Cry for help?

The garage of the old house was attached, so it was easy for Roger to climb out of the second story window onto its roof. Spud, however, had a bit of trouble with his lack of balance, but eventually they were both laying back on that warm July night, watching stars, satellites, and the odd north/south flying airplane of the Free States.
“You ever think about killing yourself?” Spud broke the long, soft silence.
Roger chuckled, “What, recently?”
“Sure, let’s go with that.”
“Not recently. I used to think that kinda stuff, I guess I even had it in the back of my mind back when I was a soldier. Somedays I really wanted to go out in a blaze, barrels flashing, leaving a good looking widow, all that shit…then Nick was born…then it all changed. I wasn’t just some kid playing soldier and wondering whether he’ll get shot. I just couldn’t play fast and loose anymore, I couldn’t leave Toryn a new mother…and I couldn’t leave Nick without knowing who his Dad was.”
“You have something to fight for,” Will said with a hard, dry chuckle, “I really envy that, you know. Sometimes I think I shoulda fought…”
“Come on Spud, you said it yourself,” Roger was still trying to keep it genial, “if you did go, you’d kill yourself afterwards…”
“I still wanna kill myself now!” Will shouted, his voice echoing over the Wisconsin farmland, “They’re still winning, aren’t they? What difference did it make, huh? Every day I’m alive I feel like I’m letting all those horrible fucks in the world win. It’s like every day, because I can’t spend it righting every wrong in the universe, because I can’t really do anything but just stay alive…is me losing. It’s me saying ‘keep up the good work, boys: keep hating, keep killing, keep running this world into the ground, I salute you!’ I just wanna die so I feel like I could finally get ahead, finally do something constructive. I don’t think the great people kill themselves out of loneliness or lost love or whatever…I think they do it because they see the world as being completely fucked up, and they know that can’t do a damn thing to stop it.”
Another long silence reigned. Roger said nothing. He couldn’t.
“Sometimes,” Will continued, tears running down his face, “I wake up thinking my right foot’s cramping up. My toes hurt like crazy, like they’re crunched into little balls. And I go to stretch ’em out, neutralize the cramp…and then I remember. They aren’t there. Every once in a while I’m walking down the street and I see someone in flip-flops, and it takes me a second to remember I can’t wear ’em anymore. It still doesn’t click all the time, ya know? Just these little things, they never quite get fixed.”
He wiped the tears away on his sleeve, looking down at his feet. Suddenly scowling, he pulled off his right boot and tossed it off the garage. The boot made a soft thud on the grass, and a few more thuds followed as the extra weight in the toe fell out and rolled across the lawn.”
“Fuck,” he hissed, “All I ever wanted was a normal life.”
“Our family doesn’t get normal lives, Spud,” Roger shook his head.
“Yeah, but you got the wife, the kids…”
“Picket fence,” Roger smiled.
“Golden Retriever,” Spud smiled back.
“Two-point-three kids.”
“Barbecues.”
“A Neighbor named…”
“Ned or something.”
“Frank.”
“Ted.”
“How bout Winston?”
“Yeah, Winston.”
“Hey Winston! How’s life?”
“Job’s a hassle, TGIF! You’re making it to the barbecue, right?”
Both dissolved into comfortable chuckles. Both sighed, then there was another silence. Spud broke it again. He felt awful for not letting the topic drop, but it was either this or something worse.
“I’ve gotta do something, Roger.”
“Like what?”
“I’ve gotta do something, make something happen, have an impact. I just can’t keep living these days thinking I’m conceding to all these fucks. I’ve gotta start making some kind of effort. This running shit is tired.”
“All right, sounds good,” Roger nodded, “anything I can do?”
“Actually, yeah,” Spud smiled as he unraveled his entire plan, “You got any radio equipment?”
“Yeah.”
“Just military stuff though, right?”
“Pretty much.”
“How powerful is it?”
“Not bad. Nothing too huge or anything.”
“Do you have any, I dunno, overrides or anything? One regular radio?”
“Nah, that’s all government down in Green Bay. Although…”
“Yes?” Will knew where it was going. He had been a history student after all.
“We’ve got some dinosaur, Cold War stuff rotting in storage down in LaCrosse…”
“Go on,” Will grinned.
“It’s basically a relic, meant to tell everyone if the Russians were bombing. Takes over all the stations on an emergency distress call kinda thing. Of course, everything’s fiber optic, computer based now, so that’s all obsolete.”
“But still workable?”
“As far as I know…wait, did you know about that stuff?”
“Maybe a little.” Will’s grin grew larger.
Roger smiled a little as well.
“You’ll need transport.”
“I’ve always wanted a Jeep.”
“We’ll see what we can get you. When are you leaving?”
“ASAP.”
“Mom won’t be happy.”
“She never is when we leave. You’ll take care of her.” Spud was still grinning. In the face of such well-planned happiness, Roger had no choice.
“I can get you to LaCrosse, get you outfitted. But you’ll never get the signal out of the Free States from here.”
“I know.”
“So you’re ‘leaving’ leaving?”
“I’m thinkin’ of the Bitterroot Valley.”
Roger was taken aback, “That’s on a disputed border, it’s dangerous out there!”
“It’s also full of mountains and little places for me to hide. I may not be able to run and shoot, but I’ve always been a talker, I can put that to work.”
“Always the performer.”
“Nah, that was Dan. He had the teeth. I was always sidekicks.”
“Well,” Roger stood up on the garage roof, “You’re taking the lead now, and I don’t envy you. Gaining attention as a soldier on a battlefield is one thing, you’re basically gonna limp out there with a bullseye on your chest.”
“I can’t be a coward anymore, Roger.”
Roger’s blue eyes flashed just for a moment in the moonlight.
“You never were, little brother.”
He took Spud’s hand and helped him up, at the same time forming a strong handshake.
“To Wild Montana Skies,” Will beamed.
“Wild Montana Skies,” Roger echoed.

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