I don’t want to ruin some ensuing events that I’m sure you’ve never heard of before.
Charlie was waiting for me. He’s my Dad. Colonel Charlie Chastity of the United States Marine Corps, I had not seen him since the last time he came to visit me last summer. I used to go see him but being what some would call “petulant, selfish and ungrateful”, refused, insisting that he take a month off work every year to come see me. Ever wonder if you’re really the center of the world? I do sometimes.
Well, because the Colonel had to sell his car in order to afford to come see me, the only vehicle he had to pick me up in was the tank his base used for training purposes. It was so lame. I was like, “Um…Charlie,,,this tank is like, so, lame, OK?” and the guy was like, “C’mon Stella, the M10 is cool, it’s not just a tank, it’s a tank destroyer, with a barrel overhang of 0.86”
Yeah, like from 1942. Only saw service after the war. Lame. It’s no Volvo
As he helped me up the ladder and down into the cockpit, I resignedly put on my helmet. I didn’t even bother asking him if I could drive, because he was so like that, he’d…duh…totally say no So, up again I went, newest arrival in Spoons, Washington, my head poking out of a hatch, holding onto a .50 caliber anti-aircraft gun for balance. Like, yuk, sooooo embarrassing.
We tried to make awkward conversation as the armored vehicle made it’s way at 30 miles an hour along the interstate to my new, old home. Charlie was never good at small talk, choosing instead to bite into his cigar and mutter things like, “Better dead than Red”, and I, being a sulken adolescent who was unappreciative of everything around me chose to pout instead. Besides, the conversation was made more difficult as my face was being battered by a myriad of flying bugs. Charlie yelled up and offered some field glasses and I was like, “Uh, are you kidding?” This was going to be so uberbad.
And then it started. Charlie’s war stories. The same ones I remember hearing as a kid, when Mom would go out on Friday, not returning until Tuesday and Dad would be all quiet.
"“Stella, In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. They promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no-one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire…”
“Dad”, I whined, “Can’t we just be quiet? I might be 17, but I reserve the right to act like I’m 13, OK?”
“Stella”, said Charlie, spitting a wad of chewing tobacco on the cockpit floor while he lit up another ciagr, as the treads of the A-10 rumbled it’s way past “Uncle Nabob’s Jerky and Ammo.”, while juibilant townsfolk lined the streets waving petite American flags and throwing roses.
“Oh, lord”, I thought, both exasperated, and conscious of using the word Lord in such a manner.