Combat Vet

June 13th, 2019

Hans got into an argument with one of the local cops. Apparently, this sort of thing happens a lot in Texas.

The policeman was hassling Hans about having his Harley parked in the street, although it was legal for Hans to have it there. To placate the police officer, Hans attempted to get the bike into his already over-filled driveway. Apparently, the motorcycle didn’t quite fit, and the cop informed Hans that he was calling a tow truck to take it away.

Hans looked at the policeman and said, “The hell you are!”

The officer ignored Hans’ comment, and called the tow truck.

Hans lost his temper at that point. This could have been because Hans had just worked an extremely long shift, and he only had three hours of sleep. It could have been because this law enforcement officer was consciously choosing to be a dick. In any case, Hans told the cop,

“Well, I guess I wasted four years of my life!”

The cop was confused, and he asked Hans what he meant.

Hans told him, “I was in the Army, fighting in Iraq, to protect your sorry ass!”

The cop still insisted on the tow truck, which arrived shortly.

Hans held up his phone and explained to the officer, “I got your name and your badge number. You think you can treat me like white trash. The next thing I do is call the TV station, and tell them about you harassing a combat vet!”

The police officer called his supervisor, who spoke with Hans. When the conversation ended, both the cop and the tow truck left (without the motorcycle).

Later, the supervisor called to apologize to Hans. He told Hans that the officer in question was to be reprimanded.

Hans told the desk sergeant, “I want a copy of that reprimand.”

Hans was assured that he would get a copy in the morning.

Hans played the “combat vet” card, and did it well. That’s a good card to play, especially in Texas. In many parts of the U.S. veterans are held in high esteem. This certainly true in the Lone Star State. If a person is a veteran, they are put on a pedestal. A combat vet is just one step lower than God.

Depending on who is reading this essay, my comments may or may not make sense. I’m not trying to tell you how things should be. I’m just saying how things are. This incident with Hans reminds me of a story from Wilhelmine Germany, when civilians would move off of a sidewalk to make way for a Prussian officer. We don’t adore the military as much as the people did in the Kaiser’s time, but we are getting close to that.

Should we respect vets? I think they deserve respect. When Hans called to tell me his story, I was just walking out of the VA hospital in Milwaukee. I had been spending time with the veterans in the psych ward. All of these men and women were messed up, and I think that I understand why they are. Every one of the people in that ward made a sacrifice. They all lost something: their youth, their strength, their sanity, their innocence. Whether they were in combat or not, they left the military twisted and bent, just like me. Just like Hans.

Are these people heroes? Somebody once cynically asked Hans, “Do you think you’re a hero?”

Hans replied to him, “No, I just did my job.”

Vets aren’t often heroes. They (we) are just people who made an open-ended commitment to something we did not understand. We may have been stupid, but I think that we were at least brave.

I detest the slimy, fake patriotism that exists now. People shout about how much they support the troops, but these same folks won’t do anything more than shake a vet’s hand and say, “Thank you for your service.” Fuck that.

It is wrong to idolize a vet. It is also wrong to dismiss and ignore that person.

Try to understand the person. Maybe you can’t, but try to do that much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pentecost on Locust Street

June 9th, 2019

“And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.

Amazed and astonished, they asked, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?
And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?

We are Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,
Cretans and Arabs–in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power’. ”

Acts of the Apostles 2:6 – 2:11

Karin and I went to Mass on Pentecost. Karin sang with the choir. I got up and read a passage from the Acts of the Apostles to the congregation. Father Rich wore a red chasuble over his other garments. Red vestments signify a number of different things. The color often implies bloodshed. So, the priest wears red on Passion (Palm) Sunday, and on the days when we remember Christian martyrs. Red is also the color of Pentecost. It might be because Pentecost is about the coming of the Holy Spirit, who is often imagined as fire, and fire is often connected with the color red. Anyway, Father Rich was clothed in scarlet during the Mass.

Father Rich talked at length about the Holy Spirit, that one Person in the Trinity who is impossible to define. Our priest got emotional about his topic. He said,

“The Holy Spirit goes where it wants and when it wants. We often hinder the work of the Spirit, because we try to control it. We try to box it in. We need to open our hearts to whatever the Spirit wants us to do.”

I had wanted to go to Shavuot at the synagogue the night before. Shavuot is the original  Pentecost. I was too tired to go. I stayed home, and I looked forward to being with my son, Stefan, on Sunday.

In the afternoon Stefan took me to the Locust Street Festival. Locust Street is a major road on the north side of Milwaukee. It starts in the east near Lake Michigan and then runs straight as an arrow westward through most of the city. Locust Street passes through several starkly different neighborhoods. On Milwaukee’s Eastside the street is home to wealthy liberals, college students, and assorted hipsters. That community ends at the bridge crossing the Milwaukee River. A couple miles further west, just beyond Martin Luther King Drive, the street turns into Desolation Road. It gets ugly in a hurry. In between the Milwaukee River and MLK Drive, there is the Riverwest neighborhood, a place that defies any neat or tidy descriptions.

Most of Milwaukee is intensely tribal, and often rabidly racist. Different ethnic groups do not mix, not at all. Social and economic borders are clearly defined. People are not necessarily unfriendly. They just tend to stick with their own group. Riverwest is unusual in that people there do mix. Riverwest is full of large, older homes, but it has a younger population than other parts of Milwaukee. Riverwest has a gritty, working class feel to it, but it doesn’t have the sense of despair that a person encounters in some of the other neighborhoods.

Locust Street is in the heart of Riverwest and it’s radical, not liberal. There’s a difference, I think. Liberals tend to be comfortable. Radicals are not. Riverwest is a tight community, but it is not a comfortable community. People struggle there, but somehow they seem to thrive, or at least survive. There are lots of taverns on Locust where the residents can drown their sorrows in glasses of beer from local micro-breweries. On the other hand, Locust Street is also home to the T’ai Chi Ch’uan Center and Woodland Pattern Books. My  home away from home for many years was the Great Lake Zen Center, which had to move from Locust a while ago due to rent issues. Even after the Zen Center left the area, I have kept a fondness for the neighborhood. I just feel at home there.

The festival was going strong when Stefan and I arrived. Locust Street was closed down for several blocks from Holton Avenue to Humboldt Street. These two streets serve as unofficial bookends to Riverwest. Stefan parked his truck near the corner of Center Street and Pierce Street, and we walked a couple blocks to the block party. The street has rows of quiet, modest, well-kept homes, and a canopy of mature trees. It was a nice place to walk and look around.

When we hit Locust Street the volume cranked up quickly. We bought a couple beers and plunged into the swirling crowd. All of Locust Street was lined with tents and booths. I was fascinated by the variety of people. There was a black man wearing a turban. There were Harley riders, on foot for once. A couple Latinos talked rapidly in Spanish as they hit the taco stand. There was guy with his hair bleached blond and glitter in his beard. He was holding the hand of his partner as they wandered through the throng. I saw an Asian girl with green hair and John Lennon glasses. A Muslim woman hurried down the street, looking chic in her robe and hijab. A Hasidic Jewish family walked along the edge of the crowd; the father with his black fedora and a beard of biblical proportion, the two little boys wearing their kippahs, and the mom with her long, billowing skirt. It was a seething, flowing mass of humanity, and it was beautiful. God, it was beautiful.

Stefan and I listened to a couple bands, and then we walked back down Locust Street to find something for lunch. We got back to Pierce Street and saw a BBQ stand. A young black man from that booth yelled to the crowd,

“Y’all don’t be afraid! We got us soul food here! Try some!”

Yes, they did have soul food. Stefan and I looked at the menu. Stefan saw the “rib tip sandwich” for $12 a pop. We decided to get two of them. Another young man took Stefan’s order. A couple other guys started to get the food ready for us. I saw an old black guy sitting in the back, minding the smoker. He had the best job of all. I grabbed a flyer off the counter for the ‘2019 African Cultural Festival” that is coming next weekend. I might go with Karin to that.

I asked Stefan, “You want me to get us a couple beers?” The tent for the Lakefront Brewery was right across the street. Stefan said, “Sure.”

I walked over to the bar. A guy with a t-shirt that said “support veterans” asked me what I wanted. Stefan wanted a “Rabbit Hazy IPA”. I was okay with a “Riverwest Stein Beer”. The man walked away for a moment, and then came back apologizing.

“I’m sorry, but they are just now tapping a new keg of “Rabbit”. You wanna wait? Or do you want different beer?”

I looked at the list of beers.

“Okay, how about an ‘India Pale Ale’, and the ‘Riverwest’?”

The guy replied, “Cool.”

He came back to me sheepishly with two cups of beer, that looked almost exactly alike.

“Hey man, They just ran out of ‘Riverwest’. I got two IPA’s here. Is that okay?”

I nodded. Then I handed him a ten. He handed me the beers.

I looked at the guy and asked, “What branch were you in?”

He got interested. He said, “Army”.

I smiled and told him, “I was in the Army too.”

He smiled back. “Really, when?”

“1976 to 1986.”

The barkeep nodded top me. “What did you do?”

I replied, “Well, I went to West Point. Then I flew helicopters for five years.”

The guy raised one eyebrow slightly. “Cool. Where were you stationed?”

“Mostly in West Germany. How about you?”

The guy shrugged his shoulders. “Vietnam.”

“Oooooooooh…”, I said, wincing a little.

He nodded again and walked away.

I found Stefan and gave him one of the beers. He handed me a cardboard container full of rib tips.

“Damn, this is a lot.”

Stefan said to me, “Yeah, it is. I find it ironic that that they call this a sandwich. I got you a fork. You’ll need it. You’ll need these too”, as he showed me a big wad of napkins.

Stefan and I stopped talking for a while. We were busy with the ribs. They were swimming in barbecue sauce. I used my mouth as a vacuum cleaner to suck all the meat off of those bones. I needed napkins often. I wanted to eat the ribs, but not wear them. The sauce was sweet and very tangy. It stung me sometimes, but I couldn’t stop eating. At the bottom of the dish was a slice of bread. It was only there to soak up the drippings. I ate it after all the meat was gone.

Stefan went to take a piss. I sat on a stoop, and waited. As I waited, an old black man tried to hustle me for some cash. The music nearby was really loud, and the guy was mumbling, so I couldn’t quite understand him. But I knew he was hustling me. I’ve been hustled by the best: military officers, corporate lackeys, and sleazy politicians. I didn’t mind this guy hustling me. He needed the money. Those other bastards, they were just vampires. I slipped the guy a bill, and he wandered off. I don’t know what he used the money for, and it’s not any of my business.

Stefan and I walked back on to the street. We walked all the way east to Humboldt. There was a bandstand there, right in the middle of Locust. It straddled the street between Ma Baensch (producer and purveyor of Milwaukee’s best pickled herring) and The Tracks Tavern and Grill.

The band on the stage was Shonn Hinton and the Shotgun. Those guys played the blues so hard that it made you cry. The bass player was excellent. He was like a rock in that band. Shonn sang his heart out and the rest of the band had his back.

I looked around me as they played. Some people nodded their heads to the rhythm. Some folks tapped their feet. Some people moved their whole bodies. They all heard the music in their own language. They all heard the Holy Gospel according to Blind Lemon Jefferson and Mance Lipscomb. They all felt the pain and the hurt and love.

The Holy Spirit was there. Alleluia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Moment of Grace

June 8th, 2019

Reno is not a very spiritual place. Well, it is probably more spiritual than Las Vegas, but that isn’t setting the bar very high. I doubt that many people have a mystical experience while in Reno, unless they come up with a straight flush while playing high stakes poker. It is a very materialistic city, in a profoundly hedonistic state, in a country that worships the Almighty Dollar. In short, Reno is a place that God probably avoids. Reno isn’t quite in the same class as Sodom, but it leans in that direction.

Karin and I had time to kill before we met Joseba for breakfast at Mel’s diner in The Sands Hotel. Karin and I try to go to morning prayer and/or daily Mass whenever we can. That clearly was not going to happen in Reno.

The early morning (or late, late night) crew was in the casino. Almost all the people in the casino were sitting at the slot machines, chain smoking and staring grimly at the glowing screens. Maybe they were having fun, but they certainly didn’t look like they were. I did not see anybody win while we were at The Sands. I’m not sure that winning would actually make much of a difference. The winner might smile briefly, and have a momentary adrenalin rush, but then he or she would slip right back into the strange, distorted world of flashing lights and ringing bells. The bar was open and it was already crowded. I couldn’t decide if the folks on the stools were drinking early, or if they had been there all night. I guess it doesn’t matter.

Karin and I left the hotel as soon as we could, and we stood outside the casino in the early morning light. The air was crisp and clean. At 8:00 AM the town was ugly. At night, Reno looks flashy and exciting, kind of like an adult version of the Emerald City from “The Wizard of Oz”. In the morning, Reno looks exactly the way a hangover feels: dull, physically exhausted, and thoroughly unpleasant.

A few blocks from The Sands, there stands a church. We didn’t know what church it was, but we walked in that direction anyway. Once we got clear of the cluster of casinos, the neighborhood got decidedly ghetto, almost instantaneously. Most downtown areas that I have visited have nice restaurants and shops within walking distance of the hotels. Not Reno. The casino/hotels are self-enclosed environments, in an odd way similar to the International Space Station. Once a person leaves the casino, they are in a vacuum.

Anyway, I wanted to talk about the church.

When we got up close, we could see that the large, red brick structure was the Cathedral of St. Thomas Aquinas, the heart of Catholicism in Reno. We wanted to go into the church. As we expected, it was locked. Karin and I were ready to walk away. As we moved back toward the street, a man spoke to us. He had been sweeping the sidewalk in front of the cathedral.

He asked us, “Do you want to go into the cathedral? It is closed now, but there is a Mass at noon.”

We told the man, “We will be long gone by noon.”

“Why do you want to go into the church?”

That seemed like an odd question. We answered him by saying, “We want to go in there to pray.”

The man nodded, and stopped sweeping.

“Okay, I let you in. Come with me.”

We did.

The man met a co-worker as we entered the building. He told the woman,

“I am opening the church for these people. They want to pray in there.”

The woman replied, “Okay. I’m going to the office to start some coffee.”

The man said, “Good.”

He unlocked the door to the sanctuary.

Before we went into the church, I said to him,

“Thank you for doing this for us. Sir, what is your name?”

The man looked at me for a moment, and then he said, “My name is ‘friend’.”

He walked away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zion

June 6th, 2019

Zion National Park is beautiful, truly beautiful. It has soaring mountains and deep valleys. The towering cliffs are a rust color which is only broken by the green of the trees that hang on wherever they can. Only a soul that is truly dead could fail to be awestruck when looking at that scene.

Karin and I drove along the Zion-Mount Carmel highway to the east entrance of the park. Somehow, I was surprised when we were actually entering the park. It kind of snuck up on me. We then followed the long, winding, windy road all the way through Zion to Springdale, Utah. The drive required intense concentration, considering all of the hairpin turns, tunnels, steep grades and heavy tourist traffic. Damn tourists. I was behind the wheel for most of this journey. Unfortunately, we got to Zion at the end of a very long drive from New Mexico. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have.

We stopped a few times on the corkscrew highway to soak up the scenery. Karin took many  pictures. I struggled with vertigo. I could deal with the high mountains, but the deep, sudden drops got to me. We parked at a turn off, and I just sat down on a rock and tried to hold on to that piece of the earth. Karin asked if I wanted her to drive. The answer to that was an emphatic “yes”. We could have stayed longer in the park, but I was exhausted. Our park pass would allow us to return in the morning. We decided to go to our hotel.

We stayed at the Majestic View Hotel. It is the most expensive place we have ever stayed. I suppose that we could have found more economical accommodations, but not anywhere near Zion. If a person wants to see the park, they have to pay, and pay a lot. That is just how it works. We knew that before we ever left home.

I have a good friend living in the Dominican Republic. He is currently unemployed because the economy sucks there. The monthly wage in that country is less than what we spent for one night at the Majestic View. That bothered me while we were there. It still bothers me.

The Majestic View really does have a “majestic view”. The hotel is set up so that every occupant of every room can have a truly excellent picture of the surrounding mountains. I have to give the hotel that much credit. Otherwise, the hotel was just a hotel. The rooms had a weird elk motif, and the furniture had a faux rustic look to it. Staying there was like roughing it in the Wild West with air conditioning and room service.

When we got to the hotel, we anxiously asked about places to eat, hopefully within walking distance. The only real choice was the hotel’s own restaurant, “Arkansas Al’s Steakhouse”. We ate there. It was a typical hotel restaurant: a fancy room with fancy menus, and fancy prices for average food. Neither Karin nor I had any intention of driving to any other eatery, so we just went with the program.

An apathetic hostess us placed at a table surrounded by noisy patrons. Karin and I could barely hold a conversation while seated there. It was exactly the wrong place to be at the end of a long day.

A young man came to our table. I immediately asked him if we could sit somewhere else. Anywhere else. The restaurant was nearly empty, so we could have any of a dozen different tables. He guided us to a table for two. We ordered drinks. I wanted a beer. The young man disappeared for a few minutes. He brought us our beverages, and some warm sourdough bread on a cutting board. Karin and I suddenly realized that we were hungry.

Karin ordered a salad, and I had some kind of BBQ sandwich. The waiter eventually brought out our food, which was actually quite good. He asked if we needed anything else.

I asked him his name.

He seemed surprised by that, and he answered, “Donny.”

I asked him, “Where are you from?”

Donny shrugged and said, “Well, originally, I’m from California, around Sacramento. But I’ve been here for a while, so I consider Utah to be my home now.”

I told Donny that years ago, Karin and I lived in Monterey, courtesy of the U.S. Army.

He replied, “Cool. did you like it there?”

“Oh yeah. It was good. It’s just that it’s too expensive to live in paradise.”

Donny nodded.

We talked some more, or rather I talked some more. I told Donny about about our cross-country journey. I told him about our kids. He listened patiently. After a while, he left us to attend to another customer.

Karin ate her salad and asked me,

“Why did you have to tell him your whole life story?”

“Honestly, I don’t know why. Maybe it’s a good story. I wanted to hear his story too.”

Donny came back. I think Karin might have ordered a dessert. Before Donny walked away, I asked him,

“How do I tell your boss that you did a good job?”

Donny seemed surprised by this question.

“Well, we have a form that you could fill out with your comments.”

“Good. Get me one.”

He did.

I wrote on it that Donny was friendly, professional, and that he really cared about us. After we paid for the meal, I shook his hand and thanked him for everything. He wasn’t quite sure how to respond. That was okay.

We left the restaurant. We never saw Donny again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Busted

June 7th, 2019

Yesterday I went online and set up a prepaid telephone account for a girl that we love. I did that so that she would be to call us from the Taycheedah Correctional Institution. She wanted us to include her boyfriend’s phone number on the account, but I couldn’t get that to work on the vendor’s website, and I wasn’t sure how to set up a separate account just for him.

The girl called us this morning. Karin and I were in the car. We were going to a coffee shop in Bay View. Karin’s cell phone rang, and I pulled over to reduce the noise.

The girl first wanted to know why we hadn’t set up an account that would allow her to call her boyfriend. I tried to explain to her that I couldn’t set up a debit account for her, an account that would let her call any number. She muttered under her breath. Then she blurted out,

“You called my P.O.!”

Ahhhhh, it was all out in the open now. The young woman knew that I had called her probation officer when I found out that she was huffing keyboard cleaner again. She had already been in the ER twice because somebody found her unconscious from doing that shit. I ratted her out when she did it a third time.

She went on, “My boyfriend told me that you called my P.O.! YOU PUT ME IN PRISON!”

She took a breath and shouted, “Were you ever going to tell me?!”

That’s an excellent question. I had good intentions about telling her what happened, but I was waiting for the right time to tell her. That really meant that I was never going to have the courage to tell her. There was never going to be a good way to slip the subject of betrayal into casual conversation. The truth was that I knew she would find out, and I was pretty sure that she wouldn’t find out from me.

I got angry at this point. I told her,

“I did call her (the P.O). You were going to die. I would do it again!”

The girl replied bitterly, “There are drugs in prison too.”

I told her with the same level of bitterness, “Yeah, and I’m sure you will get them if you want them.”

Karin glared at me and told me, “Stop. You’re not helping.”

Then she told the girl, “We did what we had to do. It was hard for us too.”

The girl half-sobbed and half-screamed, “You say that you love me. You really hate me!”

I was about ready to give this young woman a heart-felt “fuck you”. I didn’t.

The girl continued, “You do all this to me, and you won’t even set up an account so I can talk to my friend!”

I went off on her, “Do you know how we found out about what you were doing? Your boyfriend told us!”

Karin once again had to reel me in. “Stop that. Now.”

I started the car up and spun it around toward home. I told the girl,

“We are going home. I soon as I walk in the door, I am setting up an account for your boyfriend.”

Side note: the boyfriend is actually a good guy. He loves the girl. She loves him. He, like this young woman, has an interesting past. He wants the girl to be clean and sober. He is also penniless. That’s just how it is, and that is why we are getting him a phone account.

Karin and I arrived home. I went directly to the computer to set up an account for him. That went well until I had to enter an email address. I tried to use mine, and the website said,

“Error. This email address has already been used.”

Fuck.

I erased the entry and tried to set up the account without an email address.

“Error. An email address must be entered.”

Goddammit.

I told Karin that I had to have the boyfriend’s email address. She texted him. Karin also tried to calm the girl on the phone.

Oddly enough, the boyfriend responded quickly. I got the address from Karin, whipped out my credit card, and made an account for him.

I told Karin that I was successful. She came to me holding her phone.

She wants to talk to you.”

Great.

The girl told me coldly, “Thanks for setting up the account.”

I replied, “Yeah, okay, you’re welcome.”

The girl told Karin, “I love you guys, but I’m going to be upset for a while.”

No shit.

A while later, Karin and I sat at our dining room table and drank coffee. I felt ragged. Karin no doubt felt the same.

I told Karin, “I’ve been thinking about my father (he died on November 10th of last year). I was walking the girl’s dog yesterday, and I thought about what my dad would have done about this young woman. He would have cut her dead ten years ago. He would have pretended that she never even existed.”

Karin nodded.

She said, “He wasn’t strong enough to handle it. He couldn’t deal with this sort of thing.”

I thought to myself, “I don’t want to be strong enough for all this.”

Maybe I am strong enough. I don’t know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Property Pick Up

June 3rd, 2019

The Kenosha County Jail has bad energy. I guess it would have to be that way. I mean it’s a jail, for God’s sake. Every person who walks into that building is struggling with some nasty problem, myself included. The entire complex is just a magnet for negative karma. It’s a legal and spiritual black hole.

I went to the intake area of the jail. I needed to pick up the belongings of somebody that I love. This young woman had recently been transferred from the jail to a prison, so all her remaining possessions (confiscated during her arrest) were being released to me. I have been through this process before. It was unpleasant the first time I did it, and the experience doesn’t improve with time.

The intake section of the jail is decidedly ugly. The concrete block walls are painted in a drab, bureaucratic color that probably looked dirty before they even spread the paint. A bulletin board displays a variety of outdated memoranda. There are only a few windows in the office, all heavily tinted, and they allow in an absolute minimum of natural light. There are several rows of uncomfortable plastic chairs. The room has a number of doors, almost all of them locked. To conduct official business, a person has to talk to a police officer through a narrow window, and then slide any required paperwork through a small slit at the bottom of that window. Overall, it is a rather Soviet-style environment. The only thing missing is a picture of Comrade Stalin.

When I got to the intake section, several people were already queued up to do what I wanted to do. So I got into line, and waited my turn. The policewoman on the other side of the glass window was polite and efficient. She dutifully took every person’s information, and then asked each of them to take a seat. We all did.

While standing in line, people engaged in conversation. There was a young couple who were trying to get to the personal effects of a close relative. An older woman in front of me spoke with them.

The young woman in line said, “We just trying to get his stuff, you know. He turned in his slip on Saturday, so we should be able to pick it up.”

The older woman said, “My boy, he put in his slip on Saturday too. I came up here over the line (state line) to get it.”

The young man said, “If he put the slip in on Saturday, it should be here today for you.”

The older woman shook her head and said, “These young folk, they get in trouble and the first thing they call their grandma.”

The young girl laughed and replied, “Or they first call their girlfriend.”

The older woman nodded.

All of us sat down to wait.

The older woman got a call on her phone. It wasn’t to her liking.

She stood up and strode to the front door.

“I’m going out. I expect to be a bit rowdy right quick.”

The younger couple watched her leave, and they heard part of her call.

The girl said, “She got something going on there.”

The man told her, “Shush now, I want to hear the conversation.”

The young woman looked displeased.

“It ain’t none of our business.”

The young man laughed, “Next time, I’m bringing popcorn along. This is a good show.”

Indeed it was.

The older woman came back into the room. She was wound up. She didn’t say much, but it was obvious that her time outside was just a warm up.

She got another call. We all heard it. Everybody in the room heard it.

Now, I don’t like to eavesdrop. However, this lady spoke loud enough during her call that I can only assume that she didn’t much care who heard her talking. A portion of it went like this:

“You don’t touch that money! That money is in the fucking safe, and I the only one with the motherfucking key! I told you! I told you this! You better start fucking listening to me!”

I found it entertaining in edgy, twisted sort of way.

We all waited out turn to get our stuff.

The older woman was called up by the cop before I was.

She opened the little metal door to retrieve her grandson’s possessions.

She was immediately disappointed.

The woman asked the policewoman,

“Where’s his cash?”

The officer replied, “It is in his inmate account. We don’t keep cash. It all goes into an account.”

The woman frowned and said, “I come up here mainly to get that.”

Then the older woman asked coldly, “How much is in his account?”

The officer responded, “I can’t tell you that. The inmate can release the money to you, if he signs a form. We would then send you a check.”

The older woman shook her head and said, “He don’t know none of this. This is all new to him.”

The cop replied, her politeness getting a bit brittle, “He does know this. He would have been told all about it when he was going through intake.”

There was a long, awkward silence.

The older woman said sharply, “Well, how much do he have? You got it on your screen.”

The officer said, “No, ma’am, I am not looking at his account. I am just telling you what happens to everybody who comes through intake.”

Another long, awkward silence.

The older woman composed herself, and she took her grandson’s possessions, and walked out.

The cop called me up next.

I grabbed the bag with my loved one’s belongings, and I got the hell out of that place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iran

June 3rd, 2019

This article appeared today in the Capital Times of Madison, WI. I’m very grateful that they used it, but I have to get into some more mainstream media. I need to reach a larger population, a population that does not agree with me. I need to make people think, and I need them to make me think.

Anyway, it is as follows:

“President Trump and his comrades, Pompeo and Bolton, seem determined to embroil our country in a war with Iran. I don’t understand why they want this conflict. We are already at war in a number of countries: Iraq, Syria, Somalia, and God only knows where else. The United States has been constantly at war for 18 years, and Trump simply wants to up the ante.

It amazes me that so many people in our country are OK with our military engaging in additional violence. They don’t seem to understand the effects of war. Maybe they don’t want to understand.

I was an officer in the U.S. Army, but I never fought in a war. My son did. He fought in Iraq. He killed people there, and he got wounded. I know the costs of war through his experiences. For me, war is something that is up close and personal. It’s real. For Trump, Pompeo and Bolton, it’s just a game.”