Thursday, January 12, 2012

Night Watch

Jeremiah preferred night patrols. Then, he was alone: no Horgas barking orders, no rattle of machinery pulled apart, cleaned, reassembled, no exhausted comrade snoring in the cot beside him. That high up, the air so cold and thin, he could see as well as a tiger. Most nights, cloud cover made the black impenetrable. With no lights other than those from the farmers’ huts below or the occasional truck bumping along the sinuous road cleaving the valley, he could see for miles. When he first started his shift, the sun teetered over the Pamirs as if not sure the day was done. The desert below would shine from mica ground into sand. The mountains, plates of sheer, jagged granite, turned from drab beige to something akin to alabaster. It was at this time, the cusp between day and night, that he felt safe, felt for a few moments he was back in the South Dakota mountains, sure that he would turn around and hear the familiar crunch of his in the rocks and dirt and see a thin snake of smoke lifting into sunlit air. Then he would close his eyes, let the light dance warm on his face, a kind of benediction, and think of Sheila making the stew from the morning’s catch, her softness waiting for him.

This was as close as Jeremiah got to prayer, as close as he got to believing, but it was enough. Once the sun dipped behind the range, the air chilled and he forgot about South Dakota, forgot about home and Sheila and Maryam and the others he once loved. Once night fell with vengeance, he slipped on night vision goggles and waited for the sun again, for that moment he allowed himself to close his eyes.

Meet Jeremiah Anselm: songwriter-singer, brother to Unitarian Universalist minister Martin, and Army Special Forces sniper. One more voice in THE MINISTER'S WIFE, my novel-du-jour.

This character fascinates me; in the end, it is he, not his brother, who comes to understand the meaning of life. Both brothers love the same woman, Maryam, the minister's wife. Does Jeremiah make it out of Afghanistan? Does he end up getting the love he wants from Maryam? I know the answer to one of these questions, but not the other; 'tis the beauty of the unfolding of the story.

Peace... indeed...


  1. More entrancing work by you ... as a UU myself, I'm always intrigued when a character in a story is described as being one also ... and the war in Afghanistan is another tale close to my heart so that makes what you're writing doubly interesting

  2. Action can be prayer. It essentially is one, plus investment. Curious how this is both the closest he gets to worship and to feeling love he "once" experienced. Is everyone at home dead, or is he forcing himself not to feel about them until he gets home?

  3. Writing is one of the best journeys, that exploration of spirit and outcome. Loved this little glimpse into Jeremiah's world, and the eloquence you put into it, especially how when night returns, he forgets about that world, for if he doesn't, he may not return to it. The Minister's Wife sounds very intriguing. Best of luck in finishing it and getting it published.