Chapter 28—"Everlasting Love"
It was near time for our annual conception party. “Maybe we should cancel this year,” I said to Marty a week before Valentine’s Day. I put a pan of brown rice on the stove to cook.
He walked over to me and put both his hands on my shoulders. “We have a deal. We agreed we would do this every February 14.”
I laughed. “I am surprised you remember what deals we forged last year. You were drunk before the party even started.”
“And you were stoned before the party even started,” He chopped vegetables to sauté.
“Anyhow, Jake is coming up. It will be the five of us.”
We had our party. It was Peter’s first conception party and he promised it wouldn’t be his last. He and I concocted what we called our Mexican Cornbread Surprise for dinner. Cornbread split it in half, covered with black beans, salsa and cheese and then the top half of the cornbread.
As conception parties go, it was the best so far. We sang, danced and drank cheap wine.
“Sometimes I miss him so much I feel like I’m going to stop breathing,” I said when there was a lull in the music.
“I know what you mean,” Ginger said. “In Hixson, at our anti-war meeting last week, I looked up and expected to see him leaning against the back wall, his arms across his chest, that red bandana holding back his hair ready to say the one thing that put us all going in the right direction.”
“I think about him every day,” Jake said. “I can feel him behind me, pushing me.”
“He’s everywhere,” Marty said.
Peter poured wine into our empty glasses and raised a toast. “To Hook,” he said.
Midnight came and we declared conception day over. I walked over to Marty and hugged him tightly. “We’re connected, you know,” I said. I pulled back and looked him in the eyes. “No matter where we end up in our lives, you and I are connected.”
He kissed my forehead and rubbed my cheek with his thumb. “There’s no one else I’d rather be connected to.”
U.S. Soldier Body Count: 38,727