Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Save the Date!

 Monday, January 31, 2033

Place and Time: TBD

 

Dear Standard Insurance Company, all executives and employees,


Please save the date for my celebration of tomorrow and plan for an exciting future.

Why January 31?

Way back, in February 2022, one of your disability benefits analysts presented me with an offer regarding my long-term disability claim with your company. I was honored that he would “like to offer an opportunity to settle your claim in exchange for a lump-sum payment.”

It’s every little boy’s dream to be chosen for such an honored opportunity, especially since “The Standard does not routinely settle LTD claims for a number of reasons.” I won’t lie, I was tickled pink.

Unfortunately, after several rounds of misleading calculations and not-so-veiled threats, like “we know that you write books” and “if you do not accept the offer, you will still have to regularly validate your ongoing disability (to prevent fraud)”, I was still unable to understand how you came to the lump sum dollar amount presented. I’m pretty good at math, so it was odd that my calculation was quite different. I said it was wrong — he said it was right, showing me “the full three pages of the present value calculation you received.”

I thanked him then showed him again, this time in detail, how his calculations were wrong.

And the Truth Shall Set You Free!

Nevertheless, your determined analyst persevered, taking my question regarding the deductible income adjustment to your actuarial department.

Imagine his surprise when he found out that there was another variable not included in “the full three pages of the present value calculation!” I wonder if you can imagine my surprise; I can’t.

Apparently, “the present value calculation process incorporates actuarial mortality assumptions.”

So, since your team did so much hard work and determined the correct mortality assumptions for an individual living on disability with multiple sclerosis, I figured I would take the baton and do some more of that math I love so much.

By the calculation of your actuarial department, discounting for the time value of money, my life expectancy is 131 additional months. I will be dead by the end of January 2033, at the ripe old age of 61.

Let’s Just Pretend

I know your guys are smart, but please humor me for just a moment. What if I become a medical wonder and exceed the medical expectations of Standard Insurance Company’s actuarial department?

That would be nice. I would definitely want to celebrate.

Therefore, please save the date. When I’m not dead on January 31, 2033, I would like to celebrate with all my close family and friends, and with my advocates at The Standard. There will be food, drinks, music, and lots of celebration. I may even have a piece of cake!

In the Meantime

I have lots of party planning to do. Thank goodness I have 131 months. Formal invitations will follow as we get closer to the event.

In the meantime, here’s some wonderful reading for your actuarial department about the life expectancy of individuals living with multiple sclerosis. It was published in 2020 by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Neurological Disorders and Stroke — Wow! Say that five times fast with a mouthful of crackers.

“Multiple Sclerosis: Hope Through Research”

https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Hope-Through-Research/Multiple-Sclerosis-Hope-Through-Research

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

The disease is rarely fatal and most people with MS have a normal life expectancy. New treatments can reduce long-term disability for many people with MS. Currently there are still no cures and no clear ways to prevent the disease from developing.

I have enough challenges to deal with daily, so please don’t try to stack the deck against me more.

Please consider this an official decline of your opportunity.

I hope you’ll still come to my party!

Kevin

 

This is not about what my life will be like when the fight is over.

I will never stop…

I will never quit…

This is my story

Never Stop… Never Quit…®

***

Please consider a donation to NEVER STOP NEVER QUIT.

DONATE HERE

100% of your donation will directly support our fight. We pay the cost of managing our foundation.

All donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. You will receive a receipt.

 

 

 

Monday, February 21, 2022

Chaos–2022

Chaos – 2022

I first wrote this piece in 2018 as a preface to explain the logic behind my collection, The Ramblings of a Condemned Man. Four years later, as a new world began to take shape, I decided to dust off these digital pages and revisit my rationale for using the word.

“Chaos” is not a perfect choice, but it is the best explanation I can supply when I address the inevitable question, “What are you thinking?”

My life has always been rife with chaos. Some of the turmoil was inflicted on me — I am merely a victim. Other times, I have been guilty of instigating disarray. Of course, chaos is often a simple fact of nature. My most memorable moments occurred when all three energies combined. As to the correct proportions of responsibility, prudence would expect me to split much of the blame between nature and others. However, I can’t fault the darkened skies of nature for somber winter moods any more than I can blame her absence for summer drought. And, though others have been witnesses, partners, even agitators to my stupidity, I cannot lay blame on them for the chaos my mind wrestles with. I take ownership of it all.

I don’t believe my body experiences a greater share of hardship when compared to others. My mind, however, finds it challenging to see beyond the chaos, many times to the detriment of peace and beauty around me. Looking back on my life, images that most often come to mind are the chaotic, the horrific, and the truly burdensome. At some point in the past, my brain let go of many great recollections for some unknown reason. The memories that remain often play second fiddle to my demons.

In and of itself, confronting chaos is not bad. You can achieve a great deal of satisfaction by solving impossible challenges, overcoming overwhelming odds, or righting the wrongs around you; it’s the calling of every superhero. But, when or where does it end? At what point will our hero look beyond today’s villain, stop reminiscing over yesterday’s evil, and forgo anticipation of tomorrow’s plight?

It must be nice, taking off the cape to enjoy the win and rejoice in today’s treasures. But unfortunately, this freedom is not afforded to condemned men. My sentence is the recurring vision of chaos. The reality of my multiple sclerosis (MS) antagonizes turmoil already deep inside me. Twenty-three years later, I remain fascinated by the continuous thrashing my body has undertaken since my diagnosis. My mind constantly rattles its dedicated response to every emotion and fear I possess: “What’s next?”

I am indeed a condemned man, but not for the reasons you might assume. The chaos of my MS falls mainly into the last category: it is a simple fact of nature. I’m not a victim of my disease; MS is just another obstacle in life. Compared to other forms, one powerful difference with the chaos of MS is that an answer exists to the question, “When does it end?”

Never.

Writing is my way of soothing all forms of chaos, easing the daily wounds they inflict on my mind and body. I began this adventure in 2008, writing stories meant only for our unborn daughter. Ailish never joined her mother and me in this world. Weighted by grief, we experienced an agony once unimaginable to me. I wasn’t yet mature enough to simplify this emotion as chaos, but I was drawn to continue writing my thoughts, hopes, and dreams about life to someday share with someone. On August 28, 2010, Eleanor was born. I remember thinking, “I already have so much to tell you.” Everything I write in those pages is for her to read when she receives my journal, and it becomes hers.

Later in 2010, writing became a response to the increasing chaos caused by my MS. The blogs I still write are my way of expressing hope that someday there will be an answer to “When does it end?” By exposing everything to my readers through my blog and confronting chaos, I raise awareness in our fight against the devastating effects of multiple sclerosis. More importantly, the more I write about the chaos of my MS and share it with others, the more my fears lessen. The semi-biographical character named Kevin Byrne now carries the weight, not Kevin Byrne, the author. In 2017, I published My MS and E, a children’s picture book version of a recent blog post. It tells the story of how Ellie beautifully navigated my world MS during one magical trip that created moments so wonderful. There is no chaos in the world that could ever dampen those memories.

If writing helps me cope with my MS, why not apply it to other aspects of my life?

As it turns out, I was already doing that exact thing. In 2014, while Ellie spent the week at OMSI camp (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry), I spent that time in an East Portland internet café drafting the novella …in abeyance.

So, I went back and finalized the story with this new outlet of expression. The main character, Christopher Baxter, is a personification of the chaos I carried with me for far too long. Chris is who I am, was, wanted to be, feared, struggled to overcome, and so much more, wrapped up and scripted into an entirely fictional persona who lives in a fictional world (with a heavy smattering of historical context in this alternate reality). Placing the turmoil onto Chris’ shoulders relieved the burden from my own.

I began to write stories overflowing with the anxieties of my unrest. Sometimes an entire saga addressed just one struggle I faced. My favorites are those based on the utter confusion in my head that I can’t quite accurately describe any other way. Some stories are dark and gruesome; others express a more thoughtful perspective. Alternate realities became a surrogate for the chaos I could not otherwise express.

Regardless of why I wrote the stories, sharing my chaos this way helped me sleep a bit better. Maybe it discounted my fears. Perhaps it validated them. However, I hoped that my therapeutic benefit from writing paled compared to the enjoyment you receive from reading my tales.

I gathered some of my favorite stories and, through the NEVER STOP NEVER QUIT private foundation, published The Ramblings of a Condemned Man in 2018. They were the words I wrote or revisited to help me battle a harsh struggle with MS and personal chaos that lasted nearly two years.

In the blink of an eye, it was 2022.

I got a call last month regarding the progress of my MS. It was from the insurance company that handles my long-term disability; one of their actuaries determined that my disease is now considered “total, permanent, and irreversible.” I asked them why they deemed it permanent AND irreversible, rather than just one or the other. He didn’t understand the question.

The insurance company was my final holdout, still tracking how I progressed, hoping I would get better. Now, it’s unanimous.

In the four years since I first shared “Chaos,” my body has weakened, my muscles have atrophied. I deal with the constant pain of chronic neuropathy, torn muscles and tendons, bladder diverticula, scoliosis, and a host of other symptoms. I guess permanent was not sufficient to describe just how fucked I am — my condition is permanent AND irreversible.

In the four years since I first shared “Chaos,” I am happier and more at peace with life than I have been for many, many years (my brain lost track of that last moment).

Writing became a release for so much chaos it quickly became my drug of choice. I published …in abeyance as a separate novella, followed by Annie Flynn – first row, second desk. My first novel, Moments, and a short story collection, Triune, soon followed. I was writing away the constant noise of my chaos as quickly as it built. I continued to write and share. I battled back against my physical decline by increasing my hours in the gym. I continued to reverse the effects of poor diet and nutrition by dropping the excess weight my body could no longer handle. I looked better, felt better, sounded better.

But, like any euphoric drug, addiction has a dark side. “Just to make the pain go away” became my reason for living. Healthy beneficial activities are neither healthy nor beneficial when they become an obsessive focus. My writing suffered; my body began to feel the pain of overexertion; my weight dipped far below a healthy target. I replaced one set of chaos for another — if I do that long enough, they will both rise up and crush me. As everything worked so much better on the outside, my thoughts focused on, “I don’t want to live like this.”

In October 2019, I stopped trying to fix the broken in favor of building my life. When I thought my 17-month journey was complete, I began to share “Reconstructing and Defining Kevin” with my readers. Over the next four months, the real work began. I exposed flaws in my effort to repair “something broken” in my life. I was still searching for resolution; I continued looking for closure. I found neither.

There will never be a lasting resolution of my priorities. Each concern I hold dear will require attention and care for the rest of my life, more on some days than others. Nevertheless, I embraced my discovery and their connection to the Seven Dimensions of Wellness.

But that’s another story…

What Does This Mean for My Chaos?

Though it is still there, chaos no longer controls my life. I recognize my memories, fears, and anxieties as subconscious responses to my surroundings, yet they no longer trigger. Only through my capacity to monitor then positively regulate those responses in each dimension of existence can I profoundly affect my wellness.

What Does This Mean for My Writing?

I want to breathe life into pages far beyond anything I have accomplished to date, telling tales conjured up by my constant noise. No longer will I look to put words down solely to ease my anxieties. Instead, I will write stories because sometimes I smile as my mind floods with the images I create. I may laugh, cry, or even nod my head in approval of the tale. On other occasions, the crafted images chill me to the core. I want to elicit a bounty of reactions as I breathe life into stories, narratives, reflections, and rantings.

Rebuilding and Rebranding

I have begun the process of removing my published works from distribution. After cleanup and revision, I’ll re-release my titles through these channels:

·         Books: My MS and E, …in abeyance, Annie Flynn – first row, second desk, and Moments, will republish. Publishing and distribution channels are still in negotiation. 100% of all royalties received will continue to NEVER STOP NEVER QUIT in support of our fight against the damaging effects of multiple sclerosis.

·         Short Stories: the remainder of The Ramblings of a Condemned Man and Triune will publish for free on my blog site, https://neverstopneverquit.blogspot.com. I just want to share; If you enjoy the stories, please consider a donation to NEVER STOP NEVER QUIT.

On the Horizon

After these changes, my focus will revert to the stories that flood my mind.

·         My short stories will continue. I have been busy sharing tales over the last few months. I have no plan to slow down.

·         Sensations, my next novel, is tentatively planned for the end of ’22 or early ’23. More to follow.

·         My journey, documented in the raw blog series, “Reconstructing and Defining Kevin,” is currently under revision and will gain new life as a piece I hope will help others as much as it guided me on this journey.

·         I will continue to blog, sharing sometimes-too-much detail on my journey. There is so much in motion now; the days are not nearly long enough.

To those who think my disability is permanent AND irreversible, you may be correct. However, the thought doesn’t scare me. My writing is no longer an exercise based on anxiety, fear, and resistance.

I choose to focus on what my writing is — what it is for myself and what I hope it brings to the hearts and minds of my readers.

Kevin

February 2022

 

This is not about what my life will be like when the fight is over.

I will never stop

I will never quit

This is my story

 

Never Stop… Never Quit…®

Kevin Byrne

Portland, OR

www.neverstopneverquit.com


Please consider a donation to NEVER STOP NEVER QUIT.



100% of your donation will directly support our fight. We pay the cost of managing our foundation.

All donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. You will receive a receipt.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Peanut Butter and Jelly

Short Story


Peanut Butter and Jelly

“Grandpa! Grandma!”

Lilly’s squeal bounced across every wall throughout the two-story home in a way that only a five-year-old’s squeal can bounce. She stood at the top of the stairs tracking every step the two made.

“Dad!” Lilly said. “Grandpa Mike and Grandma Gail are walking up the driveway.”

“What are they doing so early on a Monday morning?” Dad’s voice came from somewhere.

“I don’t know. Grandpa has a big bag in his arm,” she said. Still up on the second-floor landing, Lilly dropped to her belly to get a better look through all the front windows. “I can’t see where they went.”

Dad peeked out from the bathroom, shook his head, and smiled. Lilly was still trying to scout the positions of her visitors.

In a calm voice, he suggested, “Why don’t you go down there and see what they’re doing?”

“Good idea!” Stomp. Stomp. Stomp, stomp, stomp. Lilly darted down the stairs to wait by the front door. The anticipation was almost too much to contain. Was Grandpa behind the front door, waiting to surprise her with a “Gotcha!” if she got too close? Maybe he was sneaking in around the side to zap her with the tickle monster. It was quiet. Too quiet.

When Dad started to make his way down, he was not surprised to see Lilly still by the entranceway, head turned and one ear pressed against the door. “Are they here?”

“I think so. But I can’t tell.”

Dad was still amused. “What can you tell by listing to the door?”

“Not much.”

With a chuckle, Dad tussled his daughter’s hair as he urged her out of the way He unlatched the bolt and turned the handle, coming face-to-face with an all-too-familiar sight.

“Geez, Pop, Gail. Get a room, you two!”

Mike smiled and said, “Ha! Sorry about that, Brian. Love is in the air, Son. Love is in the air. Happy Valentine’s Day!”

Brian moaned just loud enough so everyone could hear him as he turned to make his way back upstairs and finish getting ready for work. On his way, he mocked his father’s happy mood.

“Love is in the air… Whatever,” he said, just quiet enough so no one could hear him.

Centerstage was now open for Grandpa Mike.

“Who’s ready for some Valentine’s Day breakfast?” Mike sang in his best, ‘Come on down!’ tone.

“Me!” squeaked the first voice.

“Me!” squealed the second.

“That sounds like a tie to me,” Mike said.

Lilly and Gail stared each other down with grimacing scowls, both thinking they should have won that round. Lilly cracked a smile first; Grandma Gail claimed her victory.

“You ready for breakfast, too, Grumpypants?” Mike called upstairs.

“Good one, Grandpa,” Lilly chuckled as she grabbed the bag her grandfather was holding and made her way to the kitchen. As she walked, a scowl returned to her face, her shoulders slumped, and she clumsily walked side to side, side to side, mumbling, “Grrr! I’m Mr. Grumpypants.”

“Good one, Lilly,” Gail chuckled as she followed Lilly’s version of Mr. Grumpypants into the kitchen.

Mike smiled, glancing upstairs to see if they got a reaction from his son. “Breakfast in ten, Brian,” he said, loud enough for anyone upstairs to hear. Mike hoped his son wasn’t alone up there and wouldn’t come down. Love is in the air.

“I’ve got a busy morning, Dad. I need to get to work,” Brian said. He was yelling from the bathroom.

“I said breakfast in ten.”

“Yes, sir.” Brian just closed his eyes and took a calm breath. “I’m never going to win this one, am I?”

“Nope.”

Mike walked into the kitchen to see his two helpers laying out the contents of his shopping bag onto the kitchen island. Two jars of peanut butter, two jars of jelly, a loaf of bread, and a pack of soft tortillas. Neither helper seemed particularly confused, but they were waiting for further instruction.

“Who wants to help me make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?” Grandpa Mike asked, looking deep into the crowd of two.

Lilly bounced up and down with her hand held high. “Ooh,” she said. “Me. Pick me!”

Gail quickly raised her right hand, placing the tip of her index finger to her nose. “Not it,” she said. Lilly claimed victory.

“Okay, munchkin, you’re up.” Grandpa Mike started barking out orders in rapid succession as Lilly scrambled to keep up with his pace.

“I need four plates,” Grandpa said. Lilly darted to the cabinet, counted off four dishes, then dashed back to the island. She placed them down and announced the completion of her mission.

“Four plates!”

“Four napkins on the table.”

The report never came in until her task was complete. “Four napkins!”

“Five spreader knives.”

“Five spreader knives!”

“I smell coffee brewing. Let’s get a cup for your dad. Black.”

“A cup for my dad. Black!”

“Two orange juices.”

“Two orange juices!”

“Pizza cutter.”

Lilly didn’t know what to do. “Pizza cutter?” she asked. A look over to Gail didn’t help. They were both confused.

“You heard me,” Grandpa Mike confirmed. “Pizza cutter.”

“Pizza cutter!”

“Cutting board.”

“Cutting board!”

When Brian turned the corner into the kitchen, he shook his head again. No, this was not a fight he was going to win. “What is your grandfather up to this morning?” he asked his daughter.

“Breakfast,” she said. Then, taking her dad by the hand, Lilly led him over to the table and motioned for him to take a seat in front of a piping hot cup of coffee. She sat down by his side.

Grandma Gail made her way over to the table and took a seat, her hands warming up around the cup of tea she made while the other commotion was going on.

“Okay, Lilly,” Mike said. “Do we have everything?”

“I guess so, Grandpa. I got everything you told me to get.”

“Then the last thing I need to get is cracking. So, let’s get cracking!” Lilly squeaked and laughed. Gail chuckled. Brian shook his head at the corny pun.

Grandpa Mike reached across the kitchen island and took the first plate off the stack. He raised it, keeping his arm straight, slowly rotated the dish in front of his family, showing both the front and back to prove it was empty.

“First up, sweet Lilly,” he said. The five-year-old bounced and clapped her hands in excitement.

Mike opened the pack of whole-grain bread, set the first two pieces from the end aside, and grabbed two fluffy slices, placing them on the cutting board. He looked back up and scanned his audience for reactions. Nothing. Next, he reached towards the peanut butter jars, then paused ever so slightly before grabbing the chunky peanut butter. Lilly gasped a sigh of relief as her grandfather opened the jar. He scooped a generous portion and lathered one slice of bread end to end with a spreader knife. Mike looked up and reached across for a jelly – the jar of raspberry preserves, to be specific. Lilly wasn’t concerned he would make the wrong choice that time. He spread an even amount across the second slice. When the crowd inched forward, waiting to see what would happen next, Grandpa Mike reached across and grabbed the pizza cutter.

“When you were a baby,” he said to Lilly, “you loved peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We used to eat them together every day.” As he talked, Mike started to cut into the coated slices. Three cuts up, two across. Next piece, three and two. Twelve squares each. He looked at Lilly. “One day, you grabbed the peanut butter slice while I was still spreading the jelly. So I thought, ‘If that’s the way you want it…,’ and I just put the jelly slice on your plate.”

Mike looked back down and grabbed a peanut butter corner. “You would take a bite of peanut butter,” he said as he placed the first corner on her plate before grabbing a raspberry preserves-coated version of the next piece. He continued, “then, you would take a bite of jelly. Until one day…” Grandpa Mike rebuilt the two images: peanut butter – jelly – peanut butter – jelly, for one, then jelly – peanut butter – jelly – peanut butter, for the other.

“…we did this.”

There were more giggles, bouncing, and clapping as Mike presented his checkerboard sandwich creation to Lilly.

“I remember that,” Brian said. “You always had some silly way to eat a sandwich.”

Lilly looked at her dad and giggled in agreement before picking a plate to show Grandma Gail.

“That’s a good-looking sandwich, Sweetie,” Grandma Gail said.

With approving nods from all, she put her plate down to wait for the other breakfast creations.

Mike grabbed the second plate and presented it with the same pomp and circumstance. However, he picked a tortilla and laid it directly onto the plate this time. The second jar of peanut butter, the creamy one, was his next selection. Mike reached for the unopened jelly but paused. With his arm still extended, he looked over to Lilly for a recommendation. Aghast by what he must be thinking, wondering if her grandfather had gone mad, she shook her head no – it was more of a nervous twitch – but refused to say a word.

“You’re right, my dear,” Grandpa said. “My lovely bride definitely prefers the sweet sugars of your favorite raspberry preserves.” He tapped the jar, indicating his selection. Lilly gasped a breath of relief. Gail knew he would never dare.

Mike continued. “Unlike you, however, she does not like that fancy organic 12-grain bread. She prefers…” Mike picked up the package and squinted to read its tiny lettering. “…low-calorie, low-carb, high-protein, whole-wheat tortillas, with creamy peanut butter and raspberry preserves.” Mike smeared the peanut butter in a lazy S down the middle of Gail’s tortilla before blending it with a healthy smidge of preserves. He placed the “contaminated” jelly spreader into the sink before carefully rolling the breakfast sandwich, neatly folded at one end.

Brian congratulated Gail, “that’s one fine-looking peanut butter and jelly burrito. ¡Come con gusto, Señorita!”

Lilly admired the creation. She said, “I think I might try that the next time I have a PB&J. Whenever that will be.”

“Tomorrow!” all three shouted in agreement. More giggles, more bouncing.

“Brian,” his dad said as he grabbed the third plate. “In all of your years, you have never strayed from the original.”

“I am who I am,” Brian said as his father pulled two more slices from the bag. He grabbed a spreader and applied an even layer of crunchy peanut butter, corner to corner and end to end, onto one piece before reaching for the unopened jar.

“Yep, old school grape jelly proves you are who you are. I love it!”

“No school like the old school, Dad. You taught me that.”

Mike grabbed the fourth spreader and spread the grape jelly. It was not spread on the clean slice, mind you, but directly atop the peanut butter layer. He looked up and winked at Lilly before spreading a second layer of crunchy peanut butter on the other slice.

“I started doing this for your school lunches when you were a kid,” Mike said. If you put the J in between layers of PB, it won’t bleed through the bread before lunchtime.”

“That’s what Daddy does for me,” Lilly boasted.

“You two must be the envy of your classes,” Gail said. But the task was not yet complete, so she set the stage. “What about you, Grandpa?” she asked. “Would you going to have for your Valentine’s Day breakfast?”

“It’s a tough one,” Mike said. He rubbed his forefinger and thumb across his chin as if he was deep in thought. “Grape or raspberry?” There was no anxiety this time, but Lilly was again on the edge of her seat.

“Raspberry it is!”

Gail’s hands raised in triumph once more.

Brian jerked his neck back, shattered by losing a race so close.

Lilly sighed, happy that breakfast prep was almost over.

“Sorry, Son. She got me hooked on the ’serves.” Mike grabbed the two loose end pieces and put them on his plate.

“That’s not a word, Dad,” Brian said while his father dropped and smushed a healthy serving of crunchy peanut butter on one slice. “At least you haven’t gone creamy.”

“Nope, I’m a chunky man,” Mike said, pausing to rub his belly. He then grabbed the fifth spreader (it was uncontaminated) and scooped raspberry preserves, piling them on top of his peanut butter. Then, using the second slice as a press, he pushed the preserves across both peanut buttered and un-peanut buttered portions of the sandwich.

“You never could eat your sandwich like a normal person, Pop!”

“It’s the perfect creation,” Mike explained as he walked over to the table, plate in hand, and sat next to his wife. “The pressure spreads the preserves across the bread, but not too far over the edge. See?” He traced his finger along the bottom of his sandwich, noting three different points where raspberry preserves protruded but never separated from their host. “Every time I bite into this PB&J, my mouth will enjoy a different sensation.”

He circled one corner of the bread. “Almost all grain with just a hint of raspberry sweetness. Will there be peanut butter somewhere in that bite?” He looked over at Lilly, but she just shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know either.”

“This part here,” he said, running his finger along the bread’s ridgeline, “will be a healthy mix. The bread, preserves, peanut butter, and bread again will all come together in a fantastic battle for control of my taste buds. Every next bite will be different from the last.”

Then, he pressed the middle of his creation, denting the soft slice for just a moment. “This is payday! A hefty portion of chunky peanut butter-ness. Sometimes I save the center for last, enjoying the unique combinations of every other bite my sandwich holds. Sometimes I gobble a path straight through, satisfying my urge before cleaning the bones off my prey.” Grandpa Mike’s eyes grew wide as he scanned the table, searching for a reaction. Lilly’s eyes grew wide, Gail’s formed tears of laughter, Brian’s looked down as he continued to shake his head.

“That’s still weird to me,” Brian said.

Gail looked over at Mike and shared a quick, silent conversation (one you can only have after 21 years of marriage) before tapping her hand on the table.

“Lilly, dear,” she said. “I have some Valentine’s Day presents in the car. Of course, they are no artisan peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but why don’t we get them to share over breakfast.”

“Arty who?” Lily asked.

“Come on, silly! I’ll explain on the way.” As the girls popped up to get gifts from the car, Gail looked back at Mike and winked before opening the front door.

“Thanks, Babe,” Mike’s silent reply said.

“‘Fantastic battle for control of my taste buds!’ That’s a good one, dad.” Mike leaned back and enjoyed another sip of coffee.

“Thanks,” Mike said. They enjoyed a silent moment before he decided to share a story.

“You know, Brian, I’ve made a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in my life.”

“I’m sure.” Brian showed no interest in this declaration. His dad continued anyway.

“I’m talking thousands and thousands since I was a kid. I ate them all my life. I can make a good sandwich – a normal sandwich.” Mike pointed out Brian’s, and he pointed to Lilly’s. “For me, though, they were always weird. I never thought so, but everyone who has ever watched me make one thought they were weird.”

“That’s because they are, Dad,” Brian said.

“True.” Mike thought about that for a minute, but he had to reconfirm. “True.” Again, the table remained silent for a while.

“But,” Mike said, as though he realized a point to his losing argument, “I continued to make them. You know, many people think that the way you craft a PB&J is a sign of what kind of person you are.” He pointed to Lilly’s plate – “Strong, intelligent, and organized.” He swung his finger over to Brian’s plate – “Traditional, loyal, reliable.” Pulling his arm back, Mike gestured towards Gail’s plate, by his side – “This one’s confident, creative, and exciting.

“Me?” Mike looked down at his plate. “They think this says that I’m a mess. Never got my shit straight; at my age, I never will. However, even though everyone always had a comment about the poor form of my sandwich, I continued to make them.”

“Good for you, Dad,” Brian said while getting up to refill his cup. What he really wanted to do was eat his sandwich; that coffee was burning a hole in his empty stomach. But, when he heard the car door outside slam shut, he hurried back to his seat.

Mike continued, “I met Gail a few years after your mom and I divorced. Do you know what that woman said the first time she saw me make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?”

For the first time, Brian was curious how the story would turn out. “What’s that?” he said.

“Nothing,” Mike replied. “Since the first day we met, Gail has never commented on my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.”

To Brian, that was interesting. “So, what does she think about them?” he asked.

Mike shrugged his shoulders, twisted his face, and threw his hands in the air. “I have no idea,” he said. “That I am confident? Creative? Don’t have my poop in a group? Maybe she thinks I am a complete loon.” Brian spat a bit of coffee while laughing. His dad piled it on. “She may be playing the long game, waiting for me to check in on the funny farm! Lilly, too. She has never said a word about Frankenstein’s sandwich.”

Both men kept laughing so hard they never heard Gail and Lilly come back into the house. Cautiously, the girls inched their way in towards the sound of bellowing laughter. Mike jumped up, tears streaming down from his face. He lifted Lilly with one arm, then wrapped the other around Gail’s waist.

Brian had to know. “Hey, you two,” he said, between snorts of laughter. How come you never said anything to Grandpa Mike about his ugly peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?

Not sure of what the joke was, they looked at each other curiously.

“I don’t know,” Gail said. “It’s his sandwich.”

Lilly remained clueless but could not contain herself, joining in on the laughter. “Because that’s the way Grandpa likes ’em,” she giggled.

Mike held his two treasures, unable and unwilling to dry his eyes. “Brian,” he said, “do you know what to do with someone who doesn’t share their opinion about everything?”

“What’s that, Dad?”

Mike pulled his two girls in tighter, kissing them both on their cheeks.

“You love them for the rest of your life!”



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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Dogface Soldier

 Short Story

Dogface Soldier

“Do you think they’ll torture us, Sarge?” The two men sat crossed-legged on an empty floor, back-to-back. They were each other’s support rest that way. Plus, they could scan in all directions, as far as the dim light allowed their eyes to penetrate the darkness. The older one slowly searched for any activity, left to right, then right to left. The younger sat cowering, with a look that said it all. I’m scared. I don’t know what to do. Please tell me everything will be okay!

“I don’t know, Taggart. I don’t know – never been this close to ’em before.” He wanted nothing more than to offer reassuring words but just could not allow himself to share fantasy and false hope. He was scared as well. “No, never been this close to ’em before. I heard back in ’42 they found a half dozen from the Second ID, soldiers from an advanced party we sent out to try and fix their location. All they recovered were those six bodies.” Sitting on the floor, Taggart pulled his knees close and buried his face to hide his expression. This can’t be happening.

“They sent 128 in total; no one has any idea what happened to the rest of them. If those six were any indication, it didn’t go well.” The sergeant continued scanning as he spoke. His detached expression showed no sympathy for their predecessors. “When they were found, they were stripped and half-starved. Four were already dead — the others made it another 36 hours before…”

“Before what, Sergeant Clark?”

Clark wanted nothing more than to reassure his soldier. He could not find the words but finally choked out a response.

“The bastards had ripped out all of their finger-and-toenails, Taggart. One was carved up so bad – head cut up and shaved, ears mutilated — you couldn’t even identify the body as human without…”

The sergeant’s response kept trailing off, repeatedly fighting back the urge to break down and cry; Taggart was already there.

Clark and Taggart were the only soldiers remaining. At least, they were the only two at that particular location. Sergeant Clark found it impossible to tell where they were or why they were being held. The room was large; Clark found it hard to believe it was needed just to hold two naked and frightened soldiers. The plan must have been to capture more. That was, of course, before things got out of hand in the final defense of Perimeter Tango. Clark never saw bloodshed like that before — he never even heard of brutality on such a scale. What the fuck happened? Hell, they’re the Third Infantry Division, the famed “Rock of the Marne” of 1918. Their dogged defense is still legendary. Clark was baffled. “It never should’ve gone that bad, that quickly. What the fuck happened?”

But those famed battles of the American Expeditionary Force were over 160 years ago. Warfare had advanced beyond primitive days of fighting amongst the trenches, scrambling to capture inches of ground. Their unit was Earth’s third expedition deployed beyond the galaxy. This time, 432 soldiers were heavily armed when they landed and went in on foot. Air and ground vehicles proved ineffective against that alien force. The enemy immediately targeted and destroyed vehicles whenever any left the security of their assembly area, obliterated before anyone could get a fix on anything. “Modern warfare” took more than a few steps backward, putting troops back into trenches.

Scouts were advancing. Then came the counterattack…

Clark and Taggart recounted the same story. Both were hit from behind while their attention was focused on chaos to the front. They were losing — the last moment either remembered was their commanding officer giving the order, “fix bayonets.”

The next thing recalled was waking up in that warehouse. Taggart had a nasty welt on his back from some sort of piercing. He looked over his sergeant and found the same, probably a tranquilizing agent. Clark was trying to assess his surroundings. No equipment. No windows or doors. Hell, the room was so tall neither could determine just how high the walls reached until the ceiling emitted its dull brilliance. He paced the empty room’s perimeter, 50 by 75 meters, figuring the dimensions reduced their chances of being underground. There were no doors, windows, or openings on four smooth metal walls. The floor showed signs of recent activity. All they could see in the low light were each other. Stagnant air gave no indication of circulation.

Neither could tell how long they were out, but the men were clean-shaven the morning of battle. Clark caressed the heavy scruff on his face. His stomach was growling as if it had been empty for days. A few days could mean their position is anywhere on that planet, or any of the other four in the belt for that matter. They were alone, confused, and scared. Plus, they were naked.

Without warning, a slot at the bottom of one far wall raised. From it, a metal tray slid into view. Both soldiers ran to the opening, but it closed before they reached the spot. The tray had a pile of what looked like brown flesh next to two bowls of liquid. Water was Sergeant Clark’s guess.

Taggart leaned over the specimen to inspect it with his nose. “Is that shit? Did they just take a shit on a plate to feed it to us, Sergeant?”

“It’s actually pretty good once you finally get past the smell.”

The quip startled both soldiers. They immediately snapped their heads around to see who or what was there. It came from the other side of the room. A man was standing by the wall as if he had been there the entire time. Some part opened then sealed again while they were distracted. Sergeant Clark took the lead.

“Who the hell are you?”

The stranger boomed, “Corporal Victor Hernandez, Charlie Company, Reconnaissance Advanced Force, Second Infantry Division. ‘Second to None!’” He was an old man trying his best to stand tall, snap a salute, and bark the famed mantra of the Second ID, but his body could only replicate a pathetic reproduction of the real thing. Immediately, however, Clark recognized him as genuine.

“At ease, Corporal.” The character relaxed. Even old soldiers find comfort in protocol. “I’m Staff Sergeant Linus Clark, and this is Private Vincent Taggart.” Clark was stunned. He stared for a moment into the geriatric’s eyes. “Have you been here since the First Expeditionary Force?” Corporal Hernandez must have used up whatever military bearing remained within him. He waved his hand like a giddy little kid.

“Yep! Class of 2041.” As Hernandez tossed the two soldiers cloth cut from some animal skin, Taggart gasped and asked if he had actually been held there for 37 years. “We count time a little different out here, but if you say it’s been 37 years, then yes, I have. I probably came to this place much like the way you did. I don’t really know where we are,” he smiled, “but we both know it’s not back on Earth. I go out into the yard every once in a while. The sky is a hazy shade of purple and brown, even in the day, but the sun peeks through sometimes.”

“What are you doing here?” Sergeant Taggart pulled his head through a hole cut into the tunic. Corporal Hernandez described various duties he was either tasked with or instinctively developed. He fancied himself a hospitality director for their new home, often welcoming groups brought in over the years. “There aren’t as many troopers as you might think. Most of the time, what comes through is a roundup of regular people — four or five at a time seems preferred. Children are better than adults since they don’t really seem to have any desire to deal with grown humans.”

“Maybe they can’t.” Clark’s nonsense was just about the only sentence he could form, still trying to come to grips with his new surroundings.

“Oh, they’re actually quite sophisticated with our species! They try to breed us whenever they get a woman of childbearing age or raise a bitch.” As Hernandez kept talking, Taggart returned to the ground and sat, his arms wrapped around trembling knees as he rocked, softly sobbing. “The last one they caught a few years back, her name was Jenny, they kept her pregnant through seven pups before her body gave out. Yep, five full-term, one stillborn though, two rejected.”

Clark seemed confused. “They mate with our species?”

“Oh, no,” chuckled the suddenly energetic corporal. Hernandez seemed entertained for someone who spent most of his adult life as a prisoner of war. His delight grew the longer he talked; Clark wondered if he was just happy to see another human after however long it must have been.

“Oh, no,” he continued. “I don’t think they can mix with our breed. Besides, I’d hate to be the poor female they tried that on. I did the stud role for a while back when I was a young and tough Ranger. You think you would never do it. You know – rape a woman. But that’s what they want you to do. They stick you in one of those ‘breeding rooms’ and don’t let you out until you did it.”

Hernandez smiled. “Until, you know, you fucked her. They brought one through here yesterday. Angela, I think her name was. Yeah. Angela Townes.”

“They got Lieutenant Townes?” Private Taggart was unsure if he should be happy or frightened from that discovery.

“Yeah, they got her. She came in here buck naked, just like you. She’s a fertile one.” Hernandez developed a faraway look as if he was visioning her fleshly form, imagining what he could do with her in his younger days. “She wasn’t here long, probably sent to the breeder.”

Clark was growing tired of the conversation.

“So, what the hell do they intend to try and do with us? They’re breeding our women? For what purpose?”

“That all depends on what you end up with.” Corporal Hernandez explained the situations to which he had borne witness. Humans held in isolation — brought to the brink of starvation before they are caged with another. Two men, one scrap of food, locked up until one is declared victorious. By the third or fourth time any are placed in that scenario, aggression becomes instantaneous and without mercy.

Some live their life in a pen not much different from the one they were currently held, except for the walls. One or two sides might be open. A strange field of energy prevented their escape while alien creatures gathered. Their intentions were never made known. The few people Hernandez ever spoke with after such an experience said they felt like exhibits or observations.

“I see some when they are brought back to my little sanctuary. Their bodies are mutilated.” Private Taggart began to cower and cry at the notion of that fate. Hernandez seemed to show some sympathy. “Those examples are few and far between. Most of the time they come back, they’re old, fat, and happy! I’m sure you’ll be with the second group.” It was not much of a consolation.

At that moment, a most displeasing guttural howl came from across the room. Hernandez jumped with glee, grabbed an arm of each soldier, straining to lift and guide them across the floor.

“Ooh! It seemed you’re about to have your answer, Sergeant. Here! Come here.” He directed Clark to a spot on the ground, well stained and reeking of piss and shit. The Sergeant growled.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” Clark snapped as he struggled against the man’s grip.

“Trust me,” the corporal insisted. “I’ve done this thousands of times before. This is my job. I’m supposed to prepare you for a presentation.” He continued his positioning, coercing Clark over to his intended location. The private was an easy move, broken and unwilling to wage a fight against this inconceivable situation. The two were placed about seven feet apart, facing the commotion.

“Just stand there and don’t do anything stupid.”

They were ready.

Hernandez’s eyes lit up as he bounced on the balls of his feet in anticipation. “I love this part. Good luck, gentleman.”

The image of a wall seemed to disappear. In its place, four figures loomed. Sergeant Clark figured three of them must have been at least twelve feet tall, while the fourth was smaller. He never saw a real Junket up close before. The pre-mission briefing pictures and videos never quite captured the matted hair on their lean, muscular frames. Covered in secretions, the hair seemed to knead and manipulate their four limbs across the floor. Like a fucking rotting corpse dipped in barbecue sauce was the description he remembered.

“Jackpot!” Hernandez began to run around in a frenzied craze. “I know them! I know them!” Clark and Taggart remained put as their suitor continued to dash about. “The one on the left, the striking one…”

They were still tall when moving, only leaning forward slightly onto their second pair of legs. The Junkets reminded Sergeant Clark of a praying mantis in that position. Clark could not understand what, precisely, was striking about any of them. They were hideous. Plus, there was that smell.

“…he’s my master. He is the one who has taken care of me since I got here.” Hernandez was indeed subject to whatever influence these aliens held. “I know the other two tall fellows. They’ve been here before, coming every two or three seasons to get a couple more humans. I don’t know the last one. He looks familiar, though.” The aliens’ liaison stared silently for a moment until he remembered.

“Wait! Is that Bobby?”

Clark asked, “What the fuck’s a Bobby?”

“I don’t know his real name,” Corporal Hernandez chuckled, “or if he even has a name, but when they call out to him, I hear ‘Bobby’ in my head. Wow, it must have been,” Hernandez paused. “23… It’s been 23 harvest seasons since Bobby first appeared on the farm.

“Wow! We’re both getting old, Bobby. Aren’t we?”

Two of the creatures moved forward. Clark and Taggart felt it was wise to do as advised — stand there and not put up a fight. Their hair was tussled. Taggart’s cloth was pulled aside as his genitals were lifted. It was almost as if they were inspecting the offerings. The two stepped back and conferred with “master” while Bobby moved in to explore the two.

Horrific screeches erupted between the three taller Junkets. Bobby seemed more interested in the new humans, slowly inching closer. One “adult” emitted a guttural yelp, and Bobby immediately stepped back to rejoin the herd. She must have been the mother. Only a mother has such control over their children.

Mom and dad made their way towards the wall where they entered. Bobby followed close behind, screeching and spitting back towards the humans.

Hernandez was sure a deal was set!

“A deal for what, Corporal?” Clark burst into anger.

“For you. A deal for you,” the old man rambled. “One of you. Maybe both.” He began to jump in excitement at the thought. “Maybe they’ll keep both of you!”

Maybe they’ll keep both of you. The phrase snapped Private Taggart out of his trance.

“Keep us?” he asked. “You mean, like pets?”

The Sergeant erupted, “At ease, Taggart! No one’s keeping us as fucking pets!” As Sergeant Clark turned to move towards the aliens, Corporal Hernandez was already standing in his way. He anticipated the reaction, one he had probably seen before. He herded the two together while working to soothe them.

“Calm down, Goddammit. Calm down.” Hernandez’s demeanor was firm. His manner changed in an instant. “Let me tell you what is going to happen.” The Corporal bent down and patted his palms onto the stone floor, directing the two to take a seat. They had no choice. It was just the three of them alone in the warehouse again. Sergeant Clark and Private Taggart complied and took their place in front of the old soldier. Hernandez comfortably placed a hand on each of them as he continued.

“This is what I do, gentleman. I welcome people to this godforsaken world and try my best to help them make sense of the rest of their days.” He rose and slowly circled the two, gently brushing his fingers through their hair on each pass. “I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I’m pretty good at my job. Master has kept me in this role, so it must think I’m doing good.” The crazy old man they first met was no longer in front of them. Instead, they were taking direction from the noncommissioned officer in charge.

“Here’s what’s going to happen. In a few minutes, that wall will open again, and they are going to bring in a cage.” Before Sergeant Clark had a chance to recoil from the word cage, Hernandez cut him off. “Don’t interrupt me, Sergeant.

“They will let you know who’s going in the cage. They’ll be gentle if you don’t put up a fight. They won’t be gentle if you resist.” The Corporal placed his hands together in prayer. “Please don’t resist. Trust me.”

Private Taggart raised his hand as he posed his question. “What are they going to do to us, Corporal?”

“I don’t know where you’re going, but I know that you will have it good. I have seen people after they’ve gone with this family. Life will be as best as it can get for you on this planet. There will be chances to see that glorious brown sunset. You’ll get good food. You’ll get used to it.

Corporal Hernandez continued to circle as he let the words sink in.

“If you resist… If they don’t take you… If any others come for you… I don’t want to share the horrors of what will happen if you don’t go into the crate.”

The corporal stopped in front of Clark. Hernandez’s somber look changed with the slightest hint of a grin.

“Sergeant Clark, you said you are with the Third Infantry Division?”

“First Battalion, Second Regiment, Exo-Planet Task Force!” Clark boasted.

Hernandez paused like he was struggling to recall his old army days.

“Third ID? ‘Rock of the Marne?’”

“Hooah, Corporal!”

“They still call you Dogface Soldiers?”

“Only in history books,” Taggart replied.

Corporal Hernandez did not need to provide any more clarification. There was nothing left to explain. He continued to circle his two soldiers as the reality of their fate firmed.

Neither Dogface Soldier reacted when the wall faded once more, opening just enough to allow a dilapidated flatbed vehicle through. It seemed to float inches above the floor, elevated by a sputtering cushion of air. Its cargo was a square metallic crate with dozens of fist-sized holes perforating the walls.

The vehicle went silent as it settled. A Junket exited without a sound and came around back, tracing one of its thin upper limbs across the crate’s top. Unlocked, one side fell to the bottom of the truck bed in a violent sound that broke the silence and set Corporal Hernandez to action. He knew just what to do next.

“Let’s go, Sergeant,” he whispered while gently tugging Clark’s arm. There was no fight left in the man. He sheepishly rose and followed. Hernandez herded him to the crate, grabbed the nape of his neck, guiding him into a sitting position with his knees folded. “Make some room,” he ordered while pushing Clark deeper into the crate, then returned to retrieve Taggart.

“You’re up, soldier.” The process was repeated without resistance. Hernandez backed away as the Junket closed its crate; nothing remained for hospitality to do. He turned, forgoing any “fond farewell” or “bon voyage” for his fellow soldiers. Walking over to the untouched food on the tray, he sat down and treated himself to his reward for a job well done.

The vehicle looked as it had seen better days, slowly sputtering to build enough cushion and lift itself off the ground. While the engine was straining, Hernandez took one last look at the two new family pets. He could barely make out their faces through the air holes. Softly, he began to hum a tune both soldiers were sure to know. As the engine grew louder, so did Hernandez’s tune. When the vehicle broke free from gravity, he burst into song:

“I Wouldn’t Give A Bean

To Be A Fancy Pants Marine

I’d Rather Be A

Dog Face Soldier Like I Am

 

I Wouldn’t Trade My Old OD’s

For All The Navy’s Dungarees

For I’m The Walking Pride

Of Uncle Sam

 

On Army Posters That I Read

It Says “Be All That You Can”

So They’re Tearing Me Down

To Build Me Over Again”

The engine howled louder. His song grew bolder.

“I’m Just A Dog Face Soldier

With A Rifle On My Shoulder

And I Eat Raw Meat

For Breakfast E’V’RY Day

 

So Feed Me Ammunition

Keep Me In Third Division

Your Dog Face Soldier’s A-Okay”

“Good luck, men,” Corporal Hernandez whispered to himself as the vehicle pulled away and exited.

Neither Clark nor Taggart could make out anything during their trip. As the engine choked, its speed increased. A bitter wind blew through the crate as turbulence tossed them about. The men were frightened, cold, and disoriented. Taggart threw up twice, spewing bloody bile from his empty stomach. By the time the trip was complete, about 45 minutes, hyperthermia had begun to set in for both.

Nighttime set upon a world 350,000 light-years away from home.

While Papa Junket guided the metallic crate into a well-lit, heated barn, Mama and Junior watched from the main house. Taggart peered through the ventilation hole and watched the younger one. As its mother stroked her elongated antennae across its thorax, the child mimicked the same motion across the back of a rather plump elderly woman. Their eyes met for just a moment.

She did not appear amused.

The crate settled to the ground in synchronized unison just as all lights extinguished. One side open, spilling its contents of one Private Vincent Taggart, one Staff Sergeant Linus Clark, and a foul stream of human secretions. Taggart rolled onto his knees, trying to stand as he peered into an empty void.

“Stand fast, Private,” were the first words spoken. “You have no idea what’s out there.” Clark placed his hand on Taggart’s shoulder. He was still charged with the health and welfare of his subordinate, but this time, there was no sense of a chain of responsibility. The Sergeant was not caring for his soldier; he was not soothing a scared boy. Linus was reaching out for security and comfort from another soul.

“We’re better off staying put,” Clark reassured himself aloud. “At least it’s warm. We’ll take shifts tonight — I have the first hour, so get some sleep. At first light, we’ll recon the area and assess our next move.”

Taggart confessed, “I saw something in the other structure when we arrived. It looked like a female, Sarge.” Clark did not respond. He just propped himself up against their crate. There were no words to offer, only the comfort of sliding his arm around Taggart’s neck and chest as the private leaned back and relaxed every muscle in his exhausted frame. “Bobby was holding her like they were buddies forever. They looked happy,” his words trailed off.

“Do you think they’ll be as good to us, Sarge?”

Sergeant Clark held back. He wanted to tell his soldier to toughen up and quit whining, to share his plans of escaping and killing every last Junket they found. He thought about making it to the rally point and rejoining their unit for a second assault. He wanted to share something positive, something decisive, but he could not lie to his only friend.

“Get some sleep, Taggart. We’ll talk about everything at first light.”

That was enough for the young soldier. Tucking his arms under the flimsy garment, he turned his head into Clark’s chest and closed his eyes.

“Good night, Sarge,” came a soft whisper.

“Woof,” Clark sobbed as he wrapped his arms tighter around Taggart, gently rocking the young Dogface Soldier to sleep. The only sounds were his melodic hum and occasional words of their beloved lullaby.

“I’d rather be a dogfaced soldier like I am…”

 

Acknowledgments

What if it was you on the other side of the cage?

“We fight the big fights to end suffering for all animals.”

Together with millions of supporters, the Humane Society of the United States takes on puppy mills, factory farms, the fur trade, trophy hunting, animal cosmetics testing and other cruel industries. Through our rescue, response and sanctuary work, as well as other hands-on animal care services, we help thousands of animals every year. We fight all forms of animal cruelty to achieve the vision behind our name: a humane society.

Learn more here: www.humanesociety.org/all-our-fights

 

The Dog Face Soldier Song was written in 1942 by Lieut. Ken Hart and Cpl. Bert Gold, two U.S. Army infantry soldiers. It is the official song of the 3rd Infantry Division.

www.dogfacesoldier.org

 

Rocky the Bulldog is the symbol of the 3rd Infantry Division. He was created by Walt Disney himself in 1965. The 3rd Infantry Division gained the right to display Rocky through an exchange of letters between Disney Productions and the 3ID commander at the time, MG Albert O. Connor.

“Rocky the Bulldog.” Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield, home.army.mil/stewart/index.php/about/history/rocky

 

Dogface Soldier

Words and Music by Ken Hart and Bert Gold, additional lyrics by Jack Dolph

© 1956 SHAWNEE PRESS

All Rights Reserved

Reprinted by Permission of Hal Leonard LLC

 


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