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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

That Little Voice - A Story of Viet Nam {#BlogBattle}

Time again for #BlogBattle, the keyword-inspired flash-fiction contest hosted by the vivacious Rachael Ritchey.

The word this time is VOICE.

This is the second installment in a multi-part anecdote...part one was Hope Floats.

That Little Voice

As it turned out, no one cared whether we were wearing our A's or not. 

The Dude, Biff and I were waiting in the transit shed at Tan Son Nhut, slowly wilting. The C-130 we'd been booked on for what the departure clerk smirkingly called our 'hop' to Bangkok was being taken to bits on the ramp by a group of puzzled mechanics, and there was no beer.

Could life get worse?

Suddenly The Dude straightened up, then stood. "I don't believe it...Brother Cedric?"

The Marlboro Man, or his twin brother, had been walking past on the ramp, and he stopped at The Dude's call. Tall, and lean, he wore Levi's, cowboy boots, and a shirt that had once been plaid. There was a holstered .45 tucked under one arm, and a cigarette dangled from the fingers of his left hand. Mirrored sunglasses hid his eyes.

I wondered about smoking where there were airplanes filled with gas around, and decided not to ask.

The Marlboro Man removed his glasses, and squinted into the dim shed. "What...no, really?" His voice had a nasal new England inflection that didn't really go with the hat.

"It IS you!" The Dude ran out onto the ramp, and for a horrible moment I thought the two would embrace...but fortunately they stopped to shake hands and flail at each other's shoulders in an emotively manly greeting. "Guys, get out here!

The Dude was beaming. "This is Brother Cedric...he's a Jesuit, taught spiritual formation at the seminary." He introduced us as might a proud parent, with praise that neither Biff nor I deserved.

Brother Cedric shook our hands, and the Northeasterly twang softened. "I've heard about you guys. It's good to meet you."

He sounded like a monk, but sure didn't look like one. I looked at The Dude, and he asked the question for all of us.

"So...uh, what gives with the..." He waved his hands up and down in an almost helpless gesture. 

The monk grinned. "No I haven't left the order, but you remember, before I went in, I flew for Uncle Sam. Did an early tour over here, training the VNAF. The experience gave me religion."

He paused, expecting a laugh, which came. We'd heard of some of the VNAF's antics.

"Anyway, vocations started to tail off...and since the abbott didn't think I was suitable for parish work, he gave me the option of coming back out here, as a missionary."

He looked more like a mercenary to me, but I held my tongue.

"When I got here, there was someone waiting, with an offer I couldn't refuse. So now I'm flying for Air America, spreading the gospel along the way."

Biff, the innocent, asked, "What's Air America?"

The Dude answered for Brother Cedric. "It's the CIA airline."

"They can be persuasive," said the monk. "So what's with you guys? R&R?"

"Bangkok," said The Dude. "Someday." He pointed to the increasingly disemboweled C-130.

"Gosh," said brother Cedric, "that doesn't look too good. You want a lift?" He pointed down the ramp to an unpainted and unmarked C123. "I was heading upcountry, to NKP, but I can drop you and Don Muang, no sweat."

The Dude, Biff and I exchanged glances that spoke of this bit of divine intervention, and headed for our ride.

Brother Cedric's copilot was a small dark man with a ready smile and no words. He was introduced as Sam, and we were introduced to him in a sibilant blend of vowels of which he understood not a word,not even our own names repeated.

"Sam's Laotian," said Brother Cedric.

"Is Sam his real name?" asked Biff, still testing the bounds of naivete.

Sam startled us all by saying, "My real name..."

Brother Cedric was right. It was unpronounceable.

The 123 was smaller than the 130, and had a cozy feeling. Brother Cedric and Sam stepped up a small ladder to the cockpit, and then the monk motioned for The Dude to follow them.

The cargo hold had the usual wildly uncomfortable tube-slung nylon seat, a kind of hammock for one's butt. Since we were the only passengers, we gave ourselves plenty of room.

"Do you think we can go the the Floating Market? Pattaya Beach?" Biff had been loaned a Fodor's Guide, and I figured we were doomed to every tourist trap in the area.

"Sure," I said. "You can send home all the monkeypod you can afford, and we'll keep you sober at Pattaya."

The Dude came back from the cockpit, smiling enigmatically. "What do you guys think about a change in plans?"

Biff, anguish touching his tones, said, "But I want to see Bangkok!"

"You'll have way more fun. Trust me."

The two most dangerous words in the English language, said my Little Voice.

But at least we wouldn't have to babysit a drunken Biff.

If you can, please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links (they're 99 cents each). And if you'd like a free PDF, please email me at tempusfugit02 (at) gmail (dot) com, and I'll gladly send them






Your Dying Spouse 150 - Death Song {FMF}

We're linked with Messy Marriage's Wedded Wednesday - please visit for some really great marriage resources.

My newest novel, Emerald Isle, is now available on Kindle. Please click on the cover if you'd like to have a look.




Not really up to writing, but I thought y'all might enjoy this - from Chief Tecumseh

So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.

Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none.
When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.
When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.


If you can, please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links (they're 99 cents each). And if you'd like a free PDF, please email me at tempusfugit02 (at) gmail (dot) com, and I'll gladly send them






Sunday, May 1, 2016

Your Dying Spouse 148 - A Book Arriveth; A Lesson Learned

I'm guest-posting over at Anita Ojeda's "Blessed But Stressed" today, on what the church can do for dudes with PTSD. Please step over and visit!

Thanks to the hard work a dear friend I've never met, Carol Ashby, let me introduce...drum roll, please...


Yes, Emerald Isle made it out of the shadows. It's about love and hope and death and second chances.

I's about life. Please click on the cover to go to Amazon and learn a bit more.

But mainly, for me, it's about people who will pick you up when you can't walk another step, and carry you over the finish line.

I was out of strength, and, to tell the truth, out of hope.

And I did the most important thing I could have done, even though I didn't know I was doing it. I asked for help.

In participating in the blog run by the agents of the Books and Such literary agency (of which I am not a client...I don't have an agent), I mentioned that I had some work that probably, due to my physical situation, would not see the light of day.

It wasn't a cry for help or reassurance; I don't do that easily. And while there may have been some self-pity involved (some?), I don't think that was the motivator. I've seen things that are way more deserving of pity than me.

It was, as close as I can say now, with hindsight, a warning...don't  wait too long. Some day tomorrow won't come.

At any rate, the Books and Such blog community leapt to my aid, with encouragement, and in Carol's case, with editing expertise.

I cannot tell y'all how humbled I am.

Emerald Isle meant a lot to me when I wrote it; it still does. But even more, the lesson I have learned here has changed my life, even this close to its ending.

I learned that when God opens the doors of Heaven's treasurehouses, what rains down is love. We have only to accept it.

If you can, please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links (they're 99 cents each). And if you'd like a free PDF, please email me at tempusfugit02 (at) gmail (dot) com, and I'll gladly send them






Thursday, April 28, 2016

Your DYing Spouse 148 Not Passing Easily {FMF}

Time for Five Minute Friday, the weekly keyword driven writing challenge hosted by Kate Motaung.

This week's word is PASS.

I have to confess that Kate gave me the word early. Stopped breathing for bit on Sunday (click here if you're interested), got canine CPR, but still am shaky and slow. Words are hard come by.

For all the difficulty, I don't want to pass from this life. I don't want to die.

Yes, it hurts, yes, I'm exhausted, and yes, I dread what tomorrow may bring.

But it is worse to look at the routines I have, the imprints of myself in this place...and to see them soon to disappear.

I hate that.

I hate thinking of the dogs who won't hear my voice and whose just-for-me gestures will be seen no more, the tools that will gather dust, the projects I began and couldn't finish developing a patina of rust, and then being put out into the weather to return to their elements.

Death comes to all; every story ends.

But I don't want mine to, not just yet. There has to be some coda yet to hear, and I will fight hard to stick around for it.

Update - "Emerald Isle" just went live on Kindle.

If you can, please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links (they're 99 cents each). And if you'd like a free PDF, please email me at tempusfugit02 (at) gmail (dot) com, and I'll gladly send them






Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Your Dying Spouse 147 - Remarriage

Short post, and I apologise. I'm fading.

I've talked about this before...remarriage for a widow or widower.

I hope you'll indulge me for a revisit to the subject.

The thought of my wife remarrying, and forming a life beyond that which we have shared is, to a real degree, heartbreaking.

I want our routines to be cherished in memory. I want to be something more than a picture in a photo album that's seldom opened.

I want the paths that we walked to be sacrosanct.

I want to be selfish.

Wanting that is natural...but it''s wrong. It reduces my wife to, at best, the curator of a memory, and at worst, and object that was ultimately merely an appendage to my life.

A cruel fate for anyone, and particularly cruel to wish it on the person I love most in all the world.

I have to be better than this.

The memories have to be entrusted to the Almighty. My wife has to have the chains of post-mortem possessiveness cut away.

I must want her to laugh, and to love.

I am constrained by decency to want her to feel free to remarry.

It's not easy.

It's just the right thing to do.

If you can, please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links (they're 99 cents each). And if you'd like a free PDF, please email me at tempusfugit02 (at) gmail (dot) com, and I'll gladly send them






Sunday, April 24, 2016

Your Dying Spouse 146 - Another Near-Death Thing

Short post again. Sorry.

Stopped breathing last night, and Ladron the Heeler brought me back.


She jumped up and down on my chest, barking furiously.

I felt myself being draw up, as if caught in a tornado, unable to breathe, and I could see my body, and them my house, receding beyond mortal reach.

Almost.

"Dad, NO!" You can't go!"

And I came back.

The experience was scary. I knew I was not breathing,and that I couldn't. But my buddy canceled my Apocalypse.

Coming back hurt, physically. I'm pretty shaky, but felt this should be documented.

And it's been emotionally rough. I hate to admit this, but I've had crying jags all day. I don't know why.

Glad to still be here. It's a nice day in New Mexico.

It's spring.


If you can, please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links (they're 99 cents each). And if you'd like a free PDF, please email me at tempusfugit02 (at) gmail (dot) com, and I'll gladly send them






Thursday, April 21, 2016

Your Dying Spouse 145 - Untied Soul {FMF}

Time for another Five Minute Friday, the weekly keyword-themed writing challenge hosted by Kate Motaung.

The word this week is...actually, I have no idea what it will be, because it's Tuesday, and I am hoping to have something even remotely ready to post on Friday. (And see below for an update on when this thing was finalized.)

(OK, Thursday night, and the word is UNTIE.)

Lost a lot of ground in the past few days. If you left a comment last time and did not see a timely reply...that's why.

I'm sorry.

Anyway, here goes. (And before we do, the original version had a lot of really bad language. I excised that.)

This post was supposed to be elegiac. Something peaceful, yet moving. That's what was written over Tuesday and Wednesday. Maybe I should have left it, but today a news item came over the Internet, and the red mist came down.

And my soul was untied all over again.

And I should lead off with a disclaimer. I have nothing to do with the VA. I worked as a contractor. A mercenary. Big boys' rules. I've stood knee-deep in a mass grave; and hell itself caught up with those responsible. That was a good day.

I occasionally follow Fox News, and a story they posted has me enraged at the idiots who claim to 'understand' how do deal with PTSD.

The academics are saying that the use of service dogs, trained to scan a room and 'block', and provide a veteran with support, may actually be reinforcing PTSD, and not providing 'healing'.

A quote -

"Critics of the study object most strongly to the tasks the VA is requiring of the dogs — sweeping the perimeter of a room before a veteran enters, for example, or protecting the veteran by "blocking."
"Isn't that saying that al-Qaida could be behind the shower curtain? That's supporting paranoid, pathological thinking," said Meg Daley Olmert, author of a book on how contact with a dog can create a sense of well-being."

Paranoid? When were you in your last gunfight, Meg? When did you have to last clear a room not knowing if a true-life demon was about to pop out of a closet...and kill you?

You throw around words like 'paranoid' and 'pathological', you better have walked where the real people walked. Otherwise you're irrelevant.

And yes, Al-Qaida does hide behind shower curtains. They also hide behind crowds of kids. They're called 'human shields'.

Ever seen kids die? Sorry, not die. That's too nice.

Have you ever seen kids been killed by people who were making a political point?

No?

Any other questions? Great. Go back to your latte.

A bit more -

Four years in, that research has been plagued by problems. Only about 50 dogs have been placed with veterans, and critics question whether the protocol itself is flawed — with the dogs being trained to do things that could reinforce fears. Others worry the animals could become a substitute for the hard work that comes with therapy.
"You will have the veterans go to more places with the dogs and do more things than they would otherwise do. But they are reliant on the dog, not on their knowledge of ... whether really they are afraid of a ghost," said Dr. Edna Foa, director of the Center for Treatment and Study of Anxiety at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.
I love this. I mean., absolutely LOVE it.

"...a substitute for the hard work that comes with therapy..."

I guess that seeing your friends, people to whom you would literally trust your life, blown into lumps of muscle and intestine by an IED or mortar makes you lazy. Gotta work harder at the therapy to overcome that, lazy-bones!

And, ohhh, Dr. Edna...I'm afraid of ghosts!

I guess the situational awareness I developed, at a cost, is useless in our lovely peaceful Kum-Ba-Yah country. We're all pals here, so I suppose that when I feel a threat...I'm just afraid of the bogeyman.

Thanks. Doc, for trivializing my life. I guess I don't qualify for entry into the hallowed halls of academia after all. Guess I'm just the man on the margins, who doesn't really understand the real meaning of The Modern World.

You went to the mall, Doc. I went to Hell.

Let's get real. There are very few people alive who can understand where I have been, and what I've seen., because almost no one else has been there. You can see Saving Private Ryan all you want. It doesn't make you a veteran of Omaha Beach.

I have the mass grave dream every night, and I can still smell it.

Therapy will not make this go away. A group hug will not soften the ache, and not even the fragrance of Jesus - and I am a devout Christian - will overcome the smell. Not in this life.

My service dogs, Ladron and Sylvia, are my lifeline. The are the reason I did not eat a bullet a long time ago.

They get it.

They understand that my scars are what I am; and that the anger inside is my wellspring of life.

THEY KEEP MY WORLD SAFE.

They bind back up what has been untied, to hold it together.

You don't 'recover' from those memories. You don't transition back into the world of The Voice and Empire and Joel Osteen. and "Let's eat out tonight!" You just don't.

What you do, with combat trauma, is to live a world that keeps the faith. You live a world that recognizes that the bell is going to ring again.

And you're going to go back out, somehow, because that is what you do.

PEOPLE SLEEP PEACEFULLY IN THEIR BEDS AT NIGHT ONLY BECAUSE ROUGH MEN STAND READY TO DO VIOLENCE ON THEIR BEHALF.

George Orwell said that, a long time ago.

I will kill for you, and I will die for you. I can barely move, but I can still pull a trigger, and still have a Bowie knife. Detcord and claymores are my friends.

All I ask is that you respect the cost to me.

I don't do this for fun, and the money was nothing.

I do this for you.

Because I love you all, more than my own life.

In the end, dear readers, the only this is the only thing that makes living worthwhile.

I give a damn, and still have something that's worth dying for.

So, some music...Buffalo Springfield has been on my mind...for what it's worth.




f you can, please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links (they're 99 cents each). And if you'd like a free PDF, please email me at tempusfugit02 (at) gmail (dot) com, and I'll gladly send them