"Paul?" Kermit asked as his friend began once more to watch the storm. Once more he was meet by silence. With a silent curse, the younger man went to answer a persistent knocking at his door.
"Hi, Kermit! I made some cookies with mommy toady and brought you some." Jennifer, the little girl from across the hall, said proudly holing out her amature 6 year old effort at baking.
"Thank you, honey, I'll enjoy these a lot." Kermit assured the little girl who got her hug and scurried home.
"Paul, was there...," The mercenary quit mid-sentence, since the person he was talking to was racing for his bathroom. Kermit quietly followed after, this too was a service Paul had performed for him, and he would do so now for his friend. He quietly rubbed his friend's back as the heaves sent spasms through it. After Paul had quit being sick, Kermit was there with a glass of water and a washcloth. He washed and cleaned up his friend. Paul, meanwhile, was sobbing. He was not a man who cried often, but when he did it was like this. great, gulping, gut-wrenching sobs brought on by some unspeakable horror; and for him to cry, it must have been very bad indeed. The things these two men had seen, done, and experienced, would give anyone nightmares. Sometimes it would get to them; obviously something had gotten to Paul.
"She was seven years old, Kermit! Seven!" Paul got out between sobs.
"Who was she?" Kermit asked quietly as he joined Paul on the floor.
"She was the little girl of the chief, from the tribe that we were helping. She was so proud because her mother let her help cook the dinner for the important men coming to see daddy. She gave me this big smile when I told her how good it was. She had a smile just like Kelly has," Paul sobbed, as he thought of the child who reminded him of his own 7 year old, he pulled himself into a ball, hiding his face. Kermit sat next to him, rubbing his back.
"Something happened to her?" Kermit already knew the answer, he had seen far to many innocent women, children, and elderly die. There had been something about the little girl serving dinner that had gotten to Paul; something that made her not just another little girl.
"An AK-47 is what happened to her.," Paul shouted. "The gun runners came and she was caught in the cross fire. The only way I could have saved her would have been to break cover run out there and get her. There was nothing I could do, Kermit. I saw her die right in front of me and could do nothing."
"You're right, there is nothing that you could have done." Kermit agreed, feeling for his friend.
"Don't we do what we do for people like her? To let them have a better life?" Paul ranted.
"Yes, that's what we've always been about." Kermit agreed, these were things Paul knew and needed to hear again that moment.
"Tell me how she has a better life when she's dead?" Paul asked.
"She doesn't, but a lot of other people, including her village, will get to have better lives because of the guns that are not being sold, and the gunrunners that are now in jail." Kermit told him.
"What about all of the others? All of the other people that I see in my nightmares, people that we were supposed to be helping?" Paul asked quietly. Kermit was quiet for almost a minute before he said anything, then, "Paul, take that police detective job in Sloanville and get out of the business," he answered replied with a grim smile.
"Just walk away from it all?" Paul asked in disbelief.
"Paul, do you still believe in what we do? That the work we do is worth it?" Kermit asked, suspecting the answer.
"Not really, it's been a while since the few lives we save have seemed worth all of the ones we take. I`ve killed too many people," Paul admitted softly.
"Then get out, give the boss your resignation and take that job where you will see the good you are doing, where you aren't killing people. Staying here when you don't believe in it is only going to kill you slowly, Paul." Kermit argued, "This is killing you Paul, you see every innocent person that died, and it's too many.
"Too many dead." Paul repeated.
"Yes, it's time for you to get out of the shadows. Go enjoy the sunlight for both of us," Kermit said, helping his friend up."
"Why don't you come with me, you can enjoy it for yourself that way?" Paul offered, praying his friend would accept it. The last few jobs had been hard on the younger man and his teacher knew it.
"Not yet, there are some people that I need to save first," Kermit smiled.
"Well, don't forget to save yourself while you're at it. And remember I'm only a phone call away."
Morning came and with it a resignation was on a desk in Washington, and an acceptance letter was on the desk of the chief of police