The Homeless Soldier: A Short Story

Decent Essays

Q was the homeless veteran, whom I gave my change to during the year that I worked upon the I-405. His name came from the letter Q tattooed on his bicep. Below it was his company’s name, the 173rd, and below that Dak To, the battle he survived. In Nam he earned his ravings as well as the uncontrollable waving of his arms. Of medium height, he appeared to be starved to the bone. Sleeping in the vacant strips between the fence and curb led him to abandon his dreams of women in silk garments. The rest of his dreams might have been overrun by his shell shocked memories that were caked with the dirt and scabs. His eyes filled with snakes, wearing their death masks, and his voice became coarse from the continuous babbling caused by battle fatigue. Mirroring a punch drunk fighter, he walked on wobbly knees, and frequently, he turned his head side to side as if looking for the hunger, which dogged him like the stench of dirt and sweat. I couldn’t help but notice the grime gathered in the hollow at the base of his neck. …show more content…

He disappeared on a Tuesday. By that Friday, I believed he left the area. On Monday a couple of his friends took his place on the brick wall behind Starbucks. I asked them, “What happened to Q?” They answered that he died or left town. He was gone and no one’s concerned. Q didn’t make me consider how the hawks ignore veterans. He was more than a concept. He was the man, who survived, despite having his soul slayed while he was still a boy. He showed me how a man lives with his good eye cinched by a belt of riveted dog

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