A magician emerges from the shadows. Top hat and coat tails. Gloves and a black and white wand. He begins to explain his next illusion. Sawing a woman in half. A classic. He is going to let us in on the secrets and tricks behind the performance. Breaking the magicians code of conduct is of no concern. And the audience appreciates it. He brings out his generic, “Stepford” assistant; large wooden box in tow. The magician opens the box to reveal a pair of fake but very realistic legs. Shoes matching that of his assistants. He helps her into the box and we all see how she is able to contort just right and fit her entire body in just half of the box. Then the fake legs emerge and give a wiggle. Hardeharhar. He begins to saw and she screams with the unmistakable twinge of offensive bad acting. The two cut pieces are separated and the audience applauds and laughs “baaaaa.” Grateful to be in on the joke for a change. The magician resets to perform in real time. But instead the assistant just lies on the floor and the magician proceeds to actually saw her in half. No tricks. No joke to be in on. He saws her in half. Blood spurting everywhere. The mezzanine and opera boxes are hosed down like girls gone wild. Guts and vital organs spilling out onto the stage. Confusion and terror on the poor assistants face. She is not acting anymore. She is pleading for help. “Why is this happening?” “Why won’t anyone stop this?” So-called civilized people trampling each other scrambling for any exit. All their fine Italian suits forever ruined. Or improved. An opinion depending on so many things: how you were raised, loved, fed as a child, etc.. An entire audience forever changed simply because they trusted a man with a sharp tool to do what he said he would.
When asked why he did this unspeakable act the magician replied with a wink and a shrug and a simple answer.
“Sometimes things go wrong.”
THIS HAS BEEN AN ALLEGORY OF AMERICAN POLITICS BY:
The Taliban had IEDs (improvised explosive devices) that went off when we'd open the door and the sun would hit it. They had solar panels installed so just a touch of sun sent a spark down shock tube and would set off HME (homemade explosives). They also had a way for their bombs to go off by dog whistle. Just that certain frequency so we couldn't stop it. See we had systems in place that would block certain cellular and radio frequencies. They started simply, pressure plates, timers, etc.. They can take anything and make it lethal. So now here we are lowering our physical and mental standards to fit a new generation of military personnel. Yet our future fights involve those same ingeniously vicious people minus the crude weaponry and the time needed to probe our weaknesses. They already have all the advanced toys as well as the primitive ones at their disposal.
I'll end with this...why are we even in this position? Overpopulation? The wants and needs of a few being put ahead of the many? Privilege? Racism? Bigotry? Ignorance? Censorship? Oppression? Yes to it all. History repeats itself. We are so scared to evolve past our primal instincts.
"What's mine is mine, oh and by the way what's yours is mine too."
-our collective inner monologue.
Staring at the bush all I wanted was to leap into it. Be surrounded by the leaves and branches. I know it's a place that I could be alone. A place most people wouldn't want to go. I could just sleep there and know I'm safe. If I had my battle rattle on from when I was an Infantryman I'd have leapt already. I miss the comfortable confidence that came with being in full kit surrounded by my brothers. Knowing I can go anywhere and do anything. This bush was Afghanistan. My safe place is war. The place that only those brothers in arms would be. So I stare and daydream about leaping into it.
But I don't.
I'm snapped back to the real world and continue to rake the ground around the bush.
We are popping pills at an alarming rate. Staying up all night and catching glimpses of infomercials. These people become our comfort. So we voted one the leader of the free world. He's always selling. We are always buying. America Inc. Donald looks like a giant, hyper-orange pill. The kind that addicts know is bad but we swallow it anyway because, we are addicts and we know it's going to fuck us up good. So we lick off that waxy coating and get to the numbing horror that lies underneath. Need that fix.
"I don't want to do it. You do it."
Pop a pill. Check the box. Feel nothing. Wait, maybe a little twinge of remorse...there's a pill for that too. Pop it. It's ok.
Both sides. So many drugs. Uppers, downers and levelers.
My world is doing well, so I'm able to see outside my little box. Yes we should be informed. But if our own house is in disarray it's not in our best interest to take in the worlds pain as well. Social media is great but informing ourselves based on a twitter feed is not always going to pan out. I've been guilty of sharing horribly wrong information masked in noble efforts. There are con men everywhere and now that we have one as the President elect, they will be even more prevalent. Snake oil will now be made in China, spit on in America, marked "Made in the USA" and sold in bulk for 3 easy payments of "shut the fuck up."
I am writing this informed only by headlines of a disturbing story. The CA National Guard seems to be collecting what they would call debts. Veterans and Soldiers would call it blind siding betrayal of the whore pig variety. But again, I’m informed by headlines alone at this time. But I thought this would be an interesting opportunity to see how news of this magnitude is perceived these days.
I am a combat veteran. I was in the US Army Infantry for 4 years and deployed to Afghanistan from 09-10 with the best group of brothers a man could ever strive to meet. It was the best and the worst year of my life and I know many of us feel the same.
Moving on…its not about me. It’s about all of us.
Headlines. ”Thousands Of California Vets Who Fought With National Guard Told To Repay Their Enlistment Bonuses”
“The Department of Defense previously offered former members of the California National Guard $15,000 or more to re-enlist, and is now threatening the veterans with possible interest charges, wage garnishments and tax liens if they don’t return the funds, the Los Angeles Times Reports.”
This is disgusting, shocking, and…typical. Admittedly I am just reading the headlines and a few quotes at this time. Here is where my brain is going…money was hidden away in the form of bonuses and severances. Reasons for more soldiers to enlist became more and more frequent. The plan to mobilize around 40,000 troops in support of Operation Enduring Freedom brought an influx of Americans through the revolving doors of the recruiters. I joined in 2008 and was one of those soldiers who deployed because the need was dire. I don’t regret a thing I did in my time in the Army. You’ll have heard this before…we fought for the men next to us first and foremost. We brought America with us in that form of brotherhood and camaraderie. We helped people while I was there. Everyday we saved lives. I know that. However, any Soldier worth his salt will tell you, that in most cases, we just
postponed the inevitable. And that fucking haunts us. So what’s that worth to our country? Many of us were pushed out prior to our actual exit date. And now in CA it seems many were just short-term investments who are now being asked to pay back what was not enough in the first place. Did we sign something that says this is ok? I am still at headlines at this point. Does that even matter if our Veterans are having their finances completely flipped on its side.
Here is my wild accusation founded, admittedly at this time, only by headlines.
Money needed to disappear for a while. We had many reasons for war and money to go to war. Money was given to Soldiers and Veterans and therefore it was accounted for. Which may or may not have been important at the time.
No matter what you may feel about the military or war or the troops, just remember we are Americans first. We made sacrifices. We want to be afforded the basic respect people who have done what we have done and seen what we’ve seen deserve. And we don’t ask for much. But definitely could do without deception. And I know lies when I see them. I’ve had my problems before and am no saint. “I’d rather laugh with the sinners, than cry with the saints.”
Oh and by the way, I am hearing horror stories about not just bonuses…but severances as well.
“In 1993, during the Post Desert Storm draw down, the Army offered a severance if you would leave active duty. They said I could still serve in the Reserves, so I took it and went into the National Guard. Now that I’ve filed for retirement, the government is garnishing 60% of my pay for the next 2 ½ years until the severance is repaid. Anybody need a helicopter pilot? Actor? Limo driver?”
I’ll be learning all I can and sharing more soon.
Combat Veteran essays to make the world not feel so empty.