Tyson was standing next to his tank in the mid day heat of Iraq while the locals around him patted him on the back and tried to speak their best english. It wasn't normal for Tyson to get out of the drivers seat but part of their mission was to try and get the locals to trust them.
Tyson was handing out some supplies to some of the locals when someone hit him in the side of his jaw. It wasn't a hard hit, more of a glancing blow, but it was enough to send him into a rage. Tyson pushed one of the local kids back so he didn't get hurt.
As the man came in for another blow Tyson used the heal of his hand and drove it up and connected with the bottom of the man's chin. The man fell as if he was a puppet and the wires that had been controlling him had been cut.
Tyson's hand hurt, he started flexing it. Tyson heard music start playing, he started looking for the source. He woke up flexing his hand and starring at a whole in his wall. His head was pounding, nothing a drink wouldn't fix he thought. The sheets were soaked, if he didn't know any better he could have sworn that he had jumped in bed after a shower.
He sat up on the edge of his bed trying to come back to himself. He hated the dreams but the flashbacks that he had to deal with everyday were always worse. It was like being there all over again. He never knew what was going to trigger it, a smell or a noise it could be anything.
"I just want it to stop" he said to himself.
The apartment wasn't much. He lived in some of the low income housing in his home town of Goldsboro North Carolina. It was part of the Section 8 Federal housing assistance program. The program helps with paying rent or what ever is needed. His disability checks only goes so far.
The Apartments reminded him of the barracks he lived in when he was in the Army. The apartment Tyson lived in was a one bedroom, one bath. The bedroom was only about ten feet by teen feet. There was a small closet across from the bed to the right and the door to the bedroom was on the same wall as the closet just on the left hand side. The walls were paper thin, He didn't need an alarm clock, it was normal to be woken up by the sound of hip hop music coming from the apartment two doors down.
The bathroom was the first door on your left when you came out of the bedroom. It wasn't fancy but it worked. The kitchen and living room were one big room. Other than the couch and the chair that came with the place you couldn't tell where one room started and the other stopped.
The appliances looked like something from a bad seventies sitcom. The couch and chair in the living room were the same way. The couch was a brown and white and orange plaid. The chair was a bright orange. The brown shag carpet completed the look, and with the big four foot stain on the carpet everything was ready for Monte Pythons to come back with a new season.
Tyson looked in the bathroom mirror at the tattoos that covered his body. The tattoos at the time where meant to remind him of pleasant memories. They turned into just one more thing to remind him of a life he's not sure he survived.
The Eagle over his right breast, and the initials JRH under the eagle was a tribute to one of his best friends who died in Iraq, Joseph Robert Hollingsworth or Joe as everyone called him. But to Tyson he was "little brother". They met in Jr high and were always together. They joined together and after basic got lucky enough to be shipped to the same unit.
Joe was killed by an IED (Improvised Explosive Device). To be truthful it wasn't the IED that killed Joe. The IED took out the track to his M1A1 Tank and being the driver, he had to do most of the grunt work. When he got out of the tank to inspect the damage a sniper shot him in the base of his scull just under his helmet. Joe was dead before he hit the ground.
Tyson came back to himself standing in front of the bathroom mirror, but for a second he was back in Iraq, smelling the smells, and seeing the death that comes with war. Tyson walked away from the mirror without looking at his other 18 or so tattoo's. To many memories of a place he wished he could forget. But the sad fact was that his little trip back to Iraq wouldn't be his last today. It was just the start of his personal Hell.
Tyson got in the shower and stood under the water and let it wash over his head. His tear mixing in with the water that was rolling down his face. "I'm sorry Joe! I'm sorry I couldn't protect you." Tyson knew down deep it wasn't his fault or at least that's what the Army doctors told him. Tyson repeated it more as a way to convince the Army that he was fine more than anything else. Truth was Tyson blamed himself more than ever.
Tyson started with his hair and ended with his legs and feet. He tried to wash everything without actually having to look at his tattoo's. He was going to have to fight the flashbacks all day long anyway. He didn't want to bring more onto himself than he had to.
Tyson got out of the shower and dried off the same way he washed. Start on his hair and ended with his legs and feet. Tyson walked past the mirror and caught a glimpse of his profile in the mirror. He use to have a six pack when he was still in the Army. He was running 16 miles when he got out and that was in Colorado Springs at altitude. No telling how much he could have ran hear at sea level or just above.
The six pack had been replaced by a keg, Tyson would joke. Not from sitting around eating, but it was Tyson's best friend Jack. Jack Daniels was his name and Jack would often times bring his friend Southern Comfort along. Between Jack and Southern Comfort they more often than not ended up bringing the sand man with them.
Tyson couldn't remember the last time he had fallen asleep naturally. Now he only fell asleep with help from Jack and Southern Comfort. They would either take the edge off or they would knock the edge out of the ballpark. Tyson preferred the ladder, passing out was always better. He hopped one day to not wake up at all but that little dream never seemed to come true.
Tyson got dressed in his normal jeans and T-shirt. This T-shirt was an LA Dodgers T-shirt he had picked up in California one summer after spending a mouth at NTS (National Training Center) in Fort Irwin Ca. They would go there and would have what ended up being a big camp out with really expensive toys. They got to make a lot of noise and pretend to shoot people. In the end the thing you got sick of other than everyone's body odor was the sand. But it wasn't as bad as Iraq even though that is what it was suppose to simulate.
He picked up his backpack out of the recliner on his way to the door. It was freshly stocked with his friends and almost everything his late mother had left him. He looked at her picture on the wall. It was an old picture, take when Tyson was little. When his parents were still together. It was made by a company called Glamor Shots. They made you up to look like a model then took your picture.
His mom was a looker back in the day. Dark brown hair with a hint of red. She had a even complexion and nice features that seemed to suit her really well. It looked cheaply done and the two dollar frame didn't help but it was the way he would rather remember his mom. He took the picture off the wall and the envelope that he had taped to the back of the frame fell to the ground.
Tyson picked the letter up and stuffed both the picture and the letter in his backpack. Tyson got the letter when he claimed his mother's things after her death. It was addressed to his Colorado Springs address and it even had a stamp on it. She just never got a chance to mail it.
Tyson hadn't opened it. He wasn't sure if he wanted to. After he joined the Army he only spoke to his mother twice. After she got hooked on drugs she only cared about herself and the next fix. Tyson had taped the letter to the back of the frame so it would stay out of sight and out of mind. He didn't toss it because he wasn't sure he wanted to part with the last little bit of his mother that he had left.
As he opened the door the low rumble of base and the faint rap music became more clear in his ears. He hated rap. Before the Army and the war he listed to country music, Alan Jackson, Doug Stone, Randy Travis. Since coming home from the war he had drifted to Metal, Metallic was his band of choice. He could loose himself in it without getting the depression that country music seemed to drag around with it.
He had one more stop to make before heading to his car and it was the source of the music. As Tyson got closer he saw a little girl playing in front of the apartment. She couldn't be more than two years old. She was a pretty little thing. Milk Chocolate skin, dark brown eyes, and always smiling. She was playing with a Barbie and a dump truck. Tyson felt sorry for any child that had to grow up under these conditions.
As Tyson got closer Nueve started to approach him. He never did understand why a black gang banger had a spanish name that meant nine. But he didn't care enough to ask. Nueve was watched by two other guys that stayed at the front door.
Nueve was about eye level with Tyson but had more mass than Tyson did. He figured this was because of the stays he had had in prison.
"What you want white boy?" Nueve said putting his hand in his pants pockets, but that was kind of hard to do with them hanging down to his knees.
"I want to get some crystal."
Nueve started looking around looking nervous. One of the guys that had been standing at the door walked up and stood beside Nueve. Tyson remembered him from high school. Tyson wasn't sure what his name was but everyone called him PeeWee. PeeWee was two years older than Tyson and he had been on the high school football team. He dropped out of high school after flunking out his senior year.
Peewee lifted the front of his shirt a little and lucked it behind the butt of what looked like a glock. This of course didn't phase him. He had people shooting at him and trying to blow him up in Iraq. Tyson learned one thing in Iraq that these guys did know or understand. You don' show a gun to someone with a death wish.
"Cops put you up to this?"
"I'm not with the cops, it's for a friend." Tyson Lied.
PeeWee was starting to get a little excited. "That'll be $2500. white boy." PeeWee spoke for the first time.
Tyson started digging in his backpack for the money and out of the corner of his eye he saw and women he knew to be a prostitute walk up the third guy at the door.
"Thats all you got for me bitch?" Tyson looked up after he heard the women get smacked. He had rocked her pretty good but she was still standing but her lip was busted.
PeeWee and Nueve were looking at each other as Tyson was messing with the cash in the backpack. Tyson knew what was coming and was ready. The guy at the door started to slap the women again. As the gun was being raised Tyson grabbed the nose of the gun and had it in his hand before PeeWee knew what was going on.
"Easy White Boy!"
"You better give me back my gun man!"
"Or what? I have the gun?" Tyson held the gun in one hand and the empty hand in the other. Nueve handed the drugs to him. Tyson put them in his pocket and came out with the money. He handed it to Nueve. A look of shock went across Nueve's face. He took the money.
"Give me my damn gun!" PeeWee kept saying.
Tyson hands started moving over ever inch of the gun. His Army training had never really went away. When you have down time in the Army and you are at war you learn to strip and clean a weapon really fast. Before PeeWee knew what was going on Tyson was dropping the gun into the grass piece by piece. Then he dropped the bullets one by one on top of the pile of parts. PeeWee and Nueve were standing there stunned, as Tyson turned and walked away.
"I'll kick your ass the next time I see you!"
He kept walking not even bothered by what had just happened. As he got close to his car he saw a needle laying on the ground. It still had it's cap so Tyson picked it up and dropped in his backpack.
As he approached his car he was thinking about what had just happened and a smell from another life hit him full in the face. Tyson was back in this Tank. He was a driver as well. The driver of an M1A1 sits in an almost laying down position when his hatch is closed. He looks out of three pieced of glass. One of the left and right and one in the center. Each one is about five inches long and two and a half inches wide. The driver seat is really the safest place to be sitting in a tank. With around three feet of armor between you and the nose of the tank it is very hard for anything to hurt you.
Tyson saw the explosion. Joe's tank was coming up on his right and they stopped just short of being along side them. Joe was laying on the ground dead. Tyson could see blood and tissue mixed among the broken pieces of track. He was in shock, He was just looking at Joe waiting for him to get up. It didn't happen. Tyson realized he was screaming Joe's name over and over again.
Tyson felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned around to look at his Sargent but heard a women's voice instead.
"Tyson? You ok?"
He came back to himself and he was looking at Amanda Tate. She had her hand on Tyson's Shoulder. Looking down at him with her deep blue eyes and olive shin. Tyson liked her but never made move because of his PTSD. He was scared he would hurt her without meaning to.
"You ok?" She asked again.
"Ya I'll be fine."
"Ok, if your sure."
"Ya I'm sure. Thanks."
"If you need to talk you know were I live."
"Thanks." Tyson did know where she lived. Three doors down on the other side of him and on the second floor. Tyson leaned on the side of his car to try and get his bearing. He watched her walk away.
Amanda wasn't skinny, but she wasn't fat either. For Tyson she was just right. She had a little extra everywhere it mattered. "Wish I had a swing like that in my backyard." Tyson said to himself as he folded himself into the driver seat. He was soaked again, between the ninety five percent humidity and the flashback Tyson felt like he just got out of a swimming pool with all of his close on.
His car was a Pontiac T1000. It was made in 1986. It was painted red from the factory but time had turned red into a dull orange. It wasn't much but it was all his mom had left him. That and about $3000 dollars and 2500 of that was now in the form of his new girlfriend crystal. The car was held together by a wing and a prayer. Tyson wasn't sure how many miles it had on it because the speedometer stopped working several years ago.
It didn't even have a key. Tyson had to started it with a screwdriver. The car had been stolen while Tyson was in the military and the person that stole it broke the ignition and used a screwdriver to start the car. His mom never had the money to get it fixed. Tyson pulled out of the parking lot and turned left