A War Story

So here’s a war story.
A young guy is telling it.
He has been home a week.
He says the men and women
Inside the war call it the beast
And speak of it quietly; no one
Gets cocky in war, that’s for sure,
He says. That’s how you get dead.
Like this one time I was out on patrol
And I got to staring at cars and trucks
For no reason I could tell. It was cold,
You could see your breath, you know,
And there was a car parked up the road
With a little steam coming from the tailpipe
So my brain gets it that the motor is running
But I don’t actually think it, I just sort of see it,
You know? So when I get close to the car and a guy
Jumps out with a weapon I am ready and I drop him.
It happens that fast. It’s your reptile brain or whatever.
It’s hard to explain to people how stuff like that happens.
You get to the point where you don’t hardly think anymore.
I wonder sometimes how I am going to get back to thinking.
Everybody has stories about guys coming back from the beast
And wigging out and going all weird in the woods and all that,
But most of us I bet come back and don’t say anything whatever.
What’s to say? All you can say that’s true is that you made it back.
Brian Doyle

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

It is astonishing to think that God would choose to enter the world this way: as a fragile newborn who could not even hold up his own head without help.
Ginny Kubitz MoyerOctober 20, 2017
Protestors rally to support Temporary Protected Status near the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Sept. 26. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)
Around 200,000 Salvadorans and 57,000 Hondurans have been residing in the United States for more than 15 years under Temporary Protected Status. But that status is set to expire in early 2018.
J.D. Long-GarcíaOctober 20, 2017
At the heart of Anne Frank’s life and witness is a hopeful faith in humanity.
Leo J. O'Donovan, S.J.October 20, 2017
Forensic police work on the main road in Bidnija, Malta, which leads to Daphne Caruana Galizias house, looking for evidence on the blast that killed the journalist as she was leaving her home, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. Caruana Galizia, a harsh critic of Maltese Premier Joseph Muscat, and who reported extensively on corruption on Malta, was killed by a car bomb on Monday. (AP Photo/Rene Rossignaud)
Rarely does the death of a private citizen elicit a formal letter of condolence from the Pope.