By the time I had lugged this machine up the hill from the ferry terminal, I was dripping sweat from my brow and my shirt was thoroughly drenched. I could not get connected to the web in my apartment by piggybacking because the signal was too weak, and Richard Merrill was my login name and P.J. the terrier was looking up from my desktop, but I didn’t care. It is not every day that I am handed a laptop with no strings attached, but it is surely a pity that this coveted prize became mine as the result of another man’s slow and painful death. With this unassuming machine I might bring glory to an honorable man’s memory. On the flip side, the possibility exists that I could potentially bring ruin upon myself, an individual whose only accomplishment is the completeness of his failures. Only time will tell.
When we met at the gazebo on the waterfront in faux Scandinavian Poulsbo, it was more for the benefit of the living who had gathered, than for the benefit a dead patriot who could never serve his country again. The allegiance to his country that he had sworn in earlier days had been betrayed and now his remains were merely ashes, to be spread about at the discretion of the living. Though it is said that a memorial serves to celebrate a life gone by, the mood at such affairs is seldom celebratory and people generally do not cry when they are at a party.
The fact of the matter is that our country had sold him out, and now we had gathered in his memory surrounded by balloons and flowers. Asbestos exposure is what gave the man the cancer that took his life and now we were left behind to write our memories of and tributes to the dead man, on little scraps of paper that we would release skyward tied to the balloons that surrounded us. On one of the slips I wrote that; In Heaven It’s Tacos 24/7! Actually, I just thought about writing that, but it would have been much cooler if I really had.
Everyone sitting on those rented, steel, folding chairs could see the smiling pictures of Rich that had been taken in earlier days when he was still alive. On the table before us was a flag that had been folded, neatly and officially, into a triangle and placed inside a glass paned, wooden display case. As I sat there that day I looked around at the wife and children and grandchildren and friends and family members that had survived the man, and I thought that this was not a fair trade. Here was a bunch of people who had given up something irreplaceably valuable and unique, and in return all that they got was a stupid flag, and a worthless atta boy from the country that had exposed their loved one to the mortal danger that would eventually claim his life.
As far as I am concerned, this American empire cannot collapse soon enough. Where others pray for God to bless America, my prayer is that God fucks America hard and without any lubrication. It was almost twenty years ago I had my first taste of the systemic callousness this nation has toward those who have voluntarily chosen to serve in the military. These days a young person who is sent into harms way can easily return a mere shell of their former self as the result of traumatic brain injury or otherwise, and there is no assurance that they will receive the treatment that they require. There is no foolishness is loving your country of origin, but Americans would do well to avoid serving in their military because those idiots will kill you with their carelessness. Enough said. Peace.