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 him and try to shake his hand. Thank you for your service. Bullshit. Service to who? Bechtel? General Dynamics? Standard Oil? They just didn’t know—any more than Nick did.
Be nice to talk to somebody. Dad. He hadn’t talked to Dad for a couple years. But they’d just fight. He was ashamed of a son with PTSD. Psychobabble. Real sol- dier. Suck it up. And Mom didn’t dare call if Dad was around.
I was The Man once. The box full of medals proved it. They couldn’t wait to plaster him with ribbons and run his picture in newsletters. For killing teenagers
in rags—not to mention the occasional women and babies. Collateral damage. But as the injuries mount- ed, he fell off the radar screen. Damaged goods meant bad optics. Now he spent more time standing in line at the VA than he did at home.
Ryan glanced at his watch. Mail will be here. He fin- ished the Coke and tossed the can in the general direction of the waste basket. He let himself out the door and trudged down the hall toward the mail room. Check might be here. Christ, four years of col-
lege and the rest of my life sleepwalking and waiting for handouts from Uncle.
The cute brunette from upstairs was coming up the hall, sorting through her envelopes. Sarah? Was that her name? No—Sally. Ryan remembered having drinks a couple times. Nice girl. I should follow up on that.
She glanced up at Ryan and smiled with her big dark eyes flicked furtively to the side, toward a rocky em- bankment on their right.
Uh oh.
Ryan snapped his head around. He threw back the window and brought his AR to bear on the rise to their right...
Beach has followed his muse as a graphic designer, film director, advertising copywriter, marketing consultant, web developer, painter and printmaker, university professor, and finally an author of fiction. His stories have appeared in many publications, including The Satur- day Evening Post, The Woven Tale press, The Penmen Review, and Penny Shorts. He holds BSc and MFA degrees from Bowling Green State University and currently resides in Toledo, OH.
   Archangel Zadkiel
acrylic on canvas 46’’ x 93”
By Sandy Sokoloff

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