Monday, August 10, 2015

How We Remember It

Calling all eastbounds...

Ted sat on the rusted-out former tractor that had languished atop the hill at the western edge of Seneca Farm since 1970.  More accurately, Ted sat on the Washington Post sports section, which he had intelligently placed between the disintegrating machine and himself.  He stared at the railroad tracks, shook his head, and sighed despondently.  A small rock hissed past him and pinged off the far rail of the near track.  He turned with a neck-straining start, knowing whence the projectile had come, but angry at the loss of another ten years of his young life at the hands of his best friend.

"Dammit, Swack!" he protested.

"What's up, loser?"  Brockton Swackhammer stepped out from between two rows of Maryland corn, now nearing seven feet high, and stopped, basking in imagined applause.

"Nothing.  Just contemplating the famous last words of Socrates.  'I drank what?'  Hey - did you bring beer?"

"Don't quote movies at me, dork," Swack admonished. "We're eighteen years old, now.  And no beer.  That dick at Belby's almost called the cops.  I lost my best fake I.D.!"

"Holy shit, dude!  That sucks.  I could've used one - or twelve."

Swack climbed the front of the tractor and sat astride its dusty engine block, facing his friend.  He reached into his jeans pocket.  "Have a Life-Saver, kid.  Wanna talk about it?"

Ted did indeed want to talk about it.  He had spent the past several years spilling his guts to Swack, lamenting one failed date or unrequited crush after another, and somehow, despite his friend's stereotypical jock callousness, it had always made him feel better.  This time, however, the only person with whom he wished to talk about it was Astrid, but as Astrid was sort of dating Swack at the moment, that was out of the question.  So, Ted opted for Plan B.

He tilted his head back to face the weight of the oppressive July evening air. "Swack, do you remember that last night in Santo Domingo?"

Swack stared at Ted for a moment, searching his memory.  "Huh?  Oh, wait.  Yeah.  How could I forget?"

"You could have forgotten.  I've never seen someone drink so much Cuban rum in one day."

"Fair enough - but I remember, and I want 'Inventor of the Mojito' on my tombstone when I die."

Ted rolled his eyes.  "Yes, we know.  We'll take care of it.  But do you remember what the general said to us?"

"You mean the general who was trying to kill us, or the generalissimo?" Brock asked, returning the Life-Savers to his pocket.

"The generalissimo, obviously.  He said no matter what happened, we would be beloved for generations in his country, for what we had done to save the revolution during its darkest hour..."

"He said our pictures would be on their money!" Swack enthused.

"We have to find out if that ever happened, man.  But, do you remember the airport?" Ted asked, turning his head slightly to aim an ear at an approaching eastbound train, rumbling in the distance.

"Oh come on, Ted," Swack groaned.  "I hate this."

"Search your memory, Brockton Swackhammer.  Look in the deepest, darkest corner.  You know.  You remember.  We have to live with it.  It happened, and it's a part of us."

"Don't make it sound like that.  Gross."

"Can you see the guards?  Close your eyes, Swack.  Can you see them?"

Swack mentally rolled his closed eyes.  "Yes, Ted.  I see them.  Now what?"

"They were just kids, man." Ted whispered.  "They were no more than ten or eleven years old.  I mean... what we did..."

Swack jumped to his feet atop the old tractor.  "We did what we had to do!" he insisted. "It was the last plane out!  What choice did we have?  It was us - and the democratic revolution, the very future of San Juan├ęs - or them!  You've got to let it go, man.  Another 24 hours, and the freakin' SOVIETS would have been there, and then God only KNOWS what would have happened."

Ted shook his head.  "There had to have been another way..."

"Dude!  There were lots of other ways, but most of them would have resulted in nuclear winter, or DefCon 1, at best. You're alive.  We're alive.  The world will never know, and that's that.  God, this is exhausting."

"I know, I know.  But I still have the nightmares," Ted sighed.  "Heads up, man.  Train comin'..."

"I know you do, buddy.  I know it.  Just keep living.  'Keep yourself alive.'  Wasn't that the last thing the generalissimo said to us?"

Ted smiled at his lap.  "Yes.  He was nearly drowned out by the growl of those old Pratt and Whitney engines spooling up, but I heard him."

Swack smacked his friend's shoulder.  "Right.  Now let's go get some rocks.  Train's comin'!"

"Keep yourself alive," Ted said.

"Keep yourself alive," Swack affirmed, barely concealing his pride at having kept up with Ted's latest story of lies.  Santo de-what? he thought to himself.

And we're back!  Again!  With the brilliantly-simple prompt of "fib" and/or "lie," from my buds at STUDIO 30 PLUS, I have ever so tentatively returned fingers to keys.  This is the preliminary result.  Hope you like it.


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