Semper fidelis: conclusion

The Sergeant was nowhere to be found because he was out on a mission to secure the morning’s donuts. Barring a few drunken stragglers, Diedre had Zane all to herself!  Zane returned from the restroom where he had just finished cleaning himself up. While in the lavatory, he took notice of the severely bloodshot eyes reflected back to him from out of the medicine cabinet’s glass. He was still inebriated from last night’s binge, and he came to realize he was still too drunk to drive, meaning he would have to stay for breakfast whether he liked it or not. He removed the prescription eyeglasses, as well as the dusty baseball cap. He then proceeded to abruptly submerge his entire head into the wash basin under a flowing stream of warm water. He rotated his skull from side-to-side insuring that every square inch of his scalp was dampened. With his head still submerged, he reached up and turned off the valve before absent mindedly grasping a bath towel. Water dripped from his matted greasy hair as he proceeded to stand up tall and rigid. He tamped down the sopping wet mess with the thirsty cloth, before running a comb through his sun-bleached locks.

From out of the corner of his eye he noticed a translucent plastic container of isopropyl alcohol. Without thinking, he twisted the lid from the antiseptic and drizzled a pool into the opened palm of his right hand. He then splashed the sterile liquid into the cavity of his left underarm. Moving on to the other side, he repeated the process with his left hand and right armpit. Zane drifted from party to party, and he utilized this method of field expedient hygiene so often that he purposefully cut the sleeves from most of his T-Shirts to expedite the procedure. He then unbuckled his belt and unbuttoned his denim jeans and tucked in his shirt. The garment was a pirated ‘knock-off’ which came into existence as a counterfeit to the officially sanctioned promotional merchandise.  Adorning the shirt, In a flowing arc, and in cursive text, were the words, “Moosehead Beer.”  Complementing the written text was a colorful image of a large bull moose that was Silk-Screened onto the nicotine-stained fabric. With his hair slicked back, and parted just slightly off-center, he donned his cap and put on his battle tested eyeglasses. After being properly sorted out, he exited the small restroom with the intention of leaving as soon as possible.

From out of nowhere she appeared! “I brought you some grapefruit juice she said. You look like you could use some!” The juice was contained in a shiny gloss black coffee mug. The words “Pulp Fiction” were emblazoned upon the shiny black ceramic in bold red fonts. Zane correctly assumed they shared similar taste in cinema and it was a welcoming gesture. “I made a little something for breakfast she eagerly informed him as she nodded her head over her shoulder and towards the small dining room table! “I hope you like quiche.”  

Diedre mistakenly thought Zane was being coy when he asked, “What’s quiche?”  He honestly didn’t know but the look on his face suggested he was playing games. “You’ll know once you’ve tasted it she said in a playful, yet nurturing tone. Zane pulled up a chair and sat down at the kitchen table where some cutlery had been placed upon a folded paper towel. It would be a setting meant for two judging from an additional set of flatware that had been neatly arranged opposite from where Zane would be seated. While preparing the meal, Deidre noticed the hastily repaired leg of his broken eyeglasses. He was clearly poverty stricken and it was painfully obvious judging from the sloppy dried glue that held the frame together.  Diedre, who was doing a masterful job of concealing her own joy, slowly took stock of the situation as she nervously placed the hot plate of steaming quiche in front of her grateful guest.    She had been scheming of ways to get him alone and now the moment had finally arrived! Her excitement was palpable as they found themselves sitting across the table from each other in the empty kitchen next to the Hamm’s beer sign that had been switched off earlier. The crimson red hue had been replaced by brilliant white fluorescent lighting.

By this time the kitchen table had been tidied up, and the stench of spilled beer was replaced by a subtle hint of fresh Pine-Sol that lingered in the air like an inviting spring rain. Zane was sitting bolt upright in the kitchen chair as he subconsciously stroked at his ravenous lips with the back of his disproportionally large hand. Like a culinary accelerant, The crisp scent of hickory smoked bacon permeated the humble kitchen, causing Zane’s appetite to explode with anticipation! His rumbling stomach churned and constricted as the promise of welcomed nutrients beckoned from the synthetic warmth of the pre-heated oven.

As she sat across from him the first thing Diedre noticed was Zane’s emaciated frame. Although his face was sun tanned and rugged, the jowls were sunken against his protruding cheek bones in a way that suggested malnutrition. Simply stated, he resembled a half-starved refugee who had just washed ashore on the debris of a sunken banana boat!  The second thing Diedre noticed was how the red baseball cap accentuated his blood-shot eyes. For a peaceful moment the pair looked upon each other as they sat across from each other in silence. To kick off a conversation she asked, “How much do you weigh?” Zane put down the mug of grapefruit juice and looked her in the eyes as if he didn’t understand the question. “I hope you don’t mind me asking,” she said with a mild hint of trepidation. Zane gently shook his head from side-to-side as if to say, “no apologies needed,” and then said, “I don’t mind; it’s just that I haven’t weighed myself in a long time is all.” Then she asked, “well how much did you weigh in the Marines?” He tilted his head backwards and leaned back in the chair as he scanned his memory banks for the answer. “I was 155 pounds when I graduated Boot Camp he said with pride. “I’m curious if you know how heavy you were before,” she queried? It was an easy question, and he knew the answer right away. “I was 137 pounds the day I enlisted. I remember because they told me not to forget.” Her heart sunk, and her role as ‘Mother Hen’ intensified.  Again an image of Zane’s emaciated frame flashed upon an internal psychic screen that played out in her mind’s eye. Diedre tried to mask her overwhelming concern by stating,” Oh my! You must have been a sight!”   The conversation continued as she casually asked, “How tall are you?”  Without hesitation Zane replied, “I’m five feet and ten inches.”  Diedre sat in silent contemplation for a moment then asked, “When’s the last time you had a physical?”  “Not since before Boot Camp,” Zane replied. “Don’t you have a doctor,” she asked? “What do you do when you get sick,” she continued? He took another swig of the sour juice then leaned forward in his chair. “I take garlic,” he said. Obviously the comment made little sense, so Diedre impulsively asked, “What do you mean?” Zane went on to explain how raw garlic is a natural healer. “It kills bacteria,” he calmly explained with the youthful confidence of a burgeoning medical doctor. “What you do is chop up a couple of cloves and flush the cut-up pieces down with water.” Diedre was still confused so her probing continued. “I don’t know what you mean,” she said. “It’s simple,” Zane informed her. “All you do is swallow it like it was aspirin.” She was beginning to make sense of the home remedy when Zane turned his attention towards his meal.

His facial expressions signaled the end of the conversation as he grabbed at the fork with an intrinsic primal authority! As if he were a ravenous Dingo, Zane proceeded to devour the quiche! He violently shook his head from side to side as he chewed, and it was silently alarming! Muffled growls were accented by the slurping sounds which emanated from the ceramic mug! It was if he hadn’t eaten in days!.  She didn’t dare interrupt as the feral specimen devoured his meal. Instead she studied him as if he were a lab rabbit while picking at her own plate.

As Zane greedily inhaled his food, he noticed a stray pack of Camel Filters laying in the center of the tabletop. They had been carelessly abandoned next to the salt-and-pepper shakers by a drunken reveler just hours prior. After Zane finished annihilating his meal, he leaned back in the wooden chair and retrieved a Zippo lighter from his hip pocket. Upon extracting the miniature torch from his tight jeans, he leaned forward in his chair and helped himself to one of the loose cigarettes. Diedre was still working on her quiche as he clicked open the metal lid of the gas lighter. A quick snap of his thumb produced an eager flame which was accompanied by the faint whiff of highly distilled fuel that emanates from all ignited Zippos! Zane brought the cigarette to his lips and with an authoritative draw he encouraged the tobacco to catch fire! Upon ignition the tip of the cigarette glowed red then turned faint as he exhaled secondhand smoke into the direction of the empty space just to the left of Diedre’s plate. Not realizing it was uncouth, Zane removed his greasy cap and lazily draped it upon the tabletop. Once again he leaned back into the kitchen chair and absent mindedly ran his left hand through his dampened hair. For the second time, Zane inhaled a hearty amount of nicotine and proceeded to exhale. Lingering smoke was already beginning to accumulate in the small space as Diedre pretended not to be offended. She sat quietly while Zane finished his cigarette. “Do you have any Visine, he asked as he crushed out the coals onto his dirty plate? “I’m going to hit the road and I don’t want to look like I’m drunk.”  “You’re leaving so soon,” asked Diedre as she masked her disappointment with an innocent smile?  “I thought I would,” Zane said. With that he abruptly pushed away from the table with his meaty hands.

He was rugged and he was tough.  Zane was handsome but rough. In spite of it he was strangely articulate for being such a quiet soul and that intrigued Diedre to no end. He was the strong silent type she reasoned as she came to grips with the fact that he was leaving. “Tell John I said thanks, and I’ll see him around,” Zane said as he turned from the kitchen space and headed for the entryway.  Diedre took curious note of the sleeveless T-Shirt as he walked towards his black Chevy van. Draped across the rear of the cloth was the image of a scarlet banner containing yellow fonts which spelled out the words, “The Moose is Loose in Nuevo Mexico!”

Semper fidelis

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