A man sat alone in a cheap apartment, empty bottles of whiskey littering the floor around him. The walls were a pale yellow, that looked like they might have been more vibrant in their day, had not brown stains tainted them. Ugly brown carpeting lined the walls, edging away from the baseboards in places, but he couldn't be bothered to replace it. The apartment was sparsely decorated; a couch, a coffee table, a bed in the backroom. It wasn't much, but then again, he never needed a lot to get by.
"Heroes." He snorted, taking a long sip from a glass in one of his hands, his other slung over a dingy couch, holding a half-full bottle. "Hogan's heroes."
Faint remnants of a handsome face lingered in the space between creases and lines, evidence of better times. Gray hair, tell-tale signs of jet black locks falling into his eyes. People used to know me. Used to always know me. couldn't walk anywhere without somebody stopping me. And where are they now? Looking around, he let out an ironic bark of laughter. Where am I now?
"To war heroes, forgotten. Wash-outs. Old-timers. What a joke." He took another long drink, feeling some of the alcohol dribble onto his unshaven chin, the rest burning his throat and nose on the way down. This was how he had spent everyday for months now. Sometimes, he would go out, but the happy families, the kids playing. it used to make him feel like he had done something. Like it really was worth it, but lately it just made him remember all the people he hadn't saved. Hell, he wasn't a saint, he knew that, was the first to admit it, even, but those kids. Another swig. Who cared? Who gave a damn anymore? Let them live their lives, and let me live mine.
A knock on the door interrupted the melancholy silence.
"Come in!"
A face peered around the door, followed by the long body of a former friend.
"Kinch!" he called, staggering to his feet. He swayed a bit, lurching over to greet the new arrival.
"Colonel Hogan." Kinch crossed the room and sat down on the couch, watching the other man as he leaned against a wall feigning nonchalance at the unexpected visit. Truth be told, no one had bothered to see him since his landlady, and that was only to warn him that he was behind on rent. Like I care, he had thought. He shoved the loneliness aside.
"Care for a drink?" Hogan offered. He opened his arms to incorporate the dimly lit room. "I'm sure we can find you something, somewhere." He grinned, a sad shadow of his former charm pasted on an older face.
"No, thanks. Just dropped by."
Hogan's grin disappeared. "For a chat? See how I was doing?" He sneered. "I'm sitting here, thinking about what else I can do for my part in the world. What about you, Kinch?"
"Nothing much, Colonel," Kinch replied.
A flicker of pain, pushed away as Hogan poured himself another glass.
"Don't call me that," he muttered, giving a bitter laugh. "I don't deserve it. Never did."
Cool dark eyes surveyed the unshaven, drunken mess standing in the corner. He didn't bother to contradict him.
Hogan closed his eyes, aknowledging the marked silence before collapsing in the corner, sliding down the wall slowly.
"What happened? Huh, Kinch?" He looked up, face darkening in anger. "Answer me!" he shouted, pain echoing in his voice. "When did I become this? What happened to me?"
There was a moment when nothing was said, as Kinch thought the question over. Then the quiet reply came.
"The war. The war happened."
Kinch stood and walked to the door. He stopped and turned; a dozen words about how it was an honor, they did good, how could he have expected better, died on his lips as he looked at the broken bottles and the broken man in front of him.
"Goodbye, Colonel." He closed the door, pausing only when a single gunshot rang out in the hallway. Then he walked away.