"Okay I'm ready," said Ben as he stood up with ease.
The darkness faded. Ben found himself in the stadium of his old high school. A group of teenagers were on the track not too far from them. They were walking around and exiting around the back of the stadium into the neighborhood. Ben saw his former self towards the back joking with his old friend. A car pulled up at the street in front of them. Ben heard the driver throw the car in park before stepping out. He looked around 19 years old and he had a scowl on his face.
"Jennifer, get in the damn car."
One of the girls in the group ducked down slightly and quivered from the yelling.
"Isn't that the guy that has been stalking you?" Asked one of the girls.
"Yes, my ex."
The young man slammed his car door shut and walked over to the group.
"Get in the car Jen," he said with gritted teeth.
"Jennifer, you don't have to get in the car with him. Just stay with us," said one of the girls.
"She's getting in the car with me. One way or another."
The young man grabbed Jennifer's arm. The group stepped back in fear of him being older and bigger than the rest of them. Except for the younger Ben.
"Hey man! Let her go!"
"Or you'll do what?" he scoffed as he continued to drag her to the car.
The younger Ben grabbed his arm and twisted it to release Jennifer. As Jennifer ran back to the group, her ex turned his attention to the teenage Ben. He threw back his fist and quickly made contact with Ben's nose. Ben's former self grabbed his face and groaned slightly. As blood started running down his face, he stood up straight before throwing a powerful punch against the young man's jaw. The fight erupted between them. Soon after the police showed up on the scene
"Do you remember this," asked Nelson next to Ben.
Ben jumped slightly and quickly regained his composure.
"It was the first time my nose was broken. I had to set that damn thing myself too since my mom wouldn't take me in to the doctor."
Nelson nodded and asked, "Do you know what would happen if you weren't there."
"I can imagine it would have been bad. I found out later, he had sexually assaulted her in the past. So I can't imagine what she would have went through if I didn't intervene."
"She would have died."
Ben turned to Nelson with wide eyes.
"And, she wouldn't have been the only one. That guy right there would have been been on a rampage until he was finally caught."
Ben looked back at the young man who was now being handcuffed, struggling against two police officers.
"That guy was definitely a piece of work," responded Ben.
Everything faded into blackness.
"It seems like you are getting the hang of this," said Nelson as he smirked.
"When you get smacked in the face like that, it's hard to forget," chuckled Ben.
Nelson smiled wide and nodded in understanding.
"So, you ready for the next one?"
"I guess so."
Ben watched as the scene started to appear. He felt his heart race as he saw sand and uniforms. As he looked around, he realized he was back in basic training. New recruits scattered the field taking orders on their training. Rucksacks and other gear were piled on everyone. Ben heard raspy breathing and turned around to see a young man laying against a tree. Other recruits were surrounding him trying to give him comfort with water.
A drill sergeant marches angrily to the group and picks up a Gatorade container full of water and ice. He moves to dump it over the rasping soldier's head when Ben saw himself run from a few feet away and push it out of the drill sergeants hands. The drill sergeant looks stunned and stares at the ice and water now covering the tan dirt next to him.
"What the fuck do you think you are doing Private?!?!"
The young Ben went into attention immediately as he caught his breath.
"Private Davidson would have gone into shock, Drill Sergeant."
"What the fuck did you say to me? Who the hell do you think you are?" he roared as he drew back a fist.
"Drill Sergeant Martinez!"
The Drill Sergeant stopped in his tracks and turned around. Another Drill Sergeant was marching his way. Ben quickly turned to Davidson rasping loudly behind him.
"Move out of the way," he ordered the other soldiers around them.
They dispersed quickly with Ben's determination. Ben unzipped his ACU top and opened it slightly. The soldier was drenching in sweat. He grabbed a salt packet from his cargo pocket and ripped it open.
"Eat this," he said as he shoved it towards Davidson.
Davidson weakly took the salt packet and emptied it on his tongue as Ben continued to loosen his clothing.
"Anyone have any clean socks?"
Someone next to him handed him a pair from his rucksack. Ben ran over to the ice that was slowly melting on the ground and grabbed what he could to put it in the sock. He rushed back to Davidson and placed one sock around his neck with the other under one armpit.
"Drink just a little bit of water. Not too much," he said as he offered his canteen.
Davidson grabbed the canteen and took a small sip before handing it back to Ben.
Ben turned around to see the other Drill Sergeant standing over him. Ben shot up and went in attention immediately.
"Escort Private Davidson to the hospital."
"Yes Drill Sergeant."
"When you return, report back to me. You would make an outstanding medic," finished the Drill Sergeant as he patted his arm roughly.
"Yes, Drill Sergeant."
Ben watched as his younger self gathered Davidson to carry him to the 5 ton that pulled up.
"Remember this?" asked Nelson beside him.
Ben nodded quietly.
"The ice and water the Drill Sergeant was about to dump on him would have made him go into shock. You knew there was something going on a little deeper than just the heat."
"Drinking too much water. They pushed it and pushed it. And, he had dangerously low sodium levels. I remember he was hospitalized for quite a few days."
"He would have died Ben."
Ben never really grasped the condition Davidson was in. He never thought about him possibly dying from how sick he was.
"But, someone would have sent him to the hospital eventually."
Nelson shook his head as he said, "Did you not see all the recruits around him that were offering him more water. No one knew what they were doing. How did you know?"
"Ummm, I can't really tell you. Common sense and basic medical classes I took in school."
"Well, that's more than what anyone had here."
Their surroundings faded again into darkness.
YOU ARE READING
The Veteran Left Behind - ON HOLDGeneral Fiction
Ben is a disabled Army veteran that struggles on a day to day basis. The nightmares keep him from sleeping. The daily physical pain is almost unbearable. But, the worst burden he must face now is the memories that haunt his mind. It takes an gra...