The name on his shiny new dog tags, blood type A positive. It’s Anthony who hides behind the Hummer, choking on sand and heat and his heart in his throat. They call and he falls into line, cradling his gun to his chest; that’s Anthony third from the back.
Figures rise from the hill, silhouettes hazy in the heat.
The last thing that man saw was Anthony. It was an accident, says Anthony, but nobody can hear over the sound of their boots. Dead men with silent steps visit when Anthony sleeps, but the words they whisper fade like clouds over the desert upon waking.
Anthony trades his gun for keys.
Riding patrol up and down the endless dunes of sand, Anthony chews his lips until his mouth is stained red. “A man can lose himself behind the wheel of a car,” the corporal says as he hands Anthony an envelope. The discharge papers say Anthony, twenty-four months.
Anthony’s lips, scabbed and scarred.
A real bed in a rented room where Anthony stares at the ceiling until dawn. “Anthony” in the plastic window of unemployment checks that are piled carefully, but never cashed. Anthony’s father pulls strings, and the world jerks, dances like a marionette. One more chance for Anthony.
Orange stripes run across the jumpsuit with “Motor Assist” and “Anthony” on the patch. “You do have a good driving record, don’t you, Anthony?” asks the voice behind the desk.
Only darkness in dreams, Anthony sleeps and wakes. Every day, Anthony drives the same one hundred and seven-point-o-six miles before exiting and driving back, and back.
A man can lose himself behind the wheel of a car.
Anthony slams his brakes. The blood on the ground is B negative, and the last thing they saw was Anthony. Dead men cackle and shake their bones at Anthony, and when he looks at the fields, he can only see sand.
Anthony sits on the side of the road and waits, reopens the scars on his lips.