There has always been a man in the missile turret. Just as there has always been a missile turret. I’ve lived in this village for 20 years, and the turret on the hill has been there. Watching over us.
When I was young, I asked my father, “Father, why is there a man in the missile turret?” He said, “I don’t know, son, he’s just always been there. He was there when I asked my father the same question, and maybe he was there before that.”
“Does anyone ever talk to him?”
“Because we’re afraid.”
“Afraid of what?”
“Of the man. And the missiles.”
Well I was not afraid of the man. Not any more. It’s my 20th birthday today, and I’m going to talk to the man. And ask him why he’s always been there. I’m standing on the cliff over looking the village now, and the man and the turret are just 50 feet or so behind me. The wind howls around me. I can almost feel it trying to push me over the cliff, as if warning me. Warning me to stay away, warning me to leave things as they are.
I turn around and walk towards the turret. I yell out for the man, but the wind steals my voice, and I don’t know if he can hear. I hold my hand up above my eyes to shield them from the sun. I cannot make out the man’s features. He must be at least 70 or 80 years old, by now. Maybe older. Nobody in the town remembers a day when he wasn’t there.
Finally, I approach the feet of the turret. As I do, I can hear it whir to life as the turret turns to face me. There is a man in the turret. There has always been a man in the missile turret.
He is as old as I expected him to look. Wrinkled, wizened, balding. He looks down at me. He doesn’t say a word. I don’t say a word either. He just looks down at me, and offers his hand.
I have always been the man in the missile turret.