Note: this is a work of fiction, with all the usual stuff about copyright and permission. It’s also a work in progress and a way to develop my knowledge of the english language. So feel free to correct, debate, laugh, ask about it in the comments. Help appreciated.
Usually you don’t get mail from dead people, not to mention packages.
Two months ago I got a little white box, a package from Ulan Bator. I had to think for a moment to remember that’s the Mongolia’s capital, I was amazed to receive something from such a country. Then I looked to the sender’s name and almost got myself a stroke. Howard Washington, a man dead five years ago. After a while I checked the postage stamp date, hoping for one of those incredible error made by the italian mail system, for a package held for years by the bureaucracy. No errors. The date was from the previous week.
Once back at home I was hoping for a joke. A dark, stupid joke.
Me and Howard got some common friends, people who served with me in the Italian Air Force or with him in the US Army. Nope. As I opened the package my eyes recognized the once familiar handwriting of Howard, his strange habit to add capital letters here and there to hide a message in the text. In the white box I found a letter and a battered paper notepad, standard military issue. I will not told you about the letter, not now. In the notepad I’ve found an amazing story and Howard’s request to tell it to the world, piecing together his sparse notes.
Lance Corporal Howard Martin Washington, MIA and presumed dead five years ago. Disappeared anywhere in the Helmand province, Afghanistan. His comrades found his broken rifle, his leather gloves and traces of his blood. Nothing else. Howard was an huge man, 6′ 4″ with broad shoulders and a gorilla-like muscular mass, always ready for a brawl or can of beer. His friends at the battaillon were ashamed, there was an extensive search to find his body. Even the local village chiefs do collaborate, everything to put away the pressure. “Heavy Metal“, that was his nickname, became another statistic in a bitter war.
(to be continued)