My best friend in the Air Force was gay;
she separated eighteen months before DADT
became NOYFB. She worked in the base
hospital; I worked the flightline. Once
on a frosty October morning, tumble-
weed skeletons piling up on the perimeter fence,
I walked into her clinic. She wore her BDUs
well, I thought. With blue gloves she lifted
up my shirt sleeve. Earlier that summer we camped
at Bottomless Lakes in Roswell; she was alien
to me. I tried to kiss her. No, I wasn’t that
drunk. And no to your second question.
It was so windy our tent blew away. She
administered my flu shot on one of those days
in October that you’d swear you’ve lived before. How’s
the flightline? Fine. Sorties. Smoke pit. Fireball 8.
Nothing exciting? Even with the gunships?
I told her about the 30mm dangling
from a Lockheed AC-130W Stinger II’s waist.
Close to the fuselage, shaded under its wing. In order
to deliver new gen heaters and floodlights
and an old mule that leaked hydraulic fluid,
I had to park near this cannon. Did you
touch it? No, I said. I wouldn’t dare.
Lucas Shepherd’s work appears in The Atlantic, Colere, Rockhurst Review, Razor, Little Village Magazine, Daily Palette and Sliver Of Stone. He was the 2015 fiction judge for Scribendi’s Western Regional Honors Council Awards. From 2006-2010, he served in the US Air Force. Find more of his work at lucas-shepherd.com.