Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer

I’m surprised you decided to come out here. No, no – I’m happy you did, just surprised. Your drink ok? Good.

You must find me fascinating, kind of the poster boy for post war re-creation. I’m not the only one you know, there are a lot more soldiers just like me.

All of this… equipment that keeps me alive, these legs that I’m walking on, the tube that I piss through… it’s the best that our government can buy. The best. Sure, they can buy bombs the size of buses, and bullets that shoot through tanks, but this – this is the state of the post-war medical art right here. No expense is too great when it comes to caring for our soldiers. That’s so damn true. No expense, and even that was too great.

You like me? You like this fucking machine they made me?

I did three tours, three goddamned tours. Do you know why? Do you know what kept me going back? Because after every one, when I got home, nobody could understand. You think you’re just like us, but we’ve experienced war, and you have no idea. I was just numb, and distant, always anxious. I’d go on week long benders, try to completely self destruct, and my girlfriend would make excuses, say it was ok, that it was normal. It’s not normal. The only way I could cope, the only way to get back to my new normal was to soldier up and go back to the front.

When that car bomb blew me in half, and they bolted all this shit onto me, they said I was all better, but I was no longer ‘suitable for re-deployment’. I’m supposed to just be ‘retired’ now.

Every friend I ever had, every connection I could ever manage with another human being, they cut me off, just like they cut my fucking legs off. They’re over there, deployed, and I’m stuck here, drinking in the Vet hall with you pencil pushing assholes. You want to write a story about me? You want to show the world the ‘face of the post war man’? Screw you. We fought to protect your freedoms in countries we’d never even heard of while you stayed home and wrote about how horrible the war is. You didn’t have the balls to serve, and you come here to make an example out of me? I bought these stripes with blood and honor, and for what? ‘Retirement’? And what am I to you? A story? I don’t think so.

You’re going to mean so much more to me.

You look tired. Don’t worry, it’s all ok. I’m going to give you a chance to do your part for the war effort.

Don’t get up. I know, you can’t. You’ve had the use of a perfectly good body for the whole war, and you’ve just been here pissing it away.

I’m not going to let it go to waste.

Go on, close your eyes. The Doc’s going to put you to good use. There are guys like me dying for what you’ve got; good heart, clean liver, working eyes. What the government can’t produce, the black market can provide. Here’s your chance to be a real contributor. Me? You’re going to make me a whole soldier again, and when they’re done stitching me back together, I’m going to march right back into the recruiting office and catch me a ride on the next transport back to my boys.

Not to worry. The government will just bury what’s left of you. That’s what they do.

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