A journal of narrative writing.

What did you do in the Service, I asked.
   I was the bugler for the division, he said.
I never played the same afterwards.
   What made him put his body between
a platoon of men, he said, and the guy
   they’d decided was guilty, he didn’t
know. He just had to do it, and took
   the beating until, exhausted, the men
went back to bed. His nose, he said,
   it didn’t used to look like this. I wanted
more: how did it happen, what did it
   feel like, the questions rising in me
like dinner gone bad, and it was none
   of my business. What could I do, he
told me, They filled their pillowcases
   with boots; you know the kind: black,
steel-toed. I didn’t know, but I could hear
   them thudding as they fell inside cloth,
muffled, innocuous until swung, heavier
   than hands, he said. It was a story you
want to hear and wish you hadn’t, and
   still you want more. I didn’t know
what to say, but when I reached out and
   touched the scar he’d shown me, just out
of the line of vision beneath the curve
   of jaw bone, I felt my own go a bit slack.
Oddly, he didn’t move, just closed an eye,
   keeping the other cracked and staring
as if at something just beyond us both,
   something outside our field of view.