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Marty

A story by John Dixon

“Sarge is hit!”

“Where’s the medic?”

“He’s dead, sir.”

“Push forward, men! Take that outpost with grenades!”

Clusters of green and tan collide with grim finality.

The guns are silent. Not a single figure moves.

The man shifts a faltering lad to the nearby couch and gently pulls a sheet halfway up his small form. Marty slides the remaining distance into slumber within a minute. Surveying a random terrain of wadded blankets and shattered wood-block fortifications, his grandfather leaves the door ajar. Battle’s aftermath in the raking shafts of dawn will provide a more satisfying morning picture than tidied carpet.

Marty

Twenty-six years later it occurs to Marty that she probably cheated on him that week, in college. It bothers him. He buys a plane ticket to Italy.

The village streets are still dangerous and the woods are still beautiful. He hikes deeper, into the green shadow, to the cold mouth of the cave; he pays Charon, crosses, and walks up to a particular tree on the other side.

“Remember when you went to see that band? The Somethings?” he asks. “Did you sleep with the guy in it?”

“Probably,” she says grayly.

“Okay,” he says, “I just wanted to know.”

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