Story Market Day


Live Free & Die Free.... God Freedom Country....

Jesse to find Doug, Heidi and Emilia which will help.

Thanks for the chapters.



Senior Member
Emilia woke up and the cabin was quiet. Well, mostly quiet. She could hear something in the front of the cabin. She had to investigate. She crept soundlessly out of the borrowed bedroom. Her first stop was to check Doug’s room. She could see him sleeping, the red glow of the LEDs on the Pulse Ox were showing a fluctuating set of numbers. This meant he had a pulse and was breathing. This wasn’t where the sound was. She padded forward, her bare feet soundless on the massive hand scraped plank floorboards.

Coming out of the hallway, she could see her mother sitting at the table, facing the door, away from the hallway. There was a single oil lamp on the table illuminating the scene. As she got nearer, she could see an unopened bottle of scotch and a water glass on the table in front of her mother. Shit! It had been years since she saw such a scene play out. Emilia didn’t know what was triggering this now. Silently she came closer. She could now hear the sobbing she detected from the bedroom. She slipped her hand across her mother shoulder as she got near.

“What’s wrong, Mom?” the worry sharp in her tone. One of her mother’s hands clutched at Emilia’s hand as she sat there.

“Everything, and nothing.”

“I just checked on Doug. He seems to be doing fine, so what’s wrong.” Her mom was being cryptic but she knew she had to try to help.

“I’ve been sitting here thinking about how screwed up everything has been, how I’ve screwed everything up, including you.” Her mother was still crying softly through the words.

“You didn’t screw me up mom! You’ve been a great mom!” Emilia countered.

“Yeah, a great mom. Such a great mom wouldn’t have to be raised and cared for by her daughter. A great mom wouldn’t be so self-conscious she can’t go out in public without covering up like a ****ing vampire. A great mom would have kept her tongue in check and not lost her job and the house. Hell, I’m surprised you didn’t smother me in my sleep for your own good!”

Emilia was stunned. Her first thought was denial and surprise. Her mom was the strongest person she knew. She had pulled them through everything that life threw their way and came out the other side. She reacted the only way she knew how. She started with humor.

“I would have mom, but you were too strong. You kept pushing the pillow away.” Now Emilia could hear some chucking mixed in with the crying. Now she had her attention. Now she could tell her the other part.

“Grandpa told me near the end about how proud he was of you. He knew you had it so hard growing up, just the two of you. He said he had no idea what he was doing as a parent so he couldn’t claim credit for how wonderful you turned out. He was proud of all the things you did as an adult, the hardships you persevered through. He never told me what they were, but he did say I should trust you and stand by you no matter what.” Emilia kind of trailed off at this point. Her mom had stopped crying. She slowly turned in her seat and wrapped Emilia up in an embrace. Emilia finally broke the embrace and sat at the table next to her.

“So, mom what set this off?” A more conversational tone now.

“I went to check on Doug a little bit ago. I figured he was still sleeping so I hadn’t changed clothes yet. He was awake and saw some of the tattoo, which led to questions. I ended up showing him the whole thing.” She was silent for a few moments. “You know why I cover up right?”

“Not really, mom. I just know you do. Shoot, If I looked like you, I’d wear thong bikinis and nothing else!”

Heidi shook her head.

“Trust me, Emma, you aren’t far off from this. You look a lot like I did in Junior High, except taller. Another year and you would match my yearbook picture, as long as we add my ****ed up eye color to you.” She paused again. “Emma, growing up, people would see a ‘pretty’ face and think that was all there was to me. I went in the military, worked my ass off to be the best I could be at my job. Others saw me getting ahead and thought I was sleeping my way to the top. My looks have been used against me all my life. I’m not ashamed of how I look. I am furious at how people treat me because of how I look. I have grown to hide me so people can see ME, not how I look. I’ve also had people judge me for the tattoo on my back. Most don’t understand what it means to me. Hell most of the time I don’t understand what it means to me. I knew what I thought when I got it, I know what I thought when I was in the service, and what it mutated to in me. When I showed it to Doug, it was the first time in many years someone other than you have seen it. I don’t know if I’m ready for what it may change in his thoughts of me. That’s what dredged up a bunch of other stuff.” She wiped her face vigorously and stood.

“Let me go get cleaned up and dressed. I’ll make some breakfast. Go see if Doug is up for some breakfast. We need to get some calories in him.”

Emilia came up to her and gave her a big hug.

“You’re the best mom. Don’t second guess yourself. I wouldn’t want you any different.” Emilia slipped down the hall to Doug’s room.

Heidi stood at the table a minute staring at the unopened bottle of scotch, thinking to herself ‘what did I do to deserve such a great kid? How did I not mess her up?’
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Contributing Member
CCG: It's been almost one year since you started this EPIC with the words: "A little one off put together awhile back-"

A good time, and a fitting point in your novel, to ponder how far you've come; how much your art has grown; how many admirers you've gained; and how many pages you've completed. And the best is yet to come.


Senior Member
Jesse was moving along in the predawn gloom. He was worried for Zed. He knew that man could be a silent and confident hunter on the African plains, but hunting men was a different sort of stalk. He hoped Zed was up to it. How could he ever explain to Marta he let Zed go off and get himself killed? Inexplicably, he thought he heard a laugh from far off in his head. He needed more coffee. He made his mind up. Whether Doug was there or not, he would make some coffee and sit for a few. Late nights worrying about Doug and what to do about these bastards was wearing on him. He wasn’t a twenty-some year old Marine any more.

Jesse crept up and over the ridge line in the winding trail he was using to avoid roads. Looking down at the little bowl the Ranger cabin was in, Jesse thought he saw a wisp of steam or smoke snaking up from the trees around where the cabin would be. It wasn’t very big, and it could be an optical illusion brought on by wishful thinking, but he thought it might be smoke.

He coasted the little fat-wheeled bike down to the compound. Pulling up in front of the main cabin, he thought he could see light glinting out from the storm shutters. He knew he didn’t leave any lights on, and there was no signs of the door having been jimmied or kicked in, so Doug has at least been here. Doug’s truck was nowhere to be seen however. Maybe he has been here and gone back out. If so, he probably left a note. Either way, the boy owes him coffee. Jesse parked the bike and started up the steps towards the door.

“Hey Doug. I hope you have some coffee ready.” The keys jingled in his hands as he found the right one and unlocked the deadbolt and then the knob. The door opened before he was ready for it to, the keys slipping from his grasp as the door swung open. There, framed in the doorway was a ghost!


Karen. A name Jesse couldn’t speak without some pain even thirty plus years after she died in the terrorist bombing of a 747 over Lockerbie. His young wife, Zeds older sister. They were married for only a few years when she died. He could still see her clear as the day he last saw her. After her death, he was a mess. He sleepwalked through life for some time. His career suffered, his life suffered and he couldn’t seem do anything right. Zed was the one who told him one day the he needed to ‘Live for the living, don’t die for the dead’. He finally tried to move forward with his life without her. Not that he ever forgot her. There were still things he couldn’t do. He couldn’t eat ice cream without crying. It was her favorite thing and what they ate on their first date. He also couldn’t watch woman’s gymnastics.

Karen was a collegiate gymnast. He remembered sitting in the bleachers watching her practice for hours. The floor exercise was her favorite and best event. He remembers standing there after practice holding her. She barely came up to the name tapes on his utility uniform when she was barefoot. He used to pick on her by telling her she had to wear heels to reach five foot. He could still remember the feel of her in her tights, the smell of the chalk mixing with the lavender of her shampoo.

Through the open door he saw her trim muscular form silhouetted in the doorway and her voice.


“Karen, how are you here? God! I miss you!”

“I’m not. We will be together soon, but not yet. She will bring you to me in time, but for now, you need to be here. Page will need you.” A cold wind blew through him and he was enveloped by the smell of lavender. Jesse heard his keys hit the porch. A woman’s voice said his name. He looked from where his keys fell to the figure in the door.

“It is Jesse, right?” The voice was different. There was a bit of accent he couldn’t place. She was standing in the door. He could see now the hair was blond, not brunette. She was wearing one of those fancy compression shirts that fit her like Karen’s gymnastic outfits did. She was wearing cargo pants, something Karen wouldn’t wear. She was more a skirt and dress kinda gal. This woman was also taller by two or three inches. He could see how he could have been fooled, however.

Was he fooled? He could still smell lavender.

“Yeah, I’m Jesse. And you are ma’am?”

“I’m Heidi, the new hire. Doug told me a little about you. Come on in.”
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Senior Member
Zed was moving up through the woods. Before dawn, Jesse took off towards Doug’s, leaving Zed to finish his preparations for his scouting jaunt. He stood in the shed for some time staring around at the stuff accumulated over a lifetime living here with Marta. He would touch this item, then that, remembering all the memories connected with each thing. He worked his way to the back of the shed. The large tarp-covered lump in the corner was his goal. Pulling back the tarp revealed the pair of Honda trail bikes the two of them used when they wandered about the park. Marta’s was a teal green, his was more a copper color.

Rolling his out, he gave it a very serious inspection. His very life may depend on the reliability of this little machine. Air for the tires, stabilized fuel into the tank, and disconnecting the solar charger were all part of the process. He had a small, high end knapsack and a compact lightweight sleeping bag for his gear, along with his stubby little sixteen-inch trappers carbine. The thirty-thirty has taken countless deer in his hands and maneuvered in the brush like a dream. If spotted, he would look like a deer hunter rather than an enemy scout.

Zed might not have Jesse’s marine training, but to his way of thinking, he also wasn’t hampered by a Marines way of thinking. This was more in line with some of the bear and cougar hunts Zed did many a time. He would use the machine to get to the right general area, then stalk on foot to see what he could see.

He was barely on his way around sun up when at least part of his mission was completed. He heard the helicopter fly low over the ridge line. He didn’t think he was spotted, but it seemed to confirm they were basing it out of the eastern cabin where Jesse saw it before. To Zed, this was like when you see the first fresh tracks of the cougar in the area you are just scouting, long before the session opens. The real danger is there and not much you can do about it, except be extra vigilant.


Senior Member
Jesse entered the cabin. His mind was still in shock from his vision, or hallucination or whatever it was. Sitting at the large heavy wood table was Doug, looking much worse for wear and a cute young girl who bore a striking resemblance to the woman who opened the door. Jesse couldn’t help it. His eyes kept returning to her. She said her name was Heidi, but he know what he saw and heard at the doorway. Was he losing it?

Doug rose unsteadily to his feet. He began gesturing as he spoke.

“Mr Barnhart, This is Heidi, our new hire Backcountry Ranger and her daughter Emilia. Heidi, Emilia, this is Mr Jesse Barnhart, USMC and Forestry Service, retired.” At the last, Heidi threw her hands in the air theatrically with a flourish.

“Oh God! A Marine! Quick Emilia, go check and see if you brought your crayons! I might have to explain something to him!” Her urgent breathy tone was belied by the smiling look on her face. Jesse grinned and shook his head. He sized her up and down as he spoke.

“Oh she’s a riot, Doug. She reminds me of this little spitfire I had on one of my boarding party teams, only that little girl was about “ he looked up and down again, ‘about an inch or two shorter. Tiny little thing. She was half Vietnamese, half Puerto Rican, all Cajun. She used to carry two straight razors. This was back in the days women were first on the ships. These were her version of protection. I unofficially heard she had to use them once. I was friends with the doc. He said they heloed out two guys who seemed to get in a straight razor fight and cut each other up. Somebody else called it in or they would have bled to death. Neither came back to the ship. It seems they thought they could corner her in an unused part of the ship and have a little fun. Didn’t work out for them. One she gelded, the other never regained use of one of his hands. She left the razors there with them and made it look like they did each other. Not that she told me any of this, but I put it together over time. I had a machinist mate friend make her two more razors.” He looked at Doug and then back to Heidi. “Let’s see. Bad mouthing the Marines, so not a Marine. Hips too skinny to be Navy. Far too pretty to be Army. Two feet too short to walk to shore if the boat sinks, so not Coast Guard. My guess, zoomie all the way.”

Heidi curtsied with a grin.

“Wow, a Marine who can make calculations. Who’d a thunk it?” Heidi’s voice turned serious. “Have a seat, I’ll get more coffee going we need to talk.”
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Senior Member
It was a long process. Jesse, Doug, Heidi and Emilia recounted all the elements leading up to this point. Rage, shock, horror, sadness, the emotions ran the entire spectrum. As each told their part of the story, elements seemed to interlock and expand to show a much bigger picture of events. After a couple lost details were realized, it was decided to start mapping and documenting so everyone had the same info. Heidi volunteered Emilia to be the pivot point for all the info.

“She had a ridiculous eye for detail and organization. With no background, she can make sure we are clear in everything. What do you think?” Heidi asked the group. She turned to Emilia. “Would you be willing to do it? What we need most right now is someone with an anal level of OCD to help us make sense and paint the bigger picture. The tree of us “gesturing around at the others “will get too lost in the weeds.”

Emilia looked at the three adults looking at her, waiting on her decision. She was fourteen, what did she know about organizing a fight against terrorists? Hey, they were wanting her to be a part. They weren’t shoving her in a corner. She could be useful.

“Sure. What do you want me to do?”

Doug went to the desk and retrieved the stack of post-its and some notebooks. Next was getting pens and pencils. All of this went to the middle of the table. He looked at Emilia.

“Emilia. We" he gestured at the rest of them “have a tendency to just spit stuff out. We need to capture and organize these data streams so we can work a plan. Why don’t we start with what everyone knows about what is going on and where. With it on post-it notes, tack it up on the SAR map”. Doug pointed to the topographical map on one wall.” We also need a portable version in a notebook so we can take it over to Zeds and have all the same info safeguarded by having two sets at two locations.”

Jesse was sitting there seeming to listen. In reality, he was watching Heidi. The mannerisms, the voice, all were different from Karen’s. This doesn’t change things in his mind. He saw what he saw and he heard what he heard. Finally his brain caught up to the conversation.

“Ladies, Doug, We know something bad is going on in the park. We know something must be done about it. We can’t because we need a plan. To plan we need info. Let’s build what we have, get with Zed when he gets back for the rest of the information. Then we can figure out what we can do and where. For now we need to brainstorm and get a better picture of what all is going on in the park. Then we take the park back from the crazies. Everyone in agreement?” His gaze swept around the table. No body objected.

As the afternoon wore on, they all worked hard at building a good operational map of the activities.


Senior Member
“Emilia, why don’t you help Doug back to rest for a while? We can’t burn up all his energy at one sitting. Doug, you need to do everything you can to get healthier as soon as possible. As much as it pains me to say it, one Marine can’t do it all. Besides, I need to talk to Heidi for a bit.” Jesse’s voice sounded tired in its own right as he voiced this suggestion.

Doug saw the wisdom in this. He still had to check the drug chart and see what he needed to do maintenance of his electrolytes and such and get more fluid in him. He knew the next period of time would be taxing. He needed to be able to do as much as he could.

Emilia was seeing more of the hidden side of her mother over the past hours. There was a whole different tone and focus. Between her, Doug, and Mr Barnhart, she was furiously writing notes and making diagrams. When Mr Barnhart suggested helping Doug get rested, she was happy to do so. She wanted him to stay on top of things. She didn’t want to have any repeat of the other day. She wouldn’t be disappointed to never do that again. Once again, her mind went back to her mother. What Emilia has seen and done was a tiny drop in the ocean of what her mom has seen and done. Is it any wonder why she was crazy? Her mom earned that shit honestly.

After Doug and Emilia left the room, Jesse went to the counter and scooped up the bottle of scotch and two glasses.

“Come on, Heidi. We need to talk.” Jesse walked out onto the porch. Once he was outside, he set the bottle and glasses on the heavy crossbeam that made up the handrails of the porch. After Heidi walked out to join him, he poured half a glass for each of them. Heidi eyed the glass with some trepidation. Jesse noticed the look.

“Not your brand?”

“The brand isn’t a problem. It’s more about the fact most people don’t like me very much when I drink.” Heidi said as she leaned her elbows on the railing.

“Why? Do you act silly, dance naked, and sloppily proclaim your love for strangers? I promise you, my heart would explode before you got to number four of the seven veils dance. But, I bet that isn’t it.” Jesse stated in a matter of fact tone as he stared out into the yard, his own elbows leaning against the rail. He had one of the tumblers in his hands now. “Which is it? Debby Downer or no filter Nancy?”

“More like Angry Alice or Violent Veronica. How did you know?” Heidi had the other glass in her hands, rolling it between her palms. The heat of her hands were warming the scotch so she could smell the peaty aroma wafting up from it. She too was staring out into the distance.

“Well, we aren’t out here to get tight and wasted. I just felt the need for some lubrication for my words. Besides, I was taught it was impolite to not share, especially with a lady.” Jesse wasn’t sure where to begin with what he wanted to talk about.

“The last time I drank, I destroyed half of my garage. I have been careful to avoid since.” Heidi paused, then continued. “You seem to have stuff you want to talk about. I will listen and drink on one condition. I work on what’s in this glass,” she gestured with the glass in her hands “and you don’t refill it regardless of what I say to the contrary. Deal?”

“Deal.” Jesse was still at a loss for where to begin. His grandfather’s words came back to him. ‘Begin at the beginning.’ “I didn’t want to discuss it in there with the other two around. I don’t know your background much, but I know you have seen a lot of ‘something’.”

“Oh?” Heidi was surprised at this. She figured it must have been the way she laid out data and her suppositions, maybe. “What makes you say that?”

“It’s your eyes.” Jesse began.

Heidi’s head dropped down between her shoulders. Her eyes? There they go again, attracting the wrong sort of attention. The two colors of her eyes were a source of a thousand pick-up lines and cheesy comments. Jesse continued.

“Your eyes show things the others don’t know to see. Your eyes remind me of a Gunnery Sargent I worked for long ago. He spent three tours in a far off jungle doing things he could not describe nor was willing to talk about again. They also remind me of my Grandfathers eyes. He did five first wave hot beach landings in the Pacific during WWII. We never found out until we got a copy of his record to set his uniform right for the funeral. Your eyes, as beautiful and unique as they are, for me carry a look that says a much different message.” Jesse took a sip from his glass.

Heidi didn’t know what to say. This was not what she was expecting when he started talking about her eyes. She looked at the bottom of her glass through the scotch. Jesse continued after his momentary pause.

“Doug mentioned you had OIF experience. That means you are a lot more current than any of my warfare training and experience. My warfighting was anti druggies in South America and Operation Just Cause and Desert Storm. I was too late for Viet Nam and retired by the time all the 9/11 stuff started. Doug has the one real firefight at the store last week, and Zed has killed tons of animals but never any action on a two-way range that I know of.”

Heidi felt the weight of what he was implying start to settle on her shoulders. The next swallow of scotch was larger.

Jesse moved on to the next topic.

“Earlier today when you opened the door, you startled the hell out of me. I feel I need to tell you why.” He reached into his back pocket and pulled out a well-worn and scared leather wallet. Opening it up, Heidi could see the windows in it holding snapshots. Jesse leafed through them. She saw a couple of a young man and wife with a little girl, and one with a female Marine in full dress uniform. Jesse seemed to get to the one he wanted. He pulled it from the window and held it out. It looked like a candid picture taken at an event. There was a woman in a leotard, her hands covered in chalk. She was smiling up at the camera.

“This was my wife Karen. She was a gymnast and built very much like you. When you opened the door and I saw you silhouetted there, I couldn’t help it. My brain thought it was her, not someone else. Sometimes I catch you out of the corner of my eye,” Jesse’s words faltered. Heidi wasn’t sure what to do. After a few minutes of awkward silence, Heidi felt she had to speak.

“How long has she been gone?”

“She was killed by terrorists over Lockerbie in 1988.” Jesse’s voice sounded wet and halting. Another sip of scotch and he continued. “I needed you to know. I didn’t want you to worry or feel strange if every now and then I stare. I didn’t want you to be uncomfortable. I’m not being a dirty old man. I’m seeing ghosts. I didn’t want to go into it with them.” He pointed a thumb over his shoulder. “I don’t think they would understand. More importantly, I didn’t want to talk about it with a bunch of people. However, I figured I owed you an explanation.” Jesse took another long pull from his glass.

Heidi wasn’t sure what to say. She felt she had to say something. Before she knew it, she started talking. She didn’t know where the words came from, but they felt right.

“I can tell you loved her deeply. If my father is right, you will be with her in the end. Love like that can only be delayed, not stopped.”

“Your father sounds like a wise man.”

“He was. I find myself praying for his guidance time and time again. I wish he was here now. He could be much more helpful in many ways than me. If he was, I’m sure God would understand and let him help.”

Jesse got a puzzled look on his face when he looked over to her. She was taking a large swallow of scotch.

“What did your father do that would help now?”

“Well for one, he would be better talking with you about heaven and the afterlife.” She stared at the bottom of her glass for a moment, then out to the mountains in the distance. “He was a minister all my life.”

“Must have been hard growing up the preacher’s daughter”

“Only child of a single parent, who’s parent was the Minister.” Heidi took another slug of scotch.

“Ouch! You must have chaffed and kicked against it a bit growing up.” Jesse was now watching her.

“Oh, yeah. I rebelled in a big way. I carry the results of the rebellion to this day.” Heidi’s tone said in no uncertain terms that topic was closed.

“So he was a preacher. What was the bit about God understanding? God has always allowed his faithful servants to defend their flock. I know the whole Commandments about ‘Thou Shalt not Kill’ but that is the more modern version.” Jesse sounded a little puzzled. Heidi started nodding her head in agreement.

“Yeah, he was a biblical scholar of sorts. The line from the original was more technically ‘Thou Shall Not Murder’ than kill. Look at the monastic warriors from the ages of the Crusades. Fighters committed to defense of the flock. No, it was more about the promise to give up war and preach his word if God saw fit for him to survive his situation. He was once a soldier and was on the losing side of a war.”

Now Jesse was curious but too polite to ask. Heidi could see the question, though.

“Many lifetimes ago, he fought the Communists in an ugly little war. He was one of the Selous Scouts. A real one, not the trumped up ‘White Power” BS or the “mercenary wanabe’. He was just a young man trying to defend his country from the communist–backed invaders.” Jesse was just shaking his head in awe as she told him this.

Heidi continued. “I didn’t find any of this out until we had a long talk when I was on leave from my second assignment. My mother was an American reporter he got to know. They were in love. They got married and he was able to come to the states. She died when I was very young. She had caught a fatal disease while in Africa during a later assignment.” Heidi took another long pull of the scotch in her glass. “So, I was raised by a born again, hard as woodpecker lips, single parent Minister. There’s a recipe for repressed anger issues if I ever saw one.”

She drained her glass. “Tell you what, old man. You back my play and cross-check any of my ‘brilliant’ ideas for common sense, and we will get through this, one way or another.” She didn’t know why she did it, but she turned and gave him a hug, squeezing tight, making him squeak just a little. He wrapped his long arms around her and reciprocated. As he did, his nose was once again filled with the scent of lavender. Probably from her shampoo, but his eyes teared up just the same. Their embrace lasted quite a while, how long neither were sure. Heidi broke the embrace and went inside.

Jesse stood on the porch and sipped the last of the scotch from his glass. It took some time to compose himself. He could hear pots and pans moving around in the kitchen. That’s the daughter we could have had. The thought came to his head from somewhere. He though he knew. His reply was just as strongly thought. ‘I’m sure she would have been as magnificent as Heidi is.’
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Veteran Member
It's heartbreaking to consider how many people are walking around and living successful lives carrying around scars like those. Even more heartbreaking to see those that aren't able to overcome them. Strong people are among us. And your story is telling their story in a way that other people can relate to.

Thank you.


Veteran Member
It took me years to figure out why my dad almost never talked about the war. If you get the time look up the 95th infantry on u tube and see what they got thrown into. Another name is, "The Iron Men of Metz", the German commander of the town gave them that title.

Thank you!

Grouchy Granny

Veteran Member
Thank you - just thank you! From a widow of someone who was in the 173rd AB in VN who would never talk about it. I begin to see more clearly just how painful it was for him.


Senior Member
Thank you - just thank you! From a widow of someone who was in the 173rd AB in VN who would never talk about it. I begin to see more clearly just how painful it was for him.
My Step-Father-in-Law, the wife and I can talk about things that her mother doesn't understand. Rather than be left out, we just don't when she is around. Some time ago, I came up with the best way to explain it. For someone to have gone through some truly horrible things, it is as difficult to talk to someone without a parallel experience as it is to tell a blind man what the color blue smells like. It just doesn't work.

It is hard to describe the feeling you get standing on a hillside, and seeing the debris of things, simple things, like a shoe, or someones wallet, or a piece of a sweater and know they are laying where they were dropped when hundreds of people were herded onto this hillside five years or more ago and gunned down, their bodies left to rot in place. You sometimes get a glimpse of bone or a bit of tarnished jewelry, and think "this was someones prize possession and here it is laying on a hillside." Or to be in the middle of nowhere and be working on someone you know you probably can't save anyway, and feel the life leave them. Words can't do justice and can only mimic the shadow of such things.

The other thing is, part of it, we don't want you to understand. If you understand, that means you feel it too. Most of the time we don't share to protect you from such things. Its not that we are selfish , its that we want to protect others from these things.

Grouchy Granny

Veteran Member
My Step-Father-in-Law, the wife and I can talk about things that her mother doesn't understand. Rather than be left out, we just don't when she is around. Some time ago, I came up with the best way to explain it. For someone to have gone through some truly horrible things, it is as difficult to talk to someone without a parallel experience as it is to tell a blind man what the color blue smells like. It just doesn't work.

It is hard to describe the feeling you get standing on a hillside, and seeing the debris of things, simple things, like a shoe, or someones wallet, or a piece of a sweater and know they are laying where they were dropped when hundreds of people were herded onto this hillside five years or more ago and gunned down, their bodies left to rot in place. You sometimes get a glimpse of bone or a bit of tarnished jewelry, and think "this was someones prize possession and here it is laying on a hillside." Or to be in the middle of nowhere and be working on someone you know you probably can't save anyway, and feel the life leave them. Words can't do justice and can only mimic the shadow of such things.

The other thing is, part of it, we don't want you to understand. If you understand, that means you feel it too. Most of the time we don't share to protect you from such things. Its not that we are selfish , its that we want to protect others from these things.
I saw some of the pictures he brought back.. pretty bad. I also now get why my OS won't talk about most of his time in Afghanistan running around with the special forces (he was 82nd AB) right after 9/11.

Again, thank you so much for all of this story! And for not being afraid to show the good, the bad, and the really ugly.


Resident Spook
Many years ago I showed up at the front door of a WWII/Korea veteran and a friend of my parents in my dress blues, Mare island, Ca. He pulled out two bottles of black jack and told me his tail of fighting across the Pacific. When he passed out I carried him to his bed and he slept the best night he had ever slept. He told me that he had held that all in until that night. Thank you CCG


Senior Member
Emilia was in the kitchen when Heidi came from the porch. Heidi set the glass down on the table, staring at it for more than a few moments before she spoke.

“Emma, can you prowl around and see what we can make for dinner? I’m going to go rinse off and clear my head for a few. OK?”

Emilia looked at her mom. There was a look she only recently saw in her eyes. It was the same look she had when she walked out of the room while Emilia was doing CPR on Doug. It was a look she didn’t understand, but she instinctively was worried for her mother.

“Sure, mom. I’ll see what we can scrounge up. At some point we need to be thinking about groceries. I don’t know where there is more or how we get them.” She watched her mother nod at her words, then walk to the back rooms. A quiet click of the door latch followed by the sound of the shower coming on.


Senior Member
Heidi stood in the bathroom, the cold water cascading down her body. She didn’t want to waste the power to heat the water. She also wanted the cold bite to focus her mind. She was so fractured. The old man had poured half a glass, probably six shots worth. At easily six foot plus and two hundred plus pounds, that was maybe a little impairment for a couple of hours. For Heidi, at maybe a hundred pounds, this was a recipe for being drunk.

Heidi wasn’t a fun drunk. Depending on the mood she was in at the start of drinking, it usually turned into anger or rage. This used to be an amusement to her friends, the first time or two. Anyone who drank with her for any length of time learned to make sure she stayed at the shallow end of the pool. When she got enough in her, and someone set her off, it was like trying to control a spider monkey on acid. There was no reasoning with her, almost no talking her down, and she was a damn good fighter. The only thing going against her was her size.

It was in a drunken brawl that she met her late husband. He wasn’t much larger than her, but he spent many years in martial arts. Not the showy stuff like karate and judo, but in some of the more spiritual and esoteric types. He was usually the calm in the middle of any storm. He seemed to absorb the chaos in a room and bring peace without violence.

She was in the bar with her friends and they were all drunk. Someone started the brawl and Heidi was ready to take on all comers. She had laid out one guy who thought he could pick on the little one. He would probably have an icepack on his groin for a week. She whirled around to see Kevin. He wasn’t standing like he was going to fight, but he was walking towards her and locked eyes with her. She saw this as a challenge.

Her attack was good, well timed and normally quite effective. None of her blows landed. With a few taps to extend her momentum in each attack, Kevin stayed unharmed and maintained the advantage. Not landing anything dialed up Heidi’s temper higher, forcing mistakes to show more and more. Finally, Kevin had maneuvered her to what he was after. He snaked behind her, wrapping her legs with his as he was locking his arm around her neck. No blood and no air, she passed out.

She woke up laying on her back in one of the booths along the wall, well away from the ongoing fight. Her head and shoulders were resting in Kevin's lap, using his thigh as a pillow. She looked up at him, the fuse starting to ignite when what he did seeped through the alcohol. He was looking down at her as she stirred. Placing one arm across her shoulders, he was able to keep her from sitting up. She can still hear his voice as she did that night over the din in the club.

“Ma’am, please don’t get up. I don’t want you to get hurt or in trouble. I’m sure the cops will be here soon. When they ask, we were sitting here the whole time. You weren’t feeling good and laid down. When they leave, I’ll even pay for your cab back to base.” His voice seemed to suck the anger right out of her.

He was good to his word. It all went down as he predicted. He was smooth when he talked to the cops. They seemed to know him and didn’t hassle her at all. He helped her to a cab, paid the driver and gave him instructions where she needed to be dropped off at on base. No attempted kiss or fondle of the thoroughly drunk girl. All gentleman. She had no idea how she got to her dorm room, but she did.

She didn’t get his name or number. She did see him two days later, however. He was one of the NCOs in her flight, but not her section. She was still new enough to the base she hadn’t seen him before. When she recognized him, she turned twelve shades of red. Eventually they struck up a friendship. Being in two different sections, they could progress to more since they were both NCOs.

All of these memories were swirling around in her head as Heidi stood in the shower. She kept trying to reach for the calm she felt when she was with him. She needed to steer clear of all the things to be angry for, and she had so many. It wasn’t working.

She was thinking now. How did she end up in such a position again? Why was she basically in charge? This wasn’t even supposed to be her first day on the job. She was supposed to be going to school and then be the junior person, the one following orders, not the one issuing them. Jesse and Doug. Doug was her new boss, but he wasn’t trained for warfare. Jesse was trained for warfare, circa 1975. That’s how she got here.

She turned off the water. Drying off, she took a long time in front of the mirror combing her hair. She would leave it down for now. It needed to finish drying. Her last thought before she turned away was a plea to her father for his help in the days ahead. This was a followed by a prayer to God for guidance in how to protect Emilia in the coming days. As she turned away, she caught sight of her wings. Another question popped into her head. Is it to be Guardian Angel or Valkyrie in the times to come?