August 17, 2021 By Christopher Bucchere

A Marine's Choice


Anyone who traveled with Mitch Ludwig

Knew about the shrapnel in his ass

It was from Vietnam

A Marine

Two tours

And a Purple Heart

A man who lived

But had to watch his friends die

Those metal detectors

At the airport

They would get him every time

The smiles and laughs

From TSA

Only a charmer like Mitch

Could make the TSA laugh

Mitch was the center

Of everything

I flew all over the country with him

Watched him work his magic

We’d walk the halls of the Pentagon

Or Langley

Could never get very far

Govvies and contractors alike

Tripping over themselves to shake hands

With Mitch Ludwig

He brought me along

To show off the technology

But my job was easy

Because Mitch had already closed the deals

With his outsized personality

Starch pressed shirts

Finely fitted suits

Red ties

Always red ties

Clean shaven

And bald as a cue ball

Mitch was the Daddy Warbucks

Of Washington, DC

He had this innocence

Or at least he’d fake it

He’d make an off-color joke

Then grab the end of his red tie

And gently pass it across his lips

As if he was wiping his mouth clean

Three vasectomies 

And two reversals!

He would always tell me

I’m still not sure why

But on weekends he’d pilot his yacht

Down the Potomac

Jam packed

With fifty of his closest friends

He’d drop anchor

And we’d tumble overboard

Stand in the silt

Water up to our tits

A shitty American beer in each hand

And not a care in the world

Somehow Mitch would reel us all back in

And pilot the yacht to a seafood shack

Now the fifty had become a hundred

A dozen blue crabs per person

And pitchers filled with more shitty beer

For hours

Nah it was all fucking night

We’d drink beer

And pick these tiny blue crabs

The Old Bay getting all up in our fingernails

And the corn on the cob, ignored

No one ever saw a bill

Or threw down a dime

Mitch always took care of it

Daddy Warbucks style

Then one day Mitch Ludwig

Blew his fucking brains out

No one will ever know exactly why

But does anyone really have to ask?

Because when I think about Vietnam

And Iraq

And Afghanistan

And everything

I wonder

Mitch loved his life

And was loved by his family

And me

And hundreds of others

That was clear

But if our country

And its leaders

Thought so little of his life

To send him off to die in a quagmire

In a war we knew we wouldn’t win

Then maybe suicide was Mitch’s way

Of taking control

Of his own life

Of his own destiny

Because Mitch didn’t die for his country

Mitch died for Mitch

On his terms

The way he wanted

And if our country

Put Mitch in this position

Why should anyone question his choice?

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