The Reluctant Hero

I wasn’t allowed to speak to him or of him for that matter. He was the reason dad drank and stayed home, alone on holidays- supposedly. I bore the brunt, because I had his blue eyes.

The calls started when I was about eleven. Pepaw would ask if I could talk meaning was I alone. I would give the all clear and he would ask if my eyes were still blue. The smartass in me wanted to respond that no, they had turned brown overnight, but the matter seemed extremely important to him as if he were holding onto something an eleven year old couldn’t see by a thread of hope. Then, we would pack. Pepaw and I were time travelers, you see.

We were back on his battleship in Midway. Being the boat’s volleyball champ and mailman was getting him nowhere fast during this battle. Pepaw tried to saw through flooding compartments to release dying sailors only to hold the hands of men taking their final gasping breaths. He aided medics as best he could running from one to another.

Then, he eyed it- a kamikaze headed straight for the bow. His best friend at guns trying to shoot him down. Pepaw watched in horror as his buddy collapsed- shot several times. Those volleyball champ legs had him flying to the post. If the kamikaze was successful, the ship would flounder. He reluctantly threw his pal off of the guns and strapped in. Now, it was just he and his enemy. The shooting commenced. Suddenly, the aircraft barely switched trajectory and, nearly missing, went over the bow of the battleship. Caught up in their own hell, few even noticed. However, as Pepaw turned around, he ran right into a camera and crew filming him. He took one look at the scene around him and decked the cameraman.

Pepaw came home but never truly came home.