Revenge is a dish best ate cold–was that how the saying went?
Anyway, it was a thought, a distraction. Nights out with the boys always led to odd feelings the next day; the alcohol led to panic and a sense of impending doom. Nights out in the pub with old comrades–the thought of going was enticing, but the reality was different; watching while they all got on with their lives…Stephen, Ben, Michael, while his own had stopped somewhere in a trench in France. That wasn’t just self-pity; that was fact.
The pace was too manic now, the physical signs of panic becoming too overwhelming–the heart racing, the damp hands and tingling over the upper lip, prickling cold with sweat. The strange weakness. Now, in addition, there was a rushing noise, like that sound when you pressed a seashell to your ear.
This was no good. Much more of this and he would postpone it–that would lead to self-hatred and the depression that went with it. Already there was an echo of the lacerating feelings, the venomous self-talking–“you are useless, couldn’t even do this, coward.”
No, the panic would have to be faced, borne. Look at what other people had had to face. Look at the terrors overcome in a spirit of comradeship and bravery. That is supposed to be what bravery was, after all—feeling frightened but going ahead regardless.
Nausea rising in the throat, sweat breaking out now on the brow.
Limping across to the window. Deep breaths. Pushing the window open. Drawing in the air, which was warm but freshened by a slight breeze, and it was clean, clean air, life giving. Close the eyes, take in deep breaths. Conjure images of steel in the backbone.
Turn quickly now. Resolve coming from somewhere. Reaching for the steel of the revolver. Steel in the pocket now, steel in the backbone and…Please, steel in the mind.