With that being said, here's the picture I selected followed by my vision of this man.
Lines. Ain’t that the story of my life? Always been standing in one line or the other, my whole blasted life.
Today I’m stuck in the soup line behind the old lady with rollers sticking out of her hair like pussywillows and tufts of cat hair clinging to her pink housecoat. Always bumped into by the guy waving his hands like he’s conducting at Carnegie Hall while talking three octaves too loudly about politician so-and-so to his buddy. Who cares about the crooks in office? I sure don’t. All those suits ever done is send innocent people to their death while they’re busy signing ridiculous bills and screwing some floozy on the side.
It was a handful of them crooks who gave me the lines above my right eye--my sightin’ eye. The one that saw every last second. I’d poke the cursed thing out if I thought I had the balls to do it. But I lost those as soon as I let that kid die.
He couldn’t have been more than 11 or 12, the age of my little cousin, Ben. They’d sent a kid into the stinking paddy with a rifle bigger than he was. And now the kid was a murderer. His big black eyes grew wide as he watched my buddy crumple, dead before he even hit the mud. Ray--that was my buddy’s name. Had a girl he planned to marry if we ever made it back home, and four younger brothers and sisters to help care for after his Dad passed.
The Vietnamese boy, the enemy, turned his rifle from Ray to me. The spot where my heart should have been. Truth be told, my heart stopped beating a long time ago, when I took my first step on this blood-soaked ground.
“Do it,” I said, opening my arms to expose my chest. “I don’t want to live another day in this hellhole.”
The boy blinked. His finger shook on the trigger. I may as well have been recitin’ the ever-loving Constitution, for all the English he knew.
I pointed at my heart, my fingers in an L-shape. A gun. “Bang!”
The tiniest bump at his throat bobbed as he gulped. He doesn’t want to kill me or he’d have done it already. I wish he’d make up his mind already, or at least run off before something worse happened. But he didn’t.
Another soldier, a guy named Lou, came around the corner and his boots slide in the muck. When he spied poor Ray on the ground, and me and the boy in our stand-off, his rifle locked on the boy with a click.
“Wait!” I don’t know who I was talking to, the kid or Lou. All I know was that I didn’t want to see another river of blood or another broken body.
Lou grunted then fired a round. The boy was too slow. His round eyes focused on mine as he fell to his knees, and then facedown into the muck. I didn’t cry for him, or for dead Ray who wouldn’t get to marry his sweetheart or provide for his family.
Instead, I stand in lines. Lines for food. Lines for shelter. Lines for everything because I’m not free to be me.
Well-dressed women with their manicured nails and little yappy dogs shrink to the other side of sidewalk when I scuffle by. Men in business suits with cell phones attached to their ears tell me to get a job as they plink pennies at my feet. Problem is, no one wants to hire a ghost of a man who jumps every time a hammer strikes a nail or hits the dirt when someone drops a load of wood.
The lines will take me, though. I blend in here among the outcasts, the forgotten, the spooks.