The Horse He Rode In On
Jack slept in two or three hour squirts. Not sleep, really. More like the kind of thing you do when your third grader reads you the poem she wrote in school today.
For the first two weeks of NORPAC, as he lay in his rack, Jack listened to the daughter he didn't have read him stories about the bridge, watching from the navigation table as the mountains grew bigger and bigger. Chief Kirk cried like a girl, tugging at Jack's sleeve, saying, Make him turn us, sir, make him turn us, oh my GOD! Jack flew across the bridge like Bizarro Superman, and slapped Bizarro Zach Taylor upside the head, screaming, How about dropping your cock for a minute and letting us turn the ship around?
A month into the NORPAC, what had at first seemed like common terror punctuated by fill-your-pants terror became routine. At rest, Jack's mind began visiting compartments it had stayed out of since the deployment began.
Liz was a beautiful woman, but not a pretty one to live with. She loved horses, and not much else. She didn't like Jack being in the Navy, didn't like Jack's music, didn't like Jack's friends, and didn't like his habits--especially his drinking habits. Which, in reality, weren't all that bad compared to a lot of naval aviators Jack knew.
Hell, Jack didn't think he liked herself all that much. They argued constantly while they were dating. He'd somehow convinced himself they'd get along better once they were married. What the hell had he been thinking?
Silly question. He wasn't thinking, was he? Not with the head on his shoulders and neck, anyway.
Like she'd rehearsed it a hundred times if front of her mirror, Liz had explained over coffee what her lawyer had told her. California as a common property state, and she was entitled to half the marital property accumulated over their two-year marriage. Money-wise, those had been two good years for Jack. His Scripps Ranch house had almost doubled in value. He'd socked away his career bonus pay in mutual funds that had done well. In all, this short, miserable marriage would cost him over a hundred grand.
Why was divorce so expensive?
Because it was worth it.
Mom's husband Joe had landed in the first wave at Normandy Beach, to hear him tell it. Jack sat down and figured out one day that Joe had been nine years old when the allies invaded France. The guy must have lied to his recruiter about his age, Jack reckoned.
A chess aficionado, Joe was. Talked all the time about the time he played Bobby Fisher to a stalemate. One time too many, he talked about it. The last time he talked about it was two seconds before Jack put him in checkmate in three moves.
Jack and Joe couldn't spend two days together without a fight breaking out; Mom getting upset, Jack leaving, going back to wherever his duty station happened to be at the time.
Joe's only redeeming value was that he'd made Mom happy after seven years of widowhood, and he'd gooned that away by growing a tumor in his head, and now Mom would have to suffer through the lingering death of another husband.
Why couldn't the bullshit bastard have been a man and stepped in front of a bus or something?