July 3: Abbreviations
Petty Officer 2nd Class Nicholas Maerk has heard it every night for the past six months. A loud diesel engine roaring along. A joke about why women shouldn't drive. Rocks being thrown from large tires. A slight breeze rustling a small tree. Half of a large explosion. Loud ringing. Blood rushing through his head like waves in the ocean. A raging fire. Loud screams for help...
He decided to use some of his paid time off this week. After spending five and a half months in Germany on a not-so-fun vacation he really felt he deserved it. Grabbing his trusty cane and a light jacket, the limping twenty-six year old walked out of his hotel room.
He hobbled down a busy street near down town San Francisco to a bus stop he had never seen before. This was Nicholas' first trip to the city and he was determined to get lost. The almost-silent bus came buzzing up its electrical guide wires toward him.
Typical Northern California, he thought, who else would fund electric busses?
He paid the fee with the last of the physical money in his pocket. The crowd on the bus was what he expected from his preconceived notion of who lived in San Fran: A hippy with a tyedyed shirt, a homosexual couple, and a group of Asians in nice suits. He took a seat towards the back and put headphones into his ears. Not the stock Ipod ones, however, he had more class than that.
The bus lurched forward with the sound of gravel underneath the wheels. A very typical car sound that now constantly unnerved him. It brought back bad memories. It made him think of that God forsaken hospital and that searing cesspit in the Middle-East.
The first bus stop was next to a gas station. A laughing group of teenagers in polo shirts, fancy jeans, and sundresses got on. Nicholas caught a snippet of gossip about someone named "Ricky."
Fuck Ricky, I don't even know that mother fucker! He thought.
He realized casually that he had not picked a song from his Ipod. His headphones were on but nothing was playing. Something about that made him get a sickly lump in his stomach.
I could keep it this way. Eavesdrop on these people I will never see again. Be a silent observer of their bad show.
Being that he was never really a voyeur, he decided on Queens of the Stone Age as a soundtrack to this strange odyssey.
"Where O where have you been my love?
Where O where can you be?
It's been so long, since the moon has gone.
And O what a wreck you've made me."
"Mr. Maerk, we think it would be best if you saw a different doctor today."
That fucking nurse always treated him like a child. Like he didn't know what was coming. A different doctor, a head doctor. One of those people you send crazies and menopause-ridden old women to. At first he had refused. Then it was a direct order and not just a suggestion. He was still a soldier, not matter what anyone else thought, and soldiers always obeyed direct orders.
They had comforted him by saying a lot of guys went. You weren't crazy if you needed some one to talk to about things.