Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Rambo, John J. - A Search for Home

A trail of dead policemen, media whores clamoring for details, zooming helicopters and rumbling trucks maneuvering in logistical support, an expert killer trapped in the hills of Kentucky. It was the perfect storm between a man who liked to push and a man who’d been pushed too far. The winds of fury had momentarily calmed – but only as a prelude to one huge, final gust. Slowly, this dawned on the killer in the cave.
“Dear God, no.”

Words said in a quiet panic.

With all the running, the pain, the frenzy, the fear, the sweat, the reality and the unreality, there had been no time. He had been in survival mode, that twilight strata between life and death, where neither outcome would come as a surprise. None who’d been through such experience ever told of it. Only by being there could it be known. And once having been there, you forever changed. You joined a club whose members could only be recognized by each other.

He’d been on the run before. Desperate times and desperate moments burned into his memory, branding him. He remembered these flashes with an unspoken dread: that only in risking death had he felt alive. There was a certain panic in that: that he never truly lived. He had found a home in hell – but hell was no home. His real home lay elsewhere. Of all the wretched nightmares thrust upon him, his truest terror was the thought of never finding that place.

So he returned to the home he knew. War. But in the war he felt a part of something. A mission, a team, a country. They were backing him, pulling for his survival. If he had died, he would have never died alone. Now the smell of death was upon him once more. And, yes, some of the old feeling came back of living through dying but something had changed. Why should the taste of fear be so different now?

Here, by the flickering fire in a cave, surrounded by a thousand enemies, lost in the strange land of his own country, his hidden fear came home to roost. This dread was new. The circumstances were the same but when he reached out for the old flame, he found…emptiness. Isolation. That’s what it was. It was all on him this time. Oh, dear God, what have I done? It was regret he had felt in the war, buried deep within.

He had never come to terms with it.

So maybe he engineered all this to punish himself. Clinging to the war had been a mistake. There had been no home there. He knew that. He couldn’t face it, but he knew it. Now horror of horrors, he was left with nothing. This was the end. The last illusion stripped away, his heart breaking in bleak darkness. He had so loved the taste of betting his soul and calling himself the master of life. Now the question was answered. A fool he be. And all that was left was to walk the plank.

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