Home of the Brave


Image Source: Larry Clark

You ever thought about it? Hah? Ever think you could? You ever think of how easy it would be? Just level your sights, just like you’re hanging a picture on the wall, and then a quick squeeze…easy as taking a shit in the morning, right? Hah?

Yeah, but you couldn’t do it. You got rules and order and structure. I use to have order and structure too. In boot camp. Then they handed me a fuckin’ M-16 and threw me on the front line on the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Me, goddamn eighteen, fresh off a potato farm on Long Island, wasn’t old enough to pick my friggin’ nose right. And there I was, seeing my buddy’s brain explode into mush two feet from where I was just standing. Think you could handle that, tough guy? Yeah?

I humped the boonies and killed all the goddamn Cong I could while all the shit-heels in office today were getting deferments and trying to get laid on campus. Same sleazes that cut my VA benefits after their “Cost Benefit Analysis.” Welcome to the Home of the Brave, right?

Think your goddamn senator knows what it’s like to try to sleep in the shit, ten thousand miles from home, in the kind of heat that makes you feel like you’re suffocating just breathing? And not knowing when or where the next air strike is gonna come in from and who’s going to make it and who isn’t? Nah, they know all about playing records on the hi-fi and smoking dope and getting gonorrhea tests and spending daddy’s money at the mall.

They don’t know shit about me, after I came home through a shower of spit with a bullet in my thigh and the goddamn nightmares that don’t ever stop. You know what I got now?
All I goddamn got in life? I got a beer and a syringe. And a gun. That’s my life. Think you could handle that, you candy-ass punk?

And now I can’t even get a job at a Pizza Hut because they say I ain’t right in the head. Well how right in the head do you think you’d be, tough guy? Think you know how you’d handle it? Nah, you don’t have a clue. Not a damn clue, son.

And you couldn’t pull that hammer back. You couldn’t end it, for anyone else, or for yourself.

But I could…

27 comments
  1. Right. So many who think they’re “tough guys”. Aren’t we all guilty of that.

    • I ain’t no senator’s son… *grin*

  2. You gave me chills. A sad story, well written.

    • Thank you so much! NOTHING is enough for our Vets, but it’s so easy to keep their struggles out-of-sight/out-of-mind.

  3. Chilling is the word. Well done.

    • Thanks, Elena!

  4. The phrase I heard last year, for the first time in a long time, was the simple “He had a bad war.” It’s one of those polite Southern euphemisms that leans heavily on understatement. Your guy here had the worst war. Woof. Great use of voice, Brian.

    • That would be, I believe, the soft explanation. ;O

      • That’s a great way of putting it. Most Southernisms are designed that way.

        Texan and Southern aren’t the same thing, by the way. There’s some language crossover, and then there are sayings and words that are just… Republic of Tejas specific.

      • Congrats on getting your governor back! ;)

      • “Tuna… eggs… cheesecake… tamale….”

      • BAH!!! Naturally streaming video is BLOCKED in the Cube! (They obviously haven’t discovered WordPress yet!) Can’t wait to watch whatever this clip is tonight! :(

      • It’s the BLR (Bad Lip Reading) Soundbite of Rick Perry. It’s hilarious. (And weirdly accurate, especially the one they did of Perry.)

  5. Fantastic piece, Brian.
    Would be nice if there were a middle ground between the subjects anger and political situation…

    • Right? Our system is disgusting. The farther you get from your injury, the worse off you are. On the battlefield you’re immediately triaged and taken care of. Then you’re sent to Ramstein, then you’re home and dumped off at Walter Reid with the rats and exposed wires in the shower. Then you’re discharged and shit out the pipes on your own. So wrong.

  6. Brian,

    You’re such a good writer. That’s why I’ve nominated you for the VBA-Versatile Blogger Award.. Check out my last post for details.

    • Thank you so much!

  7. Brian…my post didn’t come up with my link. http://www.thewritersremedy.com

  8. Well written, emotional, and full of thoughts to ponder. Thanks.

    • I appreciate that, thanks.

  9. That’s powerful and frightening stuff. We are all too far removed from what it means to go to war and come back damaged, in mind and body. We live in a rich country among the walking wounded and we expect that Vets will just assimilate into society as easy as pie. But it’s not happening. This is what America does to decent human beings. It’s tragic.

    • And it’s not a problem if you belive O’Reilly, but it’s a major problem for the rest of the civilized world.

  10. This is a total YES.

    • Yep. ;O

  11. Merilee Mitchell said:

    Query: have you ever written scripts for movies? Or thought about it? Script writing…. because you’re good with dialog. You don’t use too many words, you are concise and get to the point.

    There is a time when I may need someone. To help. With some projects….

    • Let’s talk, shall we? E-mail me (About page)…

  12. Merilee Mitchell said:

    K…

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