War HeroIt had been a month since my bear of a big brother Frank came home after his last tour of duty. I always enjoyed it when he came home. Since he did not have a girlfriend and never had to worry about sharing money even if he was an adult already, he always treated me to our favourite ice cream place when we was home. He still lived with us. He had one wing of the house, I had the other, and Dad had the middle. Dad didn’t quite believe in us having to move out upon reaching 18 or 21, whatever the legal age was, as he always said. He always reminded us that he had worked hard his whole life to build a home large enough for his two children to live in even if we both had gotten married and have our own families already. Anyway, I hadn’t had the time to ask Frank out to go to the ice cream place because I had just started fourth grade and had been enjoying the company of my new biking friends. So whenever I got home, he would always look at me and with a knowing grin, ask me if I wanted ice cream or play video games. Up until this point I had always said no because I had been practicing to jump my brand new navy blue mountain bike with my new buddies. He won this time but I asked if we could have some fried chicken and burgers first and just have ice cream as dessert. An amused but baffled look came on his face and asked if Dad had been forgetting to give me money. I told him no, but that I had been having a hard time saving for that cool blue helmet just ten bucks away from my hands. Whenever I bugged him about how his last tour went, he would always tell me that I was too young to understand but he would tell me anyway. I questioned him why he thought I was too young to understand war when I lorded over the competition on Call of Duty. In fact, I made the Nazis eat my dust. He answered that it was okay, that it was smooth. He added that despite the continuous rain of bombs miles away from their camp, neither he nor his team had had to use their M-16s because they hadn’t had to fight any enemies up close. While they hadn’t had to fire at the enemy, it was only the memory of the sound of mortars, bombs, grenades, gunfire that still gave him nightmares. He said he felt really delighted about being home with family and that he would just make up for the lost time. It was good to hear Frank talk about how a soldier friend of his had been helping him during those nights when he could not sleep well because of the bomb sounds. I asked him if he could call his buddy up to join us and maybe we could play when we got home, but he said his buddy wasn’t a game nerd and only visited at night, through the backdoor of his wing of the house. I badly wanted to thank his buddy for visiting Frank. I also wanted to show him my new bike tricks, in case he was a bike fan. The afternoons in the ice cream place became more frequent, like three or four times a week and it went on for more than a month. And I had been getting the feel that my bike buddies had become familiar with my absence. I wanted to join them again but who could blame me? My brother was a soldier and he was a real soldier with real war stories to tell. This Friday afternoon, Frank was particularly happy, telling me that he had been sleeping well lately and that he and his buddy would have a few drinks in his wing tonight to celebrate his victory over those bad dreams. I told him I was happy for both of them and that if only I had been old enough to drink, I would join them, but Frank calmly replied that it was for soldiers only. Later that night, I easily got bored with Call of Duty and killing Nazis and became sleepy. I figured it may have been because of the four ice cream mugs and six chicken wings I had which Frank poked fun at. Before I headed to my wing, I decided to peep on Frank and his buddy. I hoped they were quite drunk already so they would not notice me. It may have slipped their mind that there was still a window half-closed and as I headed towards it, it was clear from their voices that they were both drunk. Their laughter alternated and I discovered that Alan, funnily enough, was the name of his friend. As careful as a cat preparing to pounce on a mouse, I peered into the half-closed window and into Frank’s large room. I wanted to see if I could still talk to Alan before he went home. I saw that there was nobody in the room but Frank, staring at the mirror holding a beer mug half-filled. He whispered, talked, laughed and whimpered to himself in two very different voices, in his own and in his buddy’s. My mind went black and blank and I sped away.