully in their homemade, satiny dresses.

Rose & Randy
The white carnation on Randy’s suit jacket matched the color of the cake that they fed each other bites of between smiles.
After a brief and formal reception, Rose’s sisters stole her awhile in a tradition know as being “Shanghied,” but they eventully brought her back to Ann’s place. He met her at the door, where she swayed side-to-side, somewhat tipsy.
He grinned and said “I love you Rose, and I’m happy to be your husband.”
“I love you too, my darling man,” she said, and squeezed him so hard he lost his breath for a minute.
He helped her to their bedroom, and they kissed and spoke sweet words of adoration for a while before she passed out in a heavy slumber.
——-
Earlier that evening as they were smoking outside of the reception, Jim had slipped Randy a tab of LSD, something he had never tried before.
“Here you go man, take it later and you’ll have the best night of your life,” he said. “It’s been great seeing you have the best day of your life – you’re looking really sharp in that outfit, I gotta say.”
He put it on his tongue as he sat in the kitchen after Rose was asleep, and wondered what would happen. He drank a beer and had a cigarette, waiting to feel something, but everything seemed totally normal.
Randy went to the bedroom and cuddled beside his beautiful, gently snoring wife and closed his eyes. He felt relaxed, but kaleidoscope colors started to appear everytime his eyes were shut, so he turned over and stared through the window into the dark.
He noticed that the glint of streetlights glowing at the top of the window had formed an outline of a human head, and as he stared more closely, he could make out that it was the face of Jesus Christ himself.
He couldn’t believe what he was seeing, but as he looked closer, squinting his eyes, he could see that Jesus was looking down on him in a disappointed manner, holding up a finger and pointing it toward him.
He watched in awe as Jesus’ mouth began to move.
“What are doing with your life, and with the life of this woman?” Jesus asked sternly.
Randy couldn’t think of any decent response, but finally managed to utter, “I’m trying to do the best for the both of us that I can.”
Jesus smiled at him for a moment, but then asked “Why are you sinning?”
Randy suddenly felt wracked with guilt. He and Rose were married now; he had made an honest woman out of her, had done his duty as a man and soon-to-be father. But he still drank regularly and smoked a lot, and he thought maybe taking LSD was sinful. He wasn’t a druggie, dammit; but perhaps he was abusing his mind and Jesus didn’t appreciate that.
He took a deep breath and looked straight into Jesus’ eyes.
“I am sorry that I have sinned, my Lord, but I am trying my best to do what is right in life.”
Jesus’ facial outline wavered slightly back and forth.
“I know that I drink and smoke and listen to evil music, but please forgive me.” He opened up his arms toward the face in the window. “Life just seems to get tougher as you grow up, so I’m doing my best to deal with it as it happens.”
Jesus’ face relaxed into a contented semi-smile, and Randy could feel a comforting exhalation wisping toward him from the window. His mind and body felt completely relaxed, and he laid back, feeling like his body was a puddle on the bed and pillow.
“Do not fear, Randy,” Jesus said, “I will be with you. I will be by your side.”
“Thank you, my Lord,” Randy said. “I promise to do my best in life, for me and Rose and our child.”
He turned over, put his arm around Rose, and fell asleep to all the pretty colors racing around in his head.
——————–
So there’s the latest update. And while it’s not the end of the love story, the next excerpt I write will involve Dad shipping off to basic training, and you know it’s bound to get a little darker shortly after that. But in an intriguing manner, of course.
I’ll be hoping to get another call from you soon – I know you’re cutting back on expenses, which is smart, but I do always enjoy hearing your voice.
Take good care of yourself, my brother, and stay strong, a big life change is rising up on your horizon, and you will be okay in the long run.
I love you,
-Adam

7-14-2013
Aaron,
What the hell is happening, old boy? Not all that much, I’m guessing – probably counting down the days ‘til the 26th – around 10 by the time you get this letter.
I watched an episode of some new series earlier tonight – “Orange is the New Black” – about some middle-class gal going to federal prison for 15 months on a drug charge. The first episode dealt with her going to prison and her first day there … and I just kept thinking “bullshit!” the whole time. Your experiences in county have been far more extreme already … anyway, my point is that I think the entertainment media presents this sort of shit in kind of a ridiculous manner, since the reality of these types of situations are really too difficult for the average citizen to comprehend.
Regardless, I know you will fare well in whatever new, different environment you find yourself in. You’ve always been a survivor, a strong-willed individualist who has made due with whatever surrounds you. (Cue “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor … “it’s the thrill of the fight!”) Atticus and I played that song way too many times on the Rock Band video game a few weeks ago. And perhaps you remember how we would rock out to that album on the parents’ stereo when I babysat you kids in Milford, me about 10, you 5, whenever mom and Gary decided to go out on the town.
So I just want you to know that you cross my mind on a regular basis, even if we’re chatting a little less frequently to save cash. For example, I was on a 60-mile bike ride with a couple friends today – we headed west out of Iowa City and stopped at a small roadhouse about 18 miles out, then later at a dinky, dimly lit bar 12 miles further down the sun-heated blacktops – and your situation pops into my head (as it often does), and I think how much you would love the opportunity to push yourself physically, to feel the burn of the sun reflecting off the asphalt as your legs get sore from pedaling, to ask yourself why the hell you decided to ride this far in the middle of nowhere for no good reason other than to prepare yourself for more self-torture in the future (maybe I’m exaggerating, it IS a great workout.)
Anyway, even at times like that I reflect on your situation, and my heart goes out to you – I try to imagine myself in the place you are at and I simply can’t do it – I mean, I can try, but I know my introspections can only pale in comparison to the reality you are experiencing.
And that’s why I’m writing you this letter, my dear brother, because I’ve been thinking of you, and I haven’t heard from you on the phone as much, which is good money-wise, but hopefully once you’re down here at Oakdale we’ll have more affordable and thereby more frequent telecommunications.
Also, I just wanted to send you another letter before I take off on Ragbrai within the week here, and I guess I should let you know that I’m not really talking to mom and Don now … kinda fed up with their bullshit … hope you can understand.
So yes, perhaps you’ve guessed already that I’m slightly tipsy at this point in time, but regardless, another major point of this letter is to update you with a page of two of writing … so here it goes:
——-
Gertrude woke Randy and Rose up early on the morning of Aug. 15, 1971, screeching at 6 a.m. “Let’s get up and moving now!” Randy was awake instantly, ready for the half-hour ride to the Spirit Lake Greyhound station, from where he’d ride to Sioux Falls to be inducted into the Army. Coffee and bananas and then they jumped into the pre-packed car for the drive.
He kept glancing back at Rose from the front seat, knowing it would be a long time before he would be able to see her again, to touch her closely again. She smiled back at him, but he couldn’t quite tell if all this was as hard on her as it was on him. His emotions swelled his heart, so full of love for Rose, and he felt certain that she was feeling just the same way.
“I love you and I’m going to miss you,” he uttered, feeling like a lovesick puppy, about ready to shed a tear.
“I’ll miss you too babe,” she said, her right hand moving slowly up her stomach, “just stay safe and get back to me.”
The few personal belongings he was allowed to carry were stuffed into a light blue suitcase Rose had given him, and he reflected on how that would serve as a bond between them, and help to keep him in her mind.
Doubts plagued Randy’s head as they approached the bus station. What was he getting himself into? He was 17 years old – a teenager – and was on his way to the goddamn U.S. Army, potentially on his way to a battlefield … enemies … gunfire … and God knows what else.
As they parked, he told himself again that he had no choice; his child was in Rose’s belly and he had to move ahead and support all of them somehow.
Gertrude stood cross-armed in the background as Rose hugged and kissed him deeply before he stepped onto the bus.
“I’ll call or write you as soon as I can, I guess when I get to the training camp,” he said, clutching her a little too tightly.
“Okay, good luck, I love you,” she said as their arms untangled.
————–
He slept on a small cot in a room at the YMCA that night along with a half dozen other recruits.
He started chatting with his nearest roommate – a redheaded guy named Ray – as they got settled in.
“Do you know where you’re headed, man?”
Ray looked up from untying his shoes and said “Goddamn Fort Lewis, Washington, I guess.”
Randy perked up and said “Shit – me too, man!” He sat back, exhaling slowly, realizing he sounded a little overeager.
“Where you coming from, man?” Ray asked.
“A small town in Iowa.”
“I’m from right back there in Sioux Falls,” Ray said.
“No shit,” Randy said, shoving his small pack of belongings under his bed. “What made you sign up for all this?”
Ray squinted. “Fucking draft, man. I had no choice in the matter.” He lit up a Marlboro and exhaled the smoke through his nose. “But what the hell, right? I’m hoping to use the college benefits later on, probably the only way I’ll ever have a chance at that anyway.”
“Yeah,” Randy said. “That should work out for you.” He pulled out his smokes and lit one up. “I got my girlfriend knocked up and need to start planning for the future, so I signed up.”
“Well, I guess we’re buddies now man!” Ray smiled and stuck out his hand. “Nice to fuckin’ meet you!”
Randy laughed and shook his hand.
“How old are you anyway, kid?” Ray asked.
“Seventeen.”
“No shit? That’s fucking unbelievable man! I’m 20 and married myself, but you look like you should still be in school or something.”
They crashed out on their cots before the sun set, knowing their early wakeup time would come fast.
——–
They awoke to cheerful shouts of encouragement, then watched the sun rise as they rode on buses to a government building where a free, warm breakfast awaited them. After they ate, they reported to their respective areas in the warehouse and were lined up and carted to planes of varying sizes resting on a gigantic airfield.
Randy joined three other soon-to-be soldiers on a smallish and rather comfortable plane. They exchanged names and pleasantries, then sat back and ordered beers from the cute stewardass with a quick flash of their basic-training orders.
After takeoff, Randy sipped more beer and shot the shit with his fellow comrades until his eyes got too tired for him to hold them open any longer.
—————-
Randy was assigned to Echo Barracks in Fort Lewis. He walked into one of three identical warehouse-style buildings, down a steel hallway, and found his bed in a gigantic room where he gazed around and counted 20 bunkbeds.
Red-painted coffee cans hung crookedly from nails jutting from the wall at the head of each bed. Enough water waited in the bottom to catch and extinguish the nervous young men’s cigarette butts.
After a short while, a sharp-hatted drill sergeant marched in and handed out forms to each recruit explaining how and where to place everything, from their socks (Dirty! and Clean!) to their toothbrushes and “personals.”
“Read these and stack your shit in your footlockers properly!” he commanded before strolling back out. “It needs to look good in the A.M.”
After organizing his belongings, Randy wandered to the far end of the room, where guys had started up cigarette-poker games around several round tables.
The main doors burst open and the sergeant yelled “Lights out! Now!”
Everyone scooped up their smokes and headed directly to their bunks, where they dumped their crap and crawled quickly into their blankets.
—————-
So there’s the update – I’m not even sure about the writing quality at this point in time, but I do want to try to get the story written out in full, and more editing can occur later on if necessary.
Stay strong, hombre! By the time you read this, you should be less than 2 weeks away from the “great transfer”, otherwise known as “Aaron getting the fudge outta County finally, mother-lovers!”
I love you bro, and I hope you’re hangin’ as best as you can man,
-Adam

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About niceguyadamo

There's a lot to tell. View all posts by niceguyadamo

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