The war with the aliens is lost.
Sergeant Commander Rusty Meadows is MIA and General Georgie is SOL without his beloved commander. Meadows was the greatest of all Georgie’s soldiers and without him the condition of the war will most surely turn sour. The aliens will soon come down and eat our brains, Georgie predicted, but they will eat girls’ brains first because, although significantly smaller, they taste better. Georgie expressed these thoughts to his older sister Anna over a large vanilla milkshake.
“Oh yeah?” Anna began, pointing a spoon at her younger sibling, “If boys are so much smarter than girls than how come I am in second grade and you aren’t even in school yet?” She thrust her spoon into her milkshake in silent victory and smiled at her brother.
Georgie watched the rain fall outside of the diner, momentarily forgetting the war, the aliens, and his missing action figure named Sergeant Commander Rusty Meadows. It was one of those rare September rains where the humidity is so high that your clothes stick to your skin, and the rain never seems to stop. He breathed carefully upon the window until it clouded up and slowly pushed his face against it. After rolling his head around on the cold surface a few times, he sat back and said, “Because you’re older.”
“Older and smarter,” Anna retorted cruelly. Their father turned on his chair at the bar and scolded both of them, silencing their argument immediately. George the senior had brought his children to get milkshakes at the diner after hearing of his son’s lost companion. Georgie had been whining about the action figure for two days now and his father hoped that he could get him to forget about the stupid toy.
Engaging the cook in a somber conversation, Georgie’s father turned his back on his children and left them to their mischief.
The General loudly finished his milkshake with his straw. He picked up his empty glass and held one end of it up to his eye, looking through it at Anna as if it was a telescope. “Have you seen Sergeant Commander Rusty Meadows?”
“Maybe the aliens captured him,” she said.
Georgie frowned, thinking of the impossible situation she implied. Sergeant Commander Rusty Meadows could never be captured by the aliens, he was too strong. He remembered one instance when the Commander and he had sneaked into a secret alien base located underneath his sister’s bed. The aliens, along with the cooperating help of the hideously fearsome Barbies, were planning an attack on Georgie in the safety of his very own home. It was a terrible battle and Meadows had almost been captured by the marauders, but Georgie and the commander ended victoriously. The heads of their enemies had been ripped off and tossed about the floor in triumph. Georgie was awfully pleased by the screams that he heard from his sister’s room when she arrived home from school later that day.
“Did you take Sergeant Commander Rusty Meadows?” Georgie looked doggedly at his sister across from him as if she was an undercover alien spy.
“Jeez, would you shut up about him already? Why would I take him?”
“You took him, didn’t you?” Georgie balled up a napkin and threw it at Anna as hard as a four-year-old could throw a balled-up napkin. It bounced off her shoulder and she threw it back at him, hitting him squarely in the forehead.
Their father looked at them once again, numbly, as if he was looking at them for the first time. Georgie saw his father’s distressed eyes and thought of his favorite toy, Sergeant Commander Rusty Meadows. His father used to be a soldier; he was big and strong, fearless, and Georgie’s true hero. When imagining Sergeant Commander Rusty Meadows’s voice, he heard his father’s in his thoughts. The child couldn’t conceive a reason for his father to look so sad so suddenly, unless, maybe, he knew about the aliens also. But, Georgie doubted the thought.
Having finished their milkshakes, Georgie and Anna stood up from their booth and walked over to their father and the cook. After saying their farewells, the family walked out of the door and into the rain with their brave leader marching proudly before them. Like a miniature marching trumpeter, the child boldly suffered the dreadful weather conditions around him and led his followers to shelter.
Running through the door of his home like a soldier escaping bullets raining down at him from the heavens, Georgie quickly passed his mother at the kitchen table and headed for the living room where his army awaited his command. He took off his wet clothes and threw them aside before sitting in front of the green and beige figurines. But, without Sergeant Commander Rusty Meadows, they were simply lifeless toys with no meaning. Georgie’s partner helped him strategize, control, and ultimately defeat the alien forces, but now it all just seemed pointless. The aliens were going to win, Georgie thought, and he couldn’t stop them alone.
Then, suddenly, a black-furred monster leapt into the room and confronted him with a dreadful glare. The repulsive creature sat directly next to Georgie. Baring its teeth in a haunting snarl, it began to idly clean its fur.
Daisy! Georgie confronted the cat with utmost suspicion. He had never expected the cat to have eaten Sergeant Commander Rusty Meadows, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Daisy was now the prime suspect.
“Did you take Sergeant Commander Rusty Meadows?” he whispered to her. She looked up at him with loving eyes and purred affectionately. Tending his broken will, he pet her.
Georgie followed the cat from the living room to his bedroom. Having realized the cat’s innocence in the situation, he thought that it could perhaps be used as a sort of tracking animal. It jumped on his bed and lay down as if exhausted from a day’s tiresome work.
Meanwhile Michelangelo, Georgie’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figure, defiantly stared down the child from his standing position at the nightstand. He held his nunchakus ready, as if tempting Georgie to near him. He knew that the commander was missing, and the General knew that he shared Georgie’s pain for the loss. All of his toys missed Sergeant Commander Rusty Meadows. Donald Duck, Batman, the scary man from the Coneheads movie; all of these individual soldiers were of high rank, but none were as embellished as the commander. He was their leader, and now he was gone.
“Come on, kitty, find Sergeant Commander Rusty Meadows.” After watching it remain on the bed for a minute, he picked the cat up and threw it out the door. It quickly ran away from him and he set off for it on a mad chase.
Georgie passed his father on his way back to the living room. His father was walking to his own room. The boy stared up into his father’s face and once again peered into his eyes, but his father didn’t seem to notice his stare. He didn’t seem to notice his son at all, really. I didn’t seem aware of anything. Georgie watched his father’s back as he walked into his room, closing the door behind him and wondered sadly if the aliens had already eaten his brains.
“Daisy, come out from there.” Georgie grabbed at the cat under the couch, but couldn’t reach it with his small limbs. He got on his belly and crawled under the couch after the creature, successfully trapping it before him. Pulling it to his chest, he carefully backed out from under the sofa.
Georgie then walked to the backdoor, holding the squirming animal firmly. He watched outside as the clouds parted and the sun began to shine. It had stopped raining finally, and Georgie realized the whole new terrain that he needed to explore to find his adored commander. He had to be somewhere, the child thought. Opening the door, he let the cat out.
Stepping on the grass lightly at first, Daisy strolled throughout the yard searching for anything of interest. Georgie frantically hunted the yard for something particularly important to his own interests.
Georgie’s father had worries of his own, however. Sitting upon his bed he thought of his family’s future. He was a failure, he admitted to himself. He failed his family. He wasn’t worthy enough to be called a father or a husband.
George was in so much debt that it was possible his family would never recover. And he was the only one that knew about it. He wondered casually how much his life insurance was worth.
The child thought of how unpleasant it would be to have his brains eaten by aliens. On the verge of tears, Georgie ran throughout the wet grasses looking for his best friend and comrade. He looked around the tire swing and found nothing. He rummaged through the wet sandbox and still found nothing. He climbed every tree and explored every hole on his property and found no trace of his companion. Sitting in the wet tire swing, Georgie cried for his loss, Georgie cried for himself, but mostly Georgie cried because he knew that his brains were going to be eaten by aliens. Daisy, being an emotional animal by nature, hopped upon his swinging lap and used her dry tongue to remove the tears from his hands. All is lost, Georgie thought as he awaited the aliens to come get him.
George got his gun out from the box under his bed. He looked at it in a new way as he loaded it. Suicide was always a way to escape the worst situations, the army had taught him. He knew that if he died, his family would inherit the large sum that the government would provide them with, and also the money from his life insurance. He laid the perfectly oiled pistol next to him and rested back into his bed.
Then he saw the tiny, green boot poking over the edge of the windowsill above his head.
“Now how on the Earth did you get there?” he wondered aloud, grabbing the plastic soldier. He looked at the fine doll and chuckled. Its muscles were completely exaggerated beyond all reasonable belief and it held a gun in one hand that was larger than its leg. George got off his bed and stood, looking out the window that the commander was evidently protecting. He saw his son sitting outside on the tire swing, holding Daisy, with his back to him. His son, the child that inherited his name and would eventually inherit his debt, was the reason George chose to live at that moment. He couldn’t abandon him, he couldn’t abandon his family. You can’t go AWOL in life.
George stood the commander back up on the windowsill and went to take a shower.
Georgie screamed in delight and flung the comforting animal from him.
“Sergeant Commander Rusty Meadows!” He spotted him. Gazing from his father’s bedroom window, Georgie saw the missing idol. He quickly jumped off the tire swing in excitement and sprinted into the house. Running to his parent’s bedroom, he opened the door and smiled happily at as he saw his best friend. Then he saw the gun on the bed.
He walked up to it and picked it up as if it was a sacred relic. The commander must have found it for him, he thought peering into the barrel. Then he accidentally pulled the trigger, and his whole world tilted on its axis.