The deciduous green has come with lilacs blooming in moist May rain. In a few weeks the peonies flowers will be as gaping wounds. It is always a nagging thought; will the wound turn gangrenous? The trenches are muddy and feel empty. Everybody’s face is new, the old have rotated out one way or another. The officers are untested. They cannot be trusted to keep you away from them. You know that officers are put there to give orders, orders that are expected to be obeyed. Let the young go over the top, the old who have lived know how to stay out of the rain, and we have learned to not whine about the trench-foot. When we whimper, it is with the rumble of thunder. We wish that we could become the destroyer of worlds, yet we know that is the them who he kept us away from.
He was the barrier between us and them. Here in the trenches of the war on garbage, he kept us from going over the top and charging the Browning water-cooled machine guns. I found the manual for one of those once. The party is over, and I cannot stay here because the war never ends. There are always casualties in wars, innocent bystanders caught under the steel tread. Not heroes, not soldiers, unknown workers who walk through the days and have grown familiar with the cavalry support of War, Pestilence, Famine, and Death. Professionals because we get paid, get paid, grow old and die. It is just a job, we did not volunteer. Nobody volunteers for the war on garbage, they are drafted by economic necessity. It is the glamour of the youthful illusion of climbing the ladder to a better job.
There is no better job. One day you realize you are the last man standing in the war. Taped to a cupboard door, from nine years past is a yellowing article taken out of a local rag on death and jobs. The war on garbage is number seven. We made it to the top ten for slipping under the wheels. The machines have to be fed. That is on the job. The life itself, the war sucks your soul because it can never be won. It can poison you as it did with Jerry piece by piece. The core issue remains. We are professionals; we get paid to fight the war. But the party is over, and I cannot stay here.