My inspiration for this story is Ol' Blue Eyes' rendition of I Want To Be Around recorded in 1964.
I WANT TO BE AROUND by Frank Sinatra
I wanna be around to pick up the pieces when somebody breaks your heart,
Somebody twice as smart as I.
Somebody who will swear to be true like you used to do with me,
Who'll leave you to learn that misery loves company, wait and see.
I wanna be around to see how he does it when he breaks your heart to bits,
Let's see if the puzzle fits, so fine,
And that's when I'll discover that revenge is sweet,
As I sit there applauding from a front row seat,
When somebody breaks your heart like you broke mine.
There wasn't a lot of formal education in my past, just high school; my knowledge was from more of hand's on type of lessons. I was working in the southern U.S. blowing up bridges and large buildings that had been damaged or destroyed by Katrina. My understanding of explosives came from working with my dad in the mines of the Midwestern states.
My name is Patrick Kelly. I worked with my dad, James, for five years learning about explosives. My mother lost her battle with cancer when I was 15 so Dad had me work with him just after I turned 16; I was a big kid even at that age and could pass for being much older. My dad was 6' 2 and I topped him by two inches when I got my full growth. At 16 it wasn't exactly legal for me to be working in that industry, but it sure was educational. By the time I was 23 I was a blaster.
I could plan a blast chart, plant the charges, and wire them for detonation. I could bring a building down on itself and not bother the buildings on either side; it's called imploding. By the time I was 25 I was one of the best explosive experts in the country. That's why I was hired to go to the Gulf Coast and clean up after Katrina.
My last shot had gone off without a problem and brought down two three story buildings at the same time; they had been flooded and ruined during the hurricane. My boss, Jake, joined me at the generator blasting unit and said there were a couple of guys in the onsite office trailer that wanted to see me.
"Okay, I'll be there as soon as I inspect this shot," I replied.
"I think you better go now; I'll do the after action inspection," he said almost making it an order.
Looking at him with a question in my eyes he said, "Get going Patrick."
These guys must be some heavy hitters if they could spook Jake, I thought on my way to the trailer. I hadn't done anything wrong so it couldn't be the law looking for me. The two men were waiting for me when I opened the door. I nodded at them and sat down at my desk.
"You're Patrick Kelly?"
"Yep, who are you?"
"I'm John Smith and this is Jim Jones," he answered with a grin at giving me obviously false names.
"And what can I do for you, Mr. Smith?" I smiled and went along with the gag.
From there it was just a matter of exchanging information. Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones worked for a security firm whose area of responsibility was outside of the continental U. S. The firm was an independent contractor but one with strong ties to the U. S. government. Basically they wanted to hire me to go blow things up. There was a lot more Intel, their word not mine, but that was the meat and potatoes of it.
I would head a crew that would help clean up the damage done to the infra structure in another country by the war. We would implode gutted buildings, several bridges that had been weakened by shelling needed to be brought down so new bridges could be built, and several roads and some mountain passes needed to be cleared. Basically we would use explosives to help clear the way for rebuilding.
I would be deployed, again their word, for nine months with an offer of another nine months if I wanted to stay. The salary offered was outrageous. I would make more in nine months than I did in three years at home. If I reuped for another tour there would be a huge signing bonus in addition to a raise in salary.
They basically money whipped me into taking the job; it was too much money to pass up. I won't go into the name of the company or the country because I signed a non disclosure agreement. But I was on my way to the sand pit.
A little over four months ago, I came back to the real world. Back to the world of hot and cold running water and women. Back to the world of ice in your drinks and fast food and pizza. Back to the world of pretty girls wearing short skirts and bikinis. In short, I came back to the United States.
I can't tell you exactly where I had been; it's supposed to be top secret. Just let me say that there was a lot of sand, a lot of heat, and a lot of unfriendly types shooting; sometimes they shot at me and my crew. I'd been gone for about 18 months. I would have probably stayed for another tour but an RPG got a little too close to the explosives truck I was driving. If the RPG had hit that truck it would have seriously screwed up my day, week and life; I decided it was time for little Patrick to get out of Dodge.
The first thing I wanted when I got off the plane was a double Gentleman Jack. Alcohol was really frowned on where I had been; something about religious beliefs. Not my beliefs but we had to abide with them. The next thing I wanted was a woman. No I don't mean a hooker or prostitute; I just wanted to look at a woman or women dressed in anything but flowing robes and veils with nothing but their eyes showing. Sometimes not even their eyes showed. Maybe I could see some coeds in a short skirts and crop tops.
I'd been home for a week just decompressing and enjoying the land of the big PX when I ran into Riley Jansen. Riley had been and was still my best friend; we had grown up together. Before I'd gone to work with my dad full time at 20, Riley and I had been the scourge of the female population of our town. I slowed down after going full time; dudes working with explosives don't need hands shaking from too much alcohol and not enough sleep the night before.
If I wasn't on a job, Riley and I ran together, chasing girls, and having them chase us. If a girl was hot or extra affectionate our philosophy was one date wasn't enough and four was too many. We had a lot of fun but we sure pissed off a lot of young women.
I was sitting at a table in Dooley's, which was becoming my favorite watering hole, watching several young lovelies flaunt their good looking, scantily clad, hard bodies by dancing for me. They weren't really flaunting themselves nor were they dancing for me; it had just been so long since I had seen girls like this that I thought they were teasing me.
"You're too ugly and too old for them boy."
I heard the voice and turned to see whose head I was about to take off. It was Riley standing there with a smile and a bucket glass of Gentleman Jack.
"Here this ought to cool you down. If not, I'll have to get a hose," he said.
"Damn Riley, it's good to see you. It's been too long."
"Yeah it has. I heard you just got back from some secret deal out of the country. What's that all about? How're you doin?"
"I'm good but I can't talk about where I've been. I will say I made a ton of money so I can take it easy for a few months before I start blowing things up again," I replied.
We talked for a few minutes, catching up on our lives. I noticed that although Riley was smiling and having fun something was eating at him. He would get a faraway look in his eyes and seem to zone out for a few seconds.
Finally I said, "What's bothering you Riley? You aren't here sometimes so tell my where you are."
"I know it's sort funny, maybe ironic is the right word, but some bitch broke my heart." He took a shot and chased it with a beer. "Ain't that crazy? I played with around with a lot of girls and now one does to me what I used to do to them."
Riley was really down; I'd never seen him this way. "Tell Uncle Patrick all about. Maybe talkin will help you get over her."
In my mind I was laughing at him a little. It was ironic ... he's the one hurting instead of some girl he left. Of course I couldn't say that to him. During our wilder days I'd left plenty of young ladies too; but I never promised anything but a good time. Riley would talk about being in love or anything else he could use to get a girl into his bed. He and I had several intense discussions about his methods.
As they say, that was then this was now. My friend needed help so I'd be there for him. Riley got another shot and beer and began his story.
"I met her at an insurance seminar; there was a dinner dance afterwards and we seemed to hit it off. From there it developed into going to dinner, or the movies, and several times dancing at one of the clubs. We dated hot and heavy for three months. I thought I'd found the girl I wanted to marry and bought an engagement ring." Riley stopped, threw back the whiskey, and ordered another drink, looking at me to see if I was ready for more alcohol.
Shaking my head no, I told him, "Go on with your story Riley. I'd like to hear it before you get too drunk to talk."
"Well, one evening I took Cassidy to an expensive restaurant."
"That's the girl's name, Cassidy?" I asked.
"Yeah, Cassidy Nolan. She works in the accounting department at the same insurance company I do." He stopped for several swallows of his beer. "Where was I?"
"You took Cassidy to a fancy restaurant," I reminded him.
"Oh yeah. I took her to dinner and when I took her home we got into a really hot make out session in my car. That's when I asked her to marry me."
"I take it that she said no, considering the way you're acting."
.... There is more of this story ...