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Sue Spitulnik

Writing, Sewing, Travel, and Thoughts

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#Military

The Moral Injury of War

The Band of Brothers was finishing a practice session at the No Thanks when two young women arrived. They purchased beers and went to the back corner, darkest booth like they were regulars. Soon, Kurt joined them.

They sat in the shadows long enough to have a second round that Mac delivered. At the bar, Katie asked who they were.

Mac explained, “We met them on Thanksgiving eve. Their MOS was the same as Kurt’s, but a generation later. They are discussing how to deal with things I hope you never experience nor volunteer for.”

“I won’t volunteer, Grandpa.”

Note: MOS stands for Military Occupation Speciality Code. In past episodes, it was revealed Kurt was an army sniper. Currently, there are less than 100 women in the Army that could be assigned the same job, but women are gradually becoming part of the front lines. It’s also a fact that only 10% of the troops deployed to the front experience combat. Others are mechanics, cooks, vehicle drivers, medics, etc.

In this episode, Mac doesn’t want his granddaughter to enlist in the military as service is often a generational family occurrence.

The No Thanks Needed’s Mission

At 3:00 am Thanksgiving morning, Mac, Thad, and Michael wiped the table where they had been sitting with the lady vets. They learned two of them were combat survivors. Mac sighed audibly and said, “Ladies in a war zone. I’m glad they’re not my monkeys and not my circus.”

Michael laughed. “They are your monkeys, and this is your circus, especially on Thanksgiving eve. And now they know it’s safe to congregate here and talk freely. We may see more of them.”

Mac smiled. “Providing a safe place to talk proudly about being a service member is our mission.”

Note: The No Thanks Needed is a bar owned by Vietnam Veteran Colm McCarthy. Thad is his son, and Michael leader of the house band. They, too are vets. On Thanksgiving eve, they hold a veterans-only turkey dinner with the food provided by the band members’ families.

Written in response to Charli Mills November 28, 2022, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the saying, “not my monkeys, not my circus”. What is the situation that would spawn that aphorism? Have fun with setting and characters! Go where the prompt leads!

Emma’s Got The Beat

After the Veterans’ Day luncheon at the No Thanks, the Band of Brothers found their favorite places,  behind their instruments. They played different genres of patriotic songs while the crowd sang along. Little Emma was dancing by herself until she noticed a register near the end of the bar. She soon figured out she could make it squeak by stepping on a specific corner. Just about the time Lexi was going to make her stop Michael grinned and pointed to the toddler then changed the words in the song. “Listen, my granddaughter is squeaking in time to the music.”

Written in response to Charli Mills’ November 7, 2022, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes something squeaky. What is squeaky and why? How does it move the story or disrupt a character? Listen, write, and go where the prompt leads!

Michael Plays the Age Card

Wearing  Army t-shirt and shorts, Michael sat in a wheelchair on stage, his leg stumps showing so all entering the Walter Reed activity room could see. He spoke. “We soldiers share the experience of missing skin and bones. At twice your age I lived the hopelessness and depression you may be feeling.” He turned sideways in the chair, swung himself to the floor, and put on the prosthetic legs lying there. Then using the chair for support, he stood up and walked around. “I’m proof you can heal and become friends with whatever prosthetic you need. You’ve got this.”

Written in response to Charli Mills October 24, 2022, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about bones. It can be any genre or tone. Is it spooky, irreverent, or poignant? Go where the prompt leads!

Out of the Sky

After Mac’s comment and respectful silence, the talk about jumping continued. Tyrell was nodding his head in the affirmative. He took a swallow of his beer and then spoke softly, unusual for him. “I once witnessed some jumpers training for a night landing. It was just before full dark when I heard the plane, and it sounded like it might stall for going too slow. I looked up and could just make out bodies and chutes floating silently towards me. They looked like a frightening swarm of giant bugs descending. I was glad I knew what they actually were.”

Note: Tyrell is the African-American drummer in the Band of Brothers and an Iraqi veteran.

Prompt – swarm

“Jumping”

The conversation at the No Thanks was about parachute jumping. One veteran said he couldn’t wait to get the chance because he loved bungee jumping and wasn’t disappointed by the adrenaline rush of stepping into thin air. Another admitted it wasn’t his favorite thing to do but had learned to accept it as part of his job. Mac was quiet until asked directly. He collected his thoughts before speaking. “Parachuting into a safe landing zone is beautiful and reverent. But, floating through a hail of bullets or hopping off a hovering helicopter in a hot zone was absolute hell.”

Note: Mac is a Vietnam veteran that owns the No Thanks Needed bar and grill.

Written in response to June 13, 2022, prompt at Carrot Ranch Literary: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a danger zone. It can be an exciting plot-driven story (think “story spine”) or a situation a character must confront. Play with different genres, and use craft elements like tension, tone, and pacing. Go where the prompt leads!

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