Chapter Seventeen

What is Happening?

Bubba returned home after his first deployment on the USS Lawrence Mathers. After his tour was up, he decided not to re-enlist but rather go back to Virginia to his family’s small farm.

What’s the matter with me? Bubba would ask himself repeatedly. Bubba was not the same man he was when he left a couple of years ago. His first year away he spent attending Sonar school in Key West, Florida. When he successfully completed Sonar School, he was assigned to his first ship – the USS Lawrence Mathers. When he looked back, it seemed so long ago, yet it was a short two years out of his life.

He was home now. He was safe. That’s what he thought but he knew better than to become too complacent. He still faced each night with those horrible nightmares. He repeated to himself, what’s the matter with me?

He sat down to have a beer with his good buddy, Harry. After a few beers, Bubba had to say something. “Harry, why the hell didn’t you marry that cute little thing you were dating before I left?”

“Hell Bubba, she ran off with that ole schoolteacher.  They have five young ones and live down the road from you.”

“Why did you let her get away?” Bubba asked.

“What’s it to you anyway, Bubba. “Why are you questioning me about her?”

“I guess she reminds me of a beautiful woman I met while I was in the Navy.  She was married to my boss who didn’t treat her the way she deserved to be treated.”

“Sounds like you had it bad for her, right?” Harry felt as if Bubba was trying to tell him something, but he didn’t know what it was.

“You just shut your mouth, Harry”, Bubba yelled out.

Harry was so surprised at Bubba.  They had been friends for over twenty years.  He never saw Bubba so agitated.

“Bubba, what’s the matter with you? Ever since you came home from the Navy you haven’t been the same guy I knew.  What happened?”

Several beer mugs lined the bar.  Some were empty, others still had the beer in them.  Suddenly, Bubba stood up, and with the stroke of his hand, all the glasses were swept off the bar and came crashing down to the floor.

“Just shut up, okay. Shut the hell up.” Bubba got up off the barstool and walked out.

Harry sat there stunned at his best friend’s behavior.

What is the matter with him? He was never like that. Harry couldn’t figure out what happened to his good buddy.

As Bubba left the bar, he slammed the door behind him. He climbed into the driver’s seat of his car, turned the radio up loudly and stepped on the gas pedal. He peeled out of the parking lot leaving the smell from the burnt rubber tires behind.

“Why would Harry push me so?” Bubba tried to find a reason that Harry would be so mean to him. He was so preoccupied with trying to figure out what was wrong with Harry that he didn’t look at the speedometer. He was doing one-hundred miles an hour down the country road.

Before he could react, he saw a truck pull out in front of him from the side street. “Oh my God, I can’t stop……crash!”

When Bubba woke up, he found himself in the hospital with a Policeman standing by his bed.

“What happened?”

“You were going too fast and you crashed into the back of a truck entering the roadway. You are lucky you are alive.”

The officer read him his rights and asked him if he wanted a lawyer.

“Lawyer, why the hell would I need a lawyer?”

“Because you were involved in an automobile accident. It resulted in severe injuries to the person you hit.”

“I don’t care, do you understand. I don’ give a shit. Just leave me alone. My life is not worth living anymore. Do you hear me? I don’t want any pity. I just want to be left alone.”

He laid in the darkened hospital room thinking about what happened to him. He didn’t have anything to live for now. All he wanted to do was to curl up in his bed and pull the covers over his body. He didn’t care to eat or talk to anyone. He just wanted to escape.

What am I running from? Bubba kept asking himself why he was trying to get away from everyone, no everything, no LIFE!  That’s what he was trying to get away from – he didn’t want to live anymore.

Those damn nightmares. I can’t sleep because I wake up in a cold sweat screaming. How could I have killed those men on the submarine? Why did I do it? How could I have killed another human being? Am I being punished for what I did? This is just too much to take. I’d be better off dead!

There was a knock on his hospital room door. The door slowly opened and in walked his mother and father.

“I’m so glad you are okay”, said his mother.

“Son, I know you have been going through a great deal of turmoil since you came back from the Navy. Can I help you with anything?  I’ve been praying for you every day. I want you to get better and start to enjoy life again” his father squeezed his hand softly and smiled at him.

Bubba thought to himself, that’s the first time my father ever touched me affectionately. That’s the very first time my father touched me so gently. What took him so long?

He stared at his father for a long time. Just the feel of his father’s hand intertwined with his was amazingly peaceful. Bubba fell asleep hand in hand with his father and for the first time in months, he slept like a baby.

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