A More Forgiving Imagination

by Regis Boff

I lived through the shootouts in my basement. I was often wounded or “winged,” as we called it back then, but that only added to my prestige as a war hero. My favorite girls were cheering for me from the bleachers; the ones I had built in our cellar. The best ones, vaporously near faint with longing for me. I was always too busy for them, what with the war and all.
Many enemies died, mostly Nazis, Indians and odd-legged insects from outer space until they were all gone.
I packed a gun through most of my childhood. I did my best work alone. Thousands died, and dead was dead
When I played with other kids, it took a more forgiving imagination. If you get killed, the fight is over for you when you are by yourself. But alone you never had to die.
With your friend’s, nobody stayed down. The youngest boy in our gang was always instantly marked for death, even if he cried about it. When he told his mother, though, we could be in for a shitstorm. So we would let him live, but he always brought up the rear
When I was little everybody in the Memorial Day parade carried at least a rifle. The old soldiers dressed in the same outfits they were in when someone last shot at them.
I was always touched our government knew that uniforms that were worn by such men should be kept by them when their war was over.
In the same way, the dead were buried in theirs.
My friends and I pulled our guns on these old timers as they marched, from the curb, and loudly tried to shoot it out with them. They never shot back, even in fun.
Growing up, it seemed that Americans agreed about their wars in much the same way they respected their fallen, without a seam and with honor.
It is more tricky now as we haven’t been attacked by an enemy, as a country, in a long time.
We go to war now with people who hate us, not wanting to kill them anymore, just to change them. To make them like us, while pretending, we admire their difference.
I know now that killing “Indians,” was wrong, I should have been trying to admire them, but in my defense, I was nine years old.