G.I. Joe is not mine. It belongs to Hasbro. I just like playing with their armymen (and women) from time to time.
Conclusion to Hell on Earth
Clayton was awoken by the ring of his cellphone. It had taken a long time for him to fall asleep. Then, his rest had been troubled by disturbing dreams of him being the one strapped to a bed with COBRA all around. The phone had jarred him out of the deep sleep he had just attained.
"I'm sorry to wake you Sir," Nurse O'Connell said. "I have bad news. Dashiell has passed away."
"When? How? Did he kill himself?" The questions were coming faster than he could speak.
"We don't know, Sir. We've sent his body to the local coroner for autopsy. We should have some preliminary answers in a day or two."
"Thank you, I'll stick around until we know," Clayton said.
Before he got out of bed, he took a few moments to say a silent prayer for another of his fallen soldiers. Few people knew that he tried to keep track of everyone who had served under him, even those designated as Greenshirts. These men had been as critical to the G.I. Joe as the core team of more colourful characters. He had known all their names and faces. When he found out that one had passed away, he tried to go to their memorial service. It gave his life purpose, just like the visits to the center did.
Clayton took his time getting cleaned up and dressed. He made arrangements to keep the room for a few more days. Then, he went back to the center in time to have lunch with his men. He spent the next few days talking with everyone, going out and getting them little things that they liked or needed, like gum, a specific brand of toothpaste, or kind of sock.
On the afternoon of the second day, the director of the center found the retired general in the gym of the facility, exercising.
"Ken, you have news for me?" he asked as he wiped the sweat off his face with a towel.
The psychiatrist nodded. Dr Kenneth Rich, having been a G.I. Joe himself, had been the logical choice to head the facility. "Yes, let's go to my office."
Once the door closed, Clayton did not waste time: "How did it happen?"
"He didn't take his life. It was a stoke."
"It can happen to any of us. His history of head injuries and medication increased his risk factors. The restraints could have been a causing factor too."
"Yes, Sir. You were active too. How many times did you get knock out? Or just plain got hit on the head?" The older man nodded in understanding. "According to Dashiell's medical files, he had two reported sever concussions and five minor ones. The repeated brain injuries may have been responsible for his hallucination just as much as the traumatic events he experienced. That could in part explain why he never really responded to the drug therapies."
"What about the medication?"
"There is some research suggesting that certain anti-psychotics can cause strokes. Nothing that has been conclusively determined, but it's a possibility. Over the past few years, Dash went through quite the cocktail."
"You also mentioned the restraints."
The doctor nodded. "At the time, it appeared to be the lesser to two evils. However, since his movements were restricted, a blood cloth could have formed in his leg."
"A thrombosis," Clayton said. The psychiatrist nodded with a tilt of his head. "It's one of the things I learned about after this," he explained indicating his immobile legs.
"His stroke is what we call a hemorrhagic stroke," Ken kept on. "The cloth traveled to near the brain stem. Between the lack of oxygen to the area and the ruptured vessel, even if he had been on a cardiac monitor, there was nothing we could have done. Once the blood flowed over the brainstem, he probably had less than a few minutes to live. We are extremely fragile at that level."
Clayton took a deep breath. "I'm sadden by his death. At the same time, I'm relieved he's no longer suffering. I hope he's found peace in whatever comes after."
A few days later, Dashiell Fairborn's funeral plans were put into motion. He had requested to be cremated, and his ashes buried over Alison's coffin. The directors of the Arlington National Cemetery had hummed and hawed over it for a while. Eventually, they agreed since space was getting at a premium, and it did not affect the over all appearance of the memorial grounds.
So, in order to maintain the look of the place, Flint did not get a gravestone. Instead, a small stainless steel plaque was affixed to the bottom of Lady Jaye's marker. It read:
Dashiell R. Faireborne
May 6 1963
May he find peace in death.
On a sunny Monday afternoon, two dozen retired G.I. Joe and a hand full of family gathered to say a final goodbye to a good soldier who had paid a steep price for serving his country and fellow man.
Once the Minister was done, General Abernathy cleared his throat to say a few words. He spoke of Flint's dedication to duty and to Lady Jaye. When he talked about how hard they had made it for him to 'look the other way', a few hands had linked and low chuckles had been heard. He finished with: "Some soldiers pay the war with their lives. Chief Warrant Officer Dashiell Fairborn paid with his heart, mind, and body. Rest in peace Son. You have earned it."
A/N My original draft had Flint killing himself in a really ingenious way, thus relating back to a comment in the first chapter of this story. However, after my husband commenting that I had probably changed one too many diapers, I decided that a stroke would be just as realistic as my original plan, and certainly a lot more merciful.
Special thanks to Synbou, who helped with the research on anti-psychotic drugs and strokes.
Thank you for reading and reviewing.