July 28th, 2020
“Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly, creeping
Left its seeds while I was, sleeping
And the vision, that was planted in my brain… still remains
Within the sound of silence”
“The Sound of Silence” – Paul Simon
The phone rang.
I answered, “Hello?”
There was a one word answer: “Hey.”
It was Hans. He always replies to me like that. Then there is usually a brief pause.
Hans continued, “I got a question for you.”
“Do you know who did the original version of that song “Sound of Silence”.
“Yeah, that was Simon and Garfunkel, back in 1967 or so.”
Hans lit up a cigarette. I could hear the clicking of his lighter over the phone.
I could hear Hans inhaling the smoke. Then he exhaled and said,
“Yeah, I figured you would know that. There’s been a lot of covers of that song and I wasn’t sure which was the original. “Disturbed” did a cover of it a while back. You know what I mean?”
“Yeah, I heard that version. It’s actually quite good.”
Hans agreed, then he said, “Yeah, I’m thinking about making it my theme song for a while.”
“Why is that?”
Hans drawled, “Welllll, Gabby and watched “Outpost”. It’s a movie about an American outpost in Afghanistan. Now, I was behaved myself this time. I didn’t point out all the factual mistakes in the movie while Gabby was trying to watch it. She doesn’t like it when I do that.”
“So I’ve heard.”
“What? Oh, whatever. Anyway, the movie has that guy from the “Lord of the Rings” in it. You know who I mean?”
Well, it’s that blond-haired guy. The elf. Orlando Bloom.”
“Anyway, the movie is based on a true story. The Taliban attacks this outpost. There’s like only one hundred GI’s, but there are three or four hundred Taliban.”
“That’s no good.”
Hans took another drag on his cigarette.
“Yeah, the Taliban overran the FOB (Forward Operating Base). Bad guys tried to overrun our FOB in Iraq, but we had more people and more support. The Americans at this outpost would have been all right if the Army had sent in air support, but they wouldn’t send in the Apaches. They said that the “weather was too bad”. Shit. The weather good enough. The Apaches would have torn up those Taliban. The Taliban were just sitting on the hillside. But the Army wouldn’t send the air support.”
Hans paused and said, “You know how those pilots are.”
Note: I was an Army helicopter pilot for five years. I never flew the Apache gunships, but I flew Hueys and Black Hawks. Yes, I know how those pilots are, because I was one. Hans knows that I know.
Hans went on, “The movie was pretty accurate. I wouldn’t have complained much to Gabby anyway. The thing is that I remembered a lot of stuff while we watched it. Dark stuff.”
“Yeah”, I said quietly.
Hans kept talking, “That happens sometimes. It’s like a friend, a dark friend that keeps coming back to me. That’s why I like the song.”
“Bye, Dad. I love you.”
“Love you too.”
I hung up.
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said, “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls,
And tenement halls”
And whispered in the sounds of silence…