He knew he had problems and they knew he had problems and everybody was trying to act as if the problems would go away, but it was not that easy, this was not going to go away because it was now rooted deep in him. Anger mixed with hatred, turning inside him like a cement mixer out of control. Hatred into self-punishment. He was looking for a way out to revenge the faults of others on to himself. He was the prisoner at the mercy of an enemy from whom he could never escape, his mind, and all the memories that flooded in like water into a bucket was over-flowing ...... Problems ... he was beyond 'problems' now.
'Into deeper darkness fall those who follow the madness.'
He could hear that voice in his head repeating over and over like an endless tape till he felt he was on a roller-coaster out of control.
Such was the mind of a kid trying to fit in.
He was a slow learner while at school but he made up for it on the sports field and whether on track or the football field you could depend on 'Special Boy' as was the name given to him by his grandmother, to bring home the win and for this reason it was easy for him to be liked by others. He passed out of college in the end with good enough grades and before he knew it enlisted into the Marines and into the Special Unit as it was known. It seemed to be the right place for him to feel more 'special' and what more in life could he want, except to do his sketching and please his tormented father. When he was in school he was in another type of 'Special Unit' for slow learners and it made him feel different from the others so he developed his mind to feel 'Special' and it made him invincible, at least in his own world.
Sean Boyle was the special boy.
His grandmother who doted on him right into his teenage years, until she died from breast cancer, always would say to him no matter what,
'Who's my special boy then'.
When he came home from school or football practice it was the first thing she would say to him,
''Who's my special boy then'.
He needed this affection in his life for it wasn't coming from his mother. She was already lost in herself, and you can forget about his father. His father, also named Sean and also his father before him and for all he knew his father too, a long list of Sean Boyle's back to the year dot. Anyway his 'old man' would always call him a 'sissy boy' even in front of his friends. He was a mean old bastard at the best of times and his wife suffered for it along with the boy. They had no time for their one and only 'special boy' and so the grandmother took him under her wing like a great big mother hen. She would often say to him .....
'Give your father time,
he will come around in time'.....
But he was still a 'sissy boy' to the father.
'Join the Marines, it will make a man out of you',
he would tell him every chance he got to hurt him. He grew up in his own world of confusion that became twisted in his mind at the best of times but at least he could still smile, and besides he had his sketching where his pain could hide on paper. He really wanted to go to Art College, but that was for 'sissy boys' his father would drum into him. No doubt about it he was a bitter man ..... it was hard at the best of times to feel compassion.
The boy tried ... maybe too hard, that he was feeling more of his pain in his failure to reach his father.
His father saw action in Vietnam. Came home with one lung and a head full of shit and shrapnel in his left leg that any closer he was peeing into a bag for the rest of his days. He went out there in 1969 and Jimi Hendrix [whose innovative electric guitar playing greatly influenced the development of rock music at the time and to this day] playing 'Purple Haze' over and over in his head and the Woodstock Music Festival days were still fresh memories. Like all the other boys who went out to Nam, he and he alone was going to put a stop to all this 'commie stuff ' and put 'Purple Haze' into Nam ....... but it was more than 'Haze' than went into Nam. It was an endless flow of tax payers dollars and young men with ideals that came back in body bags, L.I.A. [ lost in action ] or a changed outlook all together, some for the better but mostly bitter 'old men' before their time. His father was no different. Bitter and angry with himself for the things he had to do in the name of freedom. Some how 'Jimi Hendrix' just was not the same and 'Purple Haze' had an orange glow written all over it, just like the Napalm memories in his angry mind that came up like a sun rise.
He would never talk about Vietnam, not to nobody, and so it chewed away inside him like the cancer that killed his mother. His own father he never knew. He died before he was born, drunk driving, he was drunk and he was driving. His mother told the story as if the father was the victim of a drunk driver and so it was he grew up feeling he was victimised by faith in having to get through life without his own father. He too was angry before he was born. The 'chip on the shoulder' was too heavy to carry. As for his son, he was the prize 'sissy boy' in his father's eyes and he could never reached out to him. He wouldn't know how not to even on a good day and so 'Sissy Boy' grew up without the father he so often wished for.
S.B., as he was now called by his buddies in his unit because Eddie his lifelong friend, told everybody that he was a 'Special Boy'. Good with his hands, more than good, he had magic hands and was a stickler for detail and so it was into the Special Unit they enlisted. They joined the Marines on the same day. It was true, S.B. was good at his job. After his training and a couple of times out on tour he made Sargent. Nerves of steel but it was the pain in his head that numbed him from the reality of the real situation. Life was a bitch, and he was enjoying the 'Russian Roulette' game he was playing with his life every time he went out on tour.
Back home after a tour and into the winter S.B. and Eddie were talking about doing another Tour of Duty. They needed to feel the buzz in their so called existence, and they just were not getting it back home. Too many nights of getting drunk, talking 'bull' and feeling on edge most of the time. When S.B. was home from his first tour his old man died. He found him on the back porch sometime after midnight, cigarette still burning in his big hand and Jimi Hendrix doing his thing with 'Purple Haze' in the background. His liver gave in and not before it's time. He was heading that way like a run-away train running out of track, and since the wife died it was all to late for him to try caring anymore.
Standing at the grave side on a wet morning of the funeral, looking down at the coffin now after taking his gaze off his mother's name on the black granite stone, Eddie near by watching over his buddy saw him drop the foolscap sketchbook in on top of the coffin looking dazed .... he could hear him say,
'Something to look at while you are lying there and I hope it chokes you on your way ... son of a bitch'.
As soon as the old man was in the ground and not even cold, S.B. signed up for his Tour of Duty and Eddie was out with him.
Eddie was always there for him.
They were in the 'Gravy Train', the nickname they gave their Hummer. Even though it was early morning it was already hot and the dust was everywhere inside and out, sticking to their skin that it felt like sand-paper rubbing into it. S.B. was riding 'shotgun', his buddies trusted him for his keen observation for detail. He would not let anything pass and besides they could relax when S.B. was on the 'shotgun'. Eddie was in the back of the Hummer cracking jokes as usual. They were bad jokes but the guys didn't mind, it took their mind off the heat and dust. S.B. was feeling different today, he knew it when he woke up before call and he knew it more so now. He wanted to go back to bed and curl into a foetal shape, like the fetus he was when he slept. He was watching the purple haze move across the sky in the distance and it reminded him of his so called father,
'This was not good' ....
he thought to himself when his eye scanning ahead caught something on the road shining in the sunlight. With his clentch fist he banged the 'Gravy Train' on the roof once and it stopped hard on, throwing everybody in the back forward. Automatically everyone piled out from the back on to the dirt road, three to each side of the 'Gravy Train' looking up and down the street and to the roof tops. This was not a drill. This was not a good place to stop for any reason and they knew it, snipers could be anywhere.
They were like sitting ducks on the first day of open season.
Eddie moves up beside S.B., shouting .....
'What did you see bro ?'
all the time watching the roof tops,
'What did you see bro, answer me ?' .....
'I'm not sure, something on the road up ahead' .....
'What do you mean you are not sure, this is not good man, we are boxed in, it's bad news to stop the 'Gravy Train' here' .........
'Put a boot in it Eddie I see it now ... we have got ourselves a device in the middle of the road, it looks like one of those jobs that could go off by mobile phone'.
Eddie turns around and looks up the road,
'Shit, and I thought we were going to have a good day to ourselves, ...... o.k., let's do it, I think it's my turn to 'suit up'.
'No Eddie, I'll go, I need the walk anyway, you owe me one o.k'.
Eddie gives S.B. a quick look,
'Have it your own way but make it quick, we could have more than one storm on our hands soon if we are too long here I don't want it to look like we are baking sand castles', looking in the direction of the haze in the sky and at the same time keeping his eye on the roof tops.
S.B. now suited up was moving of towards the device as if he was on a walk through the park and humming to himself, 'Yankee doodle goes to town riding on a pony'......
Eddie could hear him in his head phones and smiles knowing S.B. was on the job. When S.B. was on the job it got done and everyone came home in one piece in the 'Gravy Train'. Eddie watching his buddies back could still hear 'Yankee doodle' in his head phones as S.B. knelt down to the device and gently moving the dried earth away stops to look up at the haze in the sky coming in fast.
Eddie saw S.B. looking back towards him and going off balance, S.B. would have sworn he saw his old man standing beside Eddie, in full combat gear just like as he was in his Vietnam days. It was not the first time he had seen him on this tour,
'You o.k. buddie, you look like you've seen a ghost'.
S.B. regaining his balance, turned his head back to the device on the road and not answering Eddie started to remove the cover from the device. The wiring looked the same but he still said his prayer ....
'TRY ONCE' and he cuts the blue wire, ........
'TRY TWICE' and he cuts the yellow wire, ........
He was now looking at the white wire for some time and the sweat running down his back irritated him. Eddie could see he had stopped,
'Move it man, .... I have a real bad feeling about this one buddie, we are way too long here ... leave it ... move your butt and get back here now ... that's an order .... S.B. do you copy, move it now ... now ... do you copy ?'.
Watching his father coming towards him down the street in a cloud of dust holding out his sketchbook to him. It was his sketchbook in his hand, S.B. knew his own sketchbook and looking down again at the device he could hear Eddie in his head phones calling to him ... now frantic and started moving quick-step towards him.
S.B. cut the green wire ...
Looking up at his father and the purple haze over his head ....
He then kissed the sky and his father kissed him ...
'scuse me while I kiss the sky ....
Purple haze all in my eyes
Don't know if it's day or nightYou've got me blowin, blowin my mind
Is it tomorrow or just the end of time'?
DAF: Think about writting and publishing a book in a nearer future. Set an age limit, e.g. before I reach 60. I told myself I would write a book when I reach 40 about 20 years ago, and once target was set, I went to study a diploma of creative writing... and ready to go. You are a very good writer, you got the sensitivity and feeling which many other writers lacked.
Thank you J.M.T.T. for your kind words of encouragement ....
hello D.A.F..thanx 4 d story,it made me cried whn i read it as it's a bit bout my life as well,in opposite way..bout me n my mum..if only i can express my feeling like u do..thanx again D.A.F..take care,,God bless u always
Thank you MaL ....
what can I say...
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