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|Location:||United States of America|
Growing up in small-town Nebraska, Caleb Lamott spent much of his childhood dreaming up ways to leave his hometown and never look back. The older folks said the community had a way of calling its people home again, but he was determined to find a way out and stay gone. Caleb would make a name for himself, if it was the last thing he ever did. Until his junior year of high school, however, his story was mostly unremarkable.
As an average kid with average grades, Caleb pushed himself into the limelight in a way he had never intended when his then-fifteen year old girlfriend became pregnant. Neither she nor sixteen year old Caleb had the interest or the means by which to adequately parent a child. Hours after the birth of their son, they handed him over in a private, closed adoption.
Even more determined than ever, Caleb finished what was left of his high school career and immediately left his sleepy little town in a blaze of dust. Enlisting in the Army was the quickest and surest way out of the town, and Caleb thought he could both get as far away as possible and earn some money for his education. Perhaps he would even succeed in redeeming himself from the crushing feeling of guilt that had been plaguing him since the birth of his son. He completed basic training, and at nineteen years of age was deployed to Bosnia as part of a humanitarian force in the midst of the Bosnian War.
Caleb was in Sarajevo on February 5, 1994, when a 120 millimeter mortar shell was fired into the middle of the civilian Markale. His squad rushed to the aid of the more than 200 casualties to find the marketplace in complete annihilation. People of all ages were maimed and killed and rivers of blood were running through the streets. Cael did the best that he could to assist those still living, but felt totally ineffectual in a situation that completely blindsided him. For months there was continual controversy over who had fired the shot as initial findings were invalidated and new information was uncovered. Cael's squad was continually informed that their job was not to take sides, but to maintain a peaceful presence and act as humanitarian relief.
He did so to the best of his ability, stomaching atrocity after atrocity and bureaucratic decisions that kept him from acting in what he knew was the best interest of the people he had been sent there to help. By the time that his tour was up, Cael felt that the entire thing had been absolute sham. He retreated further into himself emotionally, carrying the guilt of all the people he felt he had left to die under the SOP, but he hid those feelings underneath an outward anger and resentment that made him lash out. He was placed in a reserve unit, free from active duty and able to pursue a postsecondary education that he no longer had an interest in.
After the September 11th attacks, Caleb found himself called back into active duty under the stop-loss policy. Unwittingly and unwillingly, his original military contract was extended and he found himself deployed to Afghanistan in the midst of the War on Terror. It was nothing like Bosnia, but he was more hardened than he had been before. Cael wasn't there as a humanitarian. He wasn't there to give relief. He was there to fight, and every minute of every day he was the target of the enemy.
In February 2004, a light utility vehicle Cael was traveling in was hit by an IED. Two men were killed, and he sustained a critical brain injury. Though Caleb lived, the damage left him with post-traumatic epilepsy. He received a medical discharge from the armed forces and initially returned home to Nebraska to live with his parents. Once again, Cael found himself trapped in the place he had worked his life to escape.
As soon as he was able he left again. With what money he did have and resources he could find, he continued his education that he had been forced to put on hold when called back up into active duty. Caleb finished his doctoral degree and took a contract with the government working as a speech recognition software developer.
These days he's still moonlighting with the government, but he's taken a day job as a professor of linguistics at New York University. Cael still thinks of his son (now twenty-one years of age) and what the boy must be like, but mostly he's content to be perfectly average.
BOTH MUSE AND MUNDANE ARE ABOVE THE AGE OF MAJORITY.