The answer to why Nick comes across so brutal is this: Obviously, Nick really is jacked up in the head… He’s about as messed up as they come. Not only does he have PTSD, but he has higher than normal levels of paranoia because he was literally sold out by the government that he trusted.
And given that he’s killed a hundred plus guys in a series of missions inside Afghanistan that he can’t talk about, he’s not your typical vet. He’s a dangerous animal that you don’t want to set off.
Frankly, if I’m totally honest, I’d have to admit this: I wrote much of “Sold Out” right after my exit from the Marine Corps, when I was dealing with some serious paranoia issues.
I had spent four years in the infantry and was in a dark place, and I suppose the book reveals it.
Just as Nick gets into a fight with his wife because of his journal and the gun under the sink, I too got into a major fight with my wife because I was unscrewing the electrical outlets in my home, convinced that everything I said in the home was being listened to by the federal government.
This was in 1999 or 2000, way before the days of knowing the NSA was listening and reading to most of what we email or say on the phone. In my case, I had a weird conversation with a guy at the mall who approached me, who I was convinced was a CIA agent.
I came home in a near-terror and was ripping off the electrical outlets as fast as I could. Thankfully, my wife told me (in what was quite a verbal fight between us) that if I unscrewed another electrical outlet, she was leaving. I was furious that she couldn’t see that I was trying to protect us.
She eventually helped me work through many of my issues.