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(Reader: GK) Cold Blooded Blues Chapter 111: Grass is Greener

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Reader Post | By GK

I am going to try and meet my deadline for the final uploaded draft by tomorrow January 26 but I might miss it. It is a laborious effort whereby there is always a passage that needs its grammar refined. But here is another excerpt if anyone is following my book behind the book. If anyone sees some historical inaccuracies please correct me in an email.

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He crawled into bed at his motel where he planned on staying. Unfortunately, once he was nodding off, the nightmare returned to take him where he didn’t want to go.

Although hours had gone by on Earth, thousands of years had vanished behind Casey as he trudged wearily down the Italics People’s path. He and his partners were now dressed as Roman soldiers and marching with thousands of fellow Roman soldiers who were either on their way or coming from battles. Battles that included the Punic Wars, Caesar’s conquest of Gaul, they helped the Assyrians, the Phoenicians, the Hebrews, the Egyptians, the Celtics, and the Iberians to all fall to Rome.

They were soldiers in the most powerful empire ever, and although they were no longer mortal men, they seemed to have something no one else in Hell had—the freedom to keep moving. Everyone else had committed the crimes, long ago, that had damned him or her to this eternal warring in Hell. Casey wanted it to make sense, but it was too damn hot. He could barely think right. Water. He prayed for water. 

These latest wars were on the way, so they fought hard and fast and moved ahead as quickly as they could. Progress? They weren’t sure because they weren’t sure where they were going or what they were looking for. But Gold was pretty sure that if they moved forward in time that it meant they were getting somewhere. Casey’s only thought was that he should keep going until he found his baby. 

F-Troop was slowly being brainwashed by war as a way of life, a way of survival, a career. That philosophy was becoming embedded in their minds. They were becoming addicted to killing and victory. They were weak men to begin with, and this took their minds off their infirmity. They were beginning to crave more war, like nymphomaniacal warriors; war was sex— a drug, an aphrodisiac. Each battle was another climax. Pushing their hard sabers into other men brought with it the feeling of orgasmic release. 

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They were not aware of it, nor could they be, but the devil had thrown up a smoke screen, and they were lost within it. Only Casey managed to retain some degree of perspective—and only with the help of the butterfly. After each battle, the insect fluttered away, reminding Casey of Jenna and leading him—pulling him, further down the trail. It was great to be a winner. They were Romans—the rulers of Europe. Invincible. 

There they were in the city of Rome, awaiting an army of Germanic, Scot, and Irish warriors who were on their way to attack the city. They would be there at any minute. 

It was like a montage sequence from an old film, dozens of wars and years compressed into a shortened amount of time. It was a process that played on emotion. It had tapped into these men’s strongest need—the need to prove themselves to be strong. A paradox only a thinker could examine, and these men were like most people—scared of their abilities to think as individuals-to cultivate their own ideas, thoughts, and opinions. They were Lemmings to the sea. Soldiers. Cannon fodder. Another Generation of dummies who would be robbed of their time on Earth by older men who had conned them into thinking that they should and needed to give their lives up for their country. 

Balance was altered in their minds by the lies that had been fed to them like drugs. From the confident soothing voices of individuals who claimed to have the answers for people as a whole, if only they’d listen blindly. Give up their lives for the good of the whole. These thoughts passed through Casey’s head as he listened to Caesar give a speech to the troops. It reminded him of the rousing rallies that the generals parted on to him in Nam. He remembered then thinking, “Then why aren’t you on the front?” 

The immortality, Casey’s friends were feeling, was a two-way mirror. The first reflection was one of pride. They liked what they saw. They were winners, survivors. Through the second optical illusion, behind the mirror, stood the devil. He was a little bored with the fact that these men had turned out to be so easy. Gold was tempted to lead the men way off course to the Mongolian Empire to fight with Genghis Kahn. The choices were endless. He loved war. They loved war. This maze of timeless atrocity was a warmongers Disneyland. Which E ticket would he spend next? 

Casey found himself being outvoted on which direction to walk, often having to go a different direction than that of the butterfly. He was confused though, his thinking process had been traumatized, they had all begun to go insane, and yet no one was questioning anything anymore, it was as if this constant warring was a normal, natural way of life–a good way. God, Hell was a cool place. Like paintball, the war game they played on weekends to recapture the spirit of combat. Only better, these were real weapons and real wounds, but with loopholes in the laws of what were definite. 

They bled but they did not bleed to death, if they cut off a man’s head, the job was not complete until they’d cut off both of his arms and legs. Even then they’d fight that same man again in another war, so it wasn’t anything to feel bad about. In fact, it made killing a lot more fun, Worry-free war. 

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So, there they were, in Rome, Roman soldiers in the year 410 A.D. They weren’t even close to what they came to do nor did it look like they would ever get there. Gold was so caught up in being a Roman Soldier that he forgot one major fact, Rome would fall in 410 A.D. to an invasion of Germanic, Irish and Scottish Peoples. In just a few minutes they would no longer be on the winning side. The sack of Rome was thousands of angry invaders away. 

The invasion was quick and enveloping. Before they knew it, they were deluged with men pouring into the city, The soldiers they had fought alongside for seven hundred years or so were falling all around them, They too were feeling more razor sharp iron slicing up their flesh. A painful, grotesque sensation that rudely reminded F Troop that War was not as harmless as the illusion would appear. 

The Devil wasn’t trying to show them their wrong but play with it. He was far from toying with these men. Casey had dared to trespass on his property and for that he had something very special planned–more war. Casey felt a blade slice open the flesh around his heart and the pain screamed throughout his being, everything went black but just for a moment. As the man withdrew his sword from Casey’s heart. Casey’s darkness lightened to show the man who had done this to him. Casey’s legs buckled and he fell to one knee, He felt death, but death was not ready to claim Casey’s soul. 

His life bombarded his senses like a music video and he saw images of his first communion and his speaking part in the third grade play. He saw his Tball trophy and his first kiss; He saw his first car, his physical exam for the draft, boot camp and his discharge papers. He saw Janet in her cocktail waitress outfit, he saw their marriage, their home, Pauper and Jenna, He saw Jenna’s first speaking part in the first grade play and he began to quiver, he felt death but he didn’t die. He screamed a cry that he hoped Heaven could hear and he ran. His friends followed. 

The men stood before another set of signs before yet another set of trails-plenty of wars to choose from. They all had deep gashes in their flesh, Casey opened up the flap of skin that covered his heart and peered inside, A wound that should have been fatal was merely disturbing, He wondered if that wound would take his life on the outside of Hell. 

“Which way?”

“Which war?” 

“Whatever, let’s just go if we’re going.” Their attitude was one of not caring. They were sore losers. They had come to enjoy being part of an empire and the sudden expulsion had been a bit of a bitter disappointment. It was like the Super bowl champs not even making the playoffs the following year. 

“Why don’t I recognize any of these wars? When are we going to see some good wars?” Garcia whined like a kid forced to do what his parents deemed to be fun on a vacation. 

The wars they faced at this moment were the Persian Wars involving the Byzantine Empire, which was an offshoot of the Roman Empire. They also had the selection of the reconquest of Italy by Justinian and the Battle of Tours, involving the Franks in 732 A.D. 

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“I want a war with guns and bullets,” Hotchkins moaned. Eugene ‘Whites” Jeffries, wasn’t sure who and what he was anymore but he muttered these words, “I didn’t want to die but now that I can’t…I want to…” 

“The grass is always greener on the other side.” Casey whispered. He stared across the rock and gravel–nothing but dirt. He looked above his head. The stone ceiling was beyond sight, and darkness hung like a cloud. Their dome, their firmament was above their heads and no cloud would produce rain, no light, a rainbow. Hope was darkness.

“I’m so thirsty…” Gold’s voice was raspier than a tumbleweed.

“The next person who complains about being thirsty will get hot fuckin’ dirt shoved down their throats…” Casey meant it. 

Hotchkins opened his wound and looked at his stomach. Garcia and Whites were the only ones yet to be gutted wide open. They had plenty of cuts but nothing that revealed any eternal organs, probably because they were doing the most hiding. Casey couldn’t help thinking about his wound. Being able to peer at one’s own heart pumping was a temptation he was finding hard to resist. 

Not one of them was in a hurry to continue. They were all quietly regretting their decision to join Casey on this expedition into an absurd nightmare, although they didn’t want to admit it, they didn’t hold the same affinity for Casey’s little girl. Casey thought about leaving Jenna’s soul in Hell and turning back, but the thought was sobering, He saw those big blue eyes and those dimples. He knew he had to forge on. He had to. There wasn’t anybody else. He had to take charge. The others were losing or had already lost their minds, so there was no point in consulting them on each decision. He’d given up on Gold. He had concluded Gold only thought he was smarter. Casey was going to lead them and give them only enough time to react. 

Allowing them thought was a dangerous thing, his plan was to battle fast and furiously through as many wars as it took to find Satan. He had to meet up with him sooner or later. He looked down the roads, the butterfly disappeared over a hill, Casey started in that direction.  “Casey, where you going?” Gold didn’t want to go that way. 

Casey sat up in bed. There was relief though. Jenna was alive. Why did he keep dreaming she was dead and in hell? Why would a 6-year-old girl be sent to hell. It was a nightmare and nothing more. Perhaps it was a nightmare sent by his mind to warn him to get his shit together. An omen of horrors to come if he didn’t get his life together. A Christmas Carol came to mind.

Would these nightmares ever end? He screamed so loud he woke up every person in the motel. No one knew where the scream came from. Casey stared at the ceiling until he had to get up and go to work. 

After work Casey went to an AA meeting. Then he went drinking. Then he went to an AA meeting. They told him to go fall in a gutter, so he did. He woke up in the rain and felt pretty good. He opened his mouth and drank the rain.

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Remembering his nightmare, he felt grateful to be alive. He stumbled back to his transient room, showered, shaved, put on some fresh clothes and went to work.  

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