Misfire 2008

James Deitz

A bomb explodes. I serve the tennis ball to my brother
again at 15 to 15. In the distance an IED explodes again.  
A short young man double clicked his car remote. The car
horn blares out. The IED ignites. Ignore it. I rush to
the right, barely getting to the corner, return my brother’s
forehand with a backhand. I hit it hard. He returns it.
I can’t get to his forehand this time, it skips cross
court for a winner. That car horn ringing out again. Two mortars
land. And again. I try to serve at 15 to 30. Why the hell
does that guy keep locking his car? I fault. An RPG hits
the locker room next to our court. That bastard locked his
car again. Double fault. I slam my racket to the ground.
It bounces a few feet away. I shoot over to it, pick it up and
slam it again. Steve stares at me, walks closer. He isn’t pissed.
He knows something is different. James. Brother, it’s okay.
He tries to console me. He knows more than the game is wrong.  
More than an OCD stranger with a remote bomb. But my brother
doesn’t know what to say. And I don’t remember what he says.  
That night. Not sure the time. There were no voices in my
head. There were a few echoes. I looked at my Glock.
That black trigger. Never too far away. It was under a poetry
book, Here Bullet. I grabbed it. It felt light, the cover sticking
to my skin. This thing I’m used to carrying. It felt like I was
back in Iraq with my brothers. Cocked the handle, chambering
the Gap 45 bullet. I lifted the Glock to my head. Lowered it a little.  
Pressed it to my temple. I pulled the trigger. Nothing
happened. It should’ve ended. Everything should’ve
ended. There in the barrel, bronze metal still in the dark
chamber. Ready to fire. Nothing happened. Not a god
damn thing. I hunched lower in my couch. I stared
at the gun. I don’t remember how long I sat there. My head
in my hands. Here, Bullet next to me. Glock 45
laying on top of the book. I don’t remember if I cried.


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James Deitz is a veteran, who served in the military for five years, with two deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and taught English in Korea for four years.  He has enjoyed reading and writing poetry since high school.  However, after his first war experience, writing became a sense of therapy and a necessary way of expressing emotions—redirecting trauma into art.  PTSD is a necessary subject that poetry can help show and express.  His debut book: Still Seeing a Dead Soldier is available now. He can be found at ptsdpoet.com.