Saturday, July 6, 2013

Boots by Andrew Patterson

Andrew Patterson
Well, what can I say about Andrew? Lots. Namely he can be very naughty minded. I like that about him. On a serious note, even though he jokes around with me A LOT (He says I am one of the highest percentages of interactions with him apparently) he is a very kind person and has reached out in many ways when I am feeling down. It is because of his kind heart and his wry humor that I asked him to be a part of this. I was excited to see what he would do with the item I gave him. (Some writers received pictures, some received items)
What he gave me was not what I expected. I expected humor or a lighthearted story. He gave me a short but poignant piece of writing, heavy in concept and theme. Through his words, I learned a lot about this character and the pain carried. It just shows what a great writer Andrew truly is. I am honored he contributed for me. And I am excited to let you read his work, Boots.

The Memory Project (continued)
"Hey, check these out." Jesse pulled a pair of old combat boots from the suitcase. The boots were well worn, some of the leather soft from constant wear. Jesse grappled with the laces a bit, then took off his own shoes and slipped the boots on. He stood up. "They fit! Nice! I could kick some ass in these. They have steel toes and everything. " He clomped around the room,  the loud echo from his stomp reverberating.  He had a big, goofy grin and looked like he had just tried on his very own glass slipper.
"Okay there, soldier, easy on the floor. You may just stomp hard enough that the whole house will cave in."
"Should I keep them?" Jesse asked.
"No. They're not yours!"
"They're not anyone's anymore, and I don’t think that suitcase is gonna wear 'em."
"But whoever is coming back for the suitcase might." With those simple words, I swallowed hard, remembering the mysterious circumstances that led us to these items. The man, 'D', whoever that was, would be coming back for this suitcase and all of the things in it. "You should take those off. They could be bad karma or something."
"They're boots, Nat, not some object laced with voodoo magic."
"Sometimes, Jess, I think you forget just exactly where we live. It's Louisiana. It very well could be laced with voodoo." I looked at the boots as he took them off, and kicked them toward the open suitcase. Picking one up, I examined a spot on the tip. It was dried and had been there so long, it was now part of the leather. Dark rusty brownish. "Is this…blood?"
I looked up at Jesse as the color drained from my face. I dropped the boot.
(to be continued…)

By Andrew Patterson

These boots are made for walking, and that's just what they'll do
one of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you…

The strains of Nancy Sinatra’s classic float through my head with each step on the dusty road. Each step further from my past. The dead. They dying. The lost souls damned by my hands. One foot in front of the other. Each step bringing up a puff of dust that is instantly lost in the wind. If only the demons of my past were so easy to banish.
Violence. Death. Glory. Guilt. Friends lost and lives ended. We weren’t ready, but they sent us anyway. Lives to feed the machine. Our death’s fueled the engine that drove us onward. We crushed the enemy and bled with each step.
Their cries haunt my dreams. Nightmares of pain and fire. The sharp crack of gun fire and the screaming of incoming shells raining death upon us and enemy alike.
Please, God. Make them stop.
I drop the empty bottle on the side of the road. I don’t even taste it as the fire burned down to my stomach. That burning pit in my body that spawns demons and destroys lives. It used to burn with patriotic flames, now it’s just alcohol and pills.
The doctor said the pills would make the nightmares stop. He said they would help me sleep and keep me calm.
He lied.
They didn’t stop anything. Just made it all worse. My poor wife had to sleep in another room because of my thrashing and screaming.
I hit her once. It was an accident, but I saw the pain and fear in her eyes.  I lashed out. The demon in my soul thirsted for war and violence. I fed it home and peace. It raged.
She waited for me while I was at war. Waited. Cried. Prayed for my safe return.
I came home when others didn’t. I wish I had died out there, alone, and far from friend or succor. It would have kept her from seeing the soulless monstrosity that I became. It wasn’t out of choice, but necessity. Friend became foe and foe became death.
My poor Elizabeth. My poor, sweet Elizabeth. What have I done? I don’t remember. I don’t remember anything but fear, anger, rage. The smell of blood and gunpowder. The smell of death.
They turned me into a killing machine and I killed. I came home and they told me to be a husband and I failed. I couldn’t turn off the monster they had made me. I couldn’t return to the peace of suburban life. Return to a wife who loved  and cherished me. A wife who sacrificed everything for me.
What have I done? Where am I?
I take off my boots, the only remnant of my glory, my life, my dreams, my hope, my love. I had a medal, but I threw it away. It said I was courageous and served my country honorably. I didn’t. I leave these boots as a memento. I hope whoever finds them will understand. I hope they know that I did what I did for God and country. Maybe they’ll forgive me. Maybe she’ll forgive me.
Maybe she’ll be waiting for me in that perfect place.
The gun, no pistol, is heavy in my hand as I walk away from the only tether to my life. I go to meet my brothers-in-arms. The lost and forgotten.
May God have mercy on my soul.

follow Andrew on twitter @M_A_Patterson

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