The Life of Brave John

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
"The Life of Brave John" is a concise and sarcastic work that explores the futility and hypocrisy of war. The author shoots from the hip and takes no prisoners in this timely critique.

Submitted: April 08, 2008

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Submitted: April 08, 2008

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the life of brave john

 

John was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1989, into a far-from-idyllic world. His father was always angry and drunk, and he made a special effort to kick the shit out of John everyday. And he did the same to John’s mother. She was always angry and drunk herself, and swore at John for coming into this world. All the days that John lived, he never forgot that he wasn’t supposed to exist. But John’s mother and father had a TV, and it made them feel good.

John, meanwhile, found other ways to feel good. He learned very quickly that it was better to fight than to have the shit kicked out of him. So, John fought. All the time, in fact. And he also learned that drugs made him feel good. John was well on the way to becoming an addict by 15. And he never felt better. But he never seemed to do very well at school. So, the school would call his mother and father, and then his mother and father would kick the shit out of him when he got home.

But all that stopped when John was 16. His father was crushed to death when a car on which he was working fell on him. John’s mother never saw a dime of compensation, though, because the foreman said John’s father hadn’t used proper caution when raising the car, and the company wouldn’t pay. John’s mother didn’t fight it because she couldn’t afford to hire a lawyer and eat. So, she sat at home all day clicking channels on the TV and feeling good. But John didn’t get the shit kicked out of him anymore.

When John was 17, he and his best friend were knifed in an alley by their drug dealer. John’s best friend bled to death while he cried for his mother. John didn’t die, though, and he didn’t cry for his mother. But he did decide to change. And he decided to become a doctor. So, he decided to go to college, too. But no college wanted John. He was too stupid. And he was too poor.

One day John saw a commercial on TV. Join the Army, the commercial said, and we’ll pay for your college. John, of course, wanted to go to college. So, he went to the recruiting office. The Army recruiter was a very nice man and smooth-talking--like a used-car salesman. He told John that the Army was a fine career for a fine young man like him. “Boy,” he said, “this is a great country. It’s given you freedom. It’s given you a good, good life, hasn’t it, son? And I have to say I’m damned pleased to see that you want to give back to this great country that’s given you such a good, good life.” John said he wanted to be a doctor. “A fine, fine career, young man. A fine career. And this fine organization will pay for every bit of college you need.” So, John joined the Army.

Basic training was long and grueling, but John was tough. And John wanted to go to college. He wanted to be a doctor, remember? And why shouldn’t he give back to this great country that’d given him such a good, good life?

John was planning to start college in the fall. He’d learn so much, things he’d never learned before. And he’d become something. He was going to do something with his life. Good things. Great things.

And then John was sent to Iraq.

 

Ali was born in 1989, too. But he wasn’t from St. Louis; he was from Baghdad, Iraq. Ali’s father was not like John’s father; he was a very nice man who never kicked the shit out of his children or his wife. And Ali’s mother, she was very nice, too. Ali’s father and mother loved each other very much. And they loved Ali. And Ali loved them.

When Ali was a tiny baby, his country invaded Kuwait. The Iraqi dictator wanted Kuwait’s oil. This, of course, made the United States very angry, because they wanted Kuwait’s oil, too. So, in the name of forever ending military aggression, the Americans bombed Iraq. No one could stop the American warplanes and their smart bombs. Ali’s father was blown to pieces by a smart bomb. This was so that nations everywhere could live in peace.

Ali, of course, was too small to remember when his father was blown to pieces by an American smart bomb in the name of peace. But, all the days Ali lived, he never forgot that the Americans murdered his father. So, Ali hated the Americans. And he never stopped hating them.

When Ali was twelve, his brother--whom he loved very much--went to Afghanistan to fight the Americans who had killed his father with a smart bomb in the name of peace. The Americans killed Ali’s brother, too, but not with a smart bomb. An American sniper blew his head off from two miles away.

The American sniper recorded Ali’s brother’s head being blown off and posted it on YouTube for the entertainment of teenage boys and rednecks. The teenage boys and rednecks would poke each other and laugh like they were watching America’s Funniest Home Videos. But Ali did not laugh. Ali cried.

When Ali was 13, he cried again. Apparently the world was not peaceful enough, because the Americans attacked Iraq again. Ali, of course, still hated the Americans. They had blown his father to pieces and his brother’s head off. Ali wanted to fight the Americans.

Ali didn’t understand the war, either. Somehow, the Americans were supposed to help. But he couldn’t understand what kind of help they were giving. They gave Ali’s sister chocolate and bubble gum, and they lit up Ali’s best friend’s father with M60’s when he tried to bring them a grocery bag full of gifts as a thank you. So, the Americans had come to bring chocolate and bubble gum. But Ali still missed his father and brother.

Ali hated the Americans, like I said. But he liked Metallica. He liked to listen to Metallica in bed at night, and dream of writing cool songs like they did. Not that it matters much, but John liked Metallica, too.

When Ali was 16, he decided to go to college. He wanted to be a doctor. His father had been a doctor. Ali wanted to help people like his father did. His father had always loved to help people. It’s always nice to help people.

Ali became friends with another young man at college. That young man hated the Americans, too. In fact, a lot of people hated the Americans. They wanted to kill Americans. Ali thought that was a bit extreme. He tried to tell them how the Americans had given his sister chocolate and bubble gum. They just laughed at him.

But when Ali was 18, the Americans made him angry again. Someone told them Ali’s mother was harboring terrorists in her basement. So, they sent two Apache helicopters to kill the terrorists. But they didn’t kill any terrorists. They killed Ali’s mother.

Ali told his new friends about this. And he didn’t bother to mention how the Americans had given his sister chocolate and bubble gum. And his friends didn’t laugh that time. They told him he should kill the Americans. Ali agreed.

 

John didn’t really like Iraq all that much. He thought it was too hot and too dry. But he was tough. And he wanted to be a doctor. He was going to do something with his life. Good things. Great things. So, he stuck it out.

John always tried to be nice to everyone, even the Iraqis. He liked to give the Iraqi children chocolate and bubble gum. They seemed to like it. That made him feel good.

John had to do things he didn’t like in Iraq. So did other soldiers. He heard that some other Americans had killed a man who had tried to bring them a grocery bag full of gifts. John never did that. But he did kill five men with a grenade. It was very gruesome. Killing five men with a grenade made John feel very bad. And he called in an air strike to kill a bunch of terrorists once. All of those men died, too. John knew it was his fault. But the Iraqi children liked the chocolate and bubble gum he gave them.

Most of the time, though, John didn’t hand out chocolate and bubble gum. And he didn’t kill people, either. Most of the time, John just walked around Baghdad. He was looking for terrorists. And he never found any. But the American government spent billions of hard-earned dollars a day to make sure he was well-equipped in case he did.

 

Ali didn’t like guns at all. His new friends that told him to kill the Americans didn’t, either. So, Ali and his new friends didn’t use guns. Not ever.

When Ali was 19, he stopped listening to Metallica.

 

John tried to tell his mother about all the wonderful things he was doing in Iraq for his wonderful country, which had given him, if you recall, such a good, good life. Three times a week he tried to tell her about handing out chocolate and bubble gum to Iraqi children. He sent her letters. She couldn’t afford the internet. She never returned his letters. And she probably wouldn’t have returned his e-mails, either. But we’ll never know, because she couldn’t afford the internet.

 

Since Ali didn’t like guns, he learned how to make bombs. So did his friends.

 

John and Ali finally got to meet. But they didn’t get to talk about Metallica. Ali didn’t listen to Metallica anymore anyway. John still did. But they didn’t talk about Metallica.

John was walking around Baghdad looking for terrorists. He didn’t find any. They found him.

Ali saw an American soldier. He went over to the American soldier and yelled something about Allah.

John noticed an Iraqi boy standing beside him. The Iraqi boy was yelling something about Allah.

When Ali was done yelling something about Allah, he exploded.

When the Iraqi boy was done yelling something about Allah, he exploded.

The Iraqi boy was Ali.

The American soldier was John.

When Ali exploded, John exploded, too.

The Americans scooped up John’s arms and legs--they couldn’t find the rest of him--and shipped them back to the United States.

There wasn’t anything left of Ali to scoop up.

When John’s arms and legs made it back to the United States, they held a memorial service in their honor. A minister said some nice and kind things about John. Too bad his mother wasn’t there to hear them. Then they buried John’s arms and legs.

 
 
the end


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