There are times when visions of the sleeping demons which reside within are brought forth from chambers of Darkness within my mind. Even now, they stir and are restless as I hear the echo of the Lock and Load mechanism of 9 mm, Mini-14 and pump shotguns… As I wait for the sharp crack of the shouts everything seems to go black. Had only a second or two gone by–or was it longer than that? I had no idea but as I focused and brought myself back from the abyss, I realized that it was not me that was hit, but one of the vatos in front of me. It was not my own brains, blood, and shards of bone that was spattered everywhere… It was his–the vato that was laid out in front of me. With the screws yelling commands, whistleblowing, alarm sounding, and the familiar sound of keys rattling in rhythm with running footsteps… All I could do was step over the vato’s body. My boot coming down into a pool of blood that had already formed under the collapsed corpse. What’s gacho about the experience was I couldn’t even kneel down to help the vato for if I or anyone else would have done so the movements would have been construed or interpreted as aggressive and would have been placed in the same peril. An unknown and inexplicable hatred and rage surged through me for the animal that had just blown this vato’s brains out all over me. I was forced to step over him, walk away, and do so without showing any emotion whatsoever. For many years I was somewhat psychologically affected due to the blood I can never wash, sandpaper, or polish off my boots. Though at times I buffed out such a shiny gloss that the boots resembled mirrors. The stains seemed never to completely disappear. Perhaps the stains were only so deeply engraved into my subconscious that no matter what I did I could never remove them. As I relive the scenes and sequences of those events I can physically feel the anxiety, tension, and fear, as well as hear screams and sounds of chaos and disorder. The visions and images within are all alive and well. The memories of endless carnage and bloodshed are impossible to escape from or forget. They are as vivid as if I had only lived them moments ago. As I know not how to control these Demons of darkness which refuse to release the visions of chaos, madness, anxiety, death, angry hatred, despair, and fear, I can only hope to contain them. To witness grave injuries or the deaths of warriors who have stood beside me in peace-time and in battle is a heavy burden to bear, especially when one cannot reach out and help those Brave Fallen comrades. At times it’s almost unbearable to sit and hear the screams from within as their echoes reverberate through the chambers of my spirit. As pintos it’s not each to live with these conflicts, memories, and visions but what other choices do we have? As Warriors we are men of many wars, visions, and injustices. Our environments often dictate our actions, and although alive and seemingly healthy on the outside, within is a constant battle submerged in turmoil and conflict, the spirits of darkness which control those images, visions, and memories will never completely relinquish their hold on us. Though it is difficult to relive these memories they will forever be a part of us. So difficult to understand, as terrorizing as many of these visions are, they will always contribute to our inner strength and struggles and in them we will continue forward…and make it.
by Robert J. Garcia