private to everett

Everett, I need you to do something. If you do it, you'll never hear a word out of me about what you did to me again. And I know that that promise might not actually be worth much in the way of long term, but I'll hold up my end if I see tomorrow. Besides, it's not for me. It's for Brett. I just need you to message whoever it is that can get in contact with him, every so often, and tell him that I'm checking in, and that I'm fine. That's it. I'm going to sleep. But tell him that I'm checking in. Either I'll wake up, or I won't. But he doesn't need to be worrying about me the whole night. Or waiting, or whatever it is he's going to do. I don't want to leave him without any word but I just...need to go sleep.

I really need you to do this for me. I'm trusting that you will, and you'll leave out the fact that I ever asked. It's important, you know I wouldn't ask otherwise.

So, please. Will you?

 - private to eris

Let me tell you a story. It's a long one.

Charlie Raffinger was recon in my squad, back in the Marines. He was a skinny little Polish kid who never looked up from his book unless we were on patrol. Could've been a sniper, but he had glasses. Had the build to be a tunnel rat, and he spoke so quiet you'd lose the sound of it if a fly farted, so he made scout. Charlie Raffinger pulled my ass onto a Huey back in '69 after I'd been stabbed twice, shot once, and had five NVA soldiers right on my heels. After that, I didn't see him for two months. I was laid up in a hospital, undergoing stress evaluation for what had happened. See, Raffinger and I were two of the five survivors from a base of forty, and even if (or maybe especially because) it was the end of the Corps involvement in Vietnam, the docs in the hospitals knew a lot of boys were coming home with loose or crossed wires.

So two months later, I see Raffinger. He wasn't hurt, but he'd been diagnosed early with PTSD. Part of that diagnosis, I found out later, was an addiction he'd picked up out east and kept in line. Smack, I think. In a military hospital, well, it's hard to sneak a fix. So everything we did, everything we saw, I think it just tangled up his wires even tighter without that fix to smooth it all out or bury it. I walk into the rec hall, figuring I can play some pool for the cash to buy some cigars, and there's Raffinger. Just sitting on the floor, bouncing a tennis ball off the wall. No one's in pissing distance of the guy.

I don't even get close enough to say hello, and he starts crying, saying I shouldn't have sent him out on recon the night we got hit, that he should've been at the base when the strike came. Well... I wasn't even nineteen yet, and this little white boy half my size but with five years on me puts a scare in me. I spent the rest of my evaluation clear of the rec hall. Six years later, I'm back home and wearing the badge, getting flat feet while I try to work my way up to detective. I get word down at the station that some white guy stopped by the station house, asking for me. He left a number, so I called.

Fucking Raffinger, right? Staying at a mission house for the local homeless, I had to make a goddamn priest go call his name in their bunk room just to find him. So I take the guy out for dinner, grab a drink or three. He doesn't say dick, Stockard, maybe four words all night. Eats like he's still a Marine, drinks like he gets his air supply from the bottom of the bottle. End of the night, or at least when I'm trying to duck out, he hits me up for some cash for a hotel room. Says the local VA hospital doesn't have his information and some guy at the shelter's been trying to get queer with him. But there's this... look in his eye. I thought I saw it because I was a cop, maybe anyone could've. He was lying. But the guy saved my life, you know? What's fifty bucks next to that?

Next morning on shift-change, I hear it over the wire. Some two-dollar flophouse has a stiff to report, needle still in his arm, dog-tags still on his neck, and I just know. Hell, I think I knew the night before. Raffinger was ready to punch out for good, and I didn't stop him. So... I think about all of that, and what you're asking me now. And I think about Janie. I don't know if you ever knew her back in the mansion, probably not. She watched some boy open up his wrists, she sat with him while he bled out. People wanted me to lock her up for not trying to save him, and I wasn't thinking I had a right to.

Because I've been there before. Feeling like if I force my will in, I can change what might happen, but not sure if I have the right. And I'm there again, right now, with you. 'If you wake up'. I don't like that, I really don't. It makes me sick to think that after what I've done to you, you just get strung along to suffer, end up here, and just... pow. Nothing. Go to sleep and that's it. But I've done plenty to you, haven't I? If fifty bucks can balance saving my life? Maybe lying to someone I think you actually give a shit about can start balancing out ruining your life. Probably not, but it's all I can do, isn't it?

And for the record, you don't have to promise me shit for this. You can tell everyone what I did, I'll still look at this the same. I'm not going to flinch from what I've got coming. Not ever. So I'm in.

Go to sleep. Make sure you wake up.