The High Cost Of Livin'

Submitted into Contest #43 in response to: Write a story about transformation.... view prompt




(Day sent)

JAN 1 ,1942


Paul Matthew Hayden

Order No. 14305


Having submitted yourself to a local board composed of your neighbors for the purpose of determining your availability for training and service in the land or naval forces of the United States, you are hereby notified that you have now been selected for training and service in the Marine Corps.

You will, Therefore, report to the local board named at

Lower Bridge Station

at 8:30 A. m on the 18th day of May ,1942

This local board will furnish transportation to an induction station of the service for which you have been selected. You will there be examined, and , if accepted for training and service, you will then be inducted into the stated branch of the service.

Persons reported to the induction station, in some instances may be rejected for physical or other reasons. It is well to keep this in mind in arranging your affairs, to prevent any hardship if you are rejected at the induction station. If you are employed, you should advise your employer of this notice and of the possibility that you may not be accepted at the induction station. Your employer can then be prepared to replace you if you are accepted, or to continue your employment if you are rejected.

Willful failure to report promptly to this local board at the hour and on the day named in this notice is a violation of the selective training and service Act of 1940, as amended, and subjects the violator to fine and imprisonment.

If you are so far removed from your own local board that reporting in compliance with this order will be a serious hardship and you desire to report to local board in the area of which you are now located, go immediately to that local board and make written request for transfer of your delivery for induction, taking this order with you.


Capt. Lt. Henry Miller McCartney

16--16764--8 Member of clerk of the local board.

D.S.S. Form 139

(Revised 5-13-41)

Having just received a draft notice from the U.S. government. Paul Hayden drops his ax and throws his hands up in anger. "You've got to be kiddin' me!" The UN-witty boy says with a thick twang. "I'll be damned to lose my life over this godforsaken country. All it's given me is a broken back and a beaten neck."

"AHHHHHHHH!" Paul yells into the world as it echo's across the land. Angrily chucking a rock into the distance. Only 18 years old and the boy is filled with hatred. He is lost of love, lost of purpose and direction. The young boy is lost of motivation. Paul struts to the front door kicking it open in anger. Past the dinning room table, and into the kitchen Paul opens the cabinet above the fridge, he reaches for the whiskey. Only 8:00 o' clock in the morning and the boy opens a bottle of Jim Beam's finest whiskey. Relying on the warmth of the liquor to calm him, allowing every demon inside him to drink his sorrows away.

Noon rolls around and the boy hasn't got a lick of work done. Alone in his house Paul lays there on the couch. The bottle of whiskey already half empty, he reaches for it again taking another swallow.

Knock, Knock, Knock

"Mr. Hayden, you in there?"

A man says from on the front porch, behind the sad ole wooden door. "We have come to collect the money your father owes us."

"Well I ain't got it! Now you two petty bastards can get the hell off my property." Paul stands up from his nest on the couch only falling back down again. Attempting to get up again he stumbles to the door. Aside it lays his 22. Winchester magnum rim fire rifle. Reaching for the rifle Paul opens the door. "Did ya not hear'd what I said." He shouts at the well suited men standing at his door way. "Sr.. we just wan--."

"Did Ya hear'd what I said!" Interrupting the timid man, Paul walks closer, allowing his breathe to linger upon the suited man. "I ain't got your money." Paul repeating himself in sternness. "Now ya'll can pardon yourselves, or I can but a bullet between the both of yall's eye's." Paul says as he get's closer to the mans face. "I'll have your money, when I have it."

"We will be back Mr. Hayden and the law won't be liking this." The men re frame from Paul's porch and they leave in a shiny 1941 Cadillac convertible. "Wretched business men, I tell ya." Paul mumbles under his breathe as he shuts the door. Tripping over his own feet he sets the 22. aside the door where it was before. "The bastard ya are, leavin' me with your damned burden. YA'RE A DISGRACE!"

Paul shouts in his empty home. Stumbling over to the couch he reaches for the bottle of whiskey sitting aside it. Paul holds it up but instead of taking a drink he throws it against the wall. Small tears slip from his eyes and his throat becomes restricted with emotion. In realization he clears his throat and his tears dry, becoming numb to feeling of heartache once again. The 18 year old boy, drunken and angry drags himself outside. Paul grabs his ax from off the ground. Wobbling, he raises the ax and starts to swing at the wood that lays in front of him. He misses and instead he hits his shin.

"AHHHH!" Paul screams in brutal pain as he falls to the ground. The boy, so drunk, so pitiful and sad lays there and in an instant his world goes black.

Hours later;

"Betty, Betty! Look, look over there yonder."

A young woman says as she and a girl about 12 come walking up the drive of Paul's home. "Betty! Betty! He's hurt!" The young woman rushes over to Paul in panic. Paul lay's there with the ax still sticking from his shin. The woman grabs the young girl. Looking sternly into her eye's she says "Betty I want you to search this fellow's house for a first aid kit. If you can't find anything bring out a pitcher of water and some of this boy's tee shirts or rags." The child runs into his home quickly. She foraged through the boy's cupboards and belongings. Not seeking out a first aid kit the girl filled up a pitcher and found some tee shirts in his closet as asked. The girl then runs back out side where they lay. "Thank you darlin'." The young woman says.

The woman carefully removes the ax from his barbaric and bloody wound, and starts cleaning it with the water. As she tends to his wound she notices that his bone is exposed. "This boy will need medical help. Can you head back into town and get the doctor?" Asking the Betty for another favor. The woman then starts to tear up the tee shirts preparing to wrap his leg.

Knowing that it won't be for another hour or so until the doctor arrives, the woman sit's aside Paul's head. She pulls Paul's head up onto her lap comforting the unconscious boy. The woman caresses his hair as she observes Paul's defined features. Blue eye's, light hair, roman nose and gentle smile with a stubble beard. The boy looked far from a drunk but as the woman sat with him longer she could smell the reeking stench of alcohol linger above his body.

"For God sake, your nothin' but a drunk." The woman say's in such dis pare for the young boy. "What awful things you must have gone through?" She says as she continues to speak to the unconscious boy.

"That ain't none ya business." Paul mummers quietly as he becomes conscious. "What, What was that?" The lady says in shock. "Oh my goodness, here let me get you some water." She says nervously as she searches for the water aside her. "I said, It ain't none ya business ma'am." Paul attempts to get up but his body, weak from the alcohol and the wound from upon his leg limits him from doing so. "Here drink up, please." The woman insists. Paul withdraws the pitcher of water from her hands and takes a sip. "Thank's." Paul says. "How long I been asleep ma'am?" Paul asks. "It has been a little over a half hour sense I found you laying here, but I have no idea how long you have been unconscious for." The woman replies.

"The doctor is on his way." She adds. "Well I ain't need no doctor! and I ain't needin' no woman tellin' me I need one!" Paul says assertively. In annoyance Paul struggles to get up and crawls to his feet. Limping towards his front porch. The woman stands up. "Well excuse me for tryin' to help, you were injured for God sake what is a woman supposed to do with that!" She says in defiance. "Ya can get the hell off my property woman." Paul yell's.

"My name is Charlotte Anne and you can stop talkin' to me like I am worthless, If it wasn't for me you'd be lyin' on the ground passed out drunk with an ax in your leg. Why don't you take your sorry, drunken ass down to the church. You might learn what it means to have some compassion." Annoyed with the boy Charlotte struts down the drive way.

A half mile up the road Charlotte walks into the doctor and Betty in a 1930's Model A Ford. The doctor stops along side the road. "I wouldn't dare drive up that road, that is a sorry figure of a boy down there!" Charlotte yell's out to the doctor as she points in that direction. "Betty, We are goin' Home get your things!" Betty get's out of the car and the two start on there way back home.

The doctor continues his way up the drive.

Pt - ing , pew,

pew, pt-ing

Shots are fired at the Ford. "You better be gettin' off my property!" Paul yell's at the Doctor from his front porch. You would think that a wretched old man lives there, but surly it is only a lonely and sad boy who knows no better than to mimic the acts of a father who did the same. "Young man I am only trying to help." The doctor yells as he is ducked down in the cab of his car. "Go away I said!" Paul shouts as he turns away to shut and lock his front door. Annoyed at the boy the doctor turns his vehicle around and heads back into town.

Inside Paul's home he lye's leaned aside the front door. Tired and in pain Paul rests his head. His eyes are heavy and in guilt the boy starts to cry. His face meets the palms of his hands and the sorrowful boy pouts, teardrops start to run down his face. "Why, Why oh Why." He whimpers. Mourning over His heartless actions, he falls asleep right there aside his front door.

Paul Hayden slept all through the night until 6:00 in the morning. As the boy awakens from his sleep his thought's are string in his mind. "Your pitiful, worthless, Your a slob of a person, God damn it I need to Get up." Paul stumbles to his feet in aching pain. Blood has seeped through the ripped tee shirts around his leg and his head throbs from his intoxicated day before. Paul limps to the kitchen checking the clock and the calendar aside it. It was 6:15 on Sunday morning. 3/1/1942. Paul then grabs a cup to fill with water, then chugging it, for the poor boy was parched. Paul grabs a broom as he staggers to the broken booze bottle he had thrown to the floor. As the boy sweeps up his sad mess, familiar words haunt his mind.

"Why don't you take your sorry, drunken ass down to the church. You might learn what it means to have some compassion."

These were the words of the beautiful young gal who so kindly helped Paul revive.

"church. You might learn what it means to have some compassion."

The words repeat themselves.


"You might learn what it means to have some compassion."

The words were repeated one last time before Paul finished cleaning his mess. Paul hobbled through the house to find some clean bandages for his leg. Paul then showered and put on his finest clothes. Paul had even shaved and trimmed his hair before leaving for town that morning. It was a long walk for Paul that morning, still tired and hungover with a wound that never stopped throbbing. The boy was tough and pushed through the long walk into town.

Tall, clean, slick and handsome, dressed in a white button down shirt, grey pants suit, shiny shoes with a bolo tie around his neck. You would have never had taken the boy for a drunk.

As Paul arrived into town, friends would greet him as if they did't know he was a scarred child. Gal's would gush over him, flirting, trying to make him love them. Unfortunately for them Paul did't know what love was. He was a lost soul needing to be found again.

The church bell rang, and unexpectedly Paul entered the church. As Paul entered he scanned the room. Sitting in the second row to the right was the same gal who had helped him yesterday. Thinking he might sit there, he didn't and instead sat in the back of the room.

"Psalm 103:10-14." The pastor begins.

"He has not punished us as we deserve for all our sins, for his mercy toward those who fear and honor him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far away from us as the east is from the west. He is like a father to us, tender and sympathetic to those who reverence him. for he knows we are but dust."

The pastor reads from the bible with heart and passion, his words fill the room with hope and enlightenment that our God up above has mercy on our pitiful souls. Much the same to a soul like Paul's. The pastor entertains the people proceeding with his grand lesson. Paul sits and he grasps the words from the pastor, trying to trap them in his mind, letting them linger, letting them teach him that God is kind.

"Forgive the rebellious sins of my youth; look instead through the eyes of your unfailing love, for you are merciful, OH LORD, for the honor of your name, OH LORD, forgive my many, many sins, feel my pain and see my trouble. forgive all my sins."

The pastors voice pounds in Paul's head. Closing his eyes Paul lets the word of the gospel sink in.

Soon the service is over and families flee the church. On the way out Paul catches Charlotte, Reaching his hand in hopes of stopping her. Charlotte stops with a bit of a shock. "It's you..from yesterday." Charlotte becomes angry. "You are a poor figure of a person, You insulted me and put the doctor in the sight of a rifle!" As Charlotte said these words she had realized they were un-Godly. She rushed out the door leaving no regards to Paul. Paul stands there for a moment as he watches her leave.

"Look, Charlotte, That's yur name right? I'm a real sorry." He says as he rushes out the door to follow her. Charlotte stops in her tracks and turns toward him. "I am glad you listened to my word about coming to church, If you keep attending you might be a saved soul." Charlotte says with sternness in her voice and a serious eye. "Ma'am after today I plan on comin' every Sunday. Ma'am you was right, I'm a sad figure of a person. I don't deserve forgiveness, I don't deserve none of it, but I be needin' a change in my life." Paul's face becomes sad, emotion starts to strike him and suddenly he becomes more real, more human, with feelings and pain that isn't so numb anymore. "You clean up nice." Charlotte says with a slight charm to her complexion. Charlotte turns around as she leaves Paul standing there. Not another word was uttered from Paul's mouth. Paul felt okay for once, he felt a warmth inside of him. It was nothing similar to the warmth of whiskey, It was a warmth that was secure. It wasn't so empty and broken.

Paul heads to the doctors to apologize for the cruel acts of a drunken boy. Paul had also hoped that the doctor would inspect his wound that was still throbbing ever so badly. After the doctors, Paul Hayden begins his 3 mile journey back home. Paul soon arrives home, his leg causing him pain. All he want's to do is rest in bed and think of life's horrid stories. As Paul enters his lifeless and cold home he searches for his mothers bible from ages ago. He finds it under the stairwell in a chest of her belonging's he has tried so desperately to avoid. Paul dusts the weary book off and heads into the living room. Paul begins to read and the 18 year old boy becomes consumed by the truth of the gospel. Promises kept and lives sacrificed for freedoms given by Christ. Tears begin to flood Paul's face as he falls to his knees.

"Lord I ask for yur forgiveness, Lord forgive me for my sin's, pardon me from my fathers name that so viciously drags me under. Lord I want to serve ya, I wanna know ya, and humble ya as my father and savior. Lord I thank ya for yur callin' me, In the Lords name I pray, Amen."

The Weeks past and Paul spent many Sundays at the church. He asked God for Guidance. The boy was transforming into a God fearing boy. Paul hadn't drank sense the day he was injured. Paul's hatred for the world lightened and the boy learned to love ever so slightly.


It had been a few months now, Paul being completely sober, completely happy and full of life and reason. Paul hadn't felt so alive in years. God saved the poor boy's pitiful soul.

Paul arrives at Lower Bridge Station with the Induction paper in hand. Today being the day he sacrifices his life for his nations freedoms. The boy is filled with a pride he has never been familiar with, the pride made him feel powerful. Paul felt that he can make a difference in the world in some way. As a child he was never needed, never wanted and instead he was pushed aside living in neglect of love from his parents. Now Paul has the chance of a life time. It is the chance to do his duty as an American citizen and fight for right under the constitution.

"I' ll make ya proud Lord. Ya have taught me to love this land, ya have taught me to take pride in what I work for, Lord ya have shown me purpose and direction, ya have guided me through a new light. Lord I will be hopeful to become a leader, I'll take the military as an opportunity to show I 'm no longer worthless and instead prove I 'm a saved soul of God."

Paul prays before he enters the station, soldiers are yelling and men are forcefully running through stations, getting checked and examined. Numbers are being called every which way. It is chaos and madness but Paul becomes fulfilled with adrenaline and excitement. This was the poor boys calling. The poor boy who was no longer just a boy, He was now a man.

A man who has acquired morals, and respect.

May 26, 2020 02:25

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Elliott Laurence
20:31 May 31, 2020

Interesting Kaylee, to read about a time where the armed services had to look for an individual(s) when they didn't report for selected service/draft and others were rejected for physical or other reasons...other reasons which were not always clearly stated. What I also got from your story is that God was at work in Paul's life before the businessmen came calling, before the ax mishap, and before Charlotte. If he reports for the draft, passes the physical, and is accepted he will earn a wage that will allow him to pay his father's debt. ...


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Kelechi Nwokoma
08:53 May 26, 2020

Wow, Kaylee. I enjoyed the story till the end. I really love how you referenced God and made the transformation about him turning to Christ. When I was reading it at first, I disliked the character a lot as misjudged him. I was like 'Why is Paul acting so grumpy and yelling about property? ' However, as I went on, I realised he was going through some stuff, and making him turn to Christ was a really good thing you did. I encourage you to keep it up. Also, why do you love writing about war and the '70s? I'm curious to know


Kaylee Cook
16:07 May 26, 2020

Thank you Kelechi, I appreciate you reading my stories more than you know. I was actually was thinking about adding more to the end, I know it is already quite long but what do you think? I like the era because there was a lot of life lessons taught back then, It was a time children respected there elders and it was a time where people had pride in America. In today's world I see thugs and ugly mugs disrespecting people, parents, and this land that God created. It is truly so sad to witness and when I write of the past, In a way I can live ...


Kelechi Nwokoma
18:24 May 26, 2020

Well, I feel the ending is just perfect and should be left the way it is. But if you want to add more, you can- you're the author. Also, I'm glad for your reasons for writing in that era. I respect your decision- keep it up!


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