K Is for Killing

Content warning: violence, abuse, killing

The first time I saw “The Dark Knight” I was in Iraq. One speech from the Joker left an especially deep impression on me then. He talked of killing being “a choice between life or another”.

I used to visit a hospice patient who had been a gunner on an aircraft carrier during the Korean War. He knew that he had taken dozens and perhaps hundreds of lives. He recognized that the men he had killed were just like him, “just guys serving their country”. He also recognized that those men would’ve killed him and his comrades had he not killed them first.

It’s a rare occurrence, but occasionally someone will ask me how many people I killed during my time in the military. For a long time I just refused to answer. Later I began giving the number of comrades I’d lost, saying those were the losses that haunted me most. Then a recent nightmare made me realize every answer I give is either avoidance of oversimplification. I’m haunted by a lot of things, and I need to work on all of them.

I’ve written elsewhere about the time I nearly killed one of my abusers. I actually have some fuzzy memories of another, even earlier incident, and there have been other events since. I don’t know that I can ever get all those stories out. Maybe I’ll work through it with fiction.

Cognitively, I know I’ve committed no crimes and never used violence in anger, only as defense. Still, there are some deep emotions that want out. I sometimes joke about killing people, but I’m breaking that habit. Killing is no joke, and treating it as such has been a big mistake on my part.

But enough confessing for now. I need to start thinking about L.

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