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Clothed in my cheap JC Penny’s suit, holding a bible, sitting on a container of disinfectant that smells like murder, like what they’d use to clean the war machine of the United States of America, sitting in the utility closet the president of my draft board called their “waiting room.” The door ajar, I see Ben Ramone in his Sunday best, Ben who years before struck me out with his ferocious curveball during our Little League All Star Game, who now pleads with the board. Who would care for his wife, for his kids, should he be killed? They treat Ben the way all Mexicans are treated in Cheyenne in the sixties. They are so discriminated against they aren’t mentioned in discussions of racial prejudice. When it’s my turn, I emerge from the closet with my bible and my convictions. I’m filing for conscientious objection in a state so conservative it might as well be in the deep south. I tell the board that I’m a pantheist, make Spinoza’s argument that all of nature is sacred, is god, that to kill a human being is to kill a part of god. The old men on the board look perplexed—one falls asleep, a more sentient member wants to know why I wouldn’t kill for my country. “No people die,” I quote Yevtushenko, “only worlds die in them.” Who am I to extinguish a world? Why not volunteer as a medic, another draft board don asks. I would, I say, but I’d treat the most wounded person and if that was a Viet Cong, I’d treat him. One board member, an army colonel, turns white (or whiter). He must be imagining what it would be like to go into combat with the likes of me. Six months later, with trembling hands, I open a letter from my draft board. They have granted my request. I will never have to kill someone I don’t know, because someone else I don’t know, tells me to. But what about Ben, his wife, his kids? To whom did they hand the flag that draped his coffin? -- Copyright 2022 Charlie Brice's books include All the Songs Sung (Angels Flight, 2021). He lives in Pittsburgh.