I didn’t come back from the war just because I thought you’d be waiting for me. But I did find the enemy and spat in his eye. It surprised him. My spit slinking down his cheek. He had a pistol. He cocked it and placed the barrel against my throat. He sort of chewed his bottom lip before squeezing the trigger. I could taste the bullet move through me. I thought I’d choke on my blood. I slumped to the ground gasping and I’m near certain he kicked twice at my chest before whistling and walking away. I writhed there. I tried timing my pulse. A shadow took everything. I dreamt I’d swallowed myself through a second throat and I dreamt there were hands the size of grown men messing my hair. I woke on a gurney. An up and down motion. Then I was back down my second throat and beneath an umbrella spinning. I woke in a room so bright my white bed sheet burnt my eyes. All around me the stench of dampened gauze. A doctor preached my luck to me. He told me in less capable hands I would have been doomed. He smiled and a full-chested nurse touched his shoulder. I wanted to thank him but my throat was a bruised rage. I was in the hospital for months. I played checkers with an amputee. I had to move his pieces for him. I had to ash his cigarette in a coffee can. I wanted to smoke with him. I still cannot talk right. On my last day in hospital they sang song to me. I tried joining in but my voice was all minced then. I came to your house once. I stood at your door step. I slicked my hair back with thick gel and hid my scar beneath an ascot and wore fancy cologne. I don’t know what I was hoping for. I didn’t even want to talk to you. Maybe I wanted to see what you’d done with yourself or maybe I wanted to see if you’d moved from the house or maybe I wanted to see the color of the man that you took or maybe I wanted to see if you’d carried to term. I got your letter. I’m glad you didn’t come find me. At the park children come to sit at my feet and if they give me a nickel I’ll let them see where they got me. I’ll pull aside my ascot and they can touch where the bullet hit. I don’t think the kids like me. One of them pissed on my shoes once. I pretended it was our kid. The one that we’d made together and then that made it better because that made it worth it. Who would want to live with that? Who would want to be part of that? Who would want to share that with you? Not me. And anyhow my shoes are dry now and I think things are getting better. I’ve got a pocket heavy with nickels and I’ve got place that I’m going to. There’s a song on a radio. I will pretend to sing along with it.
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