The Gray

There is always the Gray.

Yes, but that is something else, entire.

No, it’s along the same path of inquiry.

No, it isn’t.

Three friends in their mid-twenties sit at a table, in a courtyard outside a coffee-shop, smoking and drinking espressos.  Two, Michael and David, are both brisk, strong-jawed recent post-graduates speaking in that overly-formal, fast-paced, over-caffeinated, Millennial fashion. The third, Clyde, thin and lanky, unassuming, speaks in that informal style familiar to those who never had the finances or ambitions for higher learning.

My whole thesis was based on the inherent moral ambiguities in a post- industrialized nation.  I think it would bear scrutiny if you thoroughly examined our National stance on most issues, said Michael.

Is that to say you don’t believe that I haven’t already examined all of this on my own, asked David?

I didn’t mean to sound condescending.  I meant “we” as a people.  Not you in particular.  I’m simply directing my rhetorical argument in your direction.

Personally, I feel you have, despite your Libertarian protests, the deepest of taints of Liberal ideology, that you inherited from your parents.  Your resentment of your parents, albeit understandable, forces you to reject your inward leanings, but I find those leanings all-too apparent.  You feel you have to reject the doctrine of your parents but deep inside there is lingering doubt.

Guys, what does any of this have to do with the Doors, asked Clyde?  I was just trying to say that—

Shut the hell up, Clyde, interrupted Michael.  If I have to hear about how Jim Morrison was a shitty poet, and Ray Manzarek was a Genius one more time, I will fucking kill murder you.

Yes Clyde, we’ve moved on from that, added David, calmly.

Look David, said Michael heatedly, there is no need to bring my parents into the discussion.  If you want to write about the psychological underpinnings of any philosophical dogma, than feel free to publish it in one of our many prodigious journals, if you think they would have it.  But spare me that Post-Freudian, Pop Psychology bullshit for the time being.

Take it easy old boy, replied David puffing out smoke in rhythmic curlicues.

Just listen, really listen to what I have to say David.  This crosses political spectrums, whether Democrat, Republican, or fucking Anarchist.  It’s an issue which is entirely Human.

Ah, the Human angle.

Correct. For the time being let’s restrict ourselves to the current quagmire in the Middle East, without getting into political specifics, their past history and their different nationwide viewpoints, and let’s just look at the Human angle.

Alright, said David, I’m listening.

David leans back comfortably, in his chair, the mid-day sun just touching his upper scalp. He exhales once more from his cigarette then stubs it out into his tray.  He crosses his fingers, and lowers his brow, as someone who is about to become entirely engrossed in what lays before him.  Clyde, never comfortable sitting still, nervously puffs at his cigarette and clicks the fingernails of his opposite hand, his cup of espresso, long ago finished. Michael empties his cup, and wipes sweat from his brow.  The summer heat and two cups of Espresso have caused him to perspire.  He temporarily closes his eyes, and rights himself, like a composer before a symphony.  He takes a drag from his cigarette and looks intently at David, as though Clyde were not even there.  He begins:

Alright, now for the sake of argument, lets operate under the assumption that out Federal Government, Military, and our bureaus of Surveillance and Espionage have done their due diligence, and with the best of intentions have truly undertaken the difficult, nerve-rattling task of overthrowing a truly evil, Authoritarian regime, which is truly dangerous to not only our country, due to recon work we have done which indicated they were planning a terrorist threat against us in the near future, but also dangerous to the other inhabitants of the region, as well as its own citizens.  So the U.S.A and its allies, or perhaps just the U.S.A. it really isn’t important in this example, have undertaken this daunting task and have to the best of the abilities identified the appropriate targets, that will bring a swift and successful end to our engagement and avoid a long, protracted battle which would claim the lives of many more American Soldiers, as well as limit the collateral damage of innocent citizens abiding in said country in which we are engaged with.

So, with knowing glances and heads held high, our officials order strikes to be taken place in three different locations, which should decapitate central leadership of our combatants and destabilize their infrastructure, and bring an end to the immediate threat.  The first two strikes go off without a hitch, and the task is near complete.  But the third strike has complications.  We have been given false Intel by a duplicitous double agent, for no other reason than for his own personal monetary gain.

What Freud referred to as the ‘intractable nature of Man” interjected David.

Please don’t interrupt my train of thought, responded Michael.

Excuse me waitress, called out David.  I think we could all use some water, please.  Two lemons in mine.

Other patrons pass by swift-footed, off to decorous destinations.  The roaring of engines and the crashing of waves, systolic and diastolic, wrestle through the humid air and drift around the heads of the three men.  Michael leans back, takes a deep breath, and regains his composure.  He begins again:

So our intelligence agencies, being completely ignorant of this deception the order for the third strike is given.  The location is an isolated, mountainous region, which would have been a convenient hiding spot for the target.  The area has few residents, just some quiet families, living out their existences in peace and serenity.  So a member of our Air Force flies overhead of the area, in the Pre-dawn hours intent on serving his purpose.  He sweats profusely, gripping his controls tightly, contracting his Triceps muscles, each containing one tattoo each: the left, R.I.P. A.V.R, Rest In Peace Austin Victor Robinson, for his older brother whom he lost to a motorcycle accident when he was just twelve.  His right, Forever Aimee, spelled A-I-M-E-E, for his pregnant girlfriend back home in Emporia, Kansas, he thinks of her, with what must be a swelled stomach, and how her bangs cover her eyes when she laughs, and how he would do anything to be lying next to her right now, with her breath on his face, instead of facing his unpleasant assignment.  But he never forgets he has to do away with such selfish concerns, and fulfill his duty, just as his parents never let him forget, his parents who cried upon his departure, all the while being filled with pride for their son’s honor, bravery, and sacrifice.  So he moves in closer to his drop zone, wiping sweat from his implacable face, knowing he has to be willing to not only kill, but die for his country, and with fierce determination he drops his missiles and safely returns to his base.

His delivery takes out a few homes.  One of which possessed a family consisting of a father, mother, and two boys, ten and seven.  As the sun rises, the ten year old is assisting his parents in their domestic duties, while the seven year old sits at a table eating Goulash, or black-market Cocoa Crisp, whatever the fuck they eat for breakfast over there.  Just then there is a screeching and a sudden rumbling, and the boy looks up just in time to see the fire, and his parents and older brother blown to smithereens, he being thrown backwards, and sustaining several wounds, but surviving.

Surely our government cannot be held accountable for this unfortunate tragedy.  But our Government is not going to immediately dispatch a Public relations firm over to that country and explain to that little boy and any other survivors the logistics, of how their families were necessary adjuncts in our battle with the enemy.  No one will explain to that little boy that we were duped into killing his family by accident.  No one will explain that the shattered planks that were once his ancestral home and the meat and gristle which was once his doting mother, and benevolent father, and bright older brother, who was planning on teaching him Chess later that day, were never meant to die that way.  No one will explain any of this.

Our government also won’t be there when the country is thrown into turmoil after the destabilization and calamitous after-affects, where roving gangs fight for control, and plunder and murder at will, all the while shouting death to the American infidels.  No one will be there when the local militia shows up to that tattered village, Ak-47’s in hand, offering that bereaved and homeless little boy, food and shelter, and a chance to avenge his families’ murder.  No one could hold the boy at fault for accepting their protection and believing their propaganda.  So yet another boy turns into a man vowing to get revenge on America.  There is no black and white, you see.  There is only the Gray.  And there will never be an end to it.

What can I say brother, replied David.  It’s a fucked up situation.

Really fucked up, echoed Clyde.

Yeah, I know, replied Michael, leaning back, exhausted.

Clyde, leaning in, nervously and surreptitiously, says, Jesus Christ guys, can we get back to the fucking Doors?