Once two friends were sitting at a
Thinking there was nothing that could mar
Their friendship or
But they were wrong, as shortly you will
These two were both fine soldiers, none was better,
both could follow orders to the letter,
Even into rivers of hot
One was Tod, the other one was Ted.
They were childhood
friends from a small town,
And on the day they doffed their cap and
Both enlisted, neither would say nay,
For if one went, the
other would not stay.
Together in Iraq they served a tour,
then another, surer now than sure
That after each had saved the other's
No lover could divide them, nor no wife.
But at that bar
there was a girl so hot
That both these friends were smitten on the
Her long blond hair went down below her waist,
half showing, begged for just a taste.
She wore a sweater open to the
And a short, tight skirt. Whatever there was left
To see of
her was bursting through her clothes.
And her name, appropriately, was
"The Yellow Rose of Texas," Tod exclaimed,
But she was a
Virginia girl, she claimed,
Like them, small town, and just their age
As they talked, the friends stared at her fruit,
imagining that she was his
Exclusively, so fragile friendship
And wished the other vanished, gone, kaput!
and healthy specimens in rut.
There was, however, no way one could
The other, nor could Rose at that point choose
Which one she
wanted, and so soon all three
Were often in each other's
Hanging out or going here or there,
As near inseparable as
Eventually, each male wanted more,
And there was
undeclared a silent war
Between the former friends for Rose's
As both looked hungrily at every move
She made, and melted at
Of savoring at last the joys he sought.
One day Tod
couldn't stand it anymore
And asked Ted, "What are we pretending
I want Rose for myself, and so do you.
Let's tell Rose and see
what she will do!"
"True enough!" said Ted. "And I agree
should be Rose who tells us who will be
Her lover, who should stay and
who should go,
If it be either one of us. We know
She likes us, but
perhaps only as friends,
While what I feel for her each moment
Me into bloody rags! I cannot sleep
Or eat for want of her!
Instead I keep
Her face in front of me, and dream she's mine.
can't make a move when all the time
You're with us like a constant
Who'll never leave the two of us alone!"
raged indignantly. "Alone?
I'd rather smash your head in with a
Than let you touch what's mine by right of love,
that has ever mortal moved,
I have no doubt -- I feel it in my
That every day is freshly torn apart,
And torn apart again,
and then again,
Each time I think of her with other men!"
And so the
two agreed to leave to Rose
Which one gets to stay and which one
But Rose was not so ready to agree
To choose which of the
two contestants she
Would want to keep and which she'd throw
"I love you both!" she weeping said. But they
she choose one or the other.
She would, she said, keep one just for
The other for a lover all her life,
And thus be both a
sister and a wife.
But they were adamant that they would not
less than the most desired spot,
And if not chosen, then would
For less than all was more than they could bear.
so at last she said she would decide
Which of them she'd spend her life
When they came back from their next tour. For why,
choose now? She did not want to lie,
But told them that she feared what
In war, and that revealing her desire
Now might lose
the love of the survivor,
Whose passionate return might well revive
Angry and dissatisfied, these two
Former friends bade their
And soon were shipped out to Afghanistan
To fight the
now resurgent Taliban.
Secretly each wished the other would
return, for then for sure he could
Enjoy the lifelong love of his sweet
Still, however hid, such feeling shows.
The two just
barely spoke, and only when
Their duties forced them to, for they were
Engaged in firefights both day and night,
And they, good
soldiers both, did what was right.
They couldn't help but think,
though, what might happen
If one were at the other's back. For
Sometimes overrules the god of war
And lets a rival rival be
Both equally were knave and victim here,
Touched by the
temptation and the fear.
One night, as they awaited the next
Knowing the anticipated fray
Would be the fiercest they had
Both prayed to God to save them, and redeem
now sunk so deeply in despair,
For there was ample cause for sadness
Tod prayed for courage, and the strength to do
God might ask of him. And, too,
That his company might win the
And crush the enemy, for then he might
Return to his sweet
And leave Afghanistan at peace and free.
prayed for love, that it his heart might seize
And end the hatred in
him by degrees,
So that cleansed he could return to Rose.
may harvest only seed he sows,
And if he would enjoy the fruits of
Then that must be alone what his heart moves.
He felt regret
for many things he'd done,
The enemies destroyed, the battles
Yet not one inch of ground gained towards peace,
For in the
heart is where all wars must cease.
Two prayers to God, of opposite
Yet both would find the answers that they sought.
dawn the company moved out, with Ted
Leading the platoon that went
To reconnoiter where the enemy
By best intelligence was
thought to be.
Ted was lost, of course, in thoughts of
Mentally removing all her clothes,
When suddenly they started
Undoing in an instant all desire.
Soon they were
surrounded and could see
Nothing but the vaunted enemy
all sides as they took cover,
Each providing succor for the
Some were wounded, some already dead.
Now we switch to Tod,
Tod from a distance heard the battle rage
lickety-split appeared on center stage,
Racing towards the battle
Hoping that the hell that he was raising
distract the ambushers enough
To think that this was real and not a
And so it happened: the Taliban withdrew
As Tod's platoon
came racing into view,
Recklessly exposed to enemy fire
seraphim descending in a choir,
As though the vanguard of a mighty
About to turn its enemies to toast.
But just one Taliban,
before he fled,
Turned to fire not five feet from Ted,
himself upon him, but too late
To save Tod from his self-appointed
The bullet went right through Tod's head and came
behind with pieces of his brain.
"Oh, no!" cried Ted. "Oh, no, no,
no, no, no!"
But nothing that he said made it not so.
Taliban was knocked cold to the ground,
And in a rage Ted almost fired
Right into him, to shred him into bits,
As one might who
relieved himself in fits,
But then restrained himself, for one ought
Revenge a wrong when anger is still hot,
Nor take a life to
satisfy some pain
That then will doubtless come around again,
then again, like ripples in a pond.
For every evil echoes far
What you or I can see, and stirs the air
In ways that stoke
the anger everywhere.
Ted secured his prisoner, then turned
give his bloody friend the kiss he'd earned,
Holding him and rocking
back and forth
Until his love had conquered all his wrath,
sorrow like an evening darkness filled
His heart completely, now his
friend was killed.
He had no thought of Rose, not even one,
when his tour in hell was finally done,
He came back home to work upon
His only hope: to do no further harm,
But peacefully to live
upon the land.
One day in town he heard a big brass band
thumping down the street, and followed it
Into the square, so full he
Against the storefronts lining the far side.
upon the podium he spied
Tod's mother and Tod's portrait on a
Ted wondered what this pageantry might mean
Until he saw the
President hang on her
The prize that was the nation's highest
Then followed praises of Tod's bravery,
How he saved his
By leading his platoon into the fire.
There was no
sacrifice or calling higher.
And so on and so forth till the band
Struck up its loud and soporific strain,
And soon the square
was empty save for Ted
And Rose, who came across to him and said,
knew I'd find you here! Now tell me why
You never got in touch with me.
Please, for the truth is all I want. I see
much-tormented soul in front of me."
Ted couldn't speak, but wept,
and turned to go.
Said Rose, "You have no right to treat me so!
loved you long, and would have married you.
Now just a bit of truth
will have to do."
"The truth," Ted said, "is that I am no
When Tod died, so did I in this sad war.
For he died saving
me, while all I thought
Was how his death might bring me what I
Which was you, your body and your love,
While naught but
selfish hate did in me move.
"And when I spared the life of him who
My friend, I felt some inner well-knit knot
Become undone, and
all that was came flooding
Into me, the hating and the loving,
bliss and bloody massacre, the murder
Holy -- lying, honesty, trickery,
Equally holy -- and I was holy, too.
Nothing mattered. Everything was true.
I wanted, needed, wished for nothing more
Than peace within, the antidote for war."
"You are my
Ted," said Rose, "both good and bad.
The problem simply is that you are
And feeling guilty for what you have done.
But please believe
me, Ted, that anyone
Might well desire a friend to disappear
a rival dead. But now you're here
And he just isn't anymore, not
Life and love, the sweet intent of kissing,
the praise, the celebrations,
The memories, the pain, the altercations
All, all to him is nothing, nothing at all,
As he is merely now
what we recall.
"Death is the conclusion of the movie,
which the passion and the fury,
The courage, cowardice, the shame, the
The love, the hunger, sacrifice, and seeming --
over, finished, done, complete.
Nor does one player get to keep his
Once it's over, lingering in the theater,
But everything there
is has no hereafter.
"Tod is just a story we remember,
more to him or us. You render
Him no service in your grief, nor
You serve the soul of anyone but you.
Grief is but a stage; its
time is past.
Time to enter life again at last,
To live robustly,
loving long and well
The family that will save you from this
"Now turn to me, and I will be your wife,
Your lover and
your friend for all your life,
And heal you, so that you may once
Make joy the sweet companion of your pain."
words Ted came to life, as though
Some angel, just descended, bade him
Back to the world to love, as well he would,
The woman who would bring him only good.
universe receded into two,
And universal love to passion
Soon they were wed, and so I end my story.
Ted has got his
love, and Tod his glory:
Each what he most sought, for fate is
As inner gods arrange our fortunes still.