The nightmares started several months after my ordeal. I would be sound asleep and suddenly I would jar awake; heart pounding and sweat leaking from pores. I didn’t scream though and that was a blessing. It allowed me to pretend everything was fine. My girlfriend, at the time, had slept on while I spent the rest of the night shaking, sweating, and near tears. At first I believed this was something to deal with on my own. That illusion was shattered when she woke up to use the bathroom and found me drenched in sweat and shaking in the bathtub. She had wanted to help and she had tried. The problem was she wanted me to confide in her and that couldn’t happen. How do you tell someone that you were involved in a war in Washington that nobody knows about? How do you talk about the people you killed? I chose to remain silent but she could not handle being left out. The relationship ended very quickly after we reached that impasse. Whenever I run into her now I can tell she still held a grudge. I liked her but hadn’t loved her. Sometimes things work out for the best but in this case it had ended miserably and I spent months afterwards questioning my decisions and berating myself.
Then the business had picked up and I no longer had time to think. I would work all day and crash hard when it was time to sleep. The cart had become popular and his food would go quick. Some of the other food carts near me were successful as well and they were people I now consider friends. When we had a slow night the carts would close early and we partied the night away. At first the partying kept the nightmares away but they came back. As with everything that was bad they would come back with a vengeance. The alcohol intensified the violent images and the kaleidoscope of feelings and then the alcohol would make me vomit. I continue to get together with the cart crew but have stopped drowning my sorrows and have found an uneasy balance. The reality of the situation is the cart job allowed me to keep hours that worked with night terrors and sleep issues. I am my own boss and as long as I make the lunch rush on the weekdays and was there until 3 AM on the weekends I was in the sweet spot. I soon realized I was as close to happy as I might ever be. I also realized that this was a harbinger and something was coming to muck up my life. I never expected it to happen on a busy weekend after closing time. I never expected the harbinger to be standing behind 2 other people who were ordering food. Most of all I never expected the harbinger to be a twin.