I was six years old, my family had purchased one of the best PCs from the store.  The new millennium was here.  I sifted through the pages and screens and noticed that everyone else was experiencing it.  The age of search engines:  thrusting words across the world.  And then in 2008, I watched a video of my friend Kyle Clemson, an old friend from grade school, get shot by a line of confused men on television.

            He enlisted in the Marines after high school because, y’know, a lot of people do that.  All of our history books in school told us that “The Big War Was Over” and that terror was enveloping the world and encroaching on the American shore.  Well, maybe not all the text books.  But the war was happening anyways, outside suburbia.  Anyway, Kyle was a hard thinker and a gentleman, he was modest and attractive, but he didn’t care much for home.  Considering how dry and quiet our town was, I can’t blame him, but he was one of those distant types, y’know?  He wasn’t constantly proactive, as the Club members and athletes were, or so it seemed.  But Kyle, he wasn’t withdrawn so much as he was peaceful and kind.  He lifted squandering kids from their clumsy asses and set ‘em straight, then he moved on.  He seemed to brush into class like a minuet of wind, and he moseyed around, but he also read his books without deterrence.  I can’t really describe it.  I don’t know if it’s time or my own perspective that skews who he really was, and hell I may not even know, but after seeing that video I can’t stop thinking about what he was like.

            There was that one time after school, in the 9th grade:  Alex, Lou, Sam and Kyle were smoking their first cig, out behind the old barns on South Washington.  I came along with Al and Lou but didn’t know the other guys much, I was kind of quiet like Kyle too.  So we chattered and talked smack about dumbshits and teacher pricks, when all of the sudden Kyle yelled.  There was a huge ass spider tickling his neck, and he screamed like a little girl, but he grabbed that son of a gun and threw it at least a mile away.  He was shaking and Alex and Lou were rolling on the ground while Sam and I ran laps around them to forget how damn huge that spider was.  I don’t think I’ve wizzed my pants—just a little bit, mind you—since then.

            I knew him ever since, but as all things grow and fade, so did my knowing of Kyle, like Lou and Sam.   Thanks to Facebook I saw them and the girls they dated but I didn’t really see them, y’know?  Kyle went to training, but my buddies at Mount Union and I stayed there whenever vacation happened.  I got a text or two from him and we were in good spirits, but he and I eventually learned that it was near impossible to capture a moment to just sit down, sort our heads out, and reflect on each others’ stories, from whatever part of the world we had seen—for myself, Illinois and Ohio, for him, God knows where.  But did I really have the time, I don’t think I’ll ever know.  Hell, where was I?

            Kyle, this kindred, earthly boy, was deployed into the Palestinian grounds for UN security, and by God he was caught between the crusades and politics of that place they talk about in the news.  A rumor was spread at his funeral that he had to shoot a man that was pummeling another Marine in the midst of a car-bombing heist.  Then his friend didn’t make it and a few other neurotics were spinning bullets all around and Kyle went down, but he didn’t die.  No no no some group of people that America has fucking poisoned took him into a room and recorded a bullet going through his head, and nobody at home will ever forget about that video, no matter how hard they try or how many other people they meet.  Or maybe it’s just me.  I still don’t talk to Lou or Sam that much, and all I can think is that we’re too young to buy into this, to let Kyle just go off and get trapped like that, and to think that the terrors outside aren’t really just trying to blow us up from the inside.   It hasn’t consumed me, but it hurts when a weird signal goes off, or whenever I see a coffin with the stars and stripes on it board a plane, whether it’s in my head or a picture on the internet.  Kyle wouldn’t have believed in such chaos.  The small things I knew about him entailed patience and kindness.  My story doesn’t say much, but you didn’t know him better than I, did you?  Only a handful of people from home county know his name.  Like Landerus, Miles, and Stoops, the other young men that were deployed years ago.  I knew Kyle never talked down to someone, nor did he get in messes with girls or abandon his promises.

            Sometimes I wish the internet would shut its mouth every once and a while so that I don’t have to imagine what it was really like, for some of these people.




DISCLAIMER – This is a fictional narrative, not an actual story.


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