The clock read 10:00 am. Blake had one more hour left before he had to leave to catch his train. He glanced down at his list of things to do before leaving. Most of the items were completed, he just had to talk to a few people. Blake took in a deep breath. This was going to be the hard part.
The doorbell rang and Blake walked over to the window to see who it was. It was his brother, Dan. He already talked to Dan yesterday and told him what was going on. This visit was not going to help. Blake needed to get rid of his brother as quickly as possible.
Blake opened the door slowly. “Heh, what are you doing here?” he asked. Dan pushed his way into the house and then turned to face his younger brother.
“I think you are making a big mistake,” he said. “And I am sure Dad would think so too.”
“What do you mean, Dad would think I'm making a mistake? Didn't he enlist in the military when he was 18? I'm 22, graduated from college with the ROTC program, and commissioned as an officer in the US Army. I think Dad would be proud.”
Dan shook his head. “Nope, he would say you are a fool. He said the Army was the worst experience of his life.”
Blake stared at his older brother. “Why are you telling me this now? I was in the ROTC for 4 years, you could have said something about this at any time during those years. Besides, Mom disagrees with you.”
“Like Dad would tell her he hated the Army. You know granddad served, as did every other male on mom's side. Mom is very proud of her military family.”
“All the more reason for me to carry on with the family tradition. Besides, dummy, it is too late. I've received my assignment and have to report to the base by 1400 hours. The Army doesn't take too kindly to soldiers who change their minds at the last minute.”
Dad raised his left eyebrow. “Good point,” he said. He then looked around his brother's house. “What are you doing with all your stuff while you're gone?”
Blake glanced at his watch. “I've got a buddy staying here while I'm gone and he's going to look after everything. Don't you trust me that I know how to think ahead?”
“Nope, that's not it. I'm just curious.”
“OK. Now that your curiosity is satisfied, you need to get going so I can finish up my list and catch my train on time.”
“You're taking the train? What's wrong with the bus?”
Blake exhaled loudly. “The bus takes too long and I would have already missed the bus I need to catch to get to the base on time. Bro, what is with you?”
Dan looked down at his shoes. “Nothing. I'm just going to miss you, little brother. Who else am I going to go fishing with? It was just you, me, and Dad who liked to fish. Now both of you will be gone.”
“Then fish by yourself until you find someone else willing to sit in a boat with you all day.” Blake picked up his cell phone and put it in his pocket and then began to pick up his duffle bag. “Dude, my Uber will be here any moment.”
“I can drive you.” Dad offered.
“I don't think so. I need the time to gather my thoughts. You'd just talk the whole time.”
Dan clutched his heart. “Ouch! Are you saying I talk too much?”
“Dude!!!! What do you think? I have to leave. Goodbye. I'm sure going to miss you.” Blake attempted to guide his brother towards the door. Dad stood firm.
“I'm going to miss you too. Maybe I should enlist and work with you?” Dad suggested.
“No!” Blake said in exasperation. “Absolutely not! You have a good-paying job, you don't need to join the Army. Besides, didn't you say Dad called it the worst experience of his life?”
“Yea, I did. But still,”
Blake walked over to the door and opened it slowly. “Dan, you got to go. I can't be late.”
Dan still wouldn't move. Blake then walked over to his brother and gave him a bear hug. While doing so, he gently nudged his brother towards the door.
“Hey, remember when you tried out for football and I knocked the wind out of you?” Dan said after breaking from his brother's embrace.
“No, really. Do you remember?”
“Yes, I remember. Now please, it is time for you to go.”
Dan moved towards the door a little bit. “I felt bad for you little brother. Most big brothers pound the life out of their younger siblings but I didn't. So you were unprepared for getting knocked to the ground. I wish I could have prevented it.”
“Dan, it doesn't matter now.”
“But it does, Blake. It does matter. When will I see you again?”
“Whenever I get leave, I'll come home and visit. You know that.”
“Yeah, I know. But when is that?”
“After Mom's birthday, I think. I'm not sure. Maybe I can ask for leave before her birthday.” Blake moved Dan closer to the door. “Dude, you have got to go! My Uber will be here in 2 minutes.”
“Do you have everything?”
“How would I know? I can't think with you here!”
“Blake,” Dan said.
“Dan, please be quiet.”
Then they heard a car horn honk. “Damn it, that's my ride. Dan, I got to go! Thanks for stopping by, please lock the door on your way out.” Blake grabbed his duffle bag, slung it over his shoulder, and went out the door to the waiting car. He turned and waved to Dan as he climbed into the back seat of the green car.
Dan looked out the door to his younger brother. He pulled an object out of his pocket and looked at it. “Damn, he just wouldn't let me talk, would he? I was trying to give him Dad's old St Christopher medal to keep him safe like it kept Dad safe. I guess I will have to mail it to him.”
Dan watched the green car drive down the road and out of sight. “Bye, little brother,” he said quietly before he closed the door to the house and tested it to make sure it was locked. Then he walked to his car and drove off.