The following is a sneak preview of an upcoming book.
He walked off the train in Anytown, shielding his eyes from the brightness of the sun. His combat boots made a hollow banging on the wooden boardwalk as he walked slowly towards the crowd of people anxiously awaiting his arrival. The whole town had turned out, and he felt a little self conscious in his dust laden khakis. The journey home had been a long one and he felt exhausted to the bone. The military had taught him to be brave in the face of the unknown, so he pasted on a smile that lit up his whole face, at least most of his face, anyway. That smile could not reach his eyes because he had lost his soul and if your soul is gone, how can the light be there?
Everyone that had gathered here was excited to see him. They were proud of the Son of their town. He was over there…somewhere…keeping them safe from the enemy. They felt blessed to be able to live their life of freedom because he was willing to lay his life on the line for them. When he left 2 years ago, he was full of courage and excitement; he promised everyone that he would rid the world of darkness. The people of Anytown carried on with their normal lives trusting that their Son would keep them safe. They lost no sleep for him while he was gone; after all, he was only there on a peace keeping mission. Just yesterday the ladies in the beauty parlour were discussing how the men who had returned from WWII never talked about anything bad that had happened while they were overseas all those years ago, so most certainly it can’t be that bad serving your country. In fact, it is an honor that everyone should take advantage of!
He looked at the faces of all of these people that he had known since birth. They were all out of focus, like there was a heat haze forming on the desert sand that he had come to know just as well. They looked the same as they had two years ago when he left them, yet they were different. They were different because they had not changed at all in the time he had been gone. He was over there fighting for equality for women and children, he was there fighting for freedom, he was there fighting for the safety and well being of all citizens – yet these people still held the same prejudice for the things that they didn’t understand. He shook his head to let go of the anger he felt at the people he loved.
The band was playing a lively rendition of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”, but all he heard was the bugle in his mind playing “The Last Post”. He couldn’t help remembering how many friends he had watched die in the name of peace. When he went over there, he thought he was going to be a voice for so many people, but he had been taught to be silent. Keep your mouth shut about the things you see and hear, and hopefully you will live. He had tried to come to the aid of an elderly local who was not standing up for himself, and ended up watching the man die a gruesome death. Keep your mouth shut about what you see and hear and the military will honor you with medals, yet he had to watch the honor of so many young girls stripped away as they were raped by the very men sent there to protect them. Yup…it sure looked like he had made some huge changes in the world, unfortunately the only changes he had made in his mind, were the changes to his life only.