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  • Christina Fotinelli

Dear Slim,

Joe Mason has never been a sentimental man. A retired army training officer, he had a reputation amongst new recruits as being one tough son-of-a-bitch. His colleagues couldn't tell you when he had last cracked a smile or even flared a nostril in anger. Nope, when it came to showing emotion, Joe was a flatline, with one exception.

Dear Slim,

It's getting harder and harder to find you as the years go by. I was driving in circles for ten minutes, looking for the old oak tree until I realised they cut it down to add a mini-mart to Gil's Gas & Garage. I never thought this town would amount to anything. I left it for dead. Then the dried-up old oil well started pumping again and just like that, like rats, they ran back and started to re-build. They called it progress. I call it horse-shit because now I'm sitting between the produce section and the canned goods aisle just to have a moment of peace with you.

"Sometimes the first step to forgiveness is understanding the other person is a complete idiot".

I don't know who said that but I saw it on a fridge magnet and it made me think of you. I'm still so mad at you for dying on me. Fifty-years later, I'm an old man now, but it still burns.


I know I ask you this every year, but do you think souls fade the longer they get from being alive? I can't ever forget you. Have you forgotten me? You never had a good memory, even when you were alive. Will you remember me when you see me again, in Heaven?


I knew there was trouble the day Momma brought that damn rooster home. I could see you stalking the coop day and night. Momma saw it too. Couldn't wait to find a way to get rid of you. Hated how much you mean to me, how close we were. She didn't understand our connection.

I never had you down as a hunter, Slim, but as five days turned into 10 and then 15 you changed. You stopped eating and drinking and barking. You became laser-focused on that damn chicken and her eggs. I'd never noticed the predator in you. The minute those eggs started to hatch you lunged. Your attack electrified me. You were unstoppable as you went in for the kill. It was mayhem, chickens squawking, flying around, the rooster crowing, and you tearing away with those chicks in your mouth.


Hard as it was to lose you that day, you inspired me to become a soldier. You lit a flame in me, Slim. I am who I am because of you.

I gotta go see Momma now. If my calculations are right, she's somewhere in the frozen meat section. I guess it's a good thing that old oak has come down. Now, they'll never find her. I'm finally free.

Your Jo-Jo (First Sergeant Joe Mason, US Army)

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