LENGTH: 4,890 words
In the jungles of Vietnam, First Lieutenant Stu Willis met Private Richmond Patterson and fell hard for the new recruit. Their brief romance burned bright, but the very war that brought them together finally tore them apart.
This isn’t the happy-ever-after you’re looking for, but it is one of the best stories I’ve written to date. So consider yourself warned.
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I have his initials tattooed in a heart on my right arm. When I drink, I roll up the sleeves of my white T-shirt and I know people want to ask about those three little letters. RJP. They want to know if it’s my girl back home, or some chick I fucked in Saigon.
But they never ask.
There’s something in the way I sit at the bar, hunched into myself, that warns them back. Or maybe it’s the glazed look in my eyes. I’ve looked in the mirror, stared into those once blue eyes, and wondered who the hell replaced them with glass beads, lifeless and dead like a doll’s. I look deeper, through those closed windows of my soul, and in the hollowed remains I see my hands, covered in his blood.
I remember the evening as if it were yesterday -- his body cold in my arms, heavy. His skin pale, his eyes sparkling like a sea of pain, his blood ...
His blood covering me.
RJP. Three little letters carved forever upon my heart of stone.