There was this boy in college. I was in college, he was in the United States Marine Corps. We met…somewhere. I can’t quite remember now. But we went on a date. He had a friend with a green shirt. His name was…one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The one who wore green. I remember that, because it was ironic. The green shirt and all. Anyway, this boy, his name was West. Last name, of course. We all go by last names. I remember the tattoo on his arm. I had seen the concept before, but not ever tattooed on someone. It was an anagram of sorts. It read “life” in one direction. And “death” in the other. We went to the movies. He was 17. I think. I know he was 17 or 18. I remember thinking, That’s too young. No man that young should have to be a soldier. He isn’t even a man yet. Just a boy. He came to my house. Nothing major happened. I was too naive for things of that nature. But he stayed the night. In the morning, he left. But he forgot his dog tags. I didn’t want to tell him. I wanted to keep them. So I would have something to remember him by. But I didn’t. I wish I had. With all my heart, I wish I had. But he came back for them. And he left the next day. Off to California. And then who knows where. And he wanted to hold on to me. For me to follow him. What if I had?
I’ve recently tried to find him somehow on the internet. I wish I hadn’t. Because the only West I can find that was a marine has died. If that is him, if anyone out there knows him, my heart is heavy for that man who has died. And I wish I still had his dog tags. Just so I’d know for sure.