"He stood by me when I was crazy, and I stood by him when he was drunk, and now, sir, we stand by each other always."
-General William Techumseh Sherman discussing his brother-in-arms General Ulysses S. Grant
The car moves swiftly up from lower Kapolei beach towards the central highland plains of Oahu. Two men, brothers ride along in silence while K.D. Lang sings Hallelujah from the stereo.
The car. The car is a 1997 SVT Cobra convertible. Scylla's son bought the car as soon as he returned from Iraq. From 16 months fighting in the Sunni Triangle. How surreal to have morning coffee while discussing the relative power of the L shaped ambush over the U shaped ambush with your son. Scylla and his son rebuilt this car; a 5.4 litre twin screw Lysholm superchared, inter-cooled engine. 550 horse power, 500 ft. lbs of torque. Scylla can still see his son riding up their long driveway, car filled with friends; everyone smiling and laughing. Only now does Scylla know that he should have stretched each moment, made, even by the briefest of seconds, his time with his son last just so much longer.
Reaching the center of the highland plains in Waihiawa the car turns onto Kamehameha Highway and begins to climb the Waianae Mountains towards the North Shore and the promise of big surf.
The men. Brothers. Would any recognize these as brothers? Scylla tall and Brother Thomas not, Thomas so handome and Scylla not. They are both heavy thru the chest and arms, hard green eyes, yet in their walk they appear most linked; shoulders rounded, hands loose fingers curled as if walking into a punch, walking on the balls of their feet. Another fighter would recognize another practioner of his or her profession. The top down, Brother Thomas sits half reclined, half against the door smoking a hand rolled cigarette. 47 years old and still to fucking handsome to live. "Feros Ferio" (I am fierce to the fierce) tatoos his chest whilst "Hiberni unanimes pro Deo et Patria" (Irishmen united for God and Country) is inked across his back from shoulder to shoulder. Taned brown as a local Brother Thomas drinks from his coffee, extra light and extra sweet, his waist nipped as neatly as from his days as a middle-weight kick boxer. A Rottweiler bitch rests her head on his shoulder every so often venturing to slurp a drink of his coffee, to which Thomas responds by biting her on the nose his surfboard taking up half the small back seat.
Scylla drives, how do you live and survive second born to a Catholic family whenst primogeniture belongs to a brother named for Thomas Aquinas? Scylla, all ugly covered with scars in lieu of tatoos has learned the hard lesson of fighting. To fight and fight to spit your blood and pain back into your enemy's face is everything and nothing. The cause is all. Scylla with the one scar he can not hide, a single angry red line descending from a shock of red hair, now grey at the temples down an incipient widows peak bisecting his eyebrow, across his cheek down (if ye dare to look) across his chest. Scylla who let his only son die, gunshot on a hot Mississippi night. Scylla who would now surrender everything for his only son.
Brothers. They have fought each other as children and fought each other as men, now stand together always. Each is the others Paladin, sworn to defend, right or wrong, unto the end unto the death. A vow not lightly sworn or lived. Scylla rows the 6 speed transmission, 8 thousand rpm redline, keeping the car heading up and up. Scylla two heads taller yet seeming stockier then Thomas, shifting into neutral knowing that they can coast down to the beach. Scylla who has failed.
The beach is a stretch of the mighty blue Pacific, before them as God's own grace marked as "Army Territory", on any map. A beach these brothers have named "Old Soldier's Beach". Brother Thomas to his surfboard and the water, Scylla to his dog and then the water. This dog that was his son's and named Scylla after their shared favorite book. Scylla the man stops and stands. It is too much, he has failed too finitely he does not deserve this baptisim of warm water. He is stuck, forever, he has sinned to deeply. He stands silently in tears whilst Scylla the dog remains at his side. Forever.
Suddenly Brother Thomas is front and center. Thomas grabs this scarred head in powerful hands, "You are me and I am you. We live as God wills each day now get in the water!" Thank God for Brother Thomas.
Now Scylla the man breaks the surface, shaking his head and thinking of someone far away yet so close. Scylla the sinner, Scylla the failure.
Brothers, Paladins each sworn to defend the other right or wrong unto the end.
"Who would desert his beloved or fail him in the hour of danger?"-Plato