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Thursday, November 17, 2011

What the word Doc means...

This is a narrative essay I wrote for school. I thought it might be something worth sharing. While it is laced with metaphor and meant to be universal rather then attached to one particular event or person, it is more of a description to those that have never know what the word Doc can and should mean. So enjoy, give me feed back or what ever. To me it also sums up what it means to be alone in the crowd. You are a part of the team, but you are not one of them completely. Something different, valued, but different.

The sun strobes through the tent flap. The dry wind dances around the doorway, it's the only noise in the space. He sits on the edge of the cot, with labored even breaths. Each breath brings a small amount of pain. The smell of sweat is overpowered by the fresh turned earth that makes up the floor of the tent. Fantasies of a hot shower dance through his mind, mingled with much more unclean thoughts of the day. Rows of makeshift beds, line the sides of the medium sized general purpose tent. Each one bares the mark of its owner. Right now he is the only warm body in there. He is not alone though, his thoughts keep him company even when he closes his eyes. They are there like his breath, each one carrying a small touch of pain and excitement. He pauses long enough to gather those thoughts and slow his heart beat.

It was not an hour ago that they had engaged the enemy. All of his boys are still breathing. Granted, two of them were sent on for higher care, but they were still breathing. That is the job in a nut shell. Blood goes round and round and air goes in and out. If something should disrupt that process he made attempts to fix it. Too easy, right? Easy enough if you can look at the job as just that. In the real world you treat strangers. That is not his luxury. In a place like this, those people are your family. It is something more akin to a deeper sense of that word. This is not a family of birth, but a family of rebirth. Treating them with a deeper sense of worry, you can not help but feel their pain. You can't help but worry about their other family. How will their wives, mothers, sisters, brothers, or fathers feel about what you could or could not do for them. He can feel all of that, and all of the concern. 

The sharp tear of the Velcro straps break the silence, as he pulls off layer after layer of gear. The relief of the weight shows as he rolls his shoulders forward and pops his neck with a sharp snap. He sets carefully on the edge of his cot, feeling more weight leave him in relief. He holds his armor in his lap, tracing the straps with a bloody finger. The smell of gun powder lingers in his nose and memory. It burns deep into his mind. It is one of those smells that's impossible to forget. It burns a memory deep into your soul. There is a persistent ringing in his ears, that will fade in time. The blood on his hands and on his uniform can be washed away. Those stains will fade with time. He smiles remembering the simple joy of a washing machine. Those things you take for granted are missed more than his friends right now. Oh how sinful a nice hot bath sounds right now. The warm water breaking up the tight muscles, and washing away all of his concerns. Perhaps he dares to dream of a home cooked meal served on an actual plate, with silverware. The good stuff, the stuff typically reserved for company.

His thoughts move to removing his boots as he drops his vest on the cot behind him. A strange noise follows the deep thud of the vest. It sounds like a few marbles being dropped on a drum. He turns and watches a small ball of lead dance on the surface of the taunt cot. He picks his armor up again thinking those happy thoughts of home. One by one he pulls out the reminders of his mortality, nine in all. The one dancing on the cot could be his daughters prom. The next one a missed marathon. Each one comes out of the armor and all the the things he could have missed come out with them. Nine small holes in the otherwise perfect form of his standard issue body armor. New plates can slide in to replace the damaged ones. The body armor could be used anew. The holes though would be there. Each of these perfect little circles, blackened with rough edges, unnoticed until this moment. His family was fine. It still hurt to take a breath, but his boys were okay.

The blood will wash, the stains will fade. The armor could be cleaned and repaired. What will not fade is a heightened sense of mortality. Nine holes of varied shapes; four in the front, five in the back. Each of those holes corresponding to bruises on his torso. Each of those deep purple marks will fade with time, but the shock will be there, forever. It was then that he noticed nine times death had been cheated. A cats bounty spent in one day. He matched bruise for bruise, noting the anatomy. Two for each lung, one for his heart, one for his liver, once for his diaphragm, and the last his spleen. Nine holes. Anywhere else it would have such a different meaning. Nine holes could be a good game on an executive course. Nine could be a six pack and a half, a hell of dent in a case. Nine bucks could get him into a movie. Nine hours is a solid work day with a full lunch. Nine months and a new life could be brought into the world. Nine pounds could mean another dress size to his wife. Nine hours would be a great nights sleep. So many other things, so many other great things, but these nine holes stared back at him like soulless eyes. Nine lives, not this life though. Not this one life.

The dirt is cleared from his cheeks in even tacks, as a few tears roll down. These are not tears of fear or sadness though. These are not the tears of madness, though it always dances in the back of his mind. It is simple joy in the moment. This simple precious moment. He cheated death nine times nine. Nine on him, and the others he treated. No one paid the ferrymen on his side of the river Styx. It wasn't about death though. It was about that golf course, that twelve pack, that work day, the dress she wore, that baby to be born, that movie to watch. It was about all those things that laid ahead.
Death had not been cheated, life had just been realized. So many little things taken for granted. Those moments lost in the noise were no longer lost. He could see them all, for all their wonder. Those simple things that made him happy, just meant so much more. It was no longer about big brothers politics and vengeance. It was about dry socks. It was not about those moments when their was no bullshit. To him it was about life. He thought for a while as he pulled each of those little balls of lead out. They had more value then gold to him. They paid a toll for him. They opened his eyes. He was richer now then he ever had been. This is a treasure that will not go in a bank, but will always remain in his mind.

He waited for his friends to come back to their humble little home on the far side of the earth. He waited for his family, and was ready to listen to their stories with new ears. He breathed deep, feeling the pain of the bruises. Each one was a reminder he was still alive, or rather he was more alive then he had ever been. Air goes in and out, blood goes round and round. Too easy. Just like life, too damn easy. It was a beautiful thing. Easy enough if you can look at life as just that. Nine holes filled him up, and gave him a whole new way to see this world we live in. He sat the armor down. His boots came off one at a time. He laid down and watched the light dance on the ceiling, waiting for his family to come home, and smiled. 


  1. This is good but I like the previous version of this one a bit better.

    I like your story telling. It seems very vivid to me.

  2. This revision got me an A though. So not complaining. 100 out of 100 actually. So it was everything my English Prof was looking for. I also like the first version better, but you got to make the teacher happy that's trying to put a few useful things in your head after all.