In his story, By What is Sure to Follow, Donald Burton brought me into a world in which I was introduced to an unemotional, and rather detached, Luke Sims - before he signed up for the Recon Marines, the most elite group of the Marines, similar to the Army's Green Beret and the Navy Seals.
I watched as Luke's life changed. He found meaning in his life, at last, but as time passed, he felt disconnected from the reality "back home." He couldn't conceive that such a world existed anymore.
His life had changed drastically - from the time he woke in the morning, to the types of food he ate, to the routines he developed in his quest to be the best of the best of the Recon Marines.
I felt I was a witness as Luke Sims, whom his team and others eventually called, "Eyes," transformed into a man defined by the war. He wasn't at Vietnam merely fighting because he had enlisted; instead, the war seemed to have become so ingrained in him that taking human lives didn't produce any degree of sadness, whereas he had been a man who would vomit at the sight of a dead body when he first enlisted.
In my mind, Luke Sims was as much a casualty of war as anyone whose life was taken during the war. He heard so much ... saw so much ... done so much that I wondered if he would ever feel whole again when he got back to the real world, if he would ever move past his emotional scars.
I know it's possible to feel whole - not because I've experienced any type of fighting. I haven't even been involved in a fist fight. However, one of my dearest friends, Michael Phelps, is a Vietnam War Veteran who lives in Miami, Florida. He has worn many hats since that time and, seeing him in person, I never would have guessed such tragic memories were embedded deep within his mind.
The ending of By What is Sure to Follow totally surprised me - so much so that I'm still shaking my head at the turn of events. I felt I was in one place and got transported to another without my knowledge. The ending was well executed and certainly has left my mind with questions, as it will yours.
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