Independence Day in the USA…with all of the celebrations of freedom let us not forget the sacrifices of our military veterans, many of whom are also facing difficult challenges in present day civilian life. I wrote this piece during the first Gulf War and believe it still applies today. Thank God for our freedoms and bless our veterans!
The Fourth of July. A day of freedom.
But where is freedom in America today?
A shaggy haired, unshaven man
in a half-buttoned gray flannel shirt
with the tails drooping over faded blue jeans
steps away from an open window of a meager apartment.
The humidity is high and the heat is sweltering.
Sweat trickles into his eyes and drips from his nose.
He cannot afford air conditioning.
His home is plain, with no wallcoverings;
just old faded paint with water stains showing through.
A frozen dinner tray and a few empty beer cans
obscure a food-stained card table in the corner.
Outside, bottle rockets hiss and pop
across the hazy but starry sky.
He sits on an old green couch
and pushes the empty cylinder of a 44 magnum open.
He slides a hollow point shell into a chamber,
closes the cylinder, and spins it.
Then he places the barrel against his left temple.
Shadows flicker on the walls from the fireworks outside.
He hesitates, and thinks, if it’s an empty chamber
I’ll go to church and beg for forgiveness.
But if I hit the jackpot, I’ll see if God lives or not.
Nobody hears the shot in the dark.
Nobody knows he’s talking to God
one on one.
©1992, 21012 Gentry Avenue Productions. All Rights Reserved.
This Post Has 14 Comments
Oh human life has never been this cheaper….
The thoughts before dying is so powerful and moving…
This is certainly true, Soma. Many people suffer these circumstances everyday and psychological health problems among military personnel are especially higher these days. Who knows what God has in store for life, but love, dignity and healing are always present.
ah if only we would believe that god lives and dies with us…..riveting George, sad and evocative
Excellent point, Shabnam. That’s exactly what people need to keep in the forefront of their thoughts and life.
Man this was rough. I’m a firm believer in afterlife and in God – though not god as espoused by self serving clowns.
Like Shabnam said – sad and evocative.
From a literary point > good one George.
Thanks, Eric. No doubt, a lot of people subjugate God for their own purposes (using the lord’s name in vein). Instead, if we shift our perspective then we see truth and purpose in life.
God hears the pleas for justice. He responds. Keep the faith.
Great points, Elisa!
Powerful description of moments counting like centuries…
Clarity and focus. Thanks, Mira Jay! Peace
Wow, this is truly powerful, George, and paints such a true picture of just how much freedom some don’t have and the choice of life or leaving~we’ve known two people who took their lives, one in his 60’s, the other, 14 years old. Both were horrible tragedies…great writing!
These are definitely tragedies, Lauren, at any age. I’ve also known people who have attempted and/or taken their lives as well as stood by others who suffered the same loss. It is never easy to understand or accept. Yet, for all the painful circumstances in life there is always reason to live. We just need to share a little love!
Hi George…a bit late to WP posts, but I must say I loved/felt this one (sorry, the darker ones are oft my favorite for they bleed truths). You know, as I sat on my little deck on the 4th, hearing the reverb of 3 different burbs fireworks, I couldn’t help but feel for a vet who may have PTSD.
Hi Angela! I can’t help but agree, the darker ones reach another place and without them light would seem different. Many vets are subjected to depths of darkness that most never see and they need support. I hope the person you had in mind is well and getting any necessary help. Sometimes those thoughts become prayers (and actions).