ďBlood Will TellĒ
By Jan and Penny
The Black Hawk helicopter pilotís mixed heritage showed in his blue-gray eyes and olive complexion.† Thick sable hair buzzed short, wide forehead.† His short, straight nose and puckish grin offset high cheekbones and sharp jaw angles.† Slapping his lucky ball-cap on backward, he smiled.† The corners of his mouth deepened into dimples.
Shifting his long legs to reposition the laptop on his knees, he hit REPLY and wiggled broad shoulders against crates at his back.† He chewed a corner of his lip before stocky fingers touched the keyboard again.
Hey, Jenny, we
Scots-Irish-German-Mexican-Arizonan-Canadian-New Yorkers are tough, but
I miss you and the kids so much and some days, Iím not sure how I feel about the war, but Iím always sure how I feel about serving my country.† Itís a way for me to stand for something more.† Understand? I donít like the killing, but thereís always a ďthemĒ and some of us are meant to guard the gates, to stop them from filling our graveyards with us.
Itís something in the marrow, Jen. Iím from a long line of fighting men, not bank tellers.† Soldiering isnít our first choice of career, but when it needs doing, we do it.† Like Dad says, weíre guard-dogs, not lap-dogs.† Designing pretty spaces for people to live and work in is nice, but when Iím flying, med-evac or troop carry, Iím riding on eagleís wings.
I never spent much time in the desert. Dad hated it when I was a kid, and since college, life got in the way.† The sun scalds your brains, sandstorms kick your butt, you measure water in ounces because itís more precious than diamonds.† But when I wake up and see a million miles of sand, I like it.† † †
Half the time
this place looks like a John Wayne western or LíAmour
novel. I expect to see Tyrel Sackett
charging out of a gully, six-shooter blazing, the
whole clan behind him. No strip malls, no glorified corporate conglomerate box
stores, no Burger Mother or Taco Hell, and the land can kill you quicker than Osamaís
buckos, but I watch the sun rise over the dunes and feel my bones sending down
roots. Dad and Mom can have their condo in
writing Aunt Barb and theyíd like us to visit.†
We could stay, if you wanted.†
Thereís enough culture in
I know Dad says Aunt Barb toasted her brains back in the 60ís, and he laughs about that mystic old actor-dude she hangs with. But Iíve been in the desert with her.† Thereís power in the sand and rocks, the bleak mountains and wide open sky.† Years drop away and you feel things, like youíre touching time a hundred or more years ago. When I was little, Barbara used to say I was ďthe living embodiment of a dream that wouldnít dieĒ.† No wonder sheís my favorite aunt.
Anyway, itís no surprise she recognized everyone in your dream, Jen. She talks to them every day.† Itís not odd to her that you smelled horses and dust when you woke up, because she believes dreams are trips to other dimensions. †Chill, okay? She might know what sheís talking about. Once she pointed to a kingsnake, said time isnít linear and we all follow Oroborous, the snake who swallows his tail. Who knows? Maybe in your dream, you walked the path of Oroborous.
Donít call a divorce lawyer and Iím not bucking for a Section 8, but when things get hairy, thereís a presence with me. Believe me, babe, this oneís not God.† Maybe itís my guardian angel, if my guardian angel is a messy old cowboy with a flabby gut and whisky-breath. Thereís a snake rattle on his crappy old black hat and he slaps my back a lot and calls me ay-meego or nef-foo (thatís amigo and nephew for the literate among us. †The dude mispronounces everything.) †In other words, heís nothing like the chick on the stupid show Mom watches, but weíve gotten through some stuff together, so itís okay by me if his English sucks. And since Iíve got the best, prettiest, sexiest woman in the world at home, I donít care what my guardian angel looks like,† As long as he gets us back safely, it donít matter for beans.† ††
Babe, I love you, and itís just five months more. IÖ.
ďHey, Bluejay, saddle up.Ē† A young voice called to him from the darkness.
Duty bellows, Irish Jenny.† Tell the kids Daddy loves them.† Sweet dreams, Sweetheart.
He hit SEND, slapped the computer shut and sprang to his feet, grabbing his flight bag and marching toward the helipad, boots scraping sand. Humming a wordless tune from childhood, he covered the tattered Toronto Blue Jays cap with regulation cammo, tipping the brim as he swung outside for preflight check. Finished and receiving clearance, men loaded, he lifted off.† The loud whapping of blades in the dead of the desert night sounded like hoofbeats.
Feeling weight on his shoulder, he glimpsed a black glove, smelled whiskey, old sweat, and cattle. Penetrating headgear and the din of the aircraft, a gravely voice drawled in his ear, ďWeís too all-fired mean for a bunch Ďa comancheros to kill, Bluejay Boy.Ē
Smiling, Manolo John Cannon Ė ex-ballplayer, architect, husband, father, son, brother, nephew Ė flew high above stark Iraqui desert, singing harmony to ĎBuffalo Galsí.
2005 Jan Lucas and Penny McQueen
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