It’s hard not to like C.W. when he shows up in the shape of the late Edward R. Murrow. I always liked him, and, boy, to we miss him now. Only problem occurs when he lights up a cigarette. Not allowed in this house. But anyway …
I was feeling a bit blue for some reason. It has been a rough summer and the news hasn’t helped. So when C.W. showed up as the former newsman, I knew he had come to offer kindness and solace.
“What the hell is the matter with you?” he said, loud enough to wake the entire house.
“I’m okay,” I said. “Just feeling a little nostalgic today.”
“Well snap the hell out of it,” he said, lighting a fag. “We’ve got some important stuff to talk about.”
“You won’t talk about anything if my wife smells that smoke.”
“Mrs. Big Dope and I are getting along better now,” he said. “We’ve found common ground to belittle.”
I raised my head. “What common ground?”
“You,” he said. “Now what’s on your mind?”
“Just thinking about very old friends,” I said, “Friends I knew before the Navy. From college. My old liberal friends … comrades of many peace marches, sit-ins, and demonstrations. I haven’t heard from any of them in years.”
“To hell with them,” he said. “Now snap out of it.”
“I think it may link back to my ‘Yossarian Period.’ You know, the character from Catch-22, the Joseph Heller novel. What do you think?”
He knotted his brow. “I think,” he said, “that a BJ would help.”
That snapped me to attention. “A what?”
“A BJ. You know … the new app for my Galactic Universal Translator. Officially it provides a ‘Bibliographical Juxtaposition,’ for when I need to find a literary allusion. The Elders sent it with a note that said a BJ would make my GUT work better.” He stopped and stared at me. “What?”
“I think you might find another name for it,” I said. “Maybe a ‘citation reference app.’”
“You mean you want me tell folks that I need to take a …”
“No, no, no,” I said. “Let’s talk about it later.”
He concentrated. “Okay,” he said. “So this Yossarian was a bomber pilot in one of your world wars and he did what?”
“Contacted his friends.”
He concentrated again. “I’m finding something,” he said. How’s this?” He began to recite verbatim from the book.
“To everyone he knew he wrote that he was going on a very dangerous mission. They asked for volunteers. It's very dangerous, but someone has to do it. I'll write you the instant I get back. And he had not written anyone since.”
He stopped there. “Ah,” he said. “So what did you do while in your so-called ‘Yossarian Period?’ that makes you so somber?”
“It was the third day of the Tet Offensive,” I said. All hell was breaking loose and it was kind of scary where I was.”
“I was a little pissed because I felt my old friends had deserted me when I went off to war.”
“I wrote them all letters.”
“I told them that things looked pretty bad, but I would write and let them know if I made it through safely.”
“And?” He blew a big cloud of smoke my way.
“I’ve never heard from any of them.” I stopped. “Except one. I ran into her at a book festival a couple of years after my discharge.”
|I don't care what Big Dope says. I|
think more POKES and BJs would make
a big difference in your politics. - C.W.
“I think it frightened her to see me.”
“She mentioned something about a memorial service and ran away.”
“Mrs. Big Dope is right,” he said.
“You are an idiot. Now,” he said, “if you will excuse me, I going out to interview some young women and ask them for a POKE.”
“A ‘practice on kindness evaluation.’ Why?”
“Uh,” I said. “I think maybe you …” I stopped. “Never mind. I’ll see you later. I feel much better now.”