Payback

We collapsed back to Shark Base.

As soon as we got there, I shed my gear and put my back against the wall, then slowly lowered myself to the ground.

Tears started flowing from my eyes.

I thought Ryan was dead. Actually, he was still alive, if just barely. The docs worked like hell to save him. Ryan would eventually be medevac’d out of Iraq. His wounds were severe—he’d never see again, not only out of the eye that had been hit but the other as well. It was a miracle that he lived.

But at that moment at base, I was sure he was dead. I knew it in my stomach, in my heart, in every part of me. I’d put him in the spot where he got hit. It was my fault he’d been shot.

A hundred kills? Two hundred? More? What did they mean if my brother was dead?

Why hadn’t I put myself there? Why hadn’t I been standing there? I could have gotten the bastard—I could have saved my boy.

I was in a dark hole. Deep down.

How long I stayed there, head buried, tears flowing, I have no idea.

“Hey,” said a voice above me, finally.

I looked up. It was Tony, my chief.

“You wanna go get some payback?” he asked.

“Fuck yeah I do!” I jumped to my feet.

A few guys weren’t sure whether we should go or not. We talked about it, and planned out the mission.

I didn’t hardly have time for it, though. I just wanted blood for my guy.

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