About a Decade or So Ago

Mitch walks home, defeated and with his head down. He was a waiter at an Italian restaurant; he just got fired. According to his former boss, Mitch is a hard worker and a good waiter, but the economy is bad and people are only coming in sparsely. The fact that he is still a young man doesn’t take away his feeling of desperation. He walks through the city back to his nearby apartment. A little further on, two young men are handing out leaflets. Without looking at it, Mitch accepts one, folds it, and puts it in his pocket.

It is winter and the cold wind is biting his face. He walks past a military base. As a platoon is marching his way, Mitch starts to walk a little straighter, his chest forward, and he tries to look a little tougher, even to the point where, if anyone were to look at him, they would think that Mitch is enjoying the headwind and would gladly walk an extra mile for it.

For a moment, Mitch gets lost in his thoughts. He fantasizes about heroics, saving lives and shooting the bad guys. Mitch could do it, become a soldier. School wasn't really his thing, but he has always been athletic and, because he found school stuff hard, he overcompensated in fitness. He also has a good sense of justice. At school, he always stood up for the weak, and there wasn’t anybody who would take it into his head to physically challenge him.

As he walks past a snack bar, Mitch decides to go and eat there so he doesn't have to cook tonight. The kitchen is the last thing he wants to see today. He lives on the outskirts of the city center. Last year, he quit cooking school and started working as a waiter at the Italian restaurant. As he’s enjoying his fries, he starts to think about his future. He wants something new: adventure. But what kind of adventure? Yes, that's a question Mitch has yet to answer.

The Dream

At home, he immediately takes a super hot shower and stays under it for an extra long time. He worries about his future and thinks about what he is going to do with the rest of his life. He dries himself off and puts on warm clothes, crashes down on the couch and stares in front of him. His eyes fall on his coat. There is something sticking out of the pocket—the leaflet from the city! He stands up and pulls it out of his coat. He unfolds it and reads the leaflet—this is it! An invitation to join the army—Why didn’t I think of this myself? so obvious! His imagination immediately goes wild: adventure, medals, awards, machine guns, thrills, excitement, honor, girls, beer. He is totally into it. He puts the leaflet on his desk and watches TV for the rest of the evening. Mitch zaps completely pointlessly through all the channels the cable offers, until he gets sleepy and hits the sack. It's been an emotional day. Luckily, he took the leaflet, otherwise he might never have thought about joining the army. He feels happy and promises himself to go straight to the Defense Department tomorrow and apply for a job. He lies down and falls into a deep sleep straight away.

The Nightmare

It's three in the morning, and there's a strange, thudding sound, as if people are shooting from far away, along with helicopter sounds and rustling. It wakes Mitch up, and he slowly looks around the room. The shadows from the lights of cars passing by turn into trees and plants, and on his walls, smoke rises up from under his bed. At very close range, the footsteps of multiple people can be heard. The helicopter sounds like it’s right above him now, and it makes his bed shake. When the smoke begins to clear, and the sounds fade into the background, it looks like someone is present in his bedroom. He blinks his eyes and squints. He was right; a phantom appeared at the foot of his bed. It becomes clearer, less transparent, and the silhouette of a man clearly appears. Now Mitch is getting really scared. The guise of a military man appears, unmistakable. A chest full of medals, broad shoulders, an angular face, and a green beret on. His eyes penetrate Mitch’s soul. Mitch tries to get up, but he’s completely paralyzed.

Mitch screams as loud as he can, but without sound, there's no choice but to stay down and wait; he can't even close his eyes. The soldier seems to say something, but Mitch doesn't hear anything. He looks at the soldier and speaks with his eyes, "What do you want from me?" By frowning his eyebrows, Mitch tries to say that he cannot hear the soldier. He tries to concentrate on the soldier's lips, and then he hears the words: Agent Orange, Operation Northwoods, Operation Paperclip. There is a clicking sound, and the soldier seems startled and yells, "Fire in the hole!" Then the soldier dives on top of Mitch, who lies motionless. He waits for impact, but the soldier is gone, and Mitch immediately falls into a deep sleep.

The next morning, he wakes up sweating. He jumps out of bed and walks to his desk. With everything still clear in his mind, he immediately writes on the back of the army's leaflet: Agent Orange, Operation Northwoods, Operation Paperclip.

Alarm Bells

Mitch is not feeling well at all. He takes another long, hot shower, then makes a cup of tea and sits down on his couch. He takes a sip and thinks about the nightmare—what a horrible nightmare, and it felt so real! Mitch gets the chills when he thinks back. He grabs the leaflet from his desk and reads the words he wrote on it. What could these words mean? Mitch finishes his tea, turns on his laptop, and types in Agent Orange. He sits down and begins to read.

The Vietnam War: The US Army leadership decides that the forests must go in order to find and eliminate the enemy. Operation Ranch Hand was launched in 1962 and ran until 1971. Millions of gallons of poison were sprayed out over South Vietnam. The drug was called Agent Orange. The chemicals caused much misery for the Vietnamese people. Adults became physically and mentally ill, and children were born with defects. Twenty percent of Vietnam's forest was destroyed, and large areas are still, to this day, infertile.

—Disgusting! thinks Mitch, as he finishes reading the article.

He continues through his list. Mitch types in Operation Northwoods.

Operation Northwoods is a United States government conspiracy plan from 1962 to create false flag terrorist operations. The plan provided for the killing of innocent civilians and the authorization of terrorist actions in American cities by the CIA and/or other government services, in order to thereby garner public support for a war. The plans provided for the authorization of airplane hijackings, bombings, and the planting of false evidence by which the guilt of the terrorist attacks would mean the involvement of foreign powers.

Mitch is shocked, and as much as he hates learning in school, this he sucks up like a sponge. He types in the last term on his list Operation Paperclip.

Operation Paperclip: Nazis were given flight tickets to America. This was a secret operation by the United States at the end of and just after World War II to transfer as many technological innovations developed in Nazi Germany as possible to the US. A secret report that came into the hands of The New York Times in the year 2010, shows that after the war, America provided shelter to a large number of Nazis. The CIA arranged for them to get residence papers and a job.

Rude awakening

Mitch can hardly believe what he has read. He had never heard anything about this before. He can't think anymore and turns off his computer. He needs to get away, take a walk or something, just get away from it all. He grabs his coat and walks out the door. Because of the rain, people don't see that he is crying. Tough Mitch. He feels betrayed and stupid, so gullible that he nearly joined the army—I can't do this! This is not for me! He asks himself why no one warned him and why no one ever talks about this. He finds no answers.

It has now been a week since Mitch was brutally awakened by reality, and the soldier? He hasn't seen him again. He did not sleep very well for a few nights, waking up at every little sound. He read dozens of related articles, scandal after scandal. His eyes can finally see, and Mitch is disenchanted by the powers that be.

Now he is doing well and has made a decision. He sees more clearly who he is, what he believes in, what he doesn’t believe in, and where he is heading in life. He has found peace, acceptance, and he’s at ease with himself more than he has ever been, and he is very excited. He is on the bus that will take him to the address where he has been invited for a job interview. Mitch is confident and only wonders about one thing—did I turn down the thermostat at my home?

Mitch's house...

His house is clean. The heating is off. In his bedroom, there is a neatly made bed. On his desk lies a laptop, an empty cup of coffee, and a letter from Restaurant Milano, with an invitation for a job interview. In the corner is a wastebasket containing a torn-up leaflet from the army.

Source: Wikipedia