TITLE: In Jake's Shoes
GENRE: Adult contemporary southern
Jake and Mack: members of a Mortuary Affairs Unit in Afghanistan. They’re discussing the recent suicide of a member of their unit. Jake recalls a classmate’s suicide 10 years earlier.
I walk over to a desk and straighten an already evenly stacked set of DD forms. A coffee mug holds a handful of pens, so I pick one up, click it once, twice, then place it on top of the stack of forms.
“I knew a guy who killed himself, Mack…when I was a kid.”
“No s***. How old were you?
“Jesus! How’d he, you know, how’d he do it?”
“Drank some drain cleaner.”
“That’s brutal, man.”
“Yeah, well, it was a long time ago.”
“Why’d he do it? Did he leave a note or anything?”
“No. But he was really mixed-up, and his family was messed up. Old man on drugs. Beat him and his mom. I think he figured things would never change or get better.”
“You sound like maybe you were tight with this guy.”
“Yeah, I guess I was. He was in my fifth-grade class.” I reach down to smooth the black plastic on the body bag.
Mack is quiet for a moment. I look up at him and then turn away.
He reaches out and touches my shoulder.
“Climbing inside that thing is still nuts, Jake. You scare the shit outta me sometimes. Know what I mean?” Mack turns and walks over to a table where we all play cards in-between recoveries. He picks up a deck and starts thumbing through it.
Suddenly, Sergeant Danbury sticks his head inside the tent flap.
“Get the unit together, girls. And grab your gear. We got a recovery site.”