Loyalty. Character.
                        Either you're born with it, Jimmie said,
                        Or you're not.

                        Texan Jimmie.
                        He's 66 and if they'd take him,
                        He'd be in Afghanistan right now.

                        Instead, he tells me stories.

                        Jimmie said,
                        I thought it would be the same in the real world
                        after 'Nam.
                        I thought people would have my back
                        like my brothers.
                        It wasn't like that.
                        But I'm not right in the head.
                        Too many hits, I reckon.
                        So it could be me.

                        Link. Kansas boy.
                        Was the meanest toughest motherfucker I
                        ever met.
                        He killed men with his hands in ten seconds.
                        I seen it.
                        He'd been in Nam two terms, came back
                        for a third.
                        I said,
                        Why'd you come back to this shithole?
                        I was 17.
                        Link said,
                        Boy, shut the fuck up and
                        Learn something.
                        So I did.
                        For a long time.

                        Months go by.
                        Link warms to me, in a foxhole.
                        I had a girl back home.
                        I said, If I find out she's cheatin’
                        I'll kill her and the guy she's with.
                        I didn't know shit about love or women.
                        Link said,
                        There ain't nuthin' to fuckin'.

                        I said,

                        You wanna know why
                        I came back for a third term,
                        Link said.
                        I married my high school sweetheart.
                        When I got drafted, she lived with my parents
                        to save money for an apartment.
                        I sent money home every month.
                        Finished first term, came back.
                        Second term, a little different.
                        In-depth, doing crazy shit, still sending
                        home money leave
                        can happen anytime.
                        Finished a mission, sergeant said,
                        Take a week, boy.
                        First place I go is my parents' house.
                        My wife moved out to an apartment,
                        couldn't take the parents
                        anymore. I get it.
                        My Dad gave me the keys
                        and because he was a military man
                        his WW II gun.
                        I get to the apartment.
                        So good to lighten my load.
                        Heard the television on.
                        Went into the bedroom.
                        My wife was fucking
                        some other guy I startled 'em.
                        The guy jumps up
                        grabs a big fuckin’ knife
                        tries to stab me.

                        two days before that
                        I was killing guys doing
                        hand-to-hand combat
                        in the woods and it was
                        Just reflex:
                        I took my Dad's gun
                        out of my waistband
                        Shot him.
                        The bullet that killed him
                        went through my wife
                        Killed her too.

                        Police came.
                        Arrested me.
                        Said it was self-defense.
                        All charges dropped.

                        I went back to Nam
                        signed up for a
                        third term right after
                        the second finished.
                        So boy, there ain't nuthin' to fuckin'.
                        But when you kill
                        Your best friend in the world
                        The one you could talk to
                        Tell anything to
                        When you lose that
                        That's somethin.’
                        That's really somethin.’

                        Jimmie said,
                        And I thought about it different
                        After that
                        Years later
                        After each of my marriages ended
                        Losing my friend
                        The connection I had to that person
                        The part I missed most

                        Jimmie said,
                        Me and Link
                        became friendly after that.
                        He wasn't afraid of nuthin'.
                        He taught me to be real observant, like.
                        Eight or nine months later
                        we were lying in a field of tall grass
                        on our bellies
                        and I could hear the bullet comin'
                        cause it makes a whizzing noise
                        through all that grass.
                        We both moved back
                        but it caught Link
                        right across the throat
                        a perfect slice
                        Opening him up.

                        Now I'm no medic
                        But I'm good in the field
                        I was tryin' to stopper the blood
                        But I couldn't shut
                        the vein.
                        If ya have a man down in the field
                        There's a hospital
                        15 minutes
                        from wherever you are
                        I got help got him
                        in the chopper
                        trying to hold
                        his neck together
                        C'mon man, hold on
                        You motherfucker.

                        We got him there
                        Doc got him on the table
                        Link looked at me and
                        seems like he decided
                        to give in.
                        Just give in.

                        The doc said
                        You can take your hand
                        away now I tried
                        and couldn't
                        'cause Link's tissue
                        had grown onto my fingers
                        from the field
                        to the hospital
                        like we was
                        part of each other.

                        Tissue grows real
                        real real fast and
                        the doc had to cut us
                        He led me to a sink
                        and made me wash
                        real good
                        with Phisoderm.
                        I can still remember
                        the green bottle
                        with the black lettering.

                        Jimmie said,
                        I always thought Link
                        Wanted a part a him to go with me
                        I reckon.
                        And it kinda sorta did.
                        There ain't nuthin' to fuckin'.
                        There just ain't.

by Contributing Poet:     Lisa del Rosso   Copyright © 2014
      ( First published in   2015 )

Bio:   Lisa del Rosso   originally trained as a classical singer and completed a post-graduate course at LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art), living and performing in London before moving to New York City. Her plays, Clare's Room, and Samaritan, have had Off-Broadway productions and public readings, while St. John, her third play, was a semi-finalist for the 2011 Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights Conference. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Literary Traveler, Serving House Journal, Young Minds Magazine (London, UK), Time Out New York, The Huffington Post, The Neue Rundschau (Germany), Jet Lag Cafe (Germany), Writers on the Job, and One Magazine (London, UK) for whom she writes theatre reviews. She is working on a collection of essays and teaches writing at NYU.

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PAUL HELLWEG   All rights reserved
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