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Sep29

Trauma Train Part 3

Hello readers!

If you’re already a part of my newsletter, you may want to skip this blog.

For the rest of you, I will be posting an excerpt from The Silver Ninja: Narco Hotel.

Please note that this is not a final excerpt. This means that the wording, sentence structure, and content is subject to change.

Please enjoy.

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Previously . . .

Last month: Cindy finally gets to the crux of why she invited her father out to lunch. She wants to know if there was a way to cope with murder.

She could see the disappointment in his face and it broke her inside. His reaction made her feel like a failure, as if she had let everyone down.

“What do you want to know?”

“How do you deal with what happens after a . . . wetwork?”

She deflated.

“That’s not something you should be comfortable doing. Ever.”

If only he knew about her double life and the lives she had already taken. This conversation would have changed from advice to intervention. “If I don’t do something this city is going to become the next Juarez.”

“Honey, I love you, and I think you’re an extremely capable woman. But how are you supposed to stop a cartel by yourself?”

“I would be in a team,” she lied.

“That can eliminate targets? None of this sounds legal.”

“Of course it isn’t legal, Dad. I’m doing this so I can protect you, and mom, and Jonas, and Jadie. A few days ago an old man got shot and killed in a gang crossfire at Queensboro station. All he wanted to do was visit his grandkids and these assholes shot him in broad daylight.”

“Language.”

“Sorry.” She leaned forward. “People are getting kidnapped from their houses. Bodies are being hung naked underneath our bridges. The cartels have so much money that they constantly buy themselves out of prison.”

Her father raised his hand. “You’ve made your point.”

“So help me.”

He crushed his hands together. “Okay, so look, there is no guaranteed way to feel normal after a wetwork job.” He then split his hands apart as if he were holding a football by its tips. “In the military, they try to desensitize you to violence. They try to make it seem like the guy you’re killing is nothing but an animal, a target, a bad guy. When you go into combat, every fiber of your being is telling you not to shoot. I’ve seen kids aim their rifles downrange and never pull the trigger. They’d rather die than kill someone, and oftentimes they did.

“I want you to imagine your soul as a bank. When you do a good deed, you’re depositing humanity into the bank. When you do something bad, like a wetwork job, you’re withdrawing from that bank. Once you empty your bank, you’re left holding an empty jar where your soul used to be.” He paused and looked up as if scanning his mind for answers. “It’s hard to explain.

“Without a soul you start to . . . I don’t know, get detached from things you cared about. If you had a lot of fun fishing and you went to fish after losing your soul, you wouldn’t find any enjoyment out of it. Catching a fish, sitting on a boat, drinking beers on a beautiful day, none of that would matter to you.

“You become a ghost. You’re there but no one can see you, no one understands you. You can’t tell people what you did overseas because they wouldn’t understand why you had to shoot a little boy with a suicide vest. And when you look in the mirror you get sick to your stomach and start thinking about how you’re a horrible human being. You think about putting a shotgun to your mouth so that you’re not a burden to the people around you.

“And if you don’t end it, the little day-to-day innocent things start aggravating you. Someone leaves a stain on your coffee table, you scream at them. Someone sets off a firecracker, you run for cover. No matter what you do or what you avoid, you can’t control your feelings. So you numb it with alcohol, or drugs, or both.”

Somehow her father had described her life in perfect detail, even before she had hung up her boots. He had spoken her universal truth. Becoming the Silver Ninja didn’t bring her the feeling of heroism or valor she so craved. Instead it brought her emptiness, isolation, and regret.

Looking at her father, listening to him talk about his experiences, she realized where she was heading if she didn’t get off the trauma train. Her father’s eyes shimmered as his tan skin turned even redder. “I still feel like garbage for not being there for you girls. You know? For the hell I put your mom through.”

She held his forearm. “It’s okay, daddy. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have brought this up. We don’t have to talk about it anymore.”

“No, no, I want to help you. And I think there’s something you can do.”

Even though speaking of the war brought him pain, he kept going. His stalwart resilience was quite possibly his most admirable quality. The man spent most of his military career trying to escape Hell. Yet if his family needed him, he would turn around and go back in to the inferno. A blessing and a curse, passed down by generations. “The guys who crack are the ones who don’t believe in the mission. You understand?”


Wilmar Luna
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