About the bookCourage. Patriotism. Words rendered meaningless to Erik when his brother Howard returns home from Afghanistan in a flag-draped casket. Months later, Erik finds the gentle words of Howard's Marine buddy, Greg, soften his pain. After losing a limb in combat, Greg understands the raw sorrow of loss. Erik and Greg spend a soul-searching night together and find the unexpected in each other's company.
* * * * *
Second Edition. November 2012.
An excerpt from the bookThe man took an awkward step closer, offering his right hand, his left gripping the brass head of the falcon that formed the handle of the cane. "Greg Simmons. I just moved into the little blue house that backs up to the south side of the cemetery."
"John Tudor's old place?" Erik accepted Greg's hand and shook cordially. "I'm Erik Chavel. I live about a mile down the road. Born in a small town, die in a small town, isn't that what the song says? But not Howard." Erik nodded toward the grave. "My brother. He had to go traipsing halfway around the world to die."
"I know," Greg said, to Erik's great surprise. "I was there. I'm very sorry for your loss."
Erik didn't mean to look so shocked or stare so hard. His heart rate sped up, his hands involuntarily clenching into tightly balled fists. "Thanks," he managed to say. He nodded toward Greg's cane. "That from over there, too?"
"Afraid so." Greg lifted the cane and took a gentle swat at his own left calf. Although muffled by blue jeans covering his leg and windswept leaves scraping the pavement, clearly the cane struck metal instead of flesh. "Not exactly the Six Million Dollar Man, but at least I can get around. I'm really sorry about your brother. I, um . . . I guess I'd better be moving along. My apologies again for the interruption."
"Wait." Erik sucked in a breath. "Is that why you came down here, because of Howard?"
On the leaf-strewn walkway, Greg shifted his weight to his right leg. "Howard was transferred into my unit just outside of Kabul almost a year ago. He became a good friend, one of the few men I could talk with openly about being queer. You would think that after eighteen years of service certain things would get easier to deal with. They don't." He sighed and shook his head. "Look, I have to get back to the house; I'm not entirely used to this peg leg yet, and my back is fucking killing me. I've got cold beer in the fridge if you want to stop by for a drink."
Erik paused. Howard hadn't been gay, at least not that anyone knew. There would've been no reason to hide it, since Erik had come out way back in high school and the family hadn't flipped out. There was no way Howard would've married Grace and had a kid in order to build himself a closet for such an open-minded and accepting family. It didn't make sense. Erik needed to know the truth.