by Dan Malakin
Veterans are most in demand. The rawest memories, brutal and blood-sticky, they're what people want.
The movie studio found Josh through the veteran's register, then did research. No friends, no family, an old alcoholic living on disability. His life lost to the pain of the past. They're the ones with the best stories to tell.
On the operating table, preparing to receive his anaesthetic, the veteran stares into the doctor's grey-blue eyes, the same color as the sea he ran screaming into in '67, and says, "Biloxi. Let me remember Biloxi, the guys I trained with. Don't let me forget them." His mind floods with memories of poker hands won and lost, night push-ups in the mud, the faces of friends who would later die. He needs a drink.
"That's not part of it," the doctor replies. He's only doing his job, the veteran knows that, but it's the blankness in his face, the coldness of those grey-blue eyes. He doesn't care either way. It's all just money to him.
"Four of them were tortured in front of me," says the veteran. "Bamboo under the nails, eyelids cut off, but they left them alive. Willians was next and they just sliced him across the throat." He pulls a finger across his neck and makes a noise like shhhup. "Gone."
The doctor flicks the end of his needle and watches clear droplets spray out of the end.
"Please," the veteran says, "what will they do with my memories?"
The doctor smiles with his mouth and his cheeks, but not his eyes. "That's of no real concern to you."
"Will I even recognize myself? In the film?"