Archive for the ‘vietnam’ Category

Raider Nation in a Green Bay Tent City

August 24, 2019

Wayne would watch the people traipse across his lawn during football season to the Mecca of NFL football stadiums- Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He wondered how he could extract some of that cash that was flowing freely on game days. Sell beer or peanuts? Allow people to park their cars on his front lawn? Sure that would be good for $20.00 and maybe two cars could fit over the sidewalk. The idea came to Wayne to put up a tent in his backyard and post it on Airbnb. Picture a tent, a big tent and then picture a house you would not want to go into.

Wayne was a Vietnam veteran who was 100% covered by the government for his exposure to Agent Orange. Wayne would walk through the jungle devoid of foliage after a plane would drop the defoliant. At the time, it was no problem. He was under 20 year of age and vibrant. As time went on, he had crazy mood swings, inability to concentrate and problems procreating. He lived in the house with a mail order bride who could not speak English. She could speak Thai. The house crawled with bugs and the bugs didn’t bother Daisy, the Thai wife of Wayne. She kept the house clean except for the room where Wayne slept with the three German Sheppard dogs. Wayne had a hard time sleeping and staying asleep so he slept in what would have been the family room if they had a family on a mattress on the floor. Wayne watched graphic porn and Westerns and slept with loaded guns under his pillow in the family room with the dogs. Daisy slept upstairs in a clean room with a clean bathroom. During the day, Wayne would rough fuck his wife who he could not speak with and then he would go to the gym. Oh he would scream things in English with the logic that if he yelled loud enough, she would understand.

 

Wayne was indifferent to football but understood that it was a religion in the area and thought to make enough money to pay for him and Daisy to go back to Thailand to see her sick mother.

There were blow up beds and beanbags and a black and white television that only pulled in two channels locally in the prestigious tent. There was a plastic pool in the backyard with a fire pit and he got Wi-Fi as the bonus for whoever decided to pay the $200.00 a night when all other options were not possible.

It was a beautiful August evening in Green Bay. The Packers were playing the Raiders. Jaime, who did jail time for offenses with an unregistered gun as a young man, learned automotive in jail and opened his own garage in Oakland. Jaime was that rare success story. He wore a black hair net under his Raiders hat with a straight brim cocked to the right. He wore a plain white tank top shirt under a starched white shirt with only the top buttoned. He wore baggy trousers and shiny black dress shoes. Jaime got a ticket to Milwaukee and hired an Uber driver for $200.00 to drive him 90 minutes north to Green Bay. There were no rooms to be had practically down to the Illinois border due to vacations and the Packer game. Jaime settled for the tent.

Jaime looked at the accommodations with his wife Teresa and made a declaration.

“Mother fucking pinchy Hillbilly motherfucker is charging $200.00 a night to fucking camp out in his backyard… And motherfuckers like him went to the moon? I say bullshit to this bullshit…”

Teresa was used to their small stucco ranch in Oakland that was kept immaculate. The lack of screens on the window and the barking of the dogs scared her. The naked lady magazines on the floor of the bathroom that had piss stains on the bowl, shit like concrete splattered on the bowl, whiskers in the sink and chunks of meat pulled from between Wayne’s teeth were stuck to the mirror.   Shock and horror.

After the game, Jaime stood in the backyard talking to his help at the garage back in Oakland. He was telling his guys to get right on one car and tell the old bitch with the Oldsmobile that they were waiting on a part. Wayne sat in the backyard in a lawn chair drinking a beer, glaring at Jaime, who was wearing a Ken Stabler jersey over his Cholo clothes. The Raiders won by a field goal. Wayne attempted to make conversation with his guest but it went wrong, as was often the case.

“Do you and your senorita come from Mexico or did you make the trek from Guatemala? You people all look the same to me. I went to Tijuana once back after the war. I got the clap down there banging the broad who starred in the donkey show… They still got the donkey show down there?”

The ridiculous stereotyping and ignorance incensed Jaime

“Motherfucker… Did I see your white ass in Deliverance? Where you the dude fucking that fat motherfucker in the ass? I was born in Oakland. I am as American as your white ass and let me ask you something, pendejo… How does a motherfucker like you land a 12-year-old bitch looking like fucking Beetlejuice? How much you spend on yo woman?”

Wayne laughed at his houseguest, excused himself and returned with a case of Wisconsin beer and a bottle of tequila. Over the course of six hours, Wayne learned what it was like to live on the mean streets of Oakland as a Mexican gangbanger who did jail time and then became an entrepreneur. Jaime learned what it was like to have served in a really bad war and what it was like to kill people, take drugs and just try to make it day to day in a foreign land as a teenager. Jaime learned what it was like for someone like Wayne to have done something for others that wasn’t appreciated or wanted. They found common ground outside an Airbnb tent in Green Bay… And lived happily ever after. The end….

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She’s Leaving Home

April 11, 2019

The two men sat in the dark room with symphonic music playing. Lying in the bed with the white noise of oxygen being pumped into their mother’s nose.

“I think they fucked this whole thing up… If she can’t swallow any longer than how the fuck did she eat yogurt and drink water?” Asked Wade.

“There’s no way of knowing if it’s going into her lungs or stomach…” said Jimmy.

Jimmy is Wade’s son but was adopted by Wade’s mother while he was in Vietnam and so Laurie was the mom of both men. Wade was adamant that his mother was Jimmy’s grandmother and referred to her as such. Jimmy, tired and stressed over standing watch over a dying woman snapped at his dad and brother.

“Look… When someone adopts you, that person becomes your parent. You and my real mom gave me to her and so that makes her my mother too… Why don’t we just call her Laurie? That way I don’t have to hear you call her grandma. She’s not your grandmother and she’s not mine either.”

Back in the old days when Jimmy was a boy, Laurie would make Jimmy spend time with Wade. Wade, a Vietnam Veteran affected by Agent Orange, had a short attention span, problems with anger and an inability to hold a job. Wade never had to ever take care of another human in his life until now with his mother doing hospice. Laurie was a tough woman who fought cancer several times and won. Wade was a man who was burned over 65% of his body in a house fire and lived. Jimmy had a high threshold for stress.

“Wade… Do you remember the guy you shot in the foot?”

“Oh yeah… That fucking guy…”

The man’s name was Gene and he was a drunk Marine who was sitting in the backyard of a drunk Army/infantry veteran. Gene called Wade a pussy and told him he was too much a pussy to shoot anyone. Wade took a sip of his beer, pulled out a handgun and put it to the foot of his drinking buddy and pulled the trigger.

“Whatever happened to that guy?”

“He was as nuts as Mr. Peanuts. They put his ass in a mental institution. I don’t know if he’s dead or alive.

Wade yelled to his hard of hearing mother who was lying in bed holding a stuffed animal, staring straight ahead. He took a sponge on a stick and tried to jam water into her mouth. Lodged in the corner was a ball of yogurt that was being stored not swallowed.

“Looks like Laurie is saving that yogurt for dessert later,” said Jimmy.

Both men quietly thought about the days when she was younger, pretty and vibrant. Laurie was a bundle of energy at all times and could never do enough for her boys. Wade looked at Jimmy in his tank top with his arms folded. Jimmy’s arms looked strong. Both men worked out, ate well and wanted to try to not suffer in old age as much as possible.

“How much can you bench now?”

“On good days when my joints don’t hurt… 235 maybe 240… I remember when them two Greeks kicked my ass and I had to get stitches on my eyelid. You were lifting out in the backyard with your shirt off. It was summer time and Laurie was hanging clothes out on the clothesline. I came to you and asked if you could get me started lifting. You looked at me and told me never to wear stupid clothes anymore and eat more meat… I gained 35 lbs. of muscle that year. Nobody wanted to fight me anymore after that…”

Laurie picked at the blanket that covered her with one hand and reached out to her mother and grandmother who were standing in a field with the wind in their hair. Both women waved to Laurie and she waved back.

“Well, I say we call 911, get her to a hospital and do another swallow test. This is horseshit. If she can swallow, she can swallow.”

“Wade… The car is running but it’s not going to drive anymore… You know what I mean? It is what it is. She’s doing better because she sees you and me now instead of the nurses at the nursing home twice a day. She has advanced Alzheimer’s. It’s a matter of time. I don’t want that but it’s coming. We’re watching the sun setting with clouds. When the clouds pass and the sky gets lighter, we think the sun is coming back. It’s not coming back. It’s setting here and rising somewhere we can’t see.”

“That’s some deep, poetic shit, Jimmy. Put that on a greeting card, make some money.”

“I’ll put your picture on the front for people to laugh so that they won’t think it’s too heavy…”

“Fuck you…”

For as much as Jimmy disdained the man who was really his father, he was impressed with his ability to go on. His ability to persevere. His ability to conquer without fear. Jimmy understood that Wade was afraid to lose his mom. More so that Jimmy.

“Where are you going?” Asked Laurie, faintly.

Laurie’s mother and grandmother turned and held their hair in the breeze. They were young and vibrant like they were back in the 1930’s with crimped, short hair.

“We’re getting things ready for you… We’ll see you soon.”

Wade started to tear up as he looked at Laurie. With a crackling voice and sniffles, he explained harsh things that happened in his life that never left him.

“We captured a gook that got some of our guys killed. We tied him to the back of our truck and let him bounce around until his body was pulled apart and only his trunk was left. I watched a guy next to me die after a hole was put through his head. I watched people die in that burn unit from their injuries. I screamed myself when they scrapped my skin with a wire brush and had to cream my whole body and give me morphine… Those were hard things. Losing your mom is the hardest thing I have ever gone through and I’ll never forget her.”

Jimmy began to tear up. He was crying too. All he could do was shake his head in agreement. They would both miss her.

 

The Beatles

She (we never thought of ourselves)
Is leaving (never a thought for ourselves)
Home (we struggled hard all our lives to get by)
She’s leaving home, after living alone, for so many years.