A SPRING THOUGHT

by Rena Winters

One morning I awakened at dawn and realized that a door had closed in my life. I know
that each of you have had a door close in your life at some time. I lingered by that closed door,
then, as in previous losses, I walked alone.
The wet grass beneath my feet healed my body, the trees overhead fed my spirit, and I
kept hearing, or thought I heard, live it now, you cannot live tomorrow unless you live today,
this moment, then I became aware of the great process of time, we hold nothing. All things go. I
became a part of that great stream of time when the ancient life forms started. I could see
those life forms as though in progression, vivid as a chart on a museum wall. Yet the ancient
hieroglyphics speak only of today, an unbelievable optimism overflowed me. The life force
moves. It continues to grow and change. It re-creates from decaying hearts new grasses –
perhaps in a different form, and there is an expanding consciousness to perceive the wonder of
this movement of life, suddenly I knew my part in this, it was not to war with progress, not to
spend my force grieving because the buffalo are gone and the whale may be leaving, not
grasping for some utopian future, but from my thought and feeling, first in mind and heart and
then in words tell what it is, just what it is, this day.
So this wonderful spring day I saw a blossom in a tree, it bloomed high above the
branches bursting forth with brilliant color. I saw the arched head of a deer, the gentle grace of
a doe in movement; I saw a cottontail, standing as a statue. For a while I walked in the tracks of
a raccoon. I sat on a moss-covered stump and wondered what myth am I living? Promptly the
answer came, it is the miracle of God at work and the words came rushing in my head clearly,
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want, he maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he
leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of
righteousness for his name’s sake, yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of
death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me, thou
preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou annointest my head with
oil; my cup runneth over, surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and
I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
I departed the woods and went to the beach, through cracks in the pier, I two swallows
with golden lined beaks closed in their carefully feathered nest. They sleep the deep sleep of
infant’s sleep, their elders sat on the dock rail, chatting together before starting the day of
feeding their young. I heard the call of a heron and the splash of the dive of a gull. I listened to
all the birds and the wonderful sounds of the ocean.
On this day I walked in the good earth, the dirt and the sand. I smelled the clean fresh
air of the mountains and the cool salt air of the sea. I saw a blossom high in a tree and it healed
me. I heard myself saying “let the past go, let the future be, it is enough to feel, and see, and be
in this instant in time.”
I understand that the door was not really closed, all the life and love I had known
walked with me beneath the trees, life flows in an endless stream, being a part of life, we flow
with it.
Spring has many faces, like a beautiful woman whose features fragment in the ripples of a
stream; there are two faces of spring that I hold very dear although they are at opposite sides
of nature’s spectrum.
Have you ever spent a springtime afternoon in San Francisco … that Bagdad by the bay,
you will see lovely girls in bright spring dresses … handsome, tanned men, and the orange paint
of that famous bridge silhouetted against the sky and on the hills the skyscrapers, towers and
cathedrals, awe inspiring canyons of steel that give testimony to man’s great creative genius?
All of this is just the window dressing for God’s wonder that is spring. The winds of
March drive frothy white caps across the bay and in the bright blue sky the soft white clouds
skid and speed over the heavens to the final rendezvous with the golden sunset. Another face
of spring can be seen in the hill country. You know spring comes in many ways to many places
but she must love the mountains the best because it is here the first buds appear on the trees
while the winter snow still clings to the ground below. It is here a riot of wildflowers first comes
to bloom and the roaring river seems to sing an anthem to the coming of spring…. the rebirth of
the land. This is the prelude to the lush dark green of summer, the age-old promise given at the
beginning of time, God’s spring, blossoms, soft breezes, and butterflies, the all-enveloping
peace and serenity this is springtime in the mountain.
Springtime is a wonderful time to renew and rejuvenate our lives and our thinking. Just
as all of nature’s creations began life in the springtime. It’s time to begin life anew, to stretch
and broaden and widen our horizons and our thinking. To burst forth with flowers of love to all
those around us, to everyone and everything we touch.

Sticking Up for Someone

by Marcia Gewelber

I was borne a feminist. In my own home I experienced many
inequities. My father always spoke of and encouraged equal rights for men
and women. Since he died when I was 10, I alone carried the Flag of
Equality.
My mother, for example, always believed my brother was more equal
than I. It reminded me of the book, Animal Farm, in which the “Pigs were
more equal” than any other animals. It was she I had to fight to go to
college. Since my brother was 7 years older than I, I watched as he went to
college, joined a fraternity, while my mother bought him a used car so he
didn’t have to travel by subway.
She had already told me when it came to my turn to enter college; she
would not give me a “red cent” to quote her. In the year 1959 she told me,
“It’s not necessary for girls to attend college. You can work as a secretary,
like other girls your age.”
Well, for those of you who know me, I applied for scholarships and won
one which paid for school as well as my books. At that time, I majored in
Business. To turn a phrase, I “burned my bra” well before Betty Friedan
made it a cry to rally women.
After I graduated valedictorian, I took many types of jobs until I could
save enough money to go back to college and major in Writing. It was at
that point that I was hired by a Psychiatric Group of doctors to transcribe
tapes of cases of child abuse that would be entered into court records.
At that time, the group had just hired their first female Psychiatrist. I’ll
call her Dr. Smith. I had a chance to talk with her on breaks, getting to
know her background and the woman herself. She was a strong woman,
extremely bright, especially being the first female Psychiatrist among men in
the same field at medical school. I learned she felt she had to be better just
to survive. And survive she did.
I worked in that office where the male Psychiatrists would talk to each
other in front of me as if I didn’t exist. That’s when I learned that Dr. Smith
was hired at half their salaries without the “golden” lists of benefits that the
men had in their contracts. They would talk down about her, putting her in a
position of second-class citizen in their eyes—only because she was a
woman.
I kept notes of what they said, knowing instinctively they were
breaking the law, my law. At last I felt I had enough ammunition to speak
with Dr. Smith. It happened I was able to get her alone in the cubicle in
which I worked.
I began by telling her how much I admired her, and how I felt about
female equality. And, I pulled out my notes and began to list all the gossip I
overheard, beginning with the salary difference. She became agitated
immediately. That’s when I explained that I did not want her to use my
name; that I needed this job in order to return to college.
After about 15 minutes, she promised me she would not use my name
and thanked me profusely for informing her about all the discrepancies
included in her contact. She hugged me and said she would confront them
herself.
What I did not know was after our talk she hired an attorney, and was
going to sue the Group. I never saw her again.
Shortly after that, I was fired for a cause they manufactured. I felt hurt
and betrayed. After all, she had promised to keep my name out of it.
I quickly found another job and earned enough to go back to college.
My hurt feelings disappeared because I had a new direction in life, and I
knew I would finally be working as a writer. I graduated as “Writer of the
Year” and have enjoyed my career from then to now.
Today, I look back and see that I wasn’t a snitch, I was a hero in the
sense that Dr. Smith was now on equal footing no matter where she landed,
and I helped getting her foot up, so to speak. I realize how much courage it
took for me to let her know about the disparities she was facing.
And, today, I still wear no bra, knowing I am a true-life feminist!

The Courier by Dorothy Macchio critiqued

Roger Storkamp’s comments of The Courier by Dorothy Macchio

The Courier is an ambitious project threading a family trust of international curriers through four and a half centuries of European intrigue and weaving a network of cousins struggling to continue the tradition thrust upon them. Bernice Wheeler San Giacomo, a mirror image of the family trust she represents, is being shuffled into retirement after a final assignment. Irony, a common theme of youth rejuvenating an enterprise, in this case, elder women replacing elder-elder women. The solution, as in most family corporations, Patriarch or matriarch forced to join the board of directors.

Origin of the family trust, introduced in the prologue, develops as cousins piece together parts of family lore, filling in gaps either designed or a natural result of any clandestine operation. Setting (time and place) is skillfully recreated for the reader. History reads like a Wikipedia search and sitting rooms, bedrooms, and libraries are described with vivid detail to enhance the environment in which characters interact.

The flaw, if any, is with Dorothy’s portrayal of characters. How they look and what they do and think are artfully described, but similar to her description of setting. Places and things rely totally on the author’s skill with language; characters need to interact independent of the author creating them. Dorothy’s dialogue is realistic, however, points of view flips from one character to another, never giving depth to any of them.

Conversation Between Two Women

by Mort Harris

Joan: A man was following me on the way to your house just now.
Lisa: Are you sure you were being followed?
Joan: Well, I didn’t stop to ask! He certainly frightened me.
Lisa: That’s funny; it’s usually the other way around.
Joan: Think we should call the Police?
Lisa: Don’t bother; by the time the Police get here they will be tearing the neighborhood down for urban renewal.
Joan: He could have been a rapist or a child molester, or something.
Lisa: I’d cross out child molester. You should be flattered someone might have found you interesting!
Joan: Maybe I haven’t lost it yet!
Lisa: Dearie, not only have you lost it, you should send out a reward for it. The years haven’t been too kind to you.
Joan: You should talk! I see you’ve been through some nasty years yourself.
Lisa: Now that we’re through complimenting each other, what is the great news you have for me?
Joan: Well, you know Betty Furman.
Lisa: The one with the big bust and small brain?
Joan: That’s the one.
Lisa: She’d give anyone the shirt off her back.
Joan: Yes, she usually did. She’s getting married.
Lisa: How did that happen?
Joan: She tripped over this guy’s walker and it was love at first sight. Well, her first sight anyway. He has cataracts.
Lisa: How old is he?
Joan: Close to 90.
Lisa: What can she see in him?
Joan: She wants to comfort him in his golden years.
Lisa: How much gold are we talking about?
Joan: He’s rich.
Lisa: I wish I was so lucky.
Joan: You can start by hanging around the Geriatric Ward. You know you can’t be too particular these days. Men don’t grow on trees.
Lisa: I’ve had some dates that look like they dropped out of trees. Speaking of apes, how is your boyfriend, Bill?
Joan: Oh, I hate him! I invited him up for a home cooked dinner and he said “I’m not suicidal yet.”
Lisa: That’s because the last time you cooked for him you burnt everything. He went around telling everybody you used the smoke alarm for a timer.
Joan: Well, he doesn’t have to be suicidal, I’ll just kill him.
Lisa: He has a sort of mean streak.
Joan: If he didn’t have a mean streak, he’d have no personality at all. You look exhausted.
Lisa: I’ve been cleaning all morning, dusting, washing the floors, scrubbing the bathroom.
Joan: I thought the Cleaning Lady was coming today?
Lisa: Yes, she is, but you don’t want her to think I’m a slob, do you?
Joan: How are things going with Larry?
Lisa: My boyfriend, great!
Joan: What does he do?
Lisa: He’s a Traffic Manager for a construction company. He stands in the street holding a red flag and tells the traffic to ‘STOP’ or to “GO.”
Joan: Is it serious?
Lisa: Yes, it is.
Joan: Do you think he’ll be popping the question?
Lisa: I’m sure he will. He’s been hinting a lot.
Joan: When, when?
Lisa: As soon as he gets his divorce.
Joan: Have you talked to Lilly lately?
Lisa: Yes, we were on the phone this morning. She’s very upset about her job.
Joan: Is her Cook patting her on the rear end again?
Lisa: That’s the problem, since they hired a new waitress, he hasn’t looked at her.
Joan: You know the food is terrible there.
Lisa: I know, Lilly told me the food is so bad she spotted a roach retching in the corner. Even the cook brings his own lunch.
Joan: I once found a mouse under my table there.
Lisa: Did you say anything?
Joan: I don’t talk to mice.
Lisa: Have you tried that new place, “The Dilly Deli?”
Joan: Yes, the food isn’t bad but the service takes forever. I was there over an hour and the waitress said “what’s your hurry”“I said “I’d like you to take my order before the prices go up.” The service is so slow I wouldn’t recommend it to a senior citizen.

I Had to Laugh My Ass Off

My life had been reduced to a simple awareness that I still exist, or the unlikely reversal, an existence developed out of nothing. A sequence of impulses had been the only proof I am alive. They became a comfort as sensations either return or the alternative, were entirely new.

Experiencing physical pressure, the first of these sensations. The impulses became an annoying thump-thump-thumping, probably necessary for my continued existence. As I became more aware of my physical self, a pulsating echo developed within what I have since claimed, or reclaimed, as my body.

In my conscious moments, I use these out-of-sync markers by which to measure the passing of time. Occasionally they form pleasurable harmonics that lull me to sleep. Sharp vibrations will startle me back to consciousness and quicken the pace of my internal thumping.

Through movement, I maintain a slight degree of control over the echo, but the external machinery beats at its own unpredictable pace. Movement has also allowed me to sense pressure points around my body, some I can anticipate by way of concentration, and others only through random banging and bumping when moving or being moved.

However, movement is the force of my immediate concern. The pressure exceeds that of a gentle nudge of push from an outside force, and it far exceeds any of my feeble efforts to explore various portions of my body. I am being moved and squeezed, and the effects are unpleasant.

I cloak my apprehension in a veil of memory, stretching its limits to my first awareness of the rhythmic thudding that gradually inched into my existence. Out of nowhere? What was I before that moment, or was that the moment of my creation? Had I been denied a previous life, or—I revel in the thought—a preparation for some new adventure.

I stretch and touch and tumble in protest to the falling sensation, creating a renewed force on my mid section. I withhold my touch, yet the sensation of being pushed and shoved reaches areas of my body as of yet unexplored. Nearly unbearable pressure as if the space I’d come to believe as mine forever, became restricted beyond the area my physical being required.

And then released until I felt my parts would fly apart. Most disconcerting, the thuds by which I measured time had stopped beating, while the inner ones raced almost uncontrollably. A sensation of rapid movement as if my universe had come undone and a severe and sudden pressure in the lower extremity of my body that I had yet accept as a part of me.

Amidst the myriad of totally unpleasant sensations, two overwhelm my entire being, the first envelopes with freedom of movement and the other concentrates on a point I’d previously explored but never felt anything out of the ordinary, a percussion at my extremity. Nothing physical to that point could compare to the impact against the area of my body I could only assume was mine.

My inside pushed out my opposite end. I pulled it back and my expanded inner space filled with nothing. I reveled in my new found control. I blasted the nothingness back out and creating harsh vibrations void of pleasant harmonics but full of power and majesty.

I smile. I giggle. I laugh my ass off.

A voice introduces me to my new world. “Now that’s strange. Newborns are supposed to cry when I slap their butts.

Twist on an Old Story

Twist on an Old Story

On my way through the forest, I encountered a young wolf.
“Where are you going?”
“To grandma’s ginger bread house.”
“Little Red Ridinghood’s grandma?”
“An old story. After they got rescued and my father got axed, the shoe lady with a herd of kids moved in.”
“She’ not a Grandma.”
“Will be many times over. Just didn’t bother to change the sign at the gate.”
“Ginger bread?”
“I just threw that in ’caus I’m hungry. Besides, with all them kids one or the other is likely named Hansel or Gretle.”
“And your business with Shoe Lady?”
“I make an annual visit in honor of my father’s untimely death. One of these years I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow their house down. It’s just a pig sty anyhow.”
“And send the family back to the Shoe?”
“No room. A woman with three unmarried daughters took possession. Raised pumpkins to make the payments. She removed the second floor and turned the toe into a solarium like an all-glass slipper. Forced her daughters to undress in the basement, especially the pretty one.”
“That’s sad.”
“Not really. A king known for the size of his balls presented one to the public hoping a proper lady would arrive for his son, Prince Uncharming, to marry.”
“I believe the prince was charming.”
“Why would he need one of his father’s balls to attract a wife?”
“Good point. Then he could use his own balls.” I chuckled. “Restore the Old Woman’s shoe to full size for his wife and family.”
“Not quite. He had only one daughter. A beauty with long blond hair. Kept her from public scrutiny. But word got out; daughter of a wealthy king—”
“Wealthy?”
“Yes. Seems everything he touched turned to gold. Even ordered a golden set of clothes.”
“How did that turn out?”
“He got conned. Shammed. Ponzzied. Lost his shirt—and pants—on the deal. Laughing stock of the peasants. And to top it all, his daughter, with the help of an aide, made an attempted escape. Lost her hair in the process, but still much too beautiful to suit her father. He commissioned a hag to turn her into a frog to deter suitors.”
“Wait a minute. Wasn’t the frog a prince, not a princess?”
“A princess is merely a prince without—”
“Please, let’s not go there.”
The wolf howled. “Balls, cried the queen. If I had two, I’d be king.” Saliva dripping off fangs. “See you around. I can already taste the gingerbread.”
“Talk about a Grimm ending.”

Pvt. Richard Lee Leslie Musters out of Army: Three excerpts follow.

Pvt. Richard Lee Leslie musters out of the army after WWII

Taken from Richard’s memoir posted on this site by that name.
(Author’s note: After Surviving 18 months in an active combat zone in the Philippines, Pvt. Richard Leslie and six buddies walked into a booby-trapped bunker. His buddies were killed and Richard returned to the US under sedation aboard a hospital ship.)

Just when I began to feel healthy and eager to return to duty, I was summoned to the paymaster’s office where a sergeant who considered himself an officer sat behind a desk.
“Private Leslie.” He glanced up at me and immediately broke eye contact. Shuffling some papers, he said, “When were you last paid?” More paper shuffling. “I see you took a cash advance back a Camp Hon.”
“I can’t remember. Some time back in Negros Island, I guess.”
“Looks like you got three month’s pay coming.” He pinched his pencil tight and pressed it so hard to the note pad I was sure the lead would break. “Of course, none of that would be combat pay because the war had ended.”
“Like hell, I’m still in combat.”
“You aren’t even in a combat zone, if one still existed.”
“I was injured and brought to this hospital as a war casualty.”
He looked up and peered at me from over his nose. “You appear to be recovered from your injuries.” His attention back to his papers. “But that’s beside the point. It’s my duty to bring your pay status up to date.” He mumbled as he scribbled some numbers on the pad, “Three month’s regular Private’s pay.”
“Hey, I get jump pay. I’m a paratrooper.”
“According to your record, you’ve done only one practice jump since Corregidor.”
“Are you suggesting Corregidor was nothing more than a practice jump?”
“They’re all the same to me. I have to exclude your jump pay any month a jump wasn’t made.”
“That rule is overlooked during combat when practice jumps aren’t possible.”
“I can grant you that, but combat ended three months ago. The Japanese surrendered if you recall.”
Sarcastic remarks are tolerable from officers who need to assert their authority, but I was not about to allow a sergeant to get by with it.
“I want to see an officer.”
“My rank is the best you’re going to get, Private.”
“I have a right to get higher authority, Sergeant.”
“Watch that attitude, Soldier, or I will have to write you up. Then you’ll get your officer at your court martial.”
“In combat I’ve taken over squads where our sergeant in charge got shot.”
“Are you threatening me?”
My mind flashed back to a drill sergeant during training that I threatened and he backed down. However, this was different and I had to walk a fine line. “I refuse to sign any pay voucher that doesn’t include combat and jump pay.”
“We’ll see about that.”
He got up and left the room with me still standing in front of a vacant desk. Soon he returned with a lieutenant. He returned my salute, and he told me to sit down while he did some calculating. Something did not smell right.
“I see you haven’t jumped since the war ended.”
“No, Sir, I haven’t had the chance. But I am ready to jump right now if you will get me to an airport.”
“I don’t think you are in any condition to jump.”
He was right but I began a protest. “With all due respect, Sir…”
“No need for that. We can overlook that little detail.” He glanced at the sergeant and said, “I think $3000.00 would round off quite nicely.”
The sergeant nodded his approval and even started to grin. Something was up.
“Three month’s combat pay with jump pay added to mustering out pay. Three thousand dollars sounds pretty good, don’t you think?”
“Sir, I’m not mustering out.”
“Those are the orders. When we are finished with this transaction, you are a free citizen again.”
“Sir, under military code, I am making a charge against you.”
“Hold on soldier. You are not a civilian just yet. You will respect the uniform.”
“I am respecting the uniform. The charge I am making under combat rules is against you as a person. I am still in combat as the pay voucher you just signed proves.” I felt I had him at his own game.
“I cannot accept such a charge from a lowly private.”
“Are you hiding behind your rank or just afraid to face a combat veteran in a fist fight?”
“That wouldn’t be a fair fight. Wait right here. I will be right back.” He glanced at the sergeant now forcing a grin off his face. “Be prepared to include all the details of this conversation in your report.”
When a Lieutenant Colonel wearing an airborne uniform stepped into the room, I shot to my feet and saluted. All I could think of was Col. Jones.
He gestured for me and the sergeant to an as-you-were. “You just made a charge against an officer under combat code.”
“No, Sir. Not the officer. Just the person wearing the uniform.”
“Well, I can inform you that the officer has rejected your charge.”
“Does that mean I won my point?”
“You have beaten him, and he now must answer to a reprimand, probably a loss of rank.”
Such a swift decision in the military was unheard of, and I smelled a rat.
I stammered my confusion. “I, I…”
“You won your point, soldier, and with it comes an immediate but honorable discharge.” He added, “According to the code of combat.”
He beat me at my own game, I think, and I did not have the resources to research the code. Maybe none of it existed and this officer knew it. I tried reasoning with him. “I don’t want to be discharged. I need to stay in. It’s the only home I got.”
“You’ll do well as a civilian. You’ve shown great courage as a paratrooper, and now you deserve a bit of the quiet life.”
“I demand you allow me to stay. My time isn’t up, and I don’t have enough points to be discharged.”
“It’s all part of the code of combat. You won, the officer you charged lost, and you are free to go.”
“I won but I lost. It doesn’t make sense.”
“If the officer counter charged you, the case could go to a court martial with a possible dishonorable discharge and forget about the $3000.”
He reached to shake my hand. “You’ve distinguished yourself in battle. Wear your medals with pride, you earned them.” He left the room leaving me standing and the sergeant busy shuffling papers.

Excerpt from Pvt. Richard Lee Leslie

In honor of my Father-in-law on Veteran’s Day 2018
“Back at State Side”

Complete memoir to be posted on this site, additional segment each month

Needless to say, a part of me died in the Philippines, and the part that survived sustained damage.
Other than realizing I was restrained to a bed on hospital ship, I have no memory of that journey or how and when we docked or how I arrived at Camp Hon, California. The two-week quarantine holds a shadowy spot in my brain. I understood they needed to see if I brought home any ugly microscopic creatures, and I was a bit curious myself. I had escaped malaria, typhus, jungle rot and the clap, but what might be floating throughout my blood system did concern me.
I agreed to remain isolated, but I did not accept it with any degree of patience. I wandered to the PX and gazed at all the items that would have been luxuries on the islands or totally unavailable.
When the girl behind the counter asked what I wanted—my stupid gaze must have exposed my confusion—I asked, “Do you have milk?”
“Yes. Would you like a glass?”
Of all the commodities I handled overseas, I don’t recall ever having access to good old cow’s milk. I must have ordered half a dozen glasses of it from that astounded server.
I recall being annoyed with nearly everyone who seemed to be in my way, but I don’t think I got into any fights. That came later.
After quarantine, I requested a day pass to go to Riverside, curious if they trusted me to be on my own. I got the pass without reservation, and I didn’t think anyone followed me.
If they realized how shaky I was, MP’s would have escorted me, as they soon discovered were necessary.
I boarded the bus to Riverside directly to the bus stop near the bar where I had some business complete.
“I need to see the manager.” The bartender hesitated as if to say, who the hell are you? However, he called his boss from the back room. “Do you remember me?” I asked as the manager crinkled his face into a frown.
“Can’t say that I do.”
“About two years ago seven of us bought some Champaign.”
“I remember. If you still have your chit, I will bring out a bottle?” He cast a curious but sympathetic glance and repeated. “Chits? Seven of them, if I recall.”
“Yes. I have all seven of them.”
He faced the bartender. “On the shelf behind my desk are seven bottles of Champaign. Bring them out here.”
Silence until the bottles were lined up in front of me. The manager stammered, “All six of your buddies?”
“Yeah, every one of them.” More silence. “Can I have your bar hammer?”
He handed me a wooden mallet used to break blocks of ice and stood back.
“Hey are you crazy?” The bartender stepped forward, but the manager held out his hand.
“Let him do what he has to do.” Bang, one of the bottles exploded. “We’ll clean up the mess when he’s done.”
Shattered glass and foamy liquid spread across the bar and splattered onto my uniform and the manager’s shirt. The manager pulled one bottle from my final aim and said, “We have to drink this one.” He popped the cork and filled two glasses.
I raised mine and said, “To all of us who tried.”
We drank and he said, “You have honored their memories. Now you have to look out for yourself.” I set my half-full glass on the bar. “You can keep this last bottle. I’m sorry about the mess.” I left the bar and caught the bus back to Camp Hon.
The nurse on my ward took my damp jacket that smelled like booze and said, “I didn’t expect you until tonight.”
I muttered, “I can’t take it,” and flopped onto the bed. She respected my privacy.
A few days later I tried another day pass. I stopped at the bar to apologize for making the mess, but a different bartender told me the manager was out. I asked to use the phone to call a cab.
My sister had written me the address of my paternal grandmother in Whittier whom I had never met. Parked in front of her door, I told the cab driver to wait until I return or flag him off. A good thing I did.
A woman wearing a white tunic answered the door. “Yes.”
“I’m here to see Mrs. Leslie. She’s my grandmother.”
Still blocking the door she turned and yelled, “Your son is here to see you.”
“I don’t have a son.”
I interjected, “I’m her grandson.”
“It’s your grandson.”
“I don’t have a grandson.”
Rejected, I returned to the cab and asked how much to take me directly to Camp Hon. I couldn’t bear to ride that noisy bus back to camp. I lucked out by getting the same cab driver who took us to Coney Island in New York, or one just like him.
“Five dollars to get back to the bar where I picked you up. The additional miles on me.”
How I wished that cabby were my grandparent rather than the one I just about met.