[Biting the Bullet, 865 words, Genre: Mind Fudge]
* Image courtesy of Dirk de Bruyn
Tyson had gone through high school without the prerequisite of love. It seemed that every girl that he had turned to for a sympathetic ear had just called him a cheat on his manhood and like a pinprick to a balloon, his ego and confidence had deflated to a crumpled up mass. He was becoming one of them. One of those creatures that clung to any form of compassion that he could. He was in need of love and affection.
He went to his father one day after another day of being placed at the back of the classroom and thoroughly ignored. That is when he asked his father for some advice about women and his father responded by saying thus, “It’s not what you say that matters, but what you do.” Which by all accounts was not the worst advice that he could give him.
“So what should I do?” Tyson asked.
His father shrugged and did not pay careful attention to the following words that would change the course of his young son’s life, “I don’t know. Be a soldier. Everybody likes a soldier.”
And so Tyson graduated high school. He did not have the academic qualities to enable him access to a university. So upon completion of his high school, while his peers were all out celebrating their grade scores, he followed up on his father’s advice and applied for the military.
He sat the test, and followed the interview procedure for enlistment into the defence forces. He did not want to be anything special, all he knew is that women loved a soldier and so that’s what he wanted to be. In the interview process, he professed and lied, stating, “Ever since I was a child I have dreamt of being a soldier.”
With the intelligence test completed, they gave him his option and he signed up as a rifleman. From there, there would be further fitness tests. To which he all passed and before he knew it, he was being sent on the bus to the military barracks for training.
Training was what it was. The process of turning shit into gold. Tyson struggled with everything. The discipline, the early hours, the drilling of fitness procedures over and over again. The constant strain on the body that the training was, was meant to be a test of endurance to see if you were really capable of coping under high degrees of pressure.
You were meant to struggle. Everyone struggled, that was just the nature of the training. Tyson began to question why he had enlisted. It seemed like a hell of a lot of work just to get laid. He began talking to some of the other recruits and that was when the truth came out in mixed conversation.
Tyson had asked one of the other recruits, “So why did you join the army?”
To which the recruit replied, “My father was in the army and his father and his father before him. It’s just a family tradition. Why did you join?”
“I wanted attention…”
“What do you mean attention?”
“Of the female variety…”
“Oh, I see. Well, you don’t have to be in the army to get that. All you have to do is steal a bullet and say that you were in the army.” There was something sinister in the way that the recruit had aligned his words, something that he knew that Tyson didn’t. As if the recruit was testing him.
“Can’t I just buy a bullet?”
“Hey, this is Australia, it’s not so easy to get one of those things anymore. Even if you don’t tell the girl that you’re a soldier, she’ll still be impressed.”
But Tyson was unaware and so approached the ammunition building and stole a single bullet from munitions. He, then, on leave, went out into the city and went to nightclubs. There he met a girl and told her that he was a soldier. When she questioned the validity of the statement, he showed her the bullet and did not go home alone that night.
The story spread of what Tyson had done and the barracks received the story in turn. The training officers in charge handled the situation. Tyson was court marshaled and expelled from the military. But after all that, he refused to give the bullet that he had stolen back.
After being locked up in detention for six weeks they released him, but he still had the bullet. He had his trick now and wherever he would go he would show young naive women the bullet. Sometimes the trick worked, sometimes it didn’t.
Years passed and Tyson enjoyed the luxury of being a lover of many a foolish young girl. But as time passed, he also aged. He had never come to settle down, being the playboy that he was. He grew depressed and despondent, and as his looks faded, the trick failed him time and time again.
One day he resolved himself. He somehow managed to get his hands on a gun and then placed the bullet into it. He pulled the trigger and that was it. That was how Tyson had decided to spend his life.