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This is a work of fiction. The people are not real. If I name someone and get it right, then I must be psychic. But I don’t know these people, they’re made up. And they are all over eighteen.

I am not combat military. I am ex-Navy. But I wanted to write a bit about a military man for this story. He is ex-military, ex-Navy Seal. It is a work of fiction and there are probably some things I don’t know or say wrong and only military or ex will get it. I will try not to offend you, but hell, it is possible that I will. Please accept this as the genuine appreciation for you that it actually is. Thanks for your service.


My headset clicked twice and I signaled the squad to move. We moved in by the numbers, I was lead for Fire Team Bravo, flanking for Alpha which was flanking the main push. Half the Seal Team was in the field that day with a pair of Platoons in reserve. Our mission was to eliminate the hostiles holding the village and rescue the local resistance’s family members. Our Charlie and Delta were to meet us in the pincer at the enemy motor pool where we were to take out their choppers and armor, a pair of APVs that bristled with machineguns.

We approached the targets. Our snipers took out the two guards. We applied the charges and retreated toward the barracks. Three quick clicks to hold. Then the signal, weapons free, two words on the comms and we rushed the barracks. Fire from the other side of the camp. Twelve quick shots and the barracks is still. Exiting the barracks and under fire. The choppers and APVs go up and chaos is everywhere. The cages are ahead and we get there in time to open fire on the insurgents before they start killing hostages. They return fire. We’re good at our job. They are not.

We take defensive positions as the camp stills. Cages are opened and the hostages extracted. We are rear guard, more action. Three down, carried, as we retreat. There is a whump from a grenade launcher, then another, and the insurgents blow up. Near me, one of the others goes down. I stoop and look, grazed, I lend a shoulder as I fall back and he keeps firing. Then the assault platoons are crossfiring the enemy positions. Suddenly silence falls.

“Movement negative, 3rd to point Zappa for medical then extraction,” came the voice of the LT.

I moved while my charge pointed directions. It was the new guy. SA Marchez. I dropped him at the medics. There were seven injured, one dead. None of the injuries were serious except the dead guy.

I’ve been doing this too long. My eyes scan for another target, another chance to open fire, to feel more of something. I feel the chaos, the dark, the unknown. It is a combination of desire and revulsion, but it lets me know I am still alive. We extract and return to base, then the plane and we are on the way home. Two hours from action to plane. I still feel the burn, the urge, the readiness, everyone I talk to calls it something different. Six months ago I made the decision and now, this trip home was my last. My retirement was impending. Short timer syndrome, ten days and I’d be a civilian again. Thirty years goes by so fast. Now at 48, I was one of the oldest of the active field ratings in the Seals.

The L.T. sat down next to me, “Senior Chief,” he greeted me and leaned back against the bulkhead as he lightly buckled his seatbelt. “That was a good op, only two lost compared to the thirty we saved. It was well executed.”

I grunted an affirmative, my mind still swirling around the action and the need for more. He reached in a pocket and pulled out a set of paperwork then handed it to me. “What’s this?” I asked.

“There are two things there,” he said, “First, your orders to report to San Diego NTC to muster out. Second, your promotion papers for Master Chief.”

I looked over at him. There wasn’t room for another Master Chief in the Seals, which meant either someone died, retired, or they were giving it to me for my retirement. Whichever answer was fine with me right then, though I was hoping it was not a death. I knew the Master Chiefs, one and all. I didn’t wish for any of them to die, though it happens in this line of work. I suppose Walker might have retired, he’d been threatening it for a while now as he approached sixty and forty years in service. I looked over at the Lieutenant.

“We’re going to miss you, Chief,” he said, “Our unit has the lowest casualty rate of Special Forces units in the service. We all blame you for it.”

The rest of the flight was quiet and I sat, waiting for the attack that didn’t come.


A little over two weeks later, I drove into my country home near the Washington Idaho border between Cusick, Loon Lake and Newport just outside of Cusick. The property had been in my family for quite a long time and as the only surviving member of my generation, it had fallen to me. It wasn’t a huge piece of property, only twenty acres, but it was up against a national forest and was off the beaten path. That was fine with me, I needed some Ankara bayan escort quiet and hopefully, some peace.

I parked in my garage. It was a two and a half car garage and, when my dad was alive, it had a pair of snowmobiles and a small four wheel ATV for plowing the road. The ATV was still there and the plow attachment, though the snowmobiles had gone years ago. The other thing in the garage was my dad’s old project car. he loved old cars and had a different one he worked on every several years. This one, a 1960 Thunderbird, was the latest he’d purchased, but he’d never gotten to work on it. Here it sat, ten years later, still in the crappy shape in which it came. I recall fondly the hours I spent as an early teen, working on the cars with my dad and learning to do what needed to be done. We didn’t talk a lot, but what talking we did was important, at least to me. It was my time with him. I hoped to be able to follow in his footsteps and work old cars as well. We’d see.

I moved to the house, duffel over my shoulder and my gun bag in hand. The house was supposed to be all ready for me. The person I had taking care of the place hired someone to come get the inside ready for living. Moving into the place, I could see they’d cleaned it up pretty well. There was a scent in the air, some kind of lemony flavor, probably furniture polish, and in the kitchen and bathroom, I could smell PineSol. I dropped the duffel in the master bedroom and pulled my toiletries and set the bag in the bathroom. I went to the kitchen and looked around. In my mind’s eye, I could see my mother bustling through the kitchen, her slight form frying something or bent over putting something in the oven. I could almost smell the molasses cookies in the oven. She’d passed not long before dad, gone now about twelve years.

I heard a vehicle drive into the yard and moved to the window. It was a Jeep, standard model, I think they call a Wrangler, but it was older. Inside there were two people, a child and what appeared to be a young woman. I went to the door and saw the rack where my dad’s Winchester always sat, empty. I’d have to fill that.

I moved out to the porch as the woman moved to the back of the vehicle and grabbed a couple bags. She noticed me and looked my way. I caught my breath, it looked like Mary, one of my High School sweethearts, the one that broke my heart and got away, but older, perhaps in her late twenties. “You could come help if you were of a mind to do so,” she said and I trudged over. The young boy in the seat looked at me as I walked passed, curiosity etched on his face beneath his light brown hair.

“Hi,” I said, “I’m Sergeant…”

“You’re Jack, right?” she said at the same time. “I’m Mona, I was hired to get the place ready for you. But you’re a day early.” she stuck out her hand and shook mine. “Um, yeah, my mom said you were something to look at. My mom is Mary Peters, well, Brown now.”

“Oh good, I thought I was seeing a ghost for a minute,” I said, “You are the spitting image of Mary.” I started grabbing what looked like groceries and some cleaning supplies. We got them into the house with just a single trip and she started putting them in the cupboard and the cleaning stuff below the sink. “Are you going to just leave him in the car?”

“Oh, no. Mica is pouting a bit. He wanted to swim in the creek this summer,” she said, “with you home, I told him that was unlikely. My uncle Ned is your caretaker.”

“Ned Peters, I didn’t put that together,” I said.

She smiled before turning away. She was very pretty, especially when she smiled. Her blond hair and blue eyes were killers. She was thin, but in a muscular way, with a graceful way of moving. “We’ve been coming up and helping Uncle Ned for three summers now, since my no good husband traded me in for a new model.”

I have a tendency to be somewhat blunt at times, “So, what did he go find, a High School student?” I asked.

She stopped, looked over at me and started laughing. After a moment, she stopped and said, “No, but it was damn close. The young girl was just out of High School for less than three months. They ran off together after he had me served with the divorce papers. I moved in with Uncle Ned and Aunt Dina, along with Mica. Truthfully, it was better after that. I got a job and we live better now than we did before he left.”

I was a bit uncomfortable, not because of the subject, but because I don’t do civilian very well. I’ve been with quite a few women over the years, but they were either camp followers or Navy women. So, I put my foot back in my mouth, “Well, if you two wanted to come out and use the creek over the summer, I wouldn’t have a problem with that.”

She stopped and looked at me, then seemed to just stare for a minute, “I don’t know. I know you just came from war zones. They say you’ve been in more war zones than most veterans. I really don’t know a lot about PTSD or even if you might have it. And I will have to replace the income that I was getting working here.”

I nodded and looked grim for a minute, Escort bayan Ankara “I get it. I have seen a lot of action in the past fifteen years since 9/11. And I saw a bit before that as well. I don’t know if I have any PTSD either, though I’d say I’d be a fool to discount it.” I stopped as well then made a snap decision. “I’ve been away for thirty years. I’m not sure I know what it takes to keep this place up. I think it would be very helpful if I had someone that knows the ropes help me get my feet wet. I can keep you on for a year and we’ll see how it shakes out after that if you like.”

“I was coming out about twenty hours a week to work and another ten or so to use the creek,” she said with a grin. “If that is something you can live with, I would love the opportunity to continue. And I think Mica would love it as well.”

“So, Uncle Ned hasn’t been coming?” I asked.

“No,” she said with a shrug, “This past year he’s been a bit sick. I’ve been doing it all.”

I nodded and she smiled again. Her face lit up like a beacon when she did that. It might be a problem, but we’d just have to see. “I was hoping to replace the horses too, since I probably won’t do the snowmobiles. Do you know horses?”

“My dad kept horses,” she said, “He died and mom, well, she’s in a care facility. They were in a plane crash and her body doesn’t work right.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” I said, “I should probably eat something. Are you going to let Mica out of the car now?”

“I tell you what,” she said, “You go and tell him. I’ll make us all some lunch while he plays. Tell, him he has a half hour.”

“Okay,” I said and moved toward the door. “Um, one thing. I have guns. I will have one by the door and the rest in the gun cabinet, and I’ll probably wear my M9. I just don’t feel comfortable without one nearby yet. I hope that’s not a problem.”

“No, but I expect you to share gun safety with Mica if there is one within reach,” she said, “Ned doesn’t have any guns in his house.”

“I can do that,” I said, “Every young person should know about guns. Have you ever taken gun safety?”

“No, but…” she started, but stopped when I held up my hand.

“There are no buts,” I said, “I will teach you both. Then if he has questions, you will have learned it as well.”

“Okay,” she said with a look of doubt on her face.

I walked out to the Jeep and looked in at Mica. “Hello, sir,” he said, “Are you the soldier?”

“I am Master Chief Jack Pollard, US Navy Retired,” I said and stuck out my hand. He looked at me and put his little hand in mine.

“I’m Mica Peters,” he said as I shook his hand.

“Your mom wants you to know that lunch will be ready in half an hour,” I said. “I understand you like the creek. Can you show me?”

“Don’t you live here, sir?” he asked as he started to climb out of the Jeep.

“I do, and please don’t call me sir. I’m Jack or Chief if you want,” I said. “And it has been thirty years since I’ve been back to live here.”

“Wow, almost as long as my mom is old,” he said.

“How old are you Mica?” I asked as we walked toward the creek.

“I’m ten, Chief,” he said, “So, you don’t look like a Native.”

I laughed and said, “Not that kind of chief, Mica. In the Navy, they don’t call you a Sergeant, they call you a Petty Officer.” I squatted near some bare dirt and pulled out my combat knife. I scratched a pair of short lines slanted up from left to right. “This is a Seaman Apprentice,” then I added a line, “and this is a Seaman.” Then I scrubbed them out. “For Petty Officers, we get a chevron like this,” I made a stretched out V, then followed by adding another beneath it, then a third as I said. “One chevron is a Petty Officer 3rd Class, then 2nd Class and 1st Class. Now above them is an eagle, but I don’t draw that well, so, this will be the eagle.” I drew a stick eagle that really didn’t look like one. I drew in the rocker and said, “The next rating is a Chief Petty Officer, then a Senior Chief Petty Officer and finally, my rating, a Master Chief Petty Officer. The stars tell you what kind of CPO you the person is. One star is Senior, two is Master.”

“I get it,” he said and continued, “Thanks Chief.”

We walked to the creek and I could see the bend was still clear of reeds. We’d dug it out when I was a boy, then set up a rope swing. The tree was still there, the roots still almost a ladder for a boy to climb up and swing again. But the rope was broken and hung from above. Mica showed me the spot where he jumped. He and his friends, his words, would run and leap out as far as they could. He was very excited about the spot and I sat down with him and pointed out the bank off to the right.

“You see that area where the bank almost hangs over the water?” I asked, and he nodded, “Well, because it is shaded in the heat of the day, a lot of fish will rest there. Around about six o’clock in the spring time, like now, you can drop a hook in there and pull in the big ones. I caught an eighteen inch German brown in there one year. Bayan escort Ankara Have you ever tried fishing here?”

“No, I’ve never been fishing,” he said.

“Well, maybe we can change that,” I said, “I’ll talk to your mom.”

I was a bit surprised at myself around that time and we started wandering back to the house. Mica ran around a bit, probably burning off some energy, and got there first. I wondered where my head was, offering Mona a job and Mica fishing. It was strange. I guess I was always a teacher. I kept my boys alive by teaching them how to do it right.

“Lunch is ready,” Mona said as I reached the house, “He wasn’t a bother was he?”

I smiled and shook my head, “Not at all. He is very well behaved.”

Lunch consisted of beans, some canned mixed fruit and sandwiches. Mica kept up a steady stream of questions about everything under that sun, keeping Mona from eating. She patiently answered the questions until I stopped the proceedings.

“Mica,” I said and he turned to look at me, “while we’re at the table eating, we don’t talk constantly. Your mom hasn’t gotten to eat and you are almost done. So, after the meal, you ask the questions while you help cleaning up. Before the meal you ask. During the meal, you eat, you listen, you pay attention.” I softened what I said with a smile and a pat on his hand and went back to eating.

“Okay, Chief,” he said and went back to eating himself. Then he finished and asked to be excused. His mom was about to say yes but I jumped in.

“Not yet,” I said, “You can scrape your plate and put it on the counter, but then you sit back down. When we are all finished, there might be more, like a dessert or something else, and you and I have to clean up.”

“Clean up?” he said.

“Sure, your mom made the meal, right?” I asked and he nodded, “Well, it is only right if we clean up since she made it. Everyone helps, everyone supports, everyone lives better. I used to teach that to all my men, even the officers.” He looked at me and appeared close to rebellion, but then nodded and sat back in the chair. I smiled when he accepted it and said, “Good man.”

Mona was eating with a little smile on her face. When I looked at her I winked the eye that Mica could not see and went back to eating. I watched Mica and he really worked hard at settling, but he had the exuberance and energy of youth working against him. He kept glancing at the clock above the sink and counting the time.

We finished eating and I took Mona’s and my plate then scraped them and set them in the sink with Mica’s. I pulled the stool out from the cabinet beneath the sink and showed Mica how to draw the water to wash, how much soap and water to use and we washed the dishes quickly and set them in the drying rack. Then I had him grab the bag of trash and we carried it out to the garbage can. Mona was standing near the door as we finished.

“We need to get going,” she said, “School tomorrow and Uncle Ned will want to hear how it went.” she looked over at me as Mica headed to the Jeep. “I don’t usually come on weekends or on Monday. But the PTA is not meeting until late August, so my Monday’s are free. Would you, um, like to come over for dinner tomorrow night? I know Uncle Ned and Aunt Dina would like to see you.”

“Well, I am not sure how much running I’ll be doing tomorrow, but I think I’d like that,” I said, “If I am real tired, it might be a short evening.”

“Oh, no worries there,” she said, “Mica goes to bed early and so do Ned and Dina. If you need to leave early, that’s okay.”

“Thanks for everything, Mona,” I said, “I appreciate the food and the company.”

She smiled, “Okay, well, I better get him home. I’ll see you tomorrow at about 5:30, okay?”

“I’ll see you then,” I said and she handed me a torn off piece of paper with the address on it. It was down on 1st Avenue in Cusick. Then she walked away and was gone.

I watched the red Jeep until it was out of sight. Then I went in the house and showered and changed into fresh jeans, a long sleeve shirt and my better combat boots. I strapped my combat knife to my leg and slipped my belt holster and M9 in my belt with an extra clip, donned a jean jacket and my military cover with the Master Chief rocker pin on the crown and I headed in to Newport. It was the largest place around and they wouldn’t know me, well, maybe a few might, but I doubted it.

It was midafternoon on a Sunday and not many people were out and about. There was a little bar with a trio of pool tables that I’d visited the last time I was in the area, about ten years earlier when I came for my dad’s funeral. I went there. It was still open though the inside had changed some. They still had the three pool tables and I ordered a beer and went to the tables and started reminding myself how to play on the empty. At one point, I had been quite good and, after three racks, I started to get back in the swing. I found my strength and touch were a bit off, though my ball placement was fair. There was a big man that came round and looked me over. Without the jean jacket, my gun was in plain sight. He took off his sport coat and showed he was carrying as well, but he had a detective badge on his belt. He stuck a quarter under the bumper and waited for me to finish the fourth rack.

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