It was early spring when Smoker made the decision. It doesn’t matter why, once it was made, he wasted no more time thinking about it, he just went into action.
It took less than half an hour to pack everything he “owned”. He’d bought the bike new, now it had over 75,000 miles from going here and there. That roll that held Smokers entire life was lashed to the small sissy bar.
It took a couple of days to get from where he was to D.C. Smoker didn’t need a house, just a friendly park with some dark shadows where he could hide the bike while he slept.Actually, sleep wasn’t much of a problem. Since he came back from the big sand pile, Smoker didn’t sleep much or very deeply.
His heart was heavy as he wandered the “gardens of stone” at Arlington. It was hard but he did manage to find the final ground of some of those he had been with. And as he walked, he felt the shadows of the other warriors who now resided in that hallowed ground, walking beside him. It seemed that some wanted to speak to him, but Smoker’s mind was made up.
As he wandered, Smoker would sometimes stop in front of a warrior’s resting place and read the markers writing. They were from everywhere. Europe, Southeast Asia, Kuwait, the Pacific, Afghanistan, Somalia, South America, and Iraq. Or course, some were far older than those Smokers had come to see, but they were all brothers in this place.
Finally Smoker found a comfortable AO and sat down. There he knew he had to tell the truth. There could be no lies here.
So he began his tale, starting from the day he returned. He spoke of the people he knew and loved that no longer seemed to understand him. It had been hard when he returned. There just wasn’t much work for an experienced gunfighter. He tried wearing the badge for a while, but there was just too much hypocrisy for Smoker.
So he tried working the other side of the street for a while. He sold a little dope and such, but that was too much like…., well, Smoker just didn’t have the stomach for that sort of life. He’d watched it ruin too many others. There were some good times, so he spoke of those, just as he spoke of the bad.
It took hours and damn near the whole bottle of Black Jack, but finally he was done. He’d told it all and there was only one thing left to do. Smoker policed his area, walked out, and climbed on the bike. As always, she started right up and seemed eager to get on the road again. Smoker felt a little sad that this ride would be so short.
The park was next to a lake and it was quiet and cool. Smoker found a nice spot under a tree where he could see the sky and stars and sit comfortably.
The ping of the cooling engine mixed harshly with the sound of the single gunshot. Smoker was at peace, at last.