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Memento (continued from preceding page)
“It’s okay, T,” said Ryan. “He doesn’t know.” Mementos?
I don’t need help remembering. I just can’t forget.
“What don’t I know? It’s like you guys have this secret vet-speak and every time I open my mouth you get pissed.”
“You wanta fuckin’ know, bro?” T-Bone sat up on the sofa. “You really want to know? He burned all his fuckin’ medals! Don’t you get it?”
Nick looked back and forth between T-Bone and Ryan. “Man, you guys are all so fuckin’ touchy. You came back alive didn’t you? Got all your fingers and toes. A nice disability check every month. Plus free health care. You know how much they rape me for every month?”
“Shove it, Nick,” growled T-Bone.
“Well, what the fuck more do you want?” He tossed the hand weight back into the corner. “Me, I’ll be stuck working the line ‘til they dump my body in the ground.”
T-Bone chugged the last of his beer. He crushed the empty can against his head and tossed it into a waste-
basket. He looked at his watch, then glared up at Nick. “Let’s get the fuck outta’ here.”
Ryan opened the fridge again. Nobody’d loaded it with steaks and burgers since the last time he looked. His muscles ached and the cuts and abrasions were beginning to bite as the adrenaline receded. His back hurt, of course—broken vertebrae now fused in three spots. Too many jumps. Hell, the jumps never both- ered me—it was the landings that hurt.
He discovered a Coke hiding behind the milk and pulled it out. He flipped through the calendar on the wall. Almost the end of the month. Check might be here today. He wandered into the living room and flopped down on the sofa. Too damn lonely here. It wasn’t good for him. But who wanted to hang with a zombie that might flip out any minute? Maybe get a service dog—he’d heard they could tell when a seizure was coming on. He’d ask his counselor about it this week. Needed new jeans, too—whenever he wore his fa- tigues now, some fat, suntanned civvy would corner

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