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Friday, January 8, 2016

Dealer

I made my way back through the alleys, walking exceedingly slowly. My head was spinning from the discussion. The question I kept coming back to was what do you do when you feel the heat coming around the corner? Do you walk out on everything in 30 seconds flat? Do you hem and haw, regretting that once again you are putting your life and your family on hold for an increasingly dubious mission and end up going anyway? Or do you find a new way in life?
It made me think of my friend, Wyatt. Wyatt was an attack helicopter pilot, he flew the sleek AH-1W Cobra. A few weeks before my deployment, I stopped in to visit him at Camp Pendleton, nestled in the tan velvet hills between San Diego and Los Angeles. I was stationed on another part of the vast base as a forward air controller, or FAC. My job in Afghanistan would be to call in air support for my unit, acting as the liaison between my fellow aviators above and the grunts in the dust and mud, trying to chase the Taliban down without losing their legs or their lives.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Balle

The dance rose and rose to an impossible crescendo.  Hands exploded across strings.  Feet pounded the stage in perfect time. I was dazed by the blur of clapping hands and the whirl of colored costume. It all revolved around the pivot of the woman I’d followed across the city.  It built and built and built until I was almost breathless, completely immersed. Then, with a final fusillade of chords and a closing barrage of stomped feet, it was over.  The audience applauded wildly as the artists somewhat uncomfortably bowed and left the stage. For me, it was unresolved, insufficient.  I caught one last look of her as she glanced over her shoulder and disappeared again through the door.  The lights came up, scattering the dying applause and leaving me empty.
While everyone else fled the lights, leaving in their groups into the comforting darkness of the night, I sat back down at my table and contemplated the remnants of my drink.  At a tap on my shoulder, I looked up to find the room deserted except for waiters stacking chairs.  The hand tapping my shoulder belonged to the guitarist who spoke to me in deep, gravelly Spanish shrouded in cigarette smoke. He could tell I didn’t understand a word so switched to English.  “You come with us,” he said with a smile.  Several others from the show stood behind him.  I don’t think I smiled, but I nodded in agreement and followed them into the dark, flowing with the current of the night.