I was supposed to work today. The mall was just waking up. The stores were yawning open. The morning joggers were finishing their rounds. Sunlight gleamed across buses crossing to the stop outside, and cars parked for the day. I was supposed to be working today, but today didn’t turn out that way.
My manager, Gerald waited for me by the main entrance doors. I was lucky that he hired me. It came out later that he only hired me because I reminded him of his ex-girlfriend, but I didn’t care. I was finally freed from fast food and now had retail experience, but I never asked him to do this. But he did.
The two soldiers approached us, and I looked at Gerald in question. “What was this all about?”
“I’m giving you the day off,” Gerald said. “These are friends of mine, and I thought you would be interested in what they have to say.” I still didn’t get it. “Don’t worry. They’ll drop you back here afterward, and then you can go home.”
“Okay,” and I allowed the two soldiers to lead me away.
This was during peace time. There was no September 11th. There were no wars waging in the Middle East. There was no reason for this, but Gerald took it upon himself to have me brought to the recruitment office. And here I was, sitting before these two men, and rearranging large, white cards before me with single words on them such as Honor and Bravery.
The two soldiers spoke to me for a long period of time about joining and its benefits. As they spoke, I began to realize that I was growing angry. I agreed that I was lost and looking for myself, but this wasn’t my choice. This wasn’t what I wanted. Finally, when they were done talking, they offered to drive me home. I had them drive me to my friend’s house instead, who I spent the rest of the day with. I went home later on.
Once home, I informed my parents of how my day went. Needless to say, they weren’t happy about it. The word, Quit came up a few times, but I needed the money. I would tell Gerald later to never do that again. He had no right, but that wasn’t what really bothered my parents. What really bothered them was one question in particular, “Can I kill someone?”
“Can I kill someone,” I repeated. I never had to think about that before. Sure, there were people I would like to kill, people that had done me wrong, but could I really do it? Could I, and if I could, what did that make me? I simply shook my head.
It would be years later before I came across my first road rager, someone who would have blindly taken my life, if I had not fought back. It would be years later before I met the trolley man, someone I would still love to kill. It would be years later, where my nightmares turned vicious, full of violence and murder, and I would worry about waking up to its results. But I know myself. I know that I’m not a killer. I might do wrong, wrong that I might not be able to explain, but I can still feel my heart. And I know that I am not a killer.
Nothing ever came out of that meeting. I continued to work with Gerald, at least for that time. I would continue to gain retail experience that later led to more future opportunities, opportunities that would quietly steal the years away from my life, and then I would look back as I am doing right now. And now, I know who I am. I know what I want. I know that I am no longer lost.