The American soldier suicides from the Afghan and Iraqi wars have gathered on the porch of the former president’s house in a wealthy neighborhood of Dallas.
They are shades, mostly invisible. The secret service guards are trained to spot what is tangible. The shades wait patiently most of the cool October day until the twilight comes. Finally one steps forward and rings the doorbell.
The shades of suicide do not have the best eyesight, and so when a man answers the door in the late light, they assume it’s the former president.
“Sir,” the shade spokesman says, “may I address you as the Indians do, as the great father?”
The man at the door seems to nod and the shade continues. “We are here, your loyal soldiers now passed, to put your troubled heart at ease, great father. We know that terrible nightmares must haunt you daily over the innocents killed in your two wars. We can’t speak for all, but we–the soldier suicides of your wars–have come to say we have forgiven you, and our families, which have suffered so, will someday in the future, forgive you. Go forward, great father, and live in joy and peace.”
The suicides then leave the porch and float away into the star-filled heavens. Up and up they go, the thousands, like smoke rising from a fire. The man–a butler–walks down to the curb to check the mail. He smiles a little, noticing the flurry of October leaves spin off the wide lawn.