Shrapnel

June 14th, 2022

My son, Hans, called me from Texas a couple days ago. He drawled,

“Hey Dad, our power’s out.”

“That’s no good. Isn’t it stupid hot down there?”

“Yeah, it is. You want to know why the power is out?”

I never know how to answer that sort of question. So, I said, “Sure.”

“A transformer blew up.”

“Wait. Now what happened?”

Hans took a breath and said, “Well, it was one of those small transformers, the kind that sit up on top of the poles. You know, the kind with the ceramic insulation.”

I didn’t know what he meant, but I let him keep talking. Hans was on a roll.

He continued, “I didn’t see it explode, but I heard it. It brought back all sorts of stuff from Iraq when I heard it go bang. I hit the ground.”

“Okay.”

Hans went on, “At first I thought I thought it might be somebody popping off fireworks, but it didn’t sound right. It sounded just like an IED.”

“Okay, so what does an IED sound like?”

Hans replied, “They have a funny noise when they go off. I can tell the sound of flying pieces of metal. I know what shrapnel sounds like.”

We were both quiet for a moment. Then Hans said,

“Well, I just wanted you know what has been going on down here. I’m okay. I didn’t have a heart attack when I heard the explosion.”

“I’m glad.”

Hans was deployed in Iraq over a decade ago. It amazes me that he still remembers the sound of flying shrapnel, and that his reflex is to automatically fall to the ground when he hears that sound.

It makes me sad too.

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