'Silent Soldier' Chapter One

I keep thinking that this has all been a dream… a misguided, alternative reality that has played out for the last forty years, and I will wake up. But, sad to say, it isn’t. Memories have shot before my eyes; many times. Somehow, this is so very different.
Dad died September 3, 1963; the same year John F. Kennedy was shot. I was three years old; but I ‘knew’ of death: I welcomed it…
An Eagle Scout at the age of thirteen and the strongest kid in high school when I graduated, all that I had valued was Justice. From the bullies whom had beaten me as a child, I felt that I owed them resounding thanks: for they had given me the greatest gift- a reason to live; to grow- they had given me the gift my Father couldn’t. Yes, they had blackened my eyes, and broken my glasses: but they had never broken my spirit. Others around me said that I should beat these bullies; but, they seemed more like older brothers than enemies. They were just as lost and confused about life as I was, and I strangely enough, felt sorry for them… My sister used to have to defend me; I don’t think that I ever thanked her enough…
As a child, I would pray: to be big and strong- so no one or thing could ever hurt me- or anyone like me, again. Life should be fair…
It was the Lady Justice, then, whom was my favorite. It was for her, and her sisters Liberty and Truth that I would be willing to live, and die in this place: to protect the people whom were unable to protect themselves. Such was a noble calling that many would not answer: I did.
There was little money to be made in being a Law Enforcement Officer: most of your ‘friends’ tend to shun you- or expect special favors. Many times, you find yourself becoming more of a loner, or a heavy drinker: as with time, your faith in the ‘Law’ is some – times challenged- as was mine…
The Sherriff of my county saw something familiar when he looked at my name on the application before him; looking me over. Louie was a legend here: it seemed as though he had been Sheriff in the county forever.
“Are you from Milwaukee?” he said.
“No, sir.”
He then smiled. “Turn around and walk for me…”
I thought that to be a strange request: but, after all, he was the Sheriff- so I did as he had asked.
“You’re Russ’s son, aren’t you?” he said, with a big smile.
“Yes, sir.” I wondered how he knew my father…
“You walk just like your old man…”
“Come into my office: I haven’t seen you since your Dad died.”
As he headed to his office, he called out to the desk Sergeant,
“Cancel my calls, and bring me and this young man some coffee.”
He then turned to me and said, “We’ve got a lot to about, son.”
I had went down to the Department to apply for my internship for my Police Science class; figured I might be able to work part- time
and learn something about the jail. I was quite surprised at what was about to happen in the next couple of hours.
The Sergeant brought a pot of coffee in; Louie poured us both a cup, and added a little booze to them.
“This was the last bottle that your Dad had gotten for me; about six months before he had gotten so sick. That tumor…” he said, shuttering, “ it spread so fast to his brain: and your damn Mom wouldn’t let anyone see him. I heard that she even kept you and your sister away from him the last couple of months before he died. Damn fool woman…stubborn bitch.” Louie seemed angry.
“Excuse me, sir, but may I ask how you had known my father?”
He obviously knew my Mom: I did love her a great deal- but that didn’t make me blind to her unpleasurable disposition; to say that she was ‘difficult’ would be kind.
“Your Dad was a good friend; a great fighter when he had to be one. He saved my ass more than once out there…” Louie’s eyes were tearing up. “And yet, probably one of the kindest, most soft- spoken men I have ever known… And that big, booming voice he had when he sang; he and his cousin Roger…ah; those two men could sing.”
“Was he a Deputy?” I asked.
“Well; not really… but I sure wish he was…” Now, the Sheriff was staring out the window: his thoughts seemed so far away…
“Those were a lot happier days. We played cards together; drank together…he helped me when I was just a beat cop in the City. I think that’s when I really got to know your Dad best. He was pretty quiet- most of the time, a loner I thought. It was like he was just waiting for something to happen- or trying to forget something that did. Russ wasn’t afraid of anything.” Louie said, staring me in the eyes. “Are you?”
“That depends…”
He definitely had gotten my curiosity. “Your father had jumped into a brawl; I was getting my ass kicked in the parking lot of a bar in town. Four or so guys had jumped me- gotten my nightstick. I could feel the blood in my eyes; on my face… could barely see: it was late- around 2 am or so. I thought I was going to die… then I hear these…screams…these loud thuds: sounded like someone tenderizing roast: with a hammer. As I was looking up, the last guy is ripped off of me, screaming… heard a few more thuds…then, nothing… not a sound. I was beginning to think I was dead. Then, looking through my blood-covered eyes, I saw your Dad. He asked me if I was alive; I said that I thought so. Then, he just started walking away. I thanked him for helping me; and then I asked him why. ‘It didn’t look like a fair fight, friend,’ he told me. Russ had the voice of an Angel, but the fists of the devil himself.”
“One time, we had a cop in town who was shaking down some of the merchants: ‘protection’ money- you know… give the ‘door’ an extra tug; make sure it’s ‘locked’… Some of the other officers thought that it was me. I asked your Dad to find out who it was. He sure did. That bastard got his ass beat: apparently the fool tried to use his nightstick on Russ when your Dad confronted him as that cop came out of the Jewelry Store. Russ knocked him out, and called the Chief at home; told him to get that dirtbag off the streets.
He dragged his ass out to the curb, and left him lay.” Louie now was again looking me in the eyes. “I hear that you don’t have much use for bullies, either… Am I right?”
I thought about it for a bit. It was true; I did ‘prowl’ the halls of my high school between classes, looking for the bullies: the predators who picked on those ‘gentler’ people in school. “No, I don’t; you are right… what can I do for you, sir?”
“Son, what I need is someone I can trust, and that keep quiet about it. Most of these Deputies are good men; sometimes, they just don’t seem to think before they do things… They work hard- and play even harder. Your Dad did… a lot for this community, the Department, and me. I know that you came down here for a part-
time job; first thing that I will say is this isn’t just a job- it’s a way of life. Russ was good at judgment calls; he was good with people- just like your Great Uncle Richard. You, my boy, come from exceptional stock; very rare and reasonable men, who, in any capacity sought truth and justice. Richard was a County Supervisor years ago: always patient and proper- a rare gentleman, indeed.
What you’ll find is that the ‘letter’ of the Law isn’t always ‘right’. You have to make judgment calls all the time; and you have to be fair with people… You ‘feel’ like you are- you have the same look in your eyes as I remembered your Dad had. You could very easily become the Sheriff yourself someday. The problem here is that damn politics; a lot of back-stabbing.” His face looked troubled.
“I’ve talked to Ole about you; he is very impressed. Said you turned out well- despite all the obstacles that you had, you were an Eagle Scout- at 13: and an Assistant Scout Master at 18. I can get you in the County Jail if you would want that: the Special Deputy program takes a bit more time. That is where you should start; that would give you hands-on road experience. But, I have another project that I would like for you to do; and having you in a uniform now would make that damn difficult.”
“What do you have in mind?” I asked. Louie definitely had my attention.
“I’ve got another young Deputy working undercover- Narcotics. Could you run a little interference for him? You’re still a bouncer at that disco club in town, right? If you would be willing to do your road work in a small town west of here, you will meet a lot of bikers who are supposed to be running drugs to the city. I don’t know if that’s true. With you as a part-timer there, and still at the Disco here, I think that the dealers there may make you an offer- either way; you’ll be able to find out something, I’m sure of that”.
“You’re a very easy young man to talk to: you’re not judgmental- very much like your Dad…” His eyes looked distant again.
He poured me some more of Dads bottle of moonshine: then poured some for himself, and, re-lighting his pipe, asked me what I wanted to do. I thought for a minute. He seemed earnest.
“Sounds like something I can do; I’m game. When do you want me to start?” I hoped that I wasn’t getting in over my head; apparently, my masque was well forged…

'Silent Soldier' Chapter One

Kevyn Paul Eisenman

Wausau, United States

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Artist's Description

When I had taught Martial Arts, many of the students thought that they could never do any of the things I could; I would share with them a story that answered some of their questions about the mere mortal; and what drove me to the place that I was.

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