Singles: Rooster

Singles: Rooster
Author’s Note: This is a stand alone story which ties into my story “Single: Given to Fly” You do not need to have read the first one to follow this story.

Lastly a shout out to all my peeps who helped me.

“Sweet, you booked us to use the AK-47s at the shooting range” Heath said as he slammed on his breaks and felt his car hit something. He focused his attention and saw a man sliding down the hood of his Charger, the pride and joy of his life. The concerned man got out of his car and went to check to see if there was any damage to his hood.

As Heath walk to inspect the hood, he sniped at the man getting up from the road “Why don’t you watch where you are going? If there is any damage to my car you are paying for it!”

Layne Rodgers felt lucky he would only get a bruise from getting hit by a car. They failed again, they still had not found a way to kill him yet. He swore they were after him. Layne was not paranoid, the they he was felt was trying to end his existence was fate, karma, God, the Gods, and the enemy. He did not know that there was one more hitman to put on his list, himself.

If the people who knew him were honest with themselves, they could not blame how Layne with how he thought his life was a deathtrap. He did two tours of duties over in the Middle East and was a higher honored vet; being awarded three Purple Hearts, two Silver Crosses and a Distinguished Service Cross among his many awards and declarations. Layne had so many brushes with Death, he felt he should get a Christmas card from his foe.

If Layne was honest with himself, he could not blame the people in his life for their belief that vet had a deathwish. After his last tour of duty Layne left the military to have a simple civilian life. He was going to turn his sword into a plowshare. All he wanted was to have his wife,kids, and household pet beside him behind their white picket fence. When Ruth took the kids and left him, he took his safety net from underneath him when he left the safety of his American Dream.

Layne went to reenlist in the military; he needed to get away. Uncle Sam turned down one of this nephews for medical reasons, The newly classified 4 F told friends his knee was not up to military standards Layne felt like another part of his family left him.

Layne needed some excitement in his life to get his mind off the thoughts which would dominate it; what he did in the combat zone, his lack of a family life; and his wife, Reba, and country turning their back on him in his time of need..He found the adrenaline rush which was needed to take his mind off the issues in his life. It had the added affect of making him feel alive.when he started to do extreme sports.

In a few months it quickly escalated from a little off path mountain biking to BASE jumping. This was for after the first or second time the thrillseeker did one of those activity, the novelty wore off and the adrenaline did not come as much. He needed that feeling of hyper awareness which came from that natural high. He needed to look forward to being in the zone, where the future and past did not exist and Layne was only in the now.

After Layne evaluated the damage to himself and was getting up, he heard a hostile yelling at him. The soldier looked at the irate man with confusion. The crosswalk light was clearly green, Layne had the right away. Layne stayed calm and started to walk away. He was fine and did not want to deal with this man who put material objects over human beings.

Heath caught up with Layne, he was not going to let the vandel get away with damaging personal property. The man with the dent in the hood of his precious put his hand on Layne’s shoulder. That was an declaration of war in Layne’s mind.

As the combat vet turned around he greeted the enemy combatant with a headbutt to the nose, or what his brothers in arms would from the British Army would call a Glasgow Kiss. Then the warrior continued his assault with a knife edge to the throat. His opponent hunched over bleeding from the nose and grasping for air when the man at arm went for Coup de Grâce and grabbed Heath by the side of the head and had the jaw of his soon to be vanquished foe’s jaw violently meet knee as it swung upward.

Layne, with his head cocked a little to the side, stood over the unconscious man with a baffled look on his face. He has not been in a physical confrontation in his civilian life since before he joined the military. The victor was a little scared that he got such a strong fight or flight response from this incident. He thanked the powers that be that gave him the strength to fight off the urge to go in for the kill. He stood there waiting for the ambulance to come

********
The angel of self redemption finally touched back down at her new home base. Courtney has not had much time there since she made the decision to move back to her hometown. When she did it was not a long layover and had no time for social engagements. She was like Goldilocks and needed the nervous system of her operations to be just right.

It was hard for Courtney to be at home, she loved being in orbit around her world. She would touched down when she gave appearances to LGBT groups and the business world on the topics of self acceptance, acceptance of the other and integration of the other into the workplace among and other issues which affected the LGBT community.

The motivation speaker made sure when she gave talks or hosted workshops that the group she was addressing understood that the knowledge she shared with them applied to all groups which was in a minority. People should look to include people for the others and the only reason to exclude someone from the other is if you would do so with someone from your group. To boil it down one of the pillars of her talk was just her own personal spin on The Golden Rule.

Courtney went to Jerome's music shop to inform her group’s cryer that she was finally settled in and had a couple of weeks off before she took off again. Courtney wanted to let Jerome know her agenda first because they had become close friends after they reconnected. Plus, it had the added bonus that by the end of the day everyone would know.

Jerome smiled when his old friend walked in and greeted her with his standard “Hello Sister Courtney, my friend, it is great that we finally meet again. How are you doing?”

Even if it was multiple times in one day that Jerome ran into someone from his clan, he would give that greeting. People never got tired of hearing it for they knew it was genuine and from his heart. They knew Jerome wanted to know exactly how they were doing and why, he cared for them that much. Jerome had much love for the people close to him and was never afraid to show it

Courtney gave Jerome a hug and then answer Jerome’s question “Dear I have been great. I just came back from being on the road and will have some time to finally relax at home.

I am looking forward to seeing friends and family. I hope that Layne is not off doing some reckless leisure activity and he finally gets to meet the real me.”

Courtney has never seen her dear friend Layne as herself. The last time they saw each other, over three years ago, Courtney was an aimless man named Jerry. Right after Layne was sent again to the Middle East, Jerry also went on his own personal deployment, to become who she was meant to be.

She came back to her friends when she was her true self. They were all happy for her. The only one she had not met yet was Layne. When she first came home, he was still overseas. Then the free time she had as she settled back to where she grew up, Layne was always out of town doing his new hobby.

Jerome was happy that Courtney brought up Layne. Their friend was arrested a couple of hours ago and called Jerome for help. Jerome was ready to close shop and go down to help his brother right away. Layne told his rescuer to wait until the music shop’s night staff came in for it would be a couple of hours until he had his bail hearing. The storyteller of the group was also asked not to try to get anyone else. Jerome might had love to tell people what was going on with one another, but he kept his word when asked to do or not do something.

Jerome smiled as he found a way around of getting help while keeping his word. He did not care what Layne wanted, if he could he would get the help with keeping his word Jerome was going to do so.. Jerome said “I am happy that you brought brother Layne up, he is sitting in a holding cell right now. He asked me to wait until I get off from work to go down and.”

Courtney smiled back at Jerome;, for she knew what her sly friend was doing, he was keeping his word to their friend while doing the right thing. The lady, who was going to pay back her friend kindness with kindness, said “Brother Jerome do not worry about going down to help Layne out. I have this covered. I am sorry I am cutting my visit with you short, but there is an important matter at hand.”

*********

The vet was sitting in a holding cell, when one of the guards came to tell him his bail was paid. The man behind bars knew it was too early for Jerome, for he kept his word. He also knew that his brother did not get any help for the same reason it was too early for him to be their with bail money. As he walked with the guard to gather his belongings and to be released, Layne wondered who was his angel of mercy.

When the officer escorted Layne the mystery of which one of his friends was his benefactor was thicken not solved. In front of him was standing a professional lady in a pencil skirt, blazer and blouse with a huge smile on her face. The clueless man started to rack his brain for who she was. That smile on her face told him she was very happy to see a close friend, and her face looked familiar but he knew he did not know her.

The kindhearted stranger was about to talk and Layne was happy that the big reveal was upon him. He also knew once he found out who this was, he was going to hate himself even more. How could he forgotten someone who found his well being so important that she would bail him out of jail. It was full disclosure time as his indebted friend said “Layne I wish it was under better circumstance that we see each other again. I am Courtney Reyes, you knew me as Jerry Reyes.

Don’t be mad at Jerome, he kept his word and only told me about your predicament when I asked about you. Now let us get you out of here we have some catching up to do. “

*********

Courtney suggested that they go to Sam’s Town, a local eatery, to get a bite to eat. She was in the mood for a samwhich, the house speciality which kept the diner packed. It was a ham and cheese sandwich grilled with triple S on it, Sam’s Special Sauce.

On the drive there they exchanged pleasantries. Courtney found out they people still call her friend Rooster, for his bright red hair. From the tone, cadence and word choice, she also found out her friend was a mess. He was hurting, and was not in a good place. The finder of lost souls knew she found her newest missing one.

The man who his souls adrifted found out that Jerome was not lying when he told Layne that they friend was the person most at peace with themselves he ever met. The calmness and tranquility the lighthouse in the tempest gave out made the man lost in the sea of PTSD feel at ease and had the confidence he will reach safe harbor.

They went to the hostess and before Layne could do the gentlemanly thing and get them waited on Courtney took over. She told the waitress it was a table for two and pointed at the one she wanted. It was in the corner, away from the lunch counter and had the pay phone next to it. It was a little island of seclusion in the busy greasy spoon.

On their way to be seated, Courtney commended Layne on wanting to be a gentleman. She knew he was doing it for etiquette.

After they order their meals Courtney got to work. She said “Rooster, I know you are having a hard time right now. You feel lost, you thought you knew who you are and in your mind reality showed you otherwise. I want to say you are that person you thought you were.

I do not know or care to know, unless you want to share, what you went through over there while fighting for our country interests. It is up to you to pick who you share that with, but you need to share it with someone.

I do care about a friend of mine who has strong convictions, moral and character is not acting like himself. I care that I see him on a path of self destruction. I know that road too well and you helped me get off of it so please let me do the same for you. Let me help myself become who I should be by helping you see you still are who you always were.

The wonderful person who put his community above self, who has a sense of duty and honor. You do not need to answer me now, but please think about it. I will drop the subject now and you can pick it up if and when you are ready. I just want to say it again, to make sure you know that I want you to let me help myself become who I should be by helping you see you still are who you always were.”

Layne was taken back by how Courtney's voice was as gentle as a kitten yet at the same time as powerful as a lion. The wounded warrior was stunned with how direct his friend was with what she said. Those were words the hurting man needed and wanted to hear, but he was not ready to. Layne has lost his confidence in himself and was not ready to face his issues, yet alone the root of them.

The old warhorse felt being forced to face the truth as a threat, and wanted to retreat. He sensed it was not a battle he would have won. The seasoned fighter wanted to back out of the situation while covering his flanks. He would just fire a warning shot in his, mostly polite, turn down of Courtney’s offer. Layne said “ Courtney, I am so happy that you turned your life around. My life is not what I expected it to be right now, but I am strong I can handle it.

It is not like I am going to start to waste my life smoking weed all day and night, like you did.”

The sniper who provided himself cover in his retreat look to see if his warning shot had the desire effect . His target showed no reaction to the shot. Courtney was not phased at all by that negative remark about her past, so the markman got another verbal bullet ready in case he needed to fire another shot. Layne was not going to let his opponent pursue him for he knew he had no coverage on his route of retreat.

Courtney knew what Layne was doing and she did not care. His bail poster wanted to ease her friends mind about the financial situation about his bail. “Rooster, before we enjoy each other’s company, I just want to say do not worry about the bail money. I did not get a bond, so as long as you show up for court I will get my money back.

To tell the truth I think that they will be dropping the charges on you.”

With Rooster being in fight mode, his mindset was to take any action or anything said as a potential assault on what he was guarding, his wounded psyche. To him Courtney’s explanation about the bail, was her bringing up him needing help in a passive aggressive manner. His attacker was making an advancement and was going to strike.

To make sure that the soldier did not fail at his objective, the man with an eagle eye took aim for a shot to graze his friend. Yes Layne was going to achieve the objective of his defensive mission, but he is going to give quarter. The decorated vet did not want to add another confirm kill to his list of casualties

Layne said, “Jerry, sorry I mean Courtney. It is just going to take some getting used to that you are not a man anymore. It will take some time, but one day I will not mess up your name.

I will give you the money and when this is over just give me it back.”

As soon as the name, Jerry left his mouth, Layne felt a little more of his pride slip away. Becoming even more dishonored was the price that Layne has already paid many times over to just survive another day in hostile territory. He almost looked away for he did not want to see the results of his verbal attack.

The bringer of pain looked right at his recipient. Layne’s friend deserved him to see the damage he has done. This was so the warrior would give his fallen opponent the respect of having the victor look directly at her. It was also so he could burn that image into his mind, to have a reminder of the damage done, so he would use even more caution the next time he was in a conflict.

A little sign of sadness with on Courtney’s face, good the damage was done and his attacker would surely retreat. The trooper had joy with the fact the mission was accomplished, but sorrow from the results. One day he would petition his friend to forgive this transgression.

The sadness which Layne’s guardian angel had was not from his verbal jab. She knew he did not mean it. It was from her seeing how much pain her friend was in and she let him down. The healer rushed in when she should not had. Courtney thought Layne was ready to reach out to a helping hand, but she was mistaken.

Courtney quickly regrouped and started to truly catch up with her friend. The reformed lost soul so wanted to share with her friend how well she was doing. The victory of her personal war against herself wanted to let her ally know how much his supply of love and caring turned the tides in her favor.

The successful entrepreneur talked about how well her consulting work was doing with businesses and about how great it was to go to colleges assist people who were in the same situation she was when she was in school. In the conversation the grateful lady made it a point to stress how paramount Layne’s help was into her achieving all that she did.

Layne heard help and he automatically thought she was trying to stay on the subject of her helping him. The savvy vet cursed himself for bad assessment of the situation. Layne was using tactics for he was under the assumption that he was up against a wise general, one who cut losses and know when to retreat. The sentinel did not take into account the general leading the charge against his stronghold was inexperienced and showed she was a fool when it came to combat.

Layne regretted all the options he saw he could take to survive this assault. He could try for a kill shot or go with a full out bombardment of the terrain in front of the advancing troop. The kill shot would end this war that Courtney declared on Layne’s mental well being, but would also end at least their friendship if not Courtney’s life. He would had to kill her confidence in herself. Scorching the earth in front of his sieged fortification would lead to at least a huge strain on the friendship between those two or it to end; it had the disadvantage that it would allow Courtney to retreat and maybe one day raise up arms against Layne’s mental well being again.

The compassionate warrior went with the bombardment. Layne knew Operation Distraction would work. It would be a two prong attack. The first prong of distraction would be putting a ton of topics in between Courtney and what she wanted to discuss. The second prong would be the hostile tone of what he was saying. one would.

Layne started to verbal volley when he said “Courtney, I am so happy that I was able to help you become who you are, like I said I do not need help. I am not like you and do not need to talk about what happened over there. The Middle East is like Vegas, what happens over there stays over there.

Yes my life is not at its highest point, but it is nowhere near the lowpoint you were at. The little issues I have do not pile up for they are not related.

My wife left me, or I should say that she is making me leave our house. I need to find a place to stay soon for she is mad that I will not let the other man in my home. She wants him to move in.

I will not be as directly involved with my children’s upbringing like I want to. I will still be there for them as much as I can. I will make sure that Donnie and Maria know that I am their father, not him.

I do not like my job as a production manager, but it pays well. I work to live not live to work, so it is not a big deal. I am looking for a new job. That issue will be resolved soon.

I tried to rejoin the military and was denied for them saying I was not fit. I just have to move on and should have reup while I was still in the army. I lived and learned.

I know people say I did some radical changes, while I have not. I am more vocal when I get into an argument. It just comes from me having more faith in my convictions. People say I am taking more risks, while they are not truly risky activity. Jumping out of a plane is nothing compared to getting fire at by the enemy is. Free form rock climbing is tame compare to Staring down the barrel of a gun held by a preteen is. Now it is risky to trust the unit’s new translator/guide for he could be a double agent it. Being awoken….”

Layne quickly stop talking, he cursed himself. Somehow his friend has got him to break his self appointed vow of silence about his time in that hell on Earth. He did not view the Middle East as Hell, but being in a war zone. Knowing that people are trapped there just by losing the birth lottery has made Layne’s life a purgatory on Earth. He knew that they did nothing to deserve it.

The reasons that Layne started to open up to Courtney was she did was not passing judgement and not even thinking of advice to give him. His impromptu counselor was just listening and Layne felt something he had not for a while. He was in a safe place with someone he could totally trust. He had the freedom to open up and let his spirit out of its shell. The wary warrior’s soul quickly retreated when he realized it was in a compromised position. Layne did not like that his flanks were exposed, his bombardment actually let him unguarded.

“So just drop offering me help about what happened to me over there. I do not need it. I am fine. Do you understand?”

Courtney only said “I understand and was just thanking you for what you did for me. I will never bring up my offer again. You will be the one who make the decision if we ever talk about it.”

Layne was not used to the weapons of understanding, empathy and compassion being used against him when people were talking about his current situation. All his friend and family wanted to help the man who was on hard times, but only on their terms.

The old warhorse knew the outcome of this skirmish if he stayed engage in it. He would open up more. He told himself he did not want to for what happened over there was nothing. He believed it for he was not ready to admit how much that time defending his country’s interest has changed him.

Courtney’s friend did learn one important lesson while in the combat zone, do what you can to live to fight another day. Layne made the decision for a total retreat. He needed to provide some cover while retreating and decided to use Courtney’ tactics against her.

Layne said ”Listen, Courtney, I am sorry that I came off a little edgy. Getting hit by a car tends to put one in a bad mood. I am not going to be good company so if you don’t mind can we get this to go.

You can stop in my house quickly and say hi to Donny and Maria, they have heard so much about you. Also Reba would love to see you. The few times we talked civil to each other, she brought you up.”

Courtney knew her friend needed to be left alone. He was not ready to confront what was tormenting his soul so she agreed. She also suggested that he picked up his entire family samwhiches. Layne liked the idea.

Courtney dropped in and did not stay that long. Reba and the kids were happy to see their old friend. Reba was mad at her soon to be ex-husband for not calling her for help. The heartbreaker stilled loved and cared for him, she was weak while he was gone. She confused her want for human touch for a need, and did what anyone would do with a need, fulfilled it. Courtney quickly played peacemaker and explained to Reba that she was leaving her husband so that meant that she could not expect him to reach out to her in his time of need,

Reba was hurt hearing about another way the connection she had with Layne was no more, for she wanted to be there for him. Reba wanted to stay with her husband, but the shame she felt by her betrayal of his trust was too painful. Reba’s friend could tell that she needed to talk so Courtney suggested that those two have lunch tomorrow. There was no way that Reba could say no, for she said that she had nothing planned for tomorrow afternoon and suggested that those two do something together soon.

After just a brief stay Courtney left and the Rodger’s had a nice family meal. It felt like before Layne’s last deployment. For a while, they both forgot that they were not a couple anymore. This was until Reba’s new man called her. He called to change the time they were going to the movie to a later showing, Stan was stuck at work. Reba did not care for she was not really in the mood to see Stan tonight. Then when he got a little snippy about her already eating she just told him that she was not in the mood to go out.

********

The next day Reba and Courtney went to lunch. The harlot was waiting for her friend to pass judgement on her. Reba would not blame Courtney for doing so. She did something very low, left her man while he was overseas. The worse part is she did not tell him until he came home. A part of Reba wanted it to be a bad dream and one day she would wake up knowing she was true to her true love.

The optimistic dreamer held onto hope but when Layne got home she awoken to reality. It was not a bad dream which she had, it was real and now her life was a nightmare. She could not forgive herself for her transgressions. She had to move on so she could feel better about herself. Time heals all wounds for people forget. She needed to forget the pass for what it was, her letting the man she loved down. Reba needed to believe the narrative that their love was dead and that was why she had a new man.

Little did Reba know that what she was doing would just reinforce her memory and make it harder to forgive herself. Her life would be a constant reminder of what she threw away just to feel a man’s touch. Reba stayed with Stan for the cheater felt she did not deserve a better relationship. Stan was not a bad man, it was just that their relationship was not a great one. They did not click and was almost never in step.

Reba at first tried to defend her actions and Courtney just listen. Without judgement coming from her confessor the sinner went from defending to explaining. There was still no verdict coming from her confidant whom Reba appointed as her judge. The lady full of regret of her past then told her friend the truth.

Reba wanting to find the secret of absolution said “Courtney, I do not want to leave Layne, but he can never forgive me for what I did. I messed up more than once. I kept on going back to Stan. I knew it was wrong, but still did so. I know you will not believe me, but I swear that I kept on seeing him to punish myself.

I do not love Stan, I mean the way I should. I just do not know what to do, I am in too deep.”

Courtney felt so bad for Reba, she knew her friend was in a cycle of self destructive behavior. Her friend was falling so the rescuer threw out a rope and said, “Layne cannot forgive you until you forgive yourself, dear. You did mess up and made a bad decision, then you compounded it by making more bad decisions. I think you did so you would not have to fix what you did wrong.

You need to forgive yourself if you truly want Layne to forgive you. I know he will, he wants to. You need to be open with him.”

Reba was open to Courtney’s assessment of the situation. It was for she wanted to be told she was wrong. The lady, who lost the will to fight to keep the man she loved, said, “How can I be open to Layne when he is not open to me? I want to be but he is keeping so much in and would not share anything with me.”

Courtney said “Reba, you pushed him away. He knew something was up even before you told him. He had to for your actions towards him changed. You were hiding something from him and now he knows what it was. That is just going to make him be more guarded around you.

You need to be brave and open up to him. You need to be honest to. You need to not say you made a mistake. Tell him that you made one bad decision and it sent you down a path of making more bad decisions to punish yourself.

You need to also have patience with Layne opening up to you. You let him down and he is going to need to build up his trust in you. He will for he needs to, he needs to trust you to trust himself. He needs to trust himself so he can open up to himself and then others.

Even if you and Layne do not get back together, you need to end it with Stan. Stan is not the man for you. You said so yourself. I believe you when you say you are punishing yourself, and being with Stan is the ultimate punishment you can give yourself. Every time you see him, a part of you will remember what you did. He would be your own personal scarlet letter which no one else but you can see.”

Reba was stunned at how straightforward Courtney was with her. It was refreshing for even with her friend in no uncertain terms told Reba she did wrong, Reba knew she needed to hear it. The lady with the renew will to win back what is rightfully hers also liked to hear what she needed to do would not be easy. It was not for Reba wanted to punish herself more, it was for she knew she needed to earn what she tossed away.

They enjoyed their lunch and Reba was in a really good mood for the first time since she met Stan. On her way home she made a stop at Stan’s to tell him the good news, they were done. Stan was hurt and lashed out at her. Reba took it for most of what he said was true. She needed to hear it.

*********

The lady freed from running away from her actions went home and talked to her husband. Reba told him all the lurid details and why. She then went on to tell him that she understood if he could never forgive her but wanted him to. That he does not need to ever move out even if they do not get back together. Lastly, she wanted to try to make amends and hoped that it would lead to a reconciliation of their relationship.

Layne just listen, he had to assess the situation. He knew all the lurid details and was shocked that hearing them again hurt him. He liked that it hurt him for he felt something. He has been doing those extreme sports to also just get a feeling.

Layne asked his wife what she wanted him to say. Reba said “Dear, I want you to say what you are ready to say, nothing more and nothing less. I want to earn your trust back and that is why I told you. We will talk about this when you are ready, and I will never bring it up again.”

Layne heard Courtney’s words coming out of his wife’s mouth. He felt it was another attack on him by Courtney. He had to end this offensive his adversary took on him for good. He was going to to attack, by dropping “Little Boy” on her. No it was going to be “Fat Boy.” Layne hated that he had to go with the nuclear options but he had no choice. He would do anything to survive.
Layne had to go on his mission right now before he lost the courage to do the cowardly act of destroying a friend’s self esteem. Layne said to his wife “Sorry, I need to do something. I would be back in a little bit.

Do not worry I will be moving out soon and also be out of your life.”

Layne did not want to move out, but he had to run away from his wife. She was trying to be open to him. He worked too hard to shut off the outside world. He was not going to let the lady who let him down help him reconnect to others.

Reba was hurt by the devastating news of her husband determination to fulfill her wishes which she did not want anymore. That did not hurt her resolve to find that love that she lost.

Layne got to Courtney’s and she welcome him into her home. Layne felt a little unsettled for in this Armageddon his opponent had home field advantage. The fighter knew that he had the advantage of the element of surprise, he was engaging in a sneak attack. His foe would not see it coming. How could she? The last time they sparred he was on the ropes, and running away scared from the her advancement.

Layne was ready to destroy his friend. Telling her that she was not a real woman and would never be one. That she hid in a dress the fact that she could not cut it as a man. Then something happened. He saw how happy his friend was just to see him. He felt how much his friend cared for him. This was twice in one day he felt something. He felt the unfamiliar feeling of trusting someone who has not seen combat.

Layne said “Courtney, you are right. I need help. I just have noone to turn to. My wife, she cheated on me. The army said I am not fit to serve for I have PTSD. I got it doing my duty and they turn their back on me when I try to get rid of it.

I saw things which no one should never have to see. I know that too many people are seeing the same things. I know that the combatants on both sides are having their friends die in their arms. I know that some of the soldiers are leaving a part of their body behind on the field of combat. That is not as bad as all the soldiers are leaving a part of their soul there also.

I, I, I, came here not to tell you this. I came here to make sure you do not ever offer to help me again. I thought it was for I did not need help. It is for I am beyond help. I am unredeemable.

I am not as strong as you or as strong as people think I am. I see the faces….”

Courtney just stood there, she knew it was best not to say anything right now unless her friend told her to. The angel of compassion just gave her friend what she was the patron of.

Layne felt that Courtney was not withdrawing from him. He knew she disagreed with his evaluation of the state of his soul. Her faith in him made him find a spark of faith in himself.

Layne with tears in his eyes said “Courtney please let me help you become who you should be by you helping me.”

Courtney said. “I will love to help a friend find himself again, for he did so for me. Whatever you need, I will do. I will say one thing you need to open up to someone. It should not to be me. It has to be the someone who have the closest connection to. It has to be your wife.”

Layne said “I want to open up to her but can’t. How can I open up to someone who I do not trust anymore?”

Courtney knew that Reba followed her advice and came clean to her husband. “You have to trust her. She came clean on what she did and why. She did not ask you for forgiveness yet, for she cannot forgive herself.

You need to help her find the forgiveness she needs. You trusting her again would do so. In trusting her again you will start to trust yourself. When you trust yourself you will be able to open up to her again. You two will heal. You need that, you do not want the love you two have to be another casualty of war.

She will be your healer. I will be there for you and her.”

Layne was ready to take the leap of faith. He thanked his friend for putting him on the path of making himself whole again. He promised his friend that they would catch up soon and it would be a joyous occasion.

*********

Layne came home and looked at his wife. He gathered all the strength he had and said “Reba, it was horrible over there and part of me is still over there. Help me bring that missing part back home.



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