Status: ACTIVE.

Learn to Fly


Peyton Hayes stared at the man in front of her, trying to ignore the nervousness in her stomach. He was old, dirty, and he smelled but she didn’t care. This was something she needed to do. She approached him quietly, but not too alarmingly as he searched through trash cans behind the venue her cousin’s band was playing at.

The man looked at her apprehensively, his brown eyes glimmering in fear. “Do you have any money, ma’am?”

Peyton shook her head no and she watched the man’s hopes fall. “But, I do have conversation,” she said, watching as the man looked at her nervously. “I’m not going to mug you or anything…” She wished she could say the same for him.

Peyton sat down on a curb behind the building and the man came and sat next to her after a contemplating it for a few moments.

“Why do you want to talk to me?” The man wondered aloud, “I’m the scum of the earth.”

Peyton knew that the man must have been echoing words that had been said to him many times. “No, you’re not. The scum of the earth are people who are ruining lives. You’re not harming anyone.”

“I’ve killed before,” the man replied, making Peyton suddenly worried. “I mean, not like intentionally. I was in Nam,” the man said.

She looked at the Veteran that sat in front of her, humbling her. “Thank you for your service, sir.”

He nodded his head. “I’m Jerry.”

She took his hand in hers and grinned, “That’s my dad’s name. I’m Peyton.”

“It’s not every day someone asks to have a conversation with a beggar, now Miss. What’s the special occasion?” Jerry asked, a raspy chuckled behind his voice.

“I just was wondering how you got here—if you don’t mind me asking of course. What it’s like to fight for survival every day,” Peyton replied honestly. “What was Vietnam like?”

Jerry sighed, a small melancholic smile on his lips. “I first entered the war in June of 1964. I didn’t particularly want to spend my time there, as if anyone does, but I did it for my country. The main thing I’ll never forget from it though was watching nine of my partners die during combat.

“I was a utility chief, other words an electrician; I covered air, water, camp maintenance. I took care of all of the camps, and there were many. I would make sure the troops had food and water that was kept cold and well enough to serve. I traveled by helicopter…which wasn’t easy because of my fear of heights and I along with many would drink beer to calm myself down when I was in times of need.

“I remember the top captains, always in fear they were because the men they were in charge of were untrained and not used to a dark and dirty place that they were living in. Many of the soldiers turned to drugs and ultimately the morale of the US Army had fallen, but there wasn’t much to do. People back in the states were fighting for the first time against the draft—not wanting to support their country. In my own personal opinion it made me sick, but then again so does the fact that I fought for this country and as soon as I returned I was welcomed by being thrown on the streets. I thought the government wanted to help.

“But, that’s beside the point. There was death, more than I’d ever seen in my life. Bodies would litter the streets, cover them. Innocent women and children used to crowd the beaches, praying on their knees for peace. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen.”

Jerry paused and surveyed Peyton from the corner of his eye, happy that she seemed to be so intrigued. “I think the most important thing I learned from war was this though: life is short. I learned to not hold grudges against any of my friends for they could be gone tomorrow and in the cases of Dan, Ron, Jimmy, Leonard, Ronald W, Smash, Chris Hansen, Tommy, and Crutch, they were gone.”

Peyton looked at Jerry confused, “Did your family not take care of you when you returned?”

He shook his head, “No, they didn’t. The ‘sins’ I had committed were unjustifiable to them. I ended up on drugs for a while. It wasn’t very hard to get them at the time and I lost my way. I met a girl once,” he said and Peyton swore she saw love in his brown eyes. “Elizabeth Monroe. I always thought it was ironic because she was like a modern day Marilyn to me. God, was she beautiful…” Jerry trailed off.

“What happened with Elizabeth?” Peyton asked after a moment of Jerry’s day dreaming.

“We spent three romantic months together, I even sobered up but then she moved away. She was so like Marilyn—running for the hills of Hollywood with her blonde hair blowing in the wind. I never heard from her after again and to my own justice neither did any of the rest of the US which was all she ever wanted—to be famous. Money isn’t everything,” he concluded softly.

Peyton looked around the dark street that was Jerry’s home. “No, it isn’t,” she agreed.

Jerry gestured to the small venue in front of them, “What’s going on in there?”

“It’s a concert,” she replied, using the toe of her shoe to make shapes in the dirt.

“Are you in a band?” He asked.

Peyton chuckled, thinking of her long time dream of singing in front of a crowd of people even though she in no way had the pipes for it. “No, no. My cousin is though. He’s a great singer.”

Jerry laughed before tapping her arm softly after a moment making her turn her blue eyes to the older man. “I think you have a secret admirer,” he chuckled.

Peyton followed his gaze to across the street across them where a tall boy was standing. She wondered how long he had been standing there. His light brown hair was misplaced in perfection on the top of his head. His tanned skin made his bright green eyes shine as he looked at her curiously, his thin pink lips taking a drag from his cigarette. Peyton couldn’t help but to blush under his gaze and she involuntarily smiled shyly. She felt suddenly at ease as he grinned back adequately.

She watched as he threw his cigarette onto the ground and stamped it out with his foot walking back into the venue. “I wouldn’t exactly say secret admirer. I’ve never even talked to him before,” Peyton said to Jerry.

“Who is he?” He asked.

“His name is John. John O’Callaghan,” she said knowingly. “He’s really good friend with Nick…my cousin.”

“Well,” Jerry chuckled. “Mr. John O’Callaghan seems to have an interest in knowing you.”

She looked at him curiously. “Why would you say that?”

Jerry smiled and seemed as if he was suddenly seeing something in front of him—more particularly, someone. “He just looked at you the same way I looked at Elizabeth the first night I saw her.”

Peyton stayed quiet, biting her lip softly. “I think he’s just nice.”

The older man looked at her peculiarly, “Miss Peyton, do you believe in love at first sight?”

She shook her head no, “I do however believe in infatuation at first sight.”

Jerry shook his head, disagreeing. “Someday you’ll know what I mean. It’s not necessarily love—such as the saying was always said. It’s more about a connection; feeling something for someone and not being able to control it. Someday you will know, I promise.”

Peyton looked back at the door where John had vacated to. “Wait here for a second, okay?”

Jerry agreed and watched as the young girl went running inside. She scurried through the backstage lounge before finding the keys to A Rocket to the Moon’s van. She went into the back and gathered all of the food she could find along with a hundred dollar bill from her own wallet. She jogged back out to the alley where Jerry was waiting for her.

“Here,” she said dropping all of the food out in front of him. “I’m sorry about everything that happened to you. You seem like a person who honestly doesn’t deserve it.”

Jerry stared at her, his mouth open and ready to object. Peyton cut him off and handed him the hundred dollar bill. “Go find Elizabeth. She’ll save you again, I can tell.”

“Peyton, I can’t take this,” Jerry said dumfounded.

“You can and you will,” she smiled. “Thank you for your time Jerry.”

Peyton took one last glance at the beggar before jogging back inside to the venue to go cross another number off her list.
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So guys I got an awesome amount of feedback so far. Soooooo the more you comment the faster I'll update and I already have some updates written for this so I can update right away! I love all of you (:

All right so in light of the new year I have some resolutions for 2011:
1. Get skinnier. I mean I'm not fat, I just want to lose ten pounds or so before Warped Tour (;
2. Start listening to my best friend when she talks. I have a weird thing where I kind of ignore her on accident. We decided we're not sure how she hasn't beat me to death yet, haha
3. Stop liking this one guy...
4. Bang John Cornelius O'Callaghan V.
5. Keep my bedroom clean.

Wish me luck :D