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  • I stepped out of the Fancy Fish restaurant, my stomach was full and I had a little dough left in my wallet. Just another night in the Big Apple. It was loud, traffic was packed and a beggar was leaning against a building holding a tin can with a bony hand pathetically covered by a fingerless glove. I walked past him; meanwhile shaking my head at him apologetically, "sorry man, no money on me." He gazed at me with eyes deep in his sockets. He looked down. I could have sworn I saw a tear drop from his rosy cheek and melted a patch of snow. Whatever...
    I trudged into work the next day and saw Clyde Dekker. Clyde is a very weird, quite guy. He doesn't say much and seems to be scared of anyone that approaches him. Wuss...
    I don't pay attention to him much because he is nothing to me. As a matter of fact, honestly, I don't give a damn about anybody other than me, me, and me. My name is Gunnar Galloway and I come from a very fucked up home. My mother spent her days playing bingo and selling herself. My mom told me my father ran out on us. I had a brother named Mikey. So sad he never made it past 2. A drunk driver crashed into the nursery where he was probably sound asleep. I didn't understand what death meant. I could never grasp that I would never see little Mikey's smile again. By the time I understood why we had to put him in a box and bury him; life had already taken the last of my compassion. By the time I was thirteen I was in a Juvenile detention center for stealing a purse. My mother caught AIDS and died 2 years later. I was put in a second rate orphanage with cracked walls and tear stained pillows. I had to fend for myself if I wanted to get a decent meal in that hell hole...
    "Gunnar?" I snapped from my daze "You okay?" asked Clyde, looking scared-rabbit eyed as ever. "Yeah man, I'm fine" I grumbled, "go away." Clyde turned and walked off with a barely noticeable limp. The hours crawled by. Lunch time! I sat by myself on the table on the farthest wall of the cafeteria. As I munched on my spaghetti I looked around and saw a few, somewhat, familiar faces. I saw Veronica Winters. Veronica never seems to be in a relationship and always looks like she has been crying. I've never talked to her, but I'm sure I will regret it if I did. Dion Heart crossed my gaze and gave me a long hard look. I held eye contact the whole time. He wasn't about to punk me out! He stared a little longer and went about his business. He sure seems like an asshole. He doesn't say much but when he does it is usually short over-slanged responses. Jimmy Barnett was the last person I saw before I went back to my cubicle. I've "known" Jimmy since I first started working here. He is a very nice guy. A gentleman is what some would describe him as. I know one day that nice guy persona is gonna screw him over.
    Finally the work day is over and I'm going to Fancy Fish today again! I had the smoked salmon with a honey biscuit. The night was colder than usual; although, there was not much snow coming down. I took the long way home and I'm not sure why. There is a shadow following me. I walk another block, turn the corner, and when the figure turns it too I grab the first thing I see, "who are you?!" I yell, " a someone that will change your life" a woman replied. I let go of her coat because people are already starting to stare. "what do you want; who are you?" I asked "My name you will never know. I come from a place you will never visit. Your name is Gunnar. Is it not?'' "My name is Gunnar, what of it?." "I know of you. A man who cares of no one but himself. You are Selfish, uncompassionate, and cruel to your fellow brothers and sisters. You had far from a happy childhood, you were told your father ran away, and your brother Mikey died at a tender age. Your life. Your story has been a hard one. But I see that you have forgotten you are not the only one who has had a hard life. Every person you see comes from somewhere. They may have been through hell and back and not yet told a soul about it." I start to turn to walk away. She put a hand to the back of my head and everything went blank... I hear a voice in my ear about a mile away. "Love and compassion are two things so many of you humans lack. You cannot be nice enough to ask a stranger if their day is going fine. Let alone ask how their life is going and if they need to laugh to forget the tears once shed. Gunnar, When you awake you will know people's stories. You will feel their pain and you will know compassion. The life you lead lacks love but you cannot get close enough to anyone without feeling they are after you. And because of this you will always have that same empty feeling in your heart you've had since Mikey passed away. Do you understand?" "yes..." "now. awake"
    I'm in my bed. I can't decide wether or not I dreamnt all that. It's 9 o'clock. Shit! I'm late for work. I quickly dress and run out the door. I approach a familiar looking beggar; A bullet flies by my head. I'm on a beach. I see soldiers run up a hill as what seems like nazis decimate them with machine guns. There's explosions going off. Men drop to the floor with holes in their green uniforms. A young soldier lies face up staring into forever. He does not blink. Then everything slows... everything blurs, but my vision focuses on an american soldier with a red cross on his helmet; he is a medic attending a wounded warrior. An artillery shell lands and explodes yards away from the medic. I see a body fly into the air and land close by. I run towards the medic. His uniform is seared. His legs. OH MY GOD HIS LEGS! They're gone. All there is is tattered uniform, blood, and bare bone. The soldier, with effort looks down. He screams. I'm in new york. The beggar is still on the floor. I notice he has prosthetic legs. I can see them through the holes in his pants. I stop my running and walk towards him. He looks up. His eyes are blue with streaks of horror. "hey man, you hungry?" He nods. I help him up and walk to Fancy Fish. The veteran gets a huge order. I just smile as he enjoys his Tilapia. I wonder when was the last time his stomach was full. "I see you have money now" He says with a mouth full of fish, "Yeah I do now." A pause, "Tell me, How did it come to this?" "What do you mean?" "How did you come from soldier to bum?" He looks at me like in surprise, "How do you know I was a soldier?" "Just a guess." "Good guess. Honestly I have no idea. I was discharged honorably with a medal and a purple heart after I lost my legs in a battle in France. When I got back home my wife had forgot about me, remarried, sold our house, and took my child. The government did almost nothing to help me. A lot of soldiers can tell you the same. There was an over saturation of soldiers in need and some of us were just forgotten." "That's sad." "Tell me about it. I've tried to find work but no one will hire a cripple with metal legs." He looks down. He finally speaks "Looks like no one will take the time to understand what I've been through. Of what anyone has as a matter of fact. You see me and you think that I was an alcoholic whose family won't deal with anymore. No body knows the horrors I've seen!" He is yelling now but I don't care, "I've seen boys no older than 19 being torn to pieces by machine guns. A man caught shrapnel in his temple. He was alive for about 10 seconds. Imagine a man losing control of his whole body. His bowels, his speech and body movements were all a scene of a bad horror movie." He shakes his head as if trying to forget but I know he never will. People stare. "look man, I can find you work. A company I work for has been looking for fresh blood and I'm sure they will be happy to take you in." "I doubt it." "Why?" "I've told you. No one will hire a cripple." "Who knows they just might." "I don't want to get my hopes up." He gets up and heads toward the door. I follow him. We step out into the night and he starts to walk away."wait! I never got your name." He turns around before he goes around a corner. "Combat medic James Galloway!" He turns the corner. I stay standing staring into the distance. I see a much younger James holding a baby in his arms. He looks happy. His wife is next to him with a smile I've seen somewhere before. Then I see James talking to his wife. "No you can't leave!" "I have to. Either I stay and get sent to jail or go. And I would much rather go and fight for the freedom of someone than to sacrifice my own" "I will never forgive you if you leave!" "I'm sorry" James walks to his son's crib and kisses him softly. I snap back to reality and run after my father.
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