Jim sits on the steps of his trailer, staring into the sunset, listening to the waves. His beer's getting warm, but he doesn't pay much attention. His mind's on the other side of the Pacific, in Korean rain.
They call it Memorial Day nowadays. He doesn't see any damn reason to memorialize the day.
His hatred of guns began in Korea. He didn't much care for them in training, but there were no stakes in basic– once he got out in the field, the rifles were all too damn real. Nothing glorious about a man falling face-down in the mud, arterial blood marking where he fell. Nothing glorious about going back to camp with what used to be a guy he played poker with, drank with on leave, admired pictures of his girlfriend (who wasn't the most attractive woman ever, but who made his buddy smile) – with what wasn't anything now but bones and gone.
He doesn't shoot people now, keeps his gun hidden away. He knows about bones and gone. If that makes him a coward, so be it.
The door opens behind him, and Mary steps outside – he knows it without turning around. He can feel her, smell her. God, she makes him smile.
But this is their second Memorial Day together, and she got the story last year. (Mary the journalist has learned to pull stories out of the most reluctant subjects – him chief among them – and then, once it's put together, let it rest.) Now she drops down beside him, and silently offers him a fresh, perfectly chilled beer.
“Thanks, sweetheart,” he says, and puts his arm around her.