Sunday, May 25, 2014

202. Service

“You want to do what?”

“Calm down,” C.W. said.

“Calm down nothing. What are you planning now?”

“I told you. I want to enlist.”

I collapsed onto a kitchen chair. “In the military?”

“Yes. I need you to help choose the branch.”

“Oh goodness.”

“I could join the Navy. You know, follow in your footsteps.”

“Are you insane? Enlist?”

“You did.”

“I had to. Now let’s not hear any more about this.”

He pulled a chair out and sat across from me. “Afraid it’s too late for that.” He had taken the shape of a young, athletic youth of 18, with bright blonde hair and sparkling eyes. “Too late.”

“Too late how?”

“I’ve already talked to the recruiters, one from each branch.”

“Oh no,” I said. “You haven’t.”

“Afraid so. They want to talk to both of us. I told them you were my dad.”

“Oh Jesus. You didn’t. Those guys are like bulldogs when they get a prospect. They put insurance salesmen to shame.”

“Well get ready. The natural or synthetic substance used to add a color to or change the color of something is cast.”

“The ‘dye’ may be cast, but we can uncast it. This is insane.”

He looked at me with surprise. “What’s wrong with you? Aren’t you patriotic?”

“When things call for it.”

“And when they don’t?”

“When they don’t, I tend to agree with Samuel Johnson that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. Anyway,” I said, hoping to change the direction of the conversation, “what prompted this?”

“Simple,” he said. “Tomorrow is Memorial Day.”


“Haven’t you seen the great outpouring of love for our service members? Why, even the stores are staying open in their honor. Oh, and by the way, you’re supposed to buy Mrs. Big Dope a diamond for Memorial Day. And a car for me.”

“Memorial Day honors service members who died in battle after they enlisted. Do you want to be one of them?”

“Oh, I wouldn’t be. The Army recruiter promised that with my knowledge of aerodynamics I would be a drone operator. Never leave the country. See?” He produced a recruiting ad that encouraged kids to become members of “The Stateside Shock and Awe Team.”

“Oh Jesus,” I said.

“Don’t you love your country?”

“What’s love got to do with it?” I thought I might divert him with the words of a song by his favorite singer.

Ignoring me, he said, “Then there’s Veterans’ Day. I’ll surely be honored on that day.”

“Oh yes,” I said. The flag decals will be shining on every automobile and every store will have a sale.”

He straightened in his chair and said, “Why are you so cynical?”

“Because I’ve been down this road.”

After thinking it over, I've decided.
Maybe the best way to honor the fallen
is to have no more wars. - C.W.
“And aren’t you proud that your country takes two days to honor those who serve?”

“Oh yes,” I said. “But therein reside the reasons I’m wary.” I made a few clicks on my computer.

“What are those reasons?”

I turned the computer around so he could see a news article reporting how one of my state’s senators had voted against funding for veterans’ benefits.

“The other 363 days,” I said.

Click on an ad. It helps me pay the rent. - C.W.

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