After our battalion redeployed from Iraq we got thirty days of leave before we had to go back to work. I went home to my parent’s house where my mom and dad threw a big party for me. They invited all my relatives and some neighbors. One of the neighbors was the old guy that lived a few houses down the street. I used to mow his yard when I was in high school. He asked me if I killed anyone in Iraq. I wasn’t really sure what to say so I told him that he wasn’t supposed to ask me that question. The old man took a drink from his beer can and asked me why not. I guess mostly because it didn’t feel right to answer it, so I just said that it was some sort of unwritten rule that you don’t ask soldiers if they’ve killed anyone in combat. He laughed and said it was a rhetorical question anyway. Sort of like asking if it was hot in Iraq. He took another drink from his beer and said people weren’t supposed to ask him rhetorical questions when he came home in 1968 either.
J. Alan Montrose is an Iraq War Veteran who lives in Wahlheimat, Germany. He holds a Bachelor degree from the University of Georgia, Athens, and a Masters from the Universität Hamburg Germany. His work has appeared in War, Literature & the Arts, The Subterranean Quarterly, Knee Jerk, The Chattahoochee Review, as well as the German literature review Titel-Magazin. He currently lectures at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt.