This is what happens whenever Hoette speaks. He moves his mouth up then side to side, rather than up and down like they do in the north. When he talks it looks like he’s chewing grass but he’s not. It’s tobacco. Hoette takes his time with it because he believes he has too much of it and he’ll do what he wants with it. Like now, during our lunch break in between classes. He spat into a used bottle gatorade and talked about his wife.
“You’ll know it when you see it,” He said. “When you find the right girl, stick with it. Don’t look back, I tell ya.” I’m trying to listen but it seems like hours have gone by when he finished and stared at me with his tired, blue eyes. I could see the trench lines underneath him. Eyes that have seen two tours in two different graveyards. Lying back against the driver’s side of my 2011 Dodge Charger, I nod and take a sip of the burned over coffee that makes up my lunch.
“I don’t know about that man,” I said. “I mean, who knows what could happen in the next few years. I say it’s better just to have fun with girls, fuck around, and forget everything. Shoot from the hip you know?”
He spits into the bottle one more time and goes silent, staring beyond me and the Dodge. His eyes are locked at a group of NCO’s staring at one of their colleague’s new black chrome Harley Davidson.
“When I met my wife all I had to do was hear her talk,” he said with his eyes locked on the Harley. “She’d laugh at my jokes and damn well before I knew, she’d be my darlin’. I can’t say much about being young and living fast an all. But I can say when I saw her I knew man. Heck, I just knew.”
I raised my left eye and took another sip of the coffee, gasping when I burnt my tongue. “Well, what exactly made you know?”
“Other than the fact that she’s beautiful?” He chuckled. “Sides that, she knew what kind of person I was and what my job was. What I did an all. She never dated a Soldier before but she knew what it was all about. And you know what, after a deployment she managed to stick with me. And I think that’s fair enough. Also, she puts up with a lot of my shit. That’s important too.”
I smiled and checked my phone. It was fifteen minutes before thirteen hundred, and it was time to get back to training.