1.51 - Martin’s Legacy

1.51 - Martin’s Legacy

The boys and I wait for Martin to finish his story, but it seems like he’s struggling to find the words to continue. I pat him on his back, the only way I know to comfort people. I know there’s no words I can say that will help him through this. It’s just something he has to do on his own.

“We don’t care who you hurt,” Phillip speaks up. “You did a lot to take care of us and it wouldn’t change how we feel about you.”

“Yeah, he’s right,” David adds, as Jacob just nods.

“You’re good kids,” Martin takes a big sigh. “When I got out of jail, I did the worst thing I had ever done in my life. I joined a human supremacist militia. Efrem, you’ve seen how much I hate them, and part of the reason is I used to be one of them. Those guys in the bar could have been me in my younger days. Wasting their lives fighting against some folks that never did them any harm. Angry because their life is going nowhere but refusing to put in the effort.”

Martin takes off his shirt and displays old faded remnants of a brand that he had attempted to cover up or remove. I can barely make out the human skull with an ancient sword and scythe above it. I can’t make out the words in the banner. If I didn’t know what to look for, and hadn’t been so close I would have never seen it. It looks like it was the centerpiece for some tattoos that had been removed, only some light scarring remains for most of the images.

“The militia is how I ended up on Nyame. It was the last place on Sol that seemed to be a safe place far away from aliens. Humans like me, fled here in droves and started breeding like crazy. I didn’t have any kids, couldn’t. I’m infertile, it’s was probably for the best. I’m afraid I would have been a mean bastard like my father. Anyway, to this day, hard as rock, but the swimmers just don’t swim,” Martin laughs.

“That’s too much info,” I shake my head while the boys act disgusted.

“Hey, just letting you all know the love doesn’t have to stop when you get old, just take care of yourself,” Martin pauses again. I can tell he was making a joke to avoid getting to the next part. “But, aliens moved to Nyame. I’m sure you’ve noticed there are still towns almost entirely human, but the big cities are some of the centers for alien culture in our system these days. My group worked with some others, and planned a terrorist attack. That’s when I backed out, it had just gone too far. I couldn’t kill innocent people, even if they weren’t human. It took that for me to realize, I wasn’t angry at them, I was angry at me. A few others backed out as well, and I didn’t think they would do it. But they did it, they blew up an entire city block. Worst thing I had ever seen. Buildings crumbling with people inside, folks running through the streets on fire. I was sick, because even if I didn’t set off the bomb, or plant the bombs. I was part of that. I rushed into the chaos, not trying to be a hero, but trying to save anyone I could so they didn’t haunt my conscience. My hands were so dirty, not with ashes and soot from the destruction, not even blood and dirt, but metaphorically. I kept going in and out of it all until I collapsed. They treated me as if I was some kind of hero and I was a part of trying to bring their demise.”

We wait for Martin to finish, see how he became the man I know, the man the boys look up to. “When I woke up, the nurse saw my brand and tattoos; she knew what it was but didn’t tell anyone. She saw what I did, she saw my remorse. She saw that I was a broken man. I asked her why she didn’t tell people one day; she told me it was because I was punishing myself more than anyone else could. That nurse was Pauline, and she wasn’t really a nurse, she was just a volunteer helping with all the injuries. She actually took me to have the tattoos removed after I was released, I consider it our first date. I loved her from the moment she said wouldn’t tell anyone about my brand because the idea of me being a hero was more important than who I was as a man. She still hated me. She was trying to fix me, not because I was attractive, but because I gave hope to other people that Nyame could be a better place after. She hated me, and made it no secret.”

“How did she fall in love with you,” David asks eagerly.

“When humans and aliens decided to work together and drive out the militias. I volunteered for the front lines and fought like a man possessed. Nyame was going to be my home and I didn’t want anyone to feel unsafe here. I got shot, blown up and every time I just went back out there. At one point she asked me if I wanted to die. All I could tell her is that I’d die if it meant redemption and she didn’t stop me. So I just kept going back out there. We fought for almost twelve years with no intervention from any governments. We were determined to make Nyame our own. Eventually The Galactic Federation sent in some aid and made us look like children with how fast they cleaned out the supremacist. When it was all said and done, I didn’t feel any better. I still felt like I had done wrong. I dedicated my life to making sure it wouldn’t happen again. Cleaning up any remaining outpost, talking to children, whatever I could. Eventually I ran into Pauline again, by chance at a grocery store. She gave me a real date, felt I had earned it. Somewhere along the line people forgot the whole hero thing, she finally loved me and we got married. Eventually we bought the farm house. It used to be a base for my supremacist militia. We tried to make it a home, burry the sins of the past instead of let it stand as a monument to wrong doing. Every morning I’m reminded of the terrible things I did there, and I’m inspired to make sure nobody else ever makes those choices.”

I sit with Martin long after the boys have gone to bed, just watching the water. To them, these are just stories of the past, but I’ve seen these things. I know there are still patches of Sol and other systems like this. I think Martin is somewhat relieved to had told us all these things, and I’m glad for that. Glad that someone knows the secrets besides Pauline; glad he isn’t carrying it alone.

“Hey, why did you want to tell us all that,” I ask as he stands and stretches before heading to bed.

“I’m an old man. All old men want to leave behind a legacy, not just in items and wealth but people. They want a piece of them to live on. I think that’s why people have children. I don’t have any children, but those boys have been part of my troop since they were barely tying their own shoes. Faces came and went but they stayed. They’re like my kids. And you, well Pauline doesn’t like many people but she told me she wishes she had a son like you. So, you’re just our long lost son. I wish I had met you earlier,” he laughs. “You four, are my legacy. When I’m gone, tell your kids my story. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Let them know I was just a man, but a man who tried to right his wrongs.”


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