Hey dudes! Everyone's favorite Nitram here. I wrote this story a few months ago, and it's my first real attempt at writing anything. I'd love to hear what you guys thought about it. It contains minor crude language, so be warned. I had to bypass the censors a bit >.> Sorry Local
[spoiler:3awole99]James Powell stared deep into his own reflection, and his reflection stared back. His tired eyes showcased the lack of sleep he had gotten in the past few days. He hated going to visit his friends, and was dreading the trip he would be taking today. It’s not that he didn’t like his friends, it’s that somehow he always walked away feeling worse than when he arrived.
A creak from the door frame broke his trance. He glanced to the side of the mirror only to see his wife, Alice. He was so focused on his agenda for the day that he hadn’t even noticed her creep into the room.
“What a surprise.” she said dryly, “You’re visiting your friends in D.C. again.”
“I visit the old gang every other month.” James said with a smile, not taking his eyes off his reflection as he straightened his tie, “You know that.”
“I know, but,” Alice hesitated, as if to think of a way to not to offend him. “you’re always going there, why can’t they ever visit you?”
“It wouldn’t really make sense, would it? Four guys travelling to see one friend? It’s just inconvenient. Besides, they’re city boys. They’d sooner die than come out here and visit the suburban life.”
“Well, then, take me with you! I’ve never met them, not even at our wedding! They were such a big part of your life when you were in the military, so why can’t I meet them?”
James smiled as he thought about his days back with the gang and his time in Vietnam. He was a real joker, always using humor to try to cope with the bad situations they were in. Seeing people smile somehow made him feel better; he would force a smile, even when he didn’t feel like smiling, just to make other people feel more comfortable. When Sergeant Theodore Richard berated the platoon on their first day of training, James had given him the name ‘Sergeant D!ck’.
Sergeant D!ck called James and the gang “The Pretty Boys”, since they were always trying to look their best when they went to meet the local women. James always left out that detail when telling his stories to Alice.
“Maybe another time, it’s much too late to buy a plane ticket now.”
“I’ve heard that excuse before.” Alice said coldly under her breath.
“Besides, your parents are out of town, there would be no one to watch Teddy.”
“Well, maybe he can come, too. He always loves to hear your stories. I bet he would really enjoy himself.”
A quick patter of footsteps sounded through the house. Theodore Powell came running into the bathroom where his parents stood and latched onto his father’s legs. “Can I come, Dad? Please? I wanna hear your friends tell stories! I’ll be good I promise!”
James smiled down at his son and petted his short blonde hair. He decided to name the boy after his old sergeant, he couldn’t think of any better way to honor the man. His views of ol’ D!ck really changed throughout the course of the war. He’s still haunted by the day the brave ba5tard jumped on top of a live grenade to save the platoon. “I know you’d be good, bud. But I think we should wait until you’re a little bit older. The place I’m going isn’t really a kid-friendly place.”
Alice glared at James. “What does that mean?” she asked sternly.
“I beg your pardon?”
“What do you mean, ‘it’s not kid-friendly?’ It’s not like you and the boys are going to some wh0re house, right?”
James hurriedly cupped Teddy’s ears. He didn’t like to get into arguments in front of him. “What? No! I just mean that-“
“How do I know that these guys even exist at all? No one’s ever met them! For all I know you could have a lover in D.C. waiting for you!”
“That’s not true at all!”
“Then why do I never hear from them? No letters, no phone calls!” Tears were streaming down her face. “For nine years we’ve been married and for nine years you’ve been avoiding this subject! Why are you being so secretive?”
“Alice, please,” James pleaded with a smile. “I just need you to trust me.”
“I’ll trust you as soon as you tell me the truth!”
“I’m sorry. You’re just going to have to believe me.”
Alice picked Teddy up and turned away from James. “Don’t you have a flight to catch?”
James sighed, and walked into the bedroom and grabbed his luggage. After hugging Teddy goodbye, he was out the door.
The flight was a bit more turbulent than usual, although it was still a luxury compared to the flights to and from Vietnam. A friendly conversation with the passenger next to him revealed that he too was a Vietnam vet. He and James exchanged stories; his name was Andrew Baker, a lieutenant in the Big Red One. He had defended Vietnam during the Tet Offensive, and was present during the fall of Saigon. He commented that it was great that James had kept in touch with his friends, and added that most of his surviving company either lost touch or committed suicide after the nightmares drove them mad. James gave the man a courteous smile and his condolences. He had tried to suppress those nightmares, but they always managed to pop up around the time he made the trip to see his friends. It is part of the reason why he dislikes the trip; the memories are unshakable, but “Smilin’ Jim” Powell couldn’t show up looking defeated, so he powers through. The plane landed, and they exchanged their goodbyes. James couldn’t help but think of how things might have been different if the lieutenant had been in his platoon. Maybe he wouldn’t have felt like he had lost so much. Surely the Pretty Boys would have taken a shine to him.
James walked to a little flower shop in the city and asked the clerk for four flowers. As she prepared them, she glanced up at James. “You know, I recognize you. You come in here every couple of months and ask for flowers. I hope you don’t mind me asking, but what do you plan on doing with just four flowers?”
James smiled politely. “Oh, I come down to the city every so often and visit my friends. I can’t show up empty handed, you know.”
“Oh, so these are for their wives then?”
James gave an awkward smile.
“That’s so gentlemanly of you! I’m sure they really appreciate it. I sure wish my husband’s friends would do that for me.”
James averted his smile to the ground. Maybe it really is time to bring Alice down to visit. He’ll have to pick up some flowers on his way back home, too, now that he thought about it. He paid and thanked the clerk, and went on his way to their meeting spot.
James pulled up a chair and sat down with a smile. “Well guys, it’s good to see you all again.”
He was welcomed with silence.
“You guys wouldn’t believe it. I met another vet on my flight down here. He says he’s from the Fighting First.” James said with a chuckle. “Walker, I told him about the time you stole someone’s jacket to give to that girl you went on that date with, and it turned out to be Sergeant D!ck’s. He really got a kick out of that!”
Henry Walker did not respond.
“And then, Cooper,” he laughed, “I told him about the time you and Murphy tried sneaking those prostitutes into the camp. You had all the boys riled up, and then they turned out to be scam artists and ran with the money! I swear, the troop was spitting on you two for weeks after that happened.”
Daniel Cooper and Jason Murphy didn’t respond, either.
“And Hughes, remember that time me and you did that comedy routine poking fun of ol’ D!ck? He came barging in shouting ‘You d@mn Pretty Boys’ll be on latrine duty for months!’ But I’ll be damned if he didn’t get a laugh or two out of it!”
Randall Hughes remained silent.
James stared down at the flowers in his hand, and his smile faded. He placed them on the ground, and placed his hand on the big black wall in front of him.
James Powell stared deep into his own reflection, and the Pretty Boys stared back.[/spoiler:3awole99]