Tag Archives: short story

Rubbish Day (part 1)

Rubbish Day

(part 1)

by Thadd Presley

He watched the Honda in his rear view mirror as it pushed it’s way through traffic and cut it way in front of cars. Every time another car was forced t brake or had to weave into another lane, the two young men inside the offending car laughed. Once, he thought they’d taken it too far when they dove right in front of an old woman and caused her to put her brakes on too hard. The car behind her was too late on the brakes and had to swerve onto the shoulder trying not to hit her. It was all to close for comfort.

When the two men got behind Jerold he was ready for them. He wasn’t a Sunday driver. He loved to drive and he knew how to do it. Cars were one of his life’s passions. Along with his daughter, numbers and maths, cars made his world complete. He especially loved the car he was driving. It wasn’t his only car. It wasn’t even close to his most expensive car, but it was his the one he always dreamed of owning.

Presently, Jerold’s car collection stood at eighteen. Most of them were custom built just for him. But this car was in it’s original condition. It was his cherry and he meant for it to stay that way.

He could have driven any of his cars, but he chose the Porsche because he was on an important mission and the Porsche made him feel like he was in charge.

When the Honda suddenly made it’s move to pass Jerold cut it off. “You shall not pass,” he said to no one and laughed.

The Honda sped up and tried to stay right on his bumper, but it was easy for Jerold to pull away from them.

The games were played back and forth. The Honda would try to pass and Jerold would not let it. They would sped up as if he ram him and then either slow at the last minute or Jerold would leave them in a cloud of black smoke.

Then came a move too close to call and the Honda spun out.

That was enough for Jerold. He slowed to normal speed and put his mind back on the task at hand. He was going to visit his daughter in Crossville and it was going to require a bit of decisive action.

Tears blurred his vision as the anger welled up in him.

Suddenly, the Honda shot around him and it sounded terrible. Jerold looked over to see the passenger holding up both middle fingers. Anger flooded his veins and fire filled his head.

“Fucking punks,” he yelled. “God damn fucking punks.”

The Honda’s driver saw his reaction and laughed.

There was not many cars on highway 27, as Jerold reached over and opened the console between the seats. The cold metal cooled him down a bit. He wasn’t going to let a pair of punks cut him off and get away with it. Not today he wasn’t.

He gunned the Porsche and passed the Honda, flipping them the bird just as they’d done to him. Perhaps they would get cocky and follow him. Fuckers didn’t know what they were in for, though, not today they didn’t. Today they were going to get their fucking reward.

They did exactly as he’d hoped. The Honda quickly caught up and began to follow along, hoping to intimidate him.

After all, why wouldn’t it be intimidating. They were young and he was a middle aged, balding man who probably couldn’t fight worth a piss because his belly was beginning to stand out a bit too far. Also, they out numbered him. But, Jerold McCleary wasn’t afraid. He was not going to be scared of anything anymore. He’d been Mr. Nice Guy for far too long.

Assholes, especially assholes like these two punks were used to pushing people around and expected everyone to cower in fear because that’s what people usually did, had to be taken out. The world had forgotten how to be strong and now it needed someone to step into place and do what everyone else was afraid to do.

Jerold had been thinking of the world and the state it was in for a few days and he was prepared to do what was needed. It was obvious to him that the world needed someone with guts. The world was in desperate need of a pair of balls. There was just no other choice, he had to do what was required and he was more than happy to do it.

It was the only way to make the world a better place. Currently, the world was over run with assholes who were used to getting their own way, creating a life of hell for the average person. Jerold was going to fix his part of the world and kill the stupid bastards that he found. He looked into his rear view mirror.

He didn’t want to become a murderer, but what choice did he have?

By standing up and carrying out this one simple act of charity, the world would quickly become a nice place to live. Just by eliminating the two assholes behind him, everyone would be better off and there would be less trash on the corner of people’s lives.

Jerold was sure the Honda was going following him, so he slowed to a crawling thirty-five miles an hour. Then he put his blinker on and slowly turned into the Outback Steakhouse parking lot.

At 9:00 AM he knew the restaurant parking lot would be deserted.

He slowly pulled around the building, as if he were lost. He didn’t want the punks to think he was leading them to a trap or to tip them to the fact that he was going to stand up for himself.

He pulled to the back of the lot where a big blue garbage dumpster sat next to a smaller black container used for old cooking oil. He began to back up, but the Honda pulled close behind the Porsche, so to block him in, but Jerold knew there would be room to pull out when he finished cleaning up the world.

The two punks didn’t lose any time getting out of there car and Jerold realized they were both men and not teenagers like he’d first thought. The driver stepped out of the car and started toward him.

Jerold also got out of his car and stood to face the man coming toward him. “What’s your fucking problem fat boy,” the driver yelled and looked back to check on his passenger. Sure enough, his buddy was just getting out of the car.

“Two on one?” Jerold asked and pulled the 38 Special out before he could respond. “Alright, we can do that.”

The first bullet entered the driver’s chest, and the passenger ducked.

Jerold watched as he turned to run. Jerold smiled and shot him in the back. He approached the driver to see if he was dead. When the man looked up at Jerold, another round turned his brains into jelly. Jerold finished the whimpering passenger the same way.

He figured there would be cameras trained on the parking lot, but who cared? More important was the fact that two assholes were killed and their earthly stupidity was brought to an end. Why wouldn’t he be thank him and the surveillance footage be used as a training video for people who were tired of living in a world of assholes.

Both the world and everyone in it owed him big time.

Back in his car, he calmed himself by breathing in the smell of leather.

After a moment, he started the car. The perfect purr of the engine reminded him of the reason he left the house. The car reminded him of much more once he thought about it. It reminded him of home, of being safety planted and free of worry, of the power every man should have over his own life. It reminded him of security and freedom all at the same time and it was a great reminder. It brought everything into focus. Where his energy and thought had been diverted onto the two assholes, it was now back on the reason he woke up and got out of bed.

He wasn’t just going for a morning drive. No. Jerold was on a mission. He had left his house nearly two hours earlier and began his journey to Crossville where to he would find his daughter and once and for all make sure she was safe. He’d made this trip before with the same intentions, but that was all in the past when he was trying to be Mr. Nice Guy. Well, this time he was not going to saving her for a day, he was not going to threaten to call the cops. He had only one option now, which would remove the threat from her life permanently.

He gunned the engine and smiled. Then he wiped a tear from his eye and popping the clutch, causing the wheels to squeal and then screech. Black smoke poured from the whirring tires, lifting the car. As if riding on air, it moved around the parked Honda in a perfect, sweeping arc.

The Porsche’s tires then grabbed onto the tarmac, straightening the car so fast it rocked sided to side as it moved forward.

Jerold smiled.

It was a relief to be out of Wartzburg, it was a relief to be rid of two assholes, it was a relief to be on his way to see his daughter.

Daphne.

My Daughter Dearest.

I’m on my way.

A Turn South

A Turn South

by Thadd Presley

“She’s worse, Pa,” Maggie said, coming down from the attic, “she won’t even touch the biscuits and I put jelly on ’em special.”

Of course, I couldn’t help it. When I heard that Angela wouldn’t eat, I started cryin’ and Pa tore off in a tantrum.

After Pa had left Maggie got up and took as if she was goin’ to slap me, sayin’ that I was drivin’ Pa to drinkin’ ag’in and that I needed to quit my cryin’. That made me feel worse than ever because all I ever wanted to do was help.

John came down from Angela’s room then and just looked at us. During the few seconds, where us girls just looked at john, he said, “Call Doc Morgan,” then he looked toward the window. “Tell him she has taken a turn south.”

June, the youngest of us, asked what “a turn south” meant and that made me start cryin’ again, because she was so innocent, but John didn’t answer. We all knew that Angela was gonna die and she would be with Momma in heaven. And although these two thoughts conflicted each other in emotion, they seemed to make the other worse; on the one hand, I felt so bad about Angela and I never wanted her to die, but I also knew she wanted to be with Ma and that she mourned her the most, being as she was Ma’s favorite, but I also didn’t want her to see Ma because that wouldn’t be fair. I also wanted to see Ma. So she couldn’t die, that was it.

John had the phone to his ear and I could see the disappointment in his eyes, and then his face seemed to fall, and I thought is this what the bible meant when it said that Cain’s countenance fell?” Somehow I knew it was right and John’s countenance had just fallen. Then John said, “the doc ain’t home, he’s out on a house-call.”

I thought a moment about praying, because Pa said prayer could make any situation better, but before I could a knock came on the door. Then Pa’s voice called out. “Might as well go on in doc, since as you done come all this way.”

“Thank you.” The doc said, and I heard the door handle turn. I looked toward John to see if he had realized and immediately knew he had. The doc was here. To myself I felt that the prayer was working and I hadn’t even said it yet.

The doc came in and went straight up to see Angela. He nodded at John, on his way, and smiled to us girls, but the smile was only for appearances. It didn’t show any of the doc’s real emotions. I could tell by his eyes and by the way he held is breath that something was bothering him.

He was always so nice, I thought.

Ten minutes after the doc had disappeared up the flight of steps going to the attic, Pa came through the door with a load of split wood. “where’s that quack at?” He bellowed, breathing hard from the chopping. “I got a supper to cook and you girls needs’da finish your outside chores.” He dropped the wood into the box behind the stove. “John?”

“Yes, Pa?”

“Are you going to tell me where the doc is, or do I need to smoke him out myself?”

“Oh,” he looked up the steps. “He’s in with Angela.”

“Bless that man for caring,” he said and looked at the roof. “Bless him for trying. But girls, and you John, you know what he is doing is tampering in God’s business, right? You know he is trying to be the Lord himself.”

I could see John’s mind turning over and over and I felt Pa’s words grow bigger and bigger in the air, just asking for someone to bust them so all the insides could fly out and make everything worse. “Yes, Sir.”

“‘Cause it’s the Lord that determines life and death. Just like before…”

“Before was different, Abe,” the doc said from the stairs, “and I thought you might have learned something from you wife’s,” he seemed to watch Pa, “condition. Why did you wait so long to call me?”

“What I want to know is how you found out?”

The doc finished the three last steps and came into the living room. “My wife heard it at church. During the women’s study group Yvonna asked for everyone to remember the little Ramsey girl. Of course, my wife told me, thinking I should check in.”

“Does she know how me and my family feels about good for nothin’ know-it-all’s meddlin’ in God’s business?”

The doc didn’t answer, he only looked at Pa. Then, he seemed to relax. “No, Abe, she does not,” he paused, “and the reason is this: I don’t think she could understand what you did.”

“Do you think she will understand it this time?”

“I think she would have a hard time believing it.”

“I am still firm in my belief, and I don’t want my daughter taking them elixirs and potions you’re cooking up down in town. You can keep it.”

“Abe, if you would have given your wife only a few doses of that bottle…just a few…” he hung his head. “Do you realize that she would still…”

“The Lord knows what He’sa doin’,” Abe bellowed. “You should know that. You went to school didn’ye?”

The doc looked at us kids, and then back at my father. “Damn you Abraham Ramsey, damn you to hell.”

John shot out of his chair then. “I’m sorry, doc, but they’s won’t be none of that. We don’t swear in this house.”

“Mind the children Shelby,” Pa said, as he stood up, “I’m takin’ this man to his horse and I’ll see to it that he gets down the road.”

“Let me do it Pa,” John said,” grabbing his hat. “I’ll make sure he get’s fer good.”

“Hold on,” the doc called, “now just hold on.” He looked at John. “We need to help your sister first. Now, I took on a hunch and brought the medicine she needs. She should only take two spoons a day until she gets better and then…”

“And then nothin’,” John said. “Now, get outside and on your horse.”

The doc turned and went out the door. His head was low and John was right behind him. “I will not have you deciding God’s fate in my home,” Pa said. “And that’s that. The Lord is something you can trust in.”

“You will live to regret your errors, Abraham, and you will never forgive yourself.” Then quietly, John and the doc walked outside.

I watched as John and the doc were in the window. Pa didn’t pay them any mind. Pa knew that John would get him on his way and that the doc would go easily. His face was turned down and I could see his lips moving. He was praying.

In the window, I saw the doc give John a dark colored bottle and John hid it under his coat. They shook hands and the doc left. Then John came back in.

He sat back down for a while in the living room, but no one said anything for a long time, and then he said, “I’m going to check on Angela.” Then stood up to go upstairs.

“Take that coat off,” Pa called.

“Yes sir,” John said, but walked on up the stairs as if he wasn’t disobeying a direct roder. When he vanished behind Angela’s door, I felt a lot better. I couldn’t help but to think, that if we would have been older and wiser last year, we could have saved our dear Ma.

Count ’em Out

Count’em Out

by Thad Presley

“Get up,” the drill Sergeant ordered, cocking his head at the man on the ground. When he didn’t move, he turned his attention to the platoon. “We have a dead man laying here and all you can do is stand there. You,” he pointed to the Private on the first line, “what did you see?”

“I don’t know Sergeant.” Then, “Nothing Sergeant.”

“You don’t know?”  Like a bolt of lightening, it happened. The drill sergeant hit private Gerard in the stomach with the butt of his M16-A2 service rifle. “Now, what do you know about that?”

The recruit fell to his knees out of breath and looked up at The Ape from the ground and shook his head, “Nothing Sergeant. I didn’t see a thing.”

“And you,” The Ape shouted, looking at the other recruits. “Did any of you see how this forgetful puke lost his weapon and then got killed?”

A thunderclap of voices lifted into the air, “No, Sergeant.”

“And what about Private Gerardo, here? Does anyone know what killed him?”

Again the voices thundered, “No, Sergeant.”

Sergeant Perry was called “The Great Eight Ape” because of rumors he’d received a Section Eight and then got it over ruled by some big wigs way high up in command. The next yer, he returned as an instructor a Ft. Lost in the Woods. Rumors going around said he’d been found eating an Iraqi soldier during the First Iraq War.

Everyone hoped it wasn’t true, but the rumors persisted. All the recruits called him The Ape and although he was an extremely hard instructor many of the men were honored to be under his guidance. It made for great war stories if nothing else.

It was the fifth week of Basic and the platoon was in the middle of Bivouac training where they were learning how to live without luxuries and to keep a camp in working order.

Missouri was known for it’s great expanse of woods, hence the name. The day before was spent on the “old firing range,” which was not supposed to be used but The Ape didn’t care. He usually just trained the men how he saw fit.

During the evening of the night before, the platoon displayed their weapon cleaning skills and made small bets, which involved betting their rations and duties to see who was the fastest. Pvt. Ensign bragged that he could clean his weapon blindfolded and was taken upon the bet by Pvt Greene.

Greene bet Ensign that he couldn’t disassemble, clean, and reassemble his M16 blindfolded. Of course, Ensign took the challenge and bet if he did it blindfolded, then Greene would have to take his Fire Watch for the next week. They both agreed and shook hands.

Everyone watched as Ensign began.

The evenings had become the most exciting time for the men. The drill instructors were starting to lighten up on the recruits. With the dropouts already sent home, the mood was serious but laid back. Ten minutes later, Ensign took off his blindfold and held his clean M16 out to Greene to be inspected. Just as he’d said, he’d taken apart every piece, just as he’d learned the second week in training, and cleaned it.

The day had been fun for everyone and all was well until the next morning when Pvt. Ensign realized his weapon was missing.

The Ape had not taken kindly to the missing rifle and out of frustration began to punish the recruit with exercise. Little did the sergeant know, it was all just a gag orchestrated to make Pvt. Ensign look bad.

After his performance the night before, the platoon got together for a little fun and retribution. No one thought it was a big deal. Practical jokes were played all the time by the men. Two recruits devised a plan to steal Pvt. Ensigns M16 and hide it near the latrine.

It was Corporal Smith and PFC Greene who snagged the weapon. It wasn’t meant to hurt anyone, they just wanted to get back at Ensign for showing off, but things escalated faster than they anticipated and before anyone could say anything. The Ape had swung on Pvt. Ensign.

When Ensign ducked the punch and then a few guys in the platoon laughed, the Ape started to walk away, but turned abruptly and hit him in the stomach with the butt of his rifle. He then quickly brought it up catching him square under the chin. Pvt Ensign fell to the ground and didn’t move.

Everyone knew two other sergeants would show up within the hour to take over the platoon, but that seemed like a million years away.

As Pvt. Ensign laid on the ground, The Ape began to tear into Pvt Gerardo who stood beside him in line.

Growing irritated by the concern on Gerardo’s face, and at Ensign for daring to challenge his authority in front of his men, The Ape raised his weapon and placed the cold steel of the barrel in the center of Gerardo’s forehead. “Do you have a God, son?”

At first, Gerardo couldn’t speak and once he gathered his courage in the face of death, he opened his mouth and the words were interrupted by a stream of puke that erupted from his throat. “Holy mother of Crow, look at this dumb fuck puke on my boots.”

He grabbed the private by the collar and pulled him close.

The private instinctively pulled away from the Sergeant. “You know what you have to do now, don’t you. You’ve got maggot detail.”

Private Gerard knew exactly what the sergeant was going to make him to do and he would have done anything to get the sergeant off his back. But, licking puke off his boots was too far. He couldn’t do it.

“You’re a chicken shit, no brain, puke-eater and it’s time you do something for my Army.”

A wave of anger filled him.

Why won’t anyone help me? One of him and sixty of us, he thought.

No one moved.

Ensign was knocked out. And they did nothing. Reality set in. He wasn’t going to lick the Sergeant’s books.

I’m going to be killed, he thought.

“Do it, puke-eater.”

Gerardo once again gathered his courage. “I have a God, Sergeant.”

“You do? Great. So do I.”

“But,” Gerard was shaking so bad he felt his chin quivering. He had to focus to keep his teeth from clashing together. “I try to do what my God desires of me.”

“Oh, for Crow’s sake, don’t give me that crazy religious nut shit. I can just see it now: Private Jesus Freak sent home on a medical discharge. You trying to act crazy with me, Private? You want to clean my Army up and make us PC and lovely?”

“No, sergeant.”

“I think you do. I think you have a big plan on how you can make my Army a better place. Well, I’ll give you a chance to show me what your worth. You want a nice, pretty, clean Army? Well, you can start by licking Uncle Sam’s boots clean.” The sergeant looked at the other soldiers. “What do you think men?” No one moved a muscle. They didn’t want the man in their face. “If he cleans up the mess he deposited on Uncle Sam’s beautiful pair of boots, maybe we can let him live.”

The private looked down at the boots.

“That’s right maggot. Get to work and you can live to fuck up another day.”

“You won’t shoot me.”

The Ape’s voice lowered to a grumble. “What’s wrong with your ears, Private. Let me tell you in another way. Do it now!”

Private Gerardo held back tears. He fought desperately to hold a straight face. But, it wasn’t going to last long. His emotions were under too much stress. The only way to get this over with was to do it. Just lick the puke up. After all, it was his own. He could do this. He was a soldier. Slowly, he got down on his knees and started to bend over the right boot.

Then, The Ape kicked him in the chest, rattling his head. It hurt so bad that Gerardo thought it broke his sternum. “Do whatever you got to do, private, but get to licking, right now. Them boots better be in parade condition by my count to ten.” He looked at the platoon, “Count ’em Out.”

Slowly the dry tongue of private Gerardo came out of his mouth and stretched toward the black, polished shoe of his sergeant. “One…” The men began in unison,  anticipating the first lick. The Ape, held up his hand and stopped them.

“Come on puke-for-brains, get in there. I want to see you licking that boot the way Jody’s licking your girlfriend’s twat. Clean that Crow-loving boot.”

Then, in a desperate attempt to get out of the situation, he started licking the boot.

“One,” the men counted.

Gerardo just did it, fast, not thinking.

“Two, Three…”

The cooling puke entered his mouth and he swallowed it.

Luckily it was mostly tasteless with a bitter after taste that only barely burned. “You disgust me.” The sergeant yelled, taking a step back and look down on the private as if he was seeing an alien slug for the first time.

“Get on your puke eating feet.” The sergeant was just getting on a good roll. “We have a real, honest to God, puke-eater here. Not in all my time, not in all the holy time of the immaculate Army have we ever had a puke eater in these hallowed ranks.”

The sergeant walked back and forth in front of the men who were still lined up at parade rest. They had been formed up for nearly an hour now and they were all looking for the jeep that would herald the arrival of the two relief sergeants.

“As you all know, we don’t have much time and I need to know what is happening to this world. Terrorists, sympathizers, sleeper-cells, God knows what all. I could say a lot more, but I do not use derogatory names. Because most people are good people. Most people are not puke eating, shit for brains.”

The platoon of sixty men waited to see what the sergeant would do next.

“Let me ask you this. Do you men want a puke-eater watching your back when the chips are down? Do you want him walking the perimeter when you know all he thinks about it slurping puke?”

The men give a sloppy, “No sergeant.”

“You know that this maggot, first thing, is going to run to CO and rat on us. Rat on you!!” The Sergeant let this sink into the heads of the men. “That’s right, he’s not going to tell on me. No, cause he can’t hurt me. He’s going to say ‘THEY let him do it. They made me eat puke.’ Well, lt me ask you this. Can anyone make YOU eat puke?”

There was another, “No, Sergeant,” and this time it had grown in strength.

“Hell, no, they can’t. There ain’t a man in this world that could make ME eat puke. I’d rather die than be a puke eating maggot. But, you were witness to this. You watched as this maggot licked puke and swallowed it. I tell you now, he’ll say to Captain Barrett. Through his sobs, he’ll tell them and swear that YOU let it happen. Both of these numb skulls aren’t worth the time it’s going to take to bury them and yet here we stand wasting the whole day on them. Private Dumbass Number One got himself killed by threatening and then attacking a killing machine known on this base and around the world as Section Eight. That’s right, I know all about my little nickname. But, Private Puke Eater here didn’t learn anything from his battle buddy’s stupid mistakes. He wanted to dance in the mine field. He will now be dealt with in an expedited manner.” The sergeant wait a beat and began again, this time addressing the men eye to eye, one at a time. “But, it’s not ME who will suffer. To be honest, I wouldn’t mind a vacation. It’s YOUR asses that are on the line. Do you want a puke eater lying to the powers that be about your character? Do you want im protecting your six out there when the shit hits the fan?”

“No, sergeant.”

“Then, who wants to do something about it?”

Silence.

“Are you all puke eaters?”

“I’ll do it.” Corporal Hicks, from Knoxville, who the Sergeant called Hicksville, stepped backwards, looked left then right, and ran to the end of his rank and around to the Ape.

“At least we got one set of balls between the fifty-eight recruits standing here.”

“About to be fifty-seven, sergeant,” Hicks said.

A smile formed on The Ape’s face. “Then, get to it, soldier.”

Hick’s wasted no time in attending to his duty. “Turn around, Gerardo.”

“No, shoot him in the gut Private. I want to hear him call for his mommy.”

“Sergeant, this puke eater does not deserve to be shot in the front. He is a coward and should be killed as one.”

“God Damn it, Hicksville, I do the thinking around here. Now do it the way I want you or step back in line.”

“Yes, Sergeant.”

Corporal Hicks shouldered his M16-A2. Then, he lowered the weapon. “I can’t do it, not with him looking at me.”

“Then get back in rank, maggot lover.”

The Corporal Hicks turned and started back into line, but he had a change of heart. “Sergeant, I want to do it. I have to do it.”

“Well, get here and do it this time. We’ve got a day to build and it’s getting late.”

At that moment, a shot rang out and Section Eight the Great Ape dropped to his knees.

The platoon looked at Hicksville as he lowered his weapon. Blood bubbled from The Ape’s mouth, but he still spoke a few last words. “This Army is going to maggots and puke eaters and…” then he slumped and died.

A hush went over the men. It was like the flame in their souls went out. Gerardo dropped to his knees and put his head on the ground. He couldn’t believe he was alive.

Hick’s took the lead. “Everyone get ready and pack up the gear. Gerardo stay with me.”

At this, the men, gave a weak, “Huaa!!”

Hicks called a medic and then put in a call to the MPs so they could come out and process the scene. He spoke to Gerardo after he hung up. “I want you to tell them exactly what happened here.” Gerardo started to talk, but Hicks held up his hand. “Don’t worry about me. I have a God too. I spend most of my time in this Army ignoring my morals, but I couldn’t ignore them today.”

“Thank you.”

“Yeah.”

Minutes later, the two relief sergeant’s pulled up in a jeep along with the driver. They unloaded and began asking questions.

Dear Michael

Dearest Michael,

I hope this letter reaches you. I have so much to be thankful for and everyday is a blessing. But, honestly, I am afraid I’ll not see you again.

I sewed up a deep wound today and this is how it went:

“Please hold still,” I told the patient nervously, knowing that he did not understand what I said. “If you keep moving this will not heal…”

“He does not care to heal.” The words came from an elder who stood behind me, watching me closely. The man wore a mask, as did the young man I operated on, and so far, he has been the only one to speak to me in English. “He only wants to fight once more before he dies.” The man on the table jumped as the needle pressed into his skin, jerking the needle from my hand. “To die on this table will endanger his life in Paradise, to have you touch him has made him unclean, that is why he cannot die. If he dies here he will certainly go to hell.”

“I’m doing the best I can,” I told the man, holding the needle close to ripped flesh, “but if he keeps moving he will certainly die here.”

At this point the man on the table passed out. Maybe from fear of eternal damnation, maybe from the loss of blood. His leader must have thought he died because he hit me with in the stomach with the butt of his rifle. I fell to the floor. Suddenly, angry words came from outside the room.

I hate to be telling you this, but I have to tell someone.

I am now directly in the middle of a holy war, although nothing about it seems holy. I knew where I was going to be before I came here, but I did not tell you the truth. I apologize for that. I told you I would be living in Jerusalem, but that is not where I went. Instead I went to a small town near the Syrian border because they needed doctors.

I am still at the school house, just like I said in my last letter. Remember, I told you about the children who were learning English and Bible scripture? That was true, but the children are no longer here. Only a small, rubble-filled building remains. The entire village has been abandoned.

Before the militants came, we had transformed school room into triage and another into a small operating theater. Doctors from the area came regularly to learn new procedure. As a result, many people were receiving medicine. Only now, it all seems pointless. All of our work has been reduced to smoking remains.

Don’t be mad, I’m so sorry.

We heard the explosions getting closer days ago.  We decided we would all go back to Jerusalem. I wanted to leave so bad and come home to you and the kids, but it all happened so quickly. Before we had a chance to pack, men arrived and began giving us orders. It seemed they only wanted medical attention, when we were taken hostage.

We are now trapped and the leader — I can’t spell his name — killed Steven and Matthew. He cut their heads off while they were still alive. I started crying because they were the only men with us and they beat me.

Now there’s only three women in our group and we are all Christian. It seems our captors have no conscience about what they do to us.  One minute they do not want to look at us, then their hands are all over us doing terrible things. Patricia has been wounded and won’t stop bleeding. I have tried all I can. I’m afraid she will die soon. I am the only surgeon left and I think I will be kept alive, but I do not know how long.

I’m sure this will be my last letter to you, my love. I don’t want you to worry. By the time you get this letter I will either be saved or dead. I need you to know that I am not afraid to die. I feel that I am doing God’s work even when I sew together the enemy’s wounds. I can feel mother’s presence all the time.

Please, give the children my love and tell them that I am with the angels. Tell them I am with grandma. Will you do that?

For now, I just am trying to think of my mother and how we used to stay up late and sew quilts for the homeless. Momma always told me I had the hands of a surgeon. When I graduated and began work at the hospital, she told me I could change the world with God’s guidance. Even now, I believe that is true.

Please dearest Michael, do not mourn me for too long. Your love is so strong and it has been my greatest strength here. Promise me that you will show another your wonderful love.

Yours forever and ever,

Transplant

Transplant

by Thadd Presley

She has no patience. Neither do I for that matter. Except that Love is something for which we all must wait. First, waiting all those long years to grow up, then waiting for that special someone to fall in love with, and if we are adults by this time, we wait respectfully for the divorce to be final, so life can begin. Some of us — some of them, I mean — don’t wait for anything. They uproot and trek to the love they’ve found and try settling, for some it works wonders.  Others, though, have a hard time of it. Like a patient suffering through a nightmarish fever dream, they cast about and say the wildest things, while their body rejects a much needed organ transplant. They can’t seem to hold onto anything in this new life. Everything they touch disappears, absolves itself back into the dream-foam from which they’ve constructed their life. Nothing satisfies these people. Things felt, tasted, and wanted only satisfies to the extent of reminding them that they are not happy. All this happens while the real world ebbs and flows around them, many wonderful things go unnoticed and people they know and have met don’t know what to do or how to help. Many are left wondering what the problem really stems from.  To the outside world, there is no pattern to latch onto: one day everything is good, the next day everything is bad. The ones who care the most often get upset by seeing a friend in such misery, but they go absolutely unnoticed by the one they deem most important. Yeah, some transplants just don’t take. But, she has no patience. Neither do I, for that matter.