The Sailor's Stories

1015 Chapter fifteen – The Sailor’s Awakening.

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Now before I go on, I feel obliged to mention that a navy headshrinker, is not like your common garden variety shrink. Oh don’t get me wrong, they have the same qualifications, but they come at you from vastly  different angles. There is none of this new age crap, your average shrink will try to force feed you. A navy headshrinker, is a serious professional, and at times just as deadly as a trained SEAL.I knew this, so I was not fooled by his calm and friendly demeanor, or the fatherly look he was trying to pull off. With what I was about to tell him, this man could make or break my career.

His office wasn’t overly comforting, there was a desk with two chairs in front of it, and some file cabinets in the corner. The walls were a drab off white colour, festooned with pictures and diplomas. Like me he was wearing tropical whites, but unlike me he was sporting a thick red woolen cardigan. He was roughly in his middle fifties,  with balding ‘Salt ‘n Pepper’ hair and had half moon glasses, that seemed to be glued half way down his nose. He sat down in the overstuffed chair behind his desk, motioning for me to do likewise. He took out a pad and a pencil, as he waited for me to get comfortable. Looking into my eyes, he absent mindedly lifted the pencil to his lips, and started chewing on it.

“I’ve been reading up on your file…, I had it sent over from records. You’ve lead a rather distinguished career it seems…, well decorated…, not a single bad fitness report…”

He paused as he flipped through the pages, he stopped a couple of times to read something then continued on. Finally he looked back up at me, as if he was just remembering that I was there. It was a ploy…, he was trying to make me comfortable. I was feeling anything but…

“So Commander…, care to tell me why you are here?”

“Um well.., I…, ah…, I haven’t been sleeping well lately.”

“Oh…, well that doesn’t seem to bad…, why don’t you tell me a little bit about it, then maybe we can see what we should do…, hmm?”

“Look sir, before we go on, I need to know how private this is going to be.”

“You needn’t call me sir in here, and you don’t need to worry about privacy. I still have to maintain confidentiality…, except in matters that concern threats to national security…, you’re not a threat to national security are you?”

He said that last bit with a sideways glance, still looking over the top of those lenses. To be honest I felt like I was in the principals office getting grilled. Like I said earlier, I had gotten into a few fights in school, so the feeling was not new to me.

“No sir…, just well there are some things, I should tell you, that need to remain very private.”

“Hmmm…” He said scribbling notes. “Perhaps you should start at the beginning…, what do you think is upsetting your sleep?”

I eyed him cautiously as I thought about what I was going to say. Could I trust him? To be honest, I wasn’t sure, but I knew that I had to do something. That incident, with the pistol…, and then hitting Corey, I knew that if I didn’t get help, I was going to go off the deep end. He just sat there patiently, while I ordered my thoughts, I had to let go…, I had to take the risk, if not for myself, then for the boys. As he looked on, with an encouraging smile, I let loose.

I started with Mark’s death. I hadn’t even formed a proper opinion of it myself, I discovered as I spoke, my feelings were all just in little pieces. Though as I told the story, like a jigsaw, the pieces started to fall into place. He asked the occasional question, but mostly kept quiet, content to just take notes. I didn’t care, I was on a roll now. Leaving his death behind, I moved on to our relationship. I took a leapt of faith, and left nothing out. Telling him everything we did together…., well ok, not everything. I left out the sex, but told him enough, so that he would understand the relationship we had. I told him how we were when we were kids, and how I felt when he moved. Then on to when he came back, and how different he was. I went over our ‘first time’, I was brief, but I think he got the jist of it.

My parents were next. I went into the whole scene with stark detail. My parents were killed in a car accident. They had been visiting my sister’s family for the holidays, I was meant to go but I couldn’t make it, as I was on an assignment out of the country. The weather, that was what did it, the snow had started early that year, and it had been bad. They were driving back from Providence, at night, and had almost made it home, when they skidded out on a patch of black ice. The car had rolled more than five times before it came to rest against a tree. They hadn’t died instantly, once again the weather had played it’s part, before anyone could get to them, they froze to death.

Then I moved on, to my sister and brother in laws death, and the eventual taking in of the twins. Again I left no stone unturned, right up until the camping trip. How Dale had given me a scare, by coming out, the relationship he had with Carl. That led me onto Carl as well, I couldn’t leave him out. I told him how much I loved the boys, all of them, and how devastated I was when I hurt one of them. I think I broke down then, It wasn’t enough that my memories were stripped bare, but my emotions were also raw. I ended my telling, with Jaime, the gun incident, and the conversation with Doug. When I had finished speaking, he made a quick few notes, then looked me in the eye.

“Hmmm.., you have had a lot on your plate these last few years. You come home from a particularly nasty assignment, only to be thrown into parenthood. You have never had the chance to just sit down and relax. I think what we have here is a classic case of post traumatic stress disorder.”

“Really…? You think it’s that bad doc?”

“Actually no, not that bad…, there are varying levels to this disorder…, don’t believe everything you hear in the media.” He said with a slight chuckle, “I am particularly interested in these conversations you have with your father…, how long have you been doing that?”

“Well since just after he died I guess…, why?”

“Well I was beginning to think a possible split personality, but I think now, having heard all of what you just said, it’s a simple coping mechanism.” He scribbled some more, then continued, “Yes what I see here is stress, nothing more…, you’ve been struggling with your ‘Identity’ shall we say, since high school. And then to have that part of you brutally torn away, well it is only natural that you are reliving it. I don’t think you ever mentioned grieving…, did you mourn the loss of Mark, your parents, your sister and her husband?”


“Like I thought…, you have been carrying these deaths with you wherever you go. You seem to be holding on to all your lost loved ones.”

I had to think about that, I thought I had put them behind me. When mom and dad…, and Mark for that matter, died I was working and had to put my full effort into what I was doing. When Shelly and Sean died, I had the boys to take care of. Looking on it now that he had put it into perspective, I realized that I hadn’t, I never seemed to have the time. I was always just so busy with other things.

“Actually no, come to think of it I don’t think I have…, I was angry, I know that much. In fact I was angry at them for a long time. But no I don’t think I ever mourned any of them…, is that why I talk to my dad…, why I’m having the dreams?”

“It could be…, it could be that your subconscious is forcing you to relive it, to bring it to the surface. You have to think about the way your mind works.”

He got up and walked round the desk. He reached out, and gave my shoulder a gentle squeeze, in a very fatherly way. It was then that I noticed all the pictures behind his desk…, pictures that could only be family, several children, and even some grand children. Propping himself up, on the corner of the desk, he continued…

“You have been in some incredibly stressful situations during your career…, and you have somehow managed to compartmentalize your feelings. I’ve seen a lot of boys like you, and trust me when I say you are not alone. Even the best ones break. When you do what you do, for as long you did it…, well lets just say that the mind can take only so much.”

Deep in thought, I just sat there for a few moments…, trying to process what he had just told me. I think that I could finally see it, I hadn’t let mom and dad, Shelly and Sean…, but most importantly Mark, go and though to be honest I didn’t want to, I knew that I had to. Those parts of my life were gone…, forever, I needed to move on. I could never forget them, or what they each meant to me, but I was beginning to see that I had to let them go.

“So what now, doc?” I said as I looked up into his eyes, “I mean I know I’m not cured or anything, but I need to know if I’m gonna break up…, if I’m gonna be a danger to my boys.”

“Well for now I would like to schedule some weekly sessions with you…, we’ll start with just three, then reassess your progress. As to the other, only you can know that, I don’t think you are a danger to the boys, but I do recommend that you talk to them about it. Forewarned is forearmed as they say.”

He got up again, and went back around his desk Sitting in his chair he scribbled some more, then leaned back placing his hands together in his lap.

“What are you going to do about the other stuff, I mean my relationship with…”

He moved forward and leaned his arm on the desk, while putting up his left hand in the ‘Stop’ gesture. Old habits died hard, as I immediately stopped talking, following his non verbal order.

“I’ll stop you there, son. As you know the navy has a policy, but in this office, like I said, secrets are secrets. What you told me will not leave this room.”

I was relieved and it showed, he sat down smiling at me. I think I had misjudged him, he was pulling off the fatherly thing rather well. And it was obvious, even to myself, that I was beginning to like this man. He had all the best qualities of a physician, that were evenly tempered by being a parent.

“Besides, at least…, or more to the point, officially, it could be put down as a simple experimental crush. Boys do that, as you are well aware.”

“It went a little deeper than that Doc.”

“I’m sure it did, but they don’t have to know that.”

He had said that rather too conspiratorially, so much so that I had to laugh,

“And of course Dale’s orientation has no bearing on your career, so that is of little significance either. Honestly, don’t worry about it…, and if you do decide to act on those urges again, make sure you do it out of uniform…, for the time being at least.”

“Thanks Doc.”

“Ha! We’ll see if you thank me in the coming weeks…, well that’s all for today, I’m late for golf with the Commodore, and as you know…, he is a stickler for punctuality.”

He got up again and went over to the closet on the far side of the room, as he turned back he was holding a hanger of slacks and a golf shirt.

“On your way out make sure you schedule at least three sessions. Now out with you, I have to get changed.”

“I will Doc…, good luck.”

He didn’t say any more, just shoed me out with a dismissive gesture. On the way out, I did feel a little better. I even smiled back at the petty officer, manning the reception desk, as I made my appointments. I was still officially on leave, so as soon as I left the office, I headed for home. My mind was still roiling as I turned onto the highway, drove over the bridge. Rather than going home, to what I was sure was an empty house, I turned towards the place I had been avoiding for over five years.

I drove up the long path way, towards the visitors parking area. I hated these places…, they always seemed so…, final. But stepping out of the Jeep I was starting to get why I thought this way. As I walked the long walk to where they were, I came to an understanding within myself, and realized that I had never said goodbye.

“Hi mom…, Hi dad…”

I knelt down and brushed away the few leaves, that had come to rest on the grave stones. I sat for a while between them…, as I sat there, I thought about growing up, about all the things we had done together. I must have sat there for over an hour, just letting my thoughts run wild…, thinking of all the good times. Finally I stood up, looking back down at them, I realized that I was able to say…

“I love you both so much…, I miss you…, god how I miss you!”

I smiled, as the tears began to flow…

“I never got a chance to do it when you were alive, but for what it’s worth… Goodbye, I will never forget you.”

I didn’t have the opportunity to do the same for Shelly and Sean, as they were buried in Providence. I made it a point to visit them as soon as I was able, and to take the boys with me, but I did have one last place to visit.

I strode off up the hill, winding my way up the path through the trees. Nearing my destination, I heard the unmistakable tones of a bugle. As I rounded the stand of trees, heading into the part of the cemetery, reserved for serviceman, I came across a funeral procession under full military honours. I was in the wrong uniform for this, but it didn’t matter. As I came up to the intersecting path, the carriage carrying the fallen, was making it’s way past. I stopped, went to rigid attention and saluted it on it’s way. Another casualty to a pointless war…, another brave soul committed to eternity. I held my position until the family and last of the mourners had past, then made my way to my destination.

“Hey Biatch…”

I sat down next to the gravestone of Captain Mark Andrew Fredrickson, US Army Ranger…, and wept. As I sat there, tears cascading down my face, the wind picked up, and a light, but warm summers rain swept over me. The wind swirled around me ever so slightly, almost like it was embracing me…, almost like someone was crying alongside me.

“I love you too Mark…, I meant what I said all those years, and a lifetime ago. You are my love, my lover, and my best friend…, I will always hold a part of you in my heart, but…, I have to let the rest go…. Goodbye Mark.”

As soon as I said it, the wind died and the rain stopped. With it went a great weight of my heart. I sat there for a while longer, just thinking, sorting things through. As I stood to leave I couldn’t help but notice a vivid rainbow over the trees…

“HA! You cheeky bastard! Maybe I am buddy…, maybe I am.”


Written by bigct/Octavius

November 30, 2009 at 13:24

8 Responses

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  1. I am writing this with tears in my eyes! Such an emotionally draining chapter, for me as a reader it exhausted me, left me feeling drained…. I can not image how you must have felt after finishing this chapter. Awesome work, straight up awesome work! I bow to your talent and willingness to fill your story with so much emotion.


    November 30, 2009 at 22:25

  2. Don’t have anything more to add; Bilki said it all. Great song by the way. Chers


    December 1, 2009 at 01:13

  3. biki indeed said it all.


    January 23, 2010 at 22:05

  4. I was gonna wait til I got to the end, but I gotta tell ya; a heck of a story man.


    January 25, 2010 at 15:07

  5. Having lost both my mother and my wife, this past year, this chapter has evoked quite some emotion from me. Am also a 9 yr navy vet, Vietnam era on a birdfarm, in the Tonkin Gulf. Thiis story and especially this chapter, bring up some old ghost in my past. I am also not the streight hetro everyone thinks I am, but won’t go into that closet, now. Do wish to thank you for your story and the emotions it has forced me to face. Look forward to the coming chapters. Dave


    February 13, 2010 at 18:21

  6. that right there would be an awsome ending to a story, I can only imagine how much better this is going to get. Curse you CT, you have the same gift that another writer I know has and have kept me chained to this laptop now for hours. Should I grow old and die here perhaps Cam may pass by and say goodbuy to me as well

    Take care


    June 2, 2010 at 22:53

  7. Apocalyptic…..and, I’m sure, ‘ a phoenix will rise from the ashes’!! Good “stuff”! V


    July 9, 2011 at 05:53

  8. OMG,what can i say,this is just stunning.



    January 26, 2014 at 02:27

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