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April 11, 2019

She’s Leaving Home

Filed under: dementia,hospice,Short Story,Vietnam — blackhumouristpress @ 1:46 am
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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.

February 18, 2011

Habeas Corpus Christi

Filed under: Uncategorized — blackhumouristpress @ 4:35 am
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“Son… and I call you son because you’ve always been a son to me despite the fact that your father is my son.”

Walter took a sip of ice tea as he looked across Ocean Drive into Corpus Christi Bay. Walter pushed chunks of chicken that were lodged in his teeth through by forcing air behind his tongue. He looked at his grandson, Walter III who was youthful, wiry, serious and obedient.

“Us being military sort of men, know that there is something that supersedes and protects evrah one of us in this land. They ain’t no mistaken the fact that gawd has chosen this country as the standard bearer of freedom for the world. As you will find out during your tour of duty on this planet, truth is painted and decorated and covered so as to keep hidden the actual truth. What is the truth is not exactly certain and we all have our version of what is true and so forth. We live in a time of deceit and lies. I don’t blame your father for wanting to escape from these things that plague us all but moving to Cambodia won’t work in the long run. When you have lots of money you cain be a quirky bastard. They refer to you as eccentric but when you ain’t got but a pot to piss in, they call you a po crazy bastard. Going from a Vietnam Veteran who wanders the street and drinks cheap fortified liquor to being a multi-millionaire and I mean getting over $100,000,000.00 all at once is more than the common man cain handle and now winning the super mega power ball or what-have-you, ain’t much different than stepping outcha house an being struck upon y’head by a Soviet era satellite. You following mah line of reasoning, son? Chances are remote but they’s always a chance.”

Walter III looked intently at his grandfather and marveled at the scenic route he always took at explaining a situation rather than a quicker and more direct path.

“Now yo father and I say yo father because in a biological sense he is the tree that bore fruit. Though you call me granddad it has been a well establish fact that I have been yo daddy since the beginning. Some folks ain’t made to have babies nor pets an yo father is clearly in both camps in that respect. Having said all this, after nearly forty years of being the caretaker of your father who has suffered the effects of alcoholism and defoliants, money is not going to solve the issue of marginal functionality to live, thrive and exist within the boundaries of our society. There has to be boundaries. There has got to be rules that have to be adhered to. It would be remiss of me to write off my son and if it were possible foh my seventy seven year bones to traverse land and sea to collect my boy, I would not be having this conversation with you. I put it upon your shoulders to convince your father that living on a plantation in the middle of the jungle is no way to live. There is too the matter of bills that your father has left me with as the saying goes: to hold the bag. I put it upon you to collect your father and bring him back even if it means with extreme prejudice.”

Somewhere along the Mekong River, Walter II bought enough land to make his own city. Walter or Junior as he was often called had finished a tour of duty in Vietnam volunteered to go back. It was during the second tour of duty, Junior was sent over the Vietnam border to flush out the Viet Cong or the Communists or bad guys in Cambodia. One never knows who is good and bad even when told. It was in Cambodia that Junior stood up to yawn and was shot through the cheek of his mouth. Five other soldiers around him were ambushed and died but Junior survived.

Junior came back from Vietnam a second time and never really assimilated back into society well. By most people’s standards, Junior was a bust-out, alcoholic that would walk the streets of Corpus Christi begging for enough change to buy booze. When things looked like they were spiraling out of control, Junior would come back to his parent’s home to “dry out” or “get on the wagon”. Junior’s parents would always help their son to get back on his feet. Junior would eat well and exercise to excess and before long he would be the picture of health. Junior would then go out and seek the companionship of young women. Very young women.

It could have been that young women made Junior feel young or it could also have been the allure of innocence of a blanker slate than most older adults that tend to have more baggage than younger ones. Then again it could have been that younger women were aesthetically more pleasing than older, saggy more lumpy, experienced and tainted females who understood the world more than the young and impressionable. With 100 million United States Dollars, Junior could live out the rest of his life as gaudy as possible and he did.

A twenty two room castle was built with a moat twenty feet deep equipped with Crocodiles and a private army to keep him well protected. On the compound was a harem of young Cambodian women that served Junior’s every want and need.

To occupy his time, Junior bought a television station and spoke about things that interested him. It was a mixture of Christianity and alcohol induced philosophy that would have been written off as drunken gibberish back before winning the super power ball. Junior began to feel that god had a plan for him. Living through two tours of duty, being shot, winning a lottery against almost incomprehensible odds had to mean something. Most of the people didn’t understand English but all of Junior’s rants were translated into Khmer and a white woman would do sign language in a small corner below Junior as he spoke.

“We’re all looking for that pop and that sizzle in life. That thing that keeps life full of zest and it all comes down to the fact that we are looking for harmonious balance of things that appeal to our vision. The vision we have in our heads and what we are seeing at the moment. The present becomes past immediately and we look to the future for the next immediate present, real time experience… And so it is that precision, that balance, that symmetry is what we look for. Babies know this without ever knowing anything. They stare into that aesthetically pleasing face because it is soothing. Religion is to art what history is to humanity. We take from that language and music and it is the crux of what becomes human knowledge.”

Translated into Khmer or sign, it was some strange babbling that really meant very little. It always appeared to be on the way to shedding light or leading to something and then the page turned. It could have been the effects of Agent Orange on Junior. Junior suffered from short term memory loss and poor concentration. When one has money, people are always interested in what they have to say, what they eat, where they live and who they’re fucking. Junior’s father caught replays of his son’s rantings and his cult like status and decided a monster must be stopped. People from around the world were beginning to build huts and pitch tents near the moat so that they could brush up against one who was deemed to be touched by god. Walter knew his son was just a lucky bastard. It became Walter’s grandson’s job to rein his father in.

Walter III got in country, hired a boat with a guide to help him up the Mekong River. While in a bar, Walter III ran into a British photographer who was hoping to get his own television show on CNN or even Fox where he would get to things of interest before others, Liam felt he was onto something with Junior.

“Your father! Do you believe thaat, mate. He’s your fucking father. And you’ve come to understand the greatness thaat exists in this man? God truly touches very few of us in this world. I mean, who would have the toime to fuss with us when you’re about the business of making everything just little bit bigger. Your father spoke to thaat not too not long ago. If everything is everything then how is it possible that it everything is expanding even further and when it reaches a certain point, will it just snap back like a fucking Tsunami? Go out and collect fish before the water comes roaring back? Eh?”

Walter III interrupted the man who gushed about a man he knew nothing about. Walter III adjusted his granny glasses and held up a hand so as to get a word in edge wise.

“Have you ever been to Corpus Christi?”

“No I aven’t”

“Okay…Never judge a man until you’ve walked in his shoes… Through the streets of Corpus Christi.”

Liam thought that was a tad profound like a chip off the old block and so he hitched a ride up the Mekong River with Walter III. Liam had been to the compound several times and knew that on Monday mornings, it was possible to hear Junior speak as if the Pope were saying mass at the Vatican. Strange creatures from far and near showed up to hear Junior speak of things that almost made sense and yet many felt that Junior was just too deep for the common man to understand him correctly. None of that was the case.

The boat crept up on a humid morning where the sun already hurt fair white skin. Hoards of people stood and sat on the hilly land that was separated by a wide and deep moat and a huge wrought iron fence that would have made Queen Elizabeth a bit jealous. As Junior descended from the castle with dozens of scantily dressed small, thin and young looking females that escorted him to the sound of Devo’s Corporate Anthem which blared from loud speakersNobody had any idea that it was nothing more than an instrumental by a New Wave Rock band from a state in America called Ohio. The song was a little over one minute in length and sounded a bit like a dissonant sounding, Here Comes the Bride. Junior had long hair that was greased back and a tan. He wore a loose fitting white linen suit and dark sunglasses. He looked like a cross between L. Ron Hubbard and Jim Jones. Behind them ten small Cambodian men carried a giant Catfish that was caught by Junior while fishing on the river. This fish was about eight feet long and weighed almost five hundred pounds. Junior wanted to have the fish sent to a taxidermist that he knew back in Texas and decided that the huge fish should live. Junior decided mounting a catfish on his wall that was the size of a Beluga, might be too gaudy and so he chose life.

Junior said a few words prior to leaving the gates of his compound and assisting his servants in freeing the fish back into the Mekong while a brigade of small Asian men stood by in fatigues, sunglasses and automatic weapons.

“Life as we know it is what we know to be in our existence. We are nothing more than organisms trying to reproduce and replicate our kind in harmony with one another. Within our ability to grasp the crux of what life is we strive to understand our purpose in this which we call life. To end the life of this magnificent creature would not be right in our conception of what god meant for us in breathing life into this creature.”

The giant fish was at that point fighting to breath and the shirtless small men stood stoically trying to contain a creature that weighed about as much as a small automobile. Junior cut his speech short and helped lead the enormous fish to the bank of the river. The fish bounced as if it were made of rubber and then pounced into the water and disappeared. The crowd roared in approval. Walter III moved quickly to reach his father. He called out as he ran towards him. Several shots rang out. Nobody was killed but people were hit in the hands and legs and Walter III point blank in the chest. Nobody was aware that Walter III wore a bullet proof vest under his clothing. Junior witnessed his unconscious son slowly coming back to life and dropped to his knees and clutched his own chest. It may have been the shock of seeing his son 13,000 miles away from Corpus Christi or that he was shot several times and lived but Junior dropped to his knees with his hands across his chest. Walter III sat up and was face to face with his father who was having a heart attack. Walter III held his father’s arm. Junior trembled and asked his son a vague question.

“Did you see it, my son? I’m glad you’re here to see it with your own eyes.”

Walter III wasn’t sure how to respond to the question and really didn’t want to ask his father to clarify what he was referring to as he was under cardiac arrest. Was he referring to the crowds, the under age army of beautiful Asian girls or the private soldiers of fortune? Was it the enormous fish or the moats full of Crocodiles or the fact that he returned to land he once fought in as a successful man? It wasn’t clear and yet nothing had ever been clear between junior and his son. Walter III answered the best he could.

“Yes dad… It’s a beautiful house. You certainly bought at the right time.”


December 21, 2009

The weight of Paradise

Filed under: Uncategorized — blackhumouristpress @ 8:14 am
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George sat in his apartment at the Paradise Inn with a view of the automotive repair shop that was across the alley from his room at Paradise. George’s room consisted of a desk with a television, a bed and a Gideon’s Bible on the night stand. The room came furnished and cost George $400.00 per month. If George were to go outside and stand in the drive way across from the Veteran’s hospital, he could see stars and planets at night or large letters like a heavenly beacon. The sign with fifteen foot letters reads; Miller Park. It was subliminal, George wanted and needed a beer and one beer would lead to another beer and so on.

“Organic solution guaranteed to help you lose weight. You don’t need drugs. With our books, you can learn how to control diabetes, erectile dysfunction. The FDA doesn’t want you to have this book, the drug companies don’t want you to hear the secret that lies within the pages of this treasure. Natural remedies for asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, stop smoking. This is the new updated version you must have. You can lose a pound a day with hundreds of thousands of people each twenty four hour period… Have your credit card ready. Operators are standing by…”
George took a large swig of his beer that had a woman in a dress holding a beer on the beer bottle itself. It’s the Highlife (registered trademark).
“For $19.95 follow these three techniques. Motivated for success to make hundreds of thousands per week. You cannot fail… Here’s how it works…”
George was born in 1947 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He grew up and served in Vietnam. While there as an eighteen year old boy, he became addicted to pills and alcohol. While in Vietnam, George was exposed to a chemical that changed his life forever.
Agent Orange was given its name from the color of the 55 US gallons (210 L) orange-striped barrels it was shipped in. It is a roughly 1:1 mixture of two phenoxyl herbicides in iso-octyl ester form, 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and 2,4,5 trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T).


Internal memos from the companies that manufactured it reveal that at the time Agent Orange was sold to the U.S. government for use in Vietnam it was known that it contained a dioxin, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzodioxin (TCDD), a by-product of the manufacture 2,4,5-T. The National Toxicology Program has classified TCDD to be a human carcinogen, frequently associated with soft-tissue sarcoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). In a study by the Institute of Medicine, a link has been found between dioxin exposure and diabetes
Three studies have suggested an increase in the risk of acute myelogenous leukemia in the children of Vietnam veterans, which might be associated with exposure to Agent Orange. A variety of other conditions have been suggested to be linked to exposure, but studies have failed to confirm a link with these diseases. Just 1 kilogram (2.2 lb) of TCDD was released in the Seveso disaster causing widespread effects on people and livestock.

George changed the channel while lying in bed. He twisted another cap to the top of a fresh new bottle of beer while holding a cigarette between his index and middle finger on his right hand.

“You are gaining weight due to stress. Your adrenal glands are causing you to gain weight even though you are doing all the right things. Our plan treats the cause and not the symptoms. Your job, the economy is making you fat. This is an all natural product that will help you lose weight through revitalization of your adrenal glands. Stress attacks your adrenal glands causing weight gain. Call now for your free sample.”

On any given day, a million thoughts run through George’s head while drinking beer and taking antidepressants. The idea of visiting Thailand, Arizona, North Carolina, taking martial arts, learning to use the computer, the chemicals in beef and milk and then the afterlife.

Another cigarette, another beer, urinate, rinse repeat …

“The tribulation, seven years in length divided up in two parts is due to the fact that there are two empires and one is swallowed up during the seven year period. There are ten nations that will exist with this empire. To form this new empire, you must unite regions by culture and religion. The EU has put nations together. The United States, Canada, Mexico and South America will be joining together as a global economic unit. The question remains; who are the ten kings of bible prophesy? King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream of an image that had two feet with ten toes… Are you following this? Two empires made up of ten nations at the time when the messiah comes back. Daniel chapter seven or Revelations chapter 13, you see the horns on the beast, there are always ten in number. There are ten Germanic tribes that overthrew the Roman Empire. Jesus was supposed to return at this time but Jesus did not return. I believe there is a possibility he is on his way now though. In 1954, the Plan of Rome that was devised by the Biderberg Group of Rome divided the world into ten global regions.
1. America, Canada, Mexico
2. South America
3. Australia and New Zealand
4. Western Europe
5. Eastern Europe
6. Japan
7. South Asia
8. Central Asia
9. North Africa and the Middle East
10. The remainder of Africa

The ten kings are the heads of these ten regions. Whether you like it or not, a new world order is coming…

It was all getting to heavy for George. The weight of gravity was getting to be too much for George.

The mass of an object is a fundamental property of the object; a numerical measure of its inertia; a fundamental measure of the amount of matter in the object. Definitions of mass often seem circular because it is such a fundamental quantity that it is hard to define in terms of something else. All mechanical quantities can be defined in terms of mass, length, and time. The usual symbol for mass is m and its SI unit is the kilogram. While the mass is normally considered to be an unchanging property of an object, at speeds approaching the speed of light one must consider the increase in the relativistic mass.
The weight of an object is the force of gravity on the object and may be defined as the mass times the acceleration of gravity, w = mg. Since the weight is a force, its SI unit is the Newton. Density is mass/volume.

George watched a nature show where the world spun like a big blue marble. It was hard for him to believe he lived on such a place that really is very insignificant in the larger scheme of things. A planet in a solar system and a solar system in a galaxy and a galaxy in a universe. George could go at any moment and the only one who would know is the woman who would have to clean his room.
The last bit of information scared the hell out of George before he closed his eyes and floated down stream to a happier place on earth; his own mind during sleep. In his sleep he felt himself flying out of control. Is it any wonder?

By the way, if Earth spun about 800 times faster, it would hurl us off the surface and into space.

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