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Sunday, July 16, 2017

382. Pain

Last night I dreamed of … well no, actually last night I didn’t dream at all. I passed a kidney stone instead.

Yep.

Can you believe it? C.W. was there and he wasn’t much help. He’s like that sometimes.

As I sat bent over in the least uncomfortable house in the place, he sat across from me in the familiar shape of Arnold Awesome the 18-year old, full of wonder, pest.

“Does in hurt much?”

Actually, it hurt so badly that I didn’t want to talk.

“I said, does it hurt much?”

“Goddam your eyes.”

“Kidney stones. Are those things valuable like other stones?”

“Don’t you have something to do?” I began the dry heaves that accompany this awful experience.

“Be careful,” he said. “Mrs. Big Dope gets mad whenever I mess up the floor.”

“If I knew what it takes to kill one of you, I would. I really would, this very moment.”

“Let me borrow your cell phone and I’ll video you. We’ll enjoy watching that when you get to feeling better.”

I unleashed a barrage of invectives that include bits from four different languages. Former sailors are pretty good at that sort of thing, you know. He tried to keep up.

“You’re confusing my Galactic Universal Translator. I’ve asked you time and time again to show respect for my GUT.”

“Your GUT?”

“Precisely. Now where does it hurt the most? I’ll need to document it to the Falloonian Elders.”

“Would a shotgun blast at point-blank range to the trick?”

“Is it a sharp pain like when I poked you with a fork?”

I closed my eyes and envisioned a lightning strike.

“Maybe a dull pain? Remember the morning after we went to the election victory party?”

“Don’t Falloonians have any illnesses? Any terminal ones? Ones that we could replicate here on Earth?”

“Hmm. I don’t think so. We do, at least some of us do, have problems with prwjegtulspuregn.

“What’s that?”

“You don’t want to know. Trust me. You only have one head. Hey, want me to read to you and get your mind off the pain?”

“I want most of all for you to erupt in flames and be swallowed up by the earth.” I was to the point of imagining Old Testament levels of vengeance.”

“Are you pretty sure it’s a kidney stone?”

“No. I’ve changed my mind. Now I think it’s a bowling ball.”

“Maybe it’s something you ate.”

“Maybe. Why not? Are you a Doctor, in addition to everything else?”

“Maybe it’s cancer.”

“What the hell is with you?”

“I’m just trying to cheer you up.”

“Then go out and jump in front of the next log truck that comes along.”

“This kidney stone, can I have it when you are finished with it?”

“What for?”

“I want to keep it in my slyschetphrmirt bag.”

That’s his collection of interesting artifacts from Earth that he keeps. He has plans of returning to Falloonia and opening a museum of sorts when he finishes his tour here.

“No. “You can’t have it.”

“Why not?”

“I think I’ll donate it to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington. They like to keep world records there.”

“Mrs. Big Dope says you’re a big crybaby. What’s that?”

“A person who tortures someone, murders them, burns their body, and feels badly about it afterwards. And I’ll be no crybaby where you are concerned.”

“Hey,” he said as his face brightened. “Is this sort of like the male version of a woman’s giving birth to a baby?”
 
Pain just helps you
appreciate no pain, - C.W.
“Do you know who killed my wife’s tomato plants by applying the wrong treatment?”

His smile disappeared faster than the truth at a Trump rally. “Yes,” he said. “I know.”

“Does she?”

“Oh no,” he said. “You wouldn’t.”

“Ten seconds,” I said. “Ten seconds and don’t come back.”

As he hurried to the door, and a fresh wave of pain took over, I heard him muttering.

“It’s the last time I offer to play the role of healer in this family.”



See also:
Order Big Dope's Book at Wattensaw PressAmazon, or other book sellers.



Sunday, July 9, 2017

381: Mistakes

 Before I could turn around, he saw me. C.W. was in a shape he’d used before, the Vietnam War soldier. “Come,” he said. “Sit.”

It was a foggy morning at our farm. I had intended to take advantage of the cool air to enjoy my coffee out-of-doors and in peace. No such luck. I took a seat beside him under the oak trees that my father-in-law and I planted 25 years ago. A veteran himself, of World War Two, and a great man, my wife’s dad never got to sit under the shade of those trees. He knew he wouldn’t, but helped plant them anyway.

C.W. said nothing, just stared at the pasture, I sipped my coffee and looked at him. “What’s up?”

“Been talking to the spirits,” he said.

I said nothing.

“Did you know that they are making a new film about that miserable war?”

“Which one?”

He looked at me. “Don’t try to be funny this morning, he said. There’s way too much levity going on in your country right now. Comedy may be your downfall.” He turned back to the pasture. In the far distance, a lone deer ventured out of the lifting fog. “You’ve heard about the upcoming film by Ken Burns?”

“Yes.” Now he had me in a sober mood.

“Do you think they’ll get it right this time?”

“Surely,” I said. “I trust Ken Burns. How can you fail with sex, drugs, and rock and roll?”

He looked to see if I was being serious. “Yes. What could possibly go wrong?”

I nodded. He continued. “Do you think they’ll feature those ‘search and destroy missions’ that some of the spirits talk about? They still shudder when they do.”

“I’m sure they will.”

“What was their purpose?”

“Body counts,” I said. “Based on the idea of ‘attrition’ espoused by our General Westmoreland. We were supposed to kill enough enemy Vietnamese that they would quit and go home.”

“What could possibly go wrong?”

“The fact was, they were already home.”

“Like the Taliban is in Afghanistan?

“Look, the geese are flying in for the day.”

“One spirit told me that a dead water buffalo counted as five bodies, and that when they found a body blown to pieces they recorded each piece as being a body. There were even disputes over the ownership of a particular limb.”

“It was a sad time.”

“I take it that this was not the time your president refers to when he urges you to make America great again?”

“Hardly. Can we talk about something else?”

“They talk too, the spirits do, about the massive firepower extended. They talk about whole villages being artilleried out of existence because of one mortar round fired from near it.”

“I’m not sure ‘artilleried’ is a word.”

“One recalled his squad calling an air strike from a nearby aircraft carrier to take care of a lone sniper.”

“We had the firepower all right.”

“Yes,” he said. “What could possibly go wrong?”

“Nothing,” I said, “expect for the fact that we weren’t fighting the German army. There were jungles and caves into which the enemy could fade when things got hot.”

“The generals tended to get things wrong, didn’t they?”

“They sometimes do.”

“Do they suffer for it?”

“Not as a rule. Usually only when there is sex with a subordinate involved.”

“One spirit told me about that awful day in My Lai.”

“Let’s not talk about that.”

“The spirits say that one unit massacred maybe 500 villagers.”

“It wasn’t pretty.”

“America wasn’t great that day?”

“Not that day.”

“One spirit said he saw some comrades throw a man into a well and toss a hand grenade in on top of hm.”
 
The war produced new concepts in
saving villages from the enemy. - C.W.
“Look at those bluebirds,” I said. “My wife does love them so.”

“Another saw five men rape a girl and then blow her head off. Do you think they’ll include that in the documentary?”

“I’m going in,” I said. “I think there’s a show on TV that I want to watch.”

“That’s what the folks at home did then, wasn’t it?”

“What?”

“Turn to a different TV show.”

“Look,” I said, “the soldiers at My Lai were carrying out orders from above.”

“Oh?”

“Yes, their commanding officers ordered them to destroy the village in order to save it.”

“Yes. What could possibly go wrong?”

“Are you going to keep this up all morning?”

“The higher ups found out about the affair at My Lai, though, didn’t they?”

“They investigated it thoroughly, in a process of self-evaluation.”

“Yes. What could possibly go wrong?”

“The Vietnam war was a bad piece of business,” I said. “Yes, they covered up the massacre. But then the military made corrections. They went to an all-volunteer military. They stopped individual rotations to promote unit cohesion. They trained soldiers better. They developed even more sophisticated weaponry, the envy of the world. Our military is now the best trained, the best equipped, and the best financed in the world.”

“Yes,” he said. “What could possibly go wrong?”



See also:
Order Big Dope's Book at Wattensaw PressAmazon, or other book sellers.




Sunday, July 2, 2017

380. Dancing

“Just what the hell is going on in this country?”

C.W. sometimes asks me questions to which I don’t have an easy answer. He did this just the other day. We were walking, he and I, in our favorite park in Little Rock, along the river. He was in a form quite similar to the title character from Zorba the Greek, the book by Nikos Kazantzakis. He actually had transformed himself into a fair resemblance to Anthony Quinn, who played the Greek in the movie.

Anyway, he had just asked me a tough question, and I was still forming what I thought was a satisfactory, if not sufficient, answer. I answered carefully.

“I haven’t a clue.”

“Then what's the use of all your damn books if they can't answer that?” he said, borrowing a line from the book and, later, the film.

I thought hard again. After all, my job is to explain America to him, at least explain my little postage-stamp portion of America. I concentrated hard on an appropriate response.

“I don’t know.”

He raised a hand in exasperation, just in time to make a bicyclist veer sharply, lose control, and rush down an embankment into the Arkansas River.

He slapped his knee. “Hey boss, did you ever see a more splendiferous crash?’

I was glad to get his mind off other questions, but a little anxious to move on. I motioned us ahead. We walked on for a minute before he spoke again.

“Splendiferous crash,” he said, repeating the phrase. “Hey,” he said, “let’s get in your truck and go knock over something silly.”

“I think that it might not be funny if we did it. We could get in serious trouble.”

He turned and glared at me. “Life is trouble. Only death is not. To be alive is to undo your belt and look for trouble.” It was at this point that I realized he had, indeed, been reading Kazantzakis and was jacking me around.

“Since you have obviously been reading,” I said, “have you ever heard of John le CarrĂ©?”

“Who hasn’t?” he said. What about him?”

“He said, in 2003, as we were preparing to bomb Baghdad, ‘America has entered one of its periods of historical madness.’ So, this isn’t the first time that we have gone mad, as a country. Maybe the worst, but not the first.”

“You know,” he said, “a man needs a little madness, but for a country, it can be fatal, this madness.”

“I suppose so.”

“Speaking of madness,” he said. “I met a couple of women while you were in the restroom.”

“And?”

“They are looking for some fun. They even told me what hotel they were staying at.”

“I’m married,” I said. “Or don’t you remember?”

“You could just watch and take notes for your next novel. Why not unloosen your belt and look for trouble?”

“Why don’t we just keep discussing politics. Have you read the latest postings our president has put on the internet? Most people have forgotten about the fall of the Ten Commandments in our city, and are laughing about those tweets, now.”

“I’ll bet that man doesn’t even like dolphins,” he said. The he returned to the other subject. “About those women … .”

“I said no.”

“Don’t you believe in God? Can’t you imagine a hell with a special place for the politicians who are ruining your country?”

I didn’t answer, so he took my silence for an affirmation of faith.

“Well,” he said, “God has a very big heart but there is one sin he will not forgive: if a woman calls a man to her bed and he will not go.”

I feverously searched my brain for a logical refutation.

“Shut up,” I said.

Then he began to dance. Out across the grassy area of the park he pranced, swirled, and bowed. Then he pointed to the sky and clapped his hands to a rhythm only he heard. I spun around to head the opposite direction and nearly collided with a jogger.

It was the junior U.S. Senator from our state. He stopped, looked at C.W., and then stared at me.
 
A sure way to overcome madness. - C.W.
“What is that man doing?

“I think he’s dancing, sir, I said.

“Why don’t you make him stop?”

I’d had about enough by this time. I don’t even know what came over me. I said, “Why don’t you do a better job taking care of our country?”

“Why don’t you contact my office if you have a complaint about the way I do business?”

I guess it was the influence of C.W., memories of Zorba, or thought of collective insanity, but an appropriate response to both questions popped into my head this time. I answered before I realized it.

“On a deaf man's door, you can knock forever.”

He stiffened. “I order you to make him stop.”

“No,” I said, unloosening my belt, “I’m going to let him teach me to dance.”

See also:
Delta Dreaming
All Hat No Cattle
Order Big Dope's Book at Wattensaw PressAmazon, or other book sellers.