Taps

Communicators League 2019

Captain Rothman, deciding he didn’t want to be deployed to a war zone in Afghanistan for the fourth time, grabbed his duffle and went AWOL after he heard the conductor announce that Chicago would be their next station. From Evanston, he ran out the train door onto the platform and headed back the way he came along the tracks until he spotted the woods and turned in and headed North.

Days later he saw a break in the woods and walked towards it. Rothman exited the woods and entered a neighborhood of painted ladies. The porches bent and rolling, looking like different smiles; leers, grins, smirks, grimaces and the like. The front doors once painted bright but now shadow-bound became noses, and the 2nd-floor windows, with shades of different lengths, were all warped and came across as eyes: winks, wide-set, beady, sleepy, hooded, protruding and every other kind of eye in his platoon. In the house fronts, Rothman believed he recognized Sully, Pedro, Lo Mein, Latka, Elmer, Jackson, and McMahon amongst others.

Wind gusts caught the shutters and shakes and lifted them, salute-like to Captain Rothman, the platoon’s ranking officer.

A hard-spiral rainbow-colored rain began. The houses were leaking rain through their upstairs windows and all appeared to be weeping. He walked up on the first porch and in the window by the door was a gold star flag and the mailbox had one of his soldier’s names painted on. He went from house to house saluting the gold stars after reading their names on the mailboxes. With each salute, he said something personal about the soldier and the rain continued harder and began stripping the color off the painted ladies and then came the hail and the shingles started falling until most were left only wounded.

When Captain Rothman got to the last house he felt a sadness that so many of his men were taken in battle. He saluted the house from the street and walked up on the uneven porch and read Rothman on the mailbox and saw the gold star flag in the window. Rothman saluted again as the house began to twist and shrink and he turned to walk away, but he was only walking in place.

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