The Folded Flag – Part 7

Fold six, right angle of the triangle goes down. This fold symbolizes where our hearts lie.

 

We had a couple different schools in Florida, and then we headed to Washington. We took a plane, and I got a seat next to Pepper. We were chatting comfortably, and I started realizing that he knew a great deal about me. He asked about my parents, my brother and sister-in-law, my former girlfriend and my dog. As we talked, I became uncomfortably aware that I knew very little about Pepper. I knew nothing of his family, or his life before he joined the Air Force. I wanted to show as much interest in him as he did in me, but the truth was, I had never taken the time to show any interest and so I knew little to nothing about him. This bothered me. Pepper was turning into the person I spent the most time with, the one I talked with the most, the one I confided in the most. And I knew nothing. He knew me as well as I did, and he never once made any comments about the fact that we never talked of him.

I decided, then and there on that plane, that I was going to change all that. I wasn’t really sure where to start, though. After thinking about it for a while, I decided on beginning with mutual ground.

“Pepper, why did you decide to become a PJ?” Pepper almost choked on the orange juice he was sipping. He furrowed his brow and looked at me, as though I had asked him some totally off-the-wall question, rather than the basic one I really presented. His look made me feel even more guilty. His reaction alone was enough to testify to how often I asked him personal questions. I glanced down at my hands that were nervously twisting a magazine, but I refused to back down.

“Why did I decide to become a PJ?” He repeated the question, then drummed his fingers thoughtfully. “Well, you know how there are some kids who know they want to be in he military from the time they can crawl?” I smiled. Maybe Pepper and I were more alike than I had ever thought.

“Yeah,” I replied. “I know all about that.

“Well, I wasn’t one of them.” I blinked. Pepper smiled. “No, I never really wanted anything to do with the military, especially the Air Force. As I remember it, I wanted to be an investigative reporter.”

“A what?” I asked incredulously.

“Yes, I was a big Superman fan. Lois Lane and Clark Kent made it look so interesting.” I had to laugh at his mock serious expression.

“So when did you change your mind?”

“Well, my life changed, completely flipped, when I was ten. And I think my mind began to change a couple years later.” I was curious now.

“What was it that changed your life and your mind?” Pepper shifted and was just opening his mouth to answer when a couple of the guys came over towards us with a deck of cards. I wanted to tell them to go away, but they didn’t give us much option. They moved things, including us, shifting around so we could spread some cards out. It was the regular poker team, and they were oblivious to anything but the game. Pepper shook it off and offered the men a long-suffering smile. I was irritated, but there was little I could do, except wait and hope that someday I would get the rest of the story.

– S.D. Bullard

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~ by sdbullard on April 23, 2012.

2 Responses to “The Folded Flag – Part 7”

  1. DUDES! GO AWAY I want to know too!

  2. 😉 Fold ten! That’s when you find out!

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