"Here lies a man who died for his country, a man who died for the world..."
The regular stock of a military funeral was no longer of interest to John Frost. He had been through dozens in the last few weeks. This was the only one that had been constantly on his mind, though. It was essentially the same speech as was given by every chaplain. At least this one seemed to be showing some emotion over it, which was better than what some less sensitive chaplains had been doing.
He was hardly listening. He was just thinking.
"What's the matter, John?" Amy, who was sitting next to him, asked.
She was a keen woman. She could tell that Frost was disturbed more than was usual for a death. It was a difficult thing to see. His wife seemed to be tuned to all of his frequencies, though.
"It's my fault he died," John said, "If I had shot that Imp properly so he was dead, or if I had gotten in the bullet's way..."
Amy hushed him.
"You know full well it's not you fault. It's not the Mongolian's fault. It's not anyone's fault, really, John. Bad things happen in war, and there's no one to be blamed for it. You've told me that yourself."
"I know. I know," he said, "I'm just not thinking reasonably right now."
"You and Snaro were together for years. It must have been like losing a brother. Or a son."
John nodded. He smiled despite himself.
"That's it exactly," he said.
He pulled her closer to himself and stroked her hair.
"How did an old damned fool like me end up with such a wonderful, beautiful, young wife?"
"I suppose because he's brave enough to risk his life, but sensitive enough to be devastated over the loss of a close friend."
A tear fell from Frost's eye.
"It seems so senseless," he nearly sobbed into her hair, "He was killed in the last instant. If he had stayed alive another hour he would have seen the end."
She patted him lightly on the back.
"He always said he knew how he would die. I guess it came true. He always loved the Air Force. He loved guns. I suppose he's gone on to Heaven. Actually, he probably went on to Valhalla, or wherever good soldiers go when they die."
A short distance away, an honor guard lifted seven rifles into the air. The leader brought his sword from the air to his side. A volley cracked off. Twice more the guns fired, completing a twenty-one gun salute and heralding 2nd Lieutenant Lawrence Snaro's ascent.
"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov
Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."
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