War–Flash Fiction for Monday Meanderings

A medic squats beside the body. Concern etches his face, communicating the serious status of his patient. Sweat beads on his brow; he bites his lower lip.

The kid’s angular features distort into a painful grimace. I can’t see blood, but tears roll from the corner of his eyes. Lower extremities sprawl in an unnatural pose. I wait for a sign of life in the useless appendages.

Doug’s mouth hangs open, his eyes fixed on the screen of our new television.

“For this, we got HDTV?” I hurl the question into the unresponsive room.

Photo: dreamstime.com

Photo: dreamstime.com

In the upper left hand corner of the screen, I view a group of fellow warriors. Huddled in the cold, their breath escapes in wisps of fog. Arms encircle their frozen torsos; they slap themselves, teasing chilled blood into warmth, luring it to the surface. A surgeon’s suturing a scarlet laceration on a young black face.

Another group of guys trot out from base camp, bearing a stretcher. I watch them logroll the boy in the field, carefully immobilizing his neck. I wonder if he’s going to make it, or if he’ll spend his days imprisoned in his flaccid husk-of-a-body.

“It’s all about money, isn’t it?” I ask Doug.

“Of course it is. Everything we do is about money,” he answers and takes a slug of beer.

“So why do they try to pan it off as some ideal?” I ask.

“It is about ideals. It’s about freedom and courage. And heroes. We need our heroes.”

“So, some poor mother sacrifices her son for some obscure objective? Some American pipedream.”

“It’s not just about our country, Rachel. You know that. The whole world’s watching.”  Doug clutches a handful of chips and shoves them in his mouth. He continues, “We’ve got to let them know who’s in charge, who’s strong.” Tortilla chip fragments, soggy with spit, shower my tee.

I tear off a paper towel, dip the corner of it into my glass of water, and begin to clean my spattered bosom.

“Please don’t talk while you’re chewing; look what you did to me.”

Doug sees and a crooked smile fills his face. He reaches over and pinches my nipple peeping through the damp shirt. “Ah, good ol’ American freedom,” he says and trains his eyes back to the TV.

A flash of action darts across my field of vision. “Life’s different now,” I say. “We used to hear about things like this after they happened. Now it’s broadcast live. That’s not how it was when we were kids. We crowded around the radio to get our news.”

“Hummmph!”  Doug soaks in the real life drama, unfolding before him.

I grab my knitting.  “I can’t watch this anymore,” I say.

“Well just shut up, then.  I let you know what happens.”

Visions of the two grandsons we’d raised loom before me. Thank God they’re more like me than Doug, I think. They’d never get involved in this.

“I wonder what the boys are up to now,” I say.

“What do you think they’re up to?”

“Studying, I guess. The new semester’s just begun.”

“I know for a fact that Ernie’s doing the exact same thing that we are,” Doug said. “But I wouldn’t be surprised if Eddie’s watching golf.”

“So, why can’t we watch golf?” I ask.

Doug raises his index finger and leans forward, resting his head in the palms of his hand, elbows on his knees.

From the corner of my eye I glimpse another body splayed face down, unmoving. The camera pans to a close-up of Condi Rice. How can she let this happen? She’s a woman, for God’s sake.

Our country’s flag waves in the right hand corner of the scene. A buzzer sounds reminding me of the take-cover drills we had to do in grammar school.  There are no winners, I realize.

“Two minute warning,” the announcer calls. “Stand by for our half time report.

Photo Credit: nfl.com

Photo Credit: nfl.com

I couldn’t resist re-posting this short story that seems appropriate to the season. I confess I’ve developed a huge interest in football over the past few years, though I may be caught knitting during the game. Have a happy week, everyone–and don’t forget that the poetry pub at dVerse reopens today, the 6th, with Poets and Pretzels hosted by Brian Miller then Open Link Night on Tuesday. 

Go9’ers!!!

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Monday Meanderings–Television: A Blessing or a Curse?

Photo: Lorna's Voice

Photo: Lorna’s Voice

(If you’re here for Sunday Whirl, it’s the previous post).

Before I get into the topic that struck me this week, I’d like to introduce you to Lorna Lee. Lorna’s blog, Lorna’s Voice, is one of those blogs I visit for a bit of vicarious humor therapy and an occasional dose of good common sense. A sociologist of the PhD variety, a humorist, and a published author whose writing skills are indisputable, Lorna makes sure that a visit to her blog brings joy and insight to her readers.

Last week, I had the honor of being interviewed by Lorna. As a great advocate of her fellow writers, this lovely lady does all she can to make sure our newly released work receives attention. She was able to take my responses to her questions and inject them with fun…and most of you know that I’m, perhaps, way too obsessed with death and things dark. Well, in my writing, anyway.

I want to invite you to check out the interview  (Victor Isn’t Talking to Me, but Victoria Is). Follow her site for your own humor break and be sure to check out her memoir, How Was I Supposed to Know: the Adventures of a Girl Whose Name Means Lost. It’s a fun read but full of wisdom.

Photo: Lorna's Voice

Photo: Lorna’s Voice

Now just a few reflections on television:

When I read about some of you who do not have television, I feel a tinge of envy. I think of how much time can be wasted in such passive activity, how much improved communication could happen, how much fun could be had, how much work I could get done.

I was five when we got our first TV, a 12” screen in a ginormous box with three channels that went fuzzy at night-time. The first show I remember watching on it was about the release, at last, of Dr. Salk’s polio vaccine. And, of course, Howdy Dowdy.

1950-Zenith-G2957R

The reality is that my husband loves television. He loves sports, 70’s TV Land programs and sports. I already said that, didn’t I? I’ve made friends with the whole situation. We are together and when he watches, I make jewelry, or knit, or (now) write if the program is something I can tune out. Oh, there’s a few things that get my full attention: a drama like Blue Bloods, Longmire or Person of Interest, 49’er football, and TCM classic movies.

A few nights ago we watched a program that David had recorded: the 30th anniversary celebration of M*A*S*H. This was a 2 hour+ discussion with the cast members, producers and screen writers who were still alive. They were all older, just as I am. Hawkeye and B.J. looked like you would expect. Hot Lips had way too much Botox, no doubt in an attempt to live up to her persona. The conversation was peppered with snippets of shows that demonstrated the discussion topic.

30th Anniversary Show

30th Anniversary Show

At it’s conclusion, I asked David to save it. I intend to zip through it sometime (if I can figure out the remote) and take notes. There was a wealth of valuable insight and information on plot, character, and so much more that applied to us as writers.

If I’m able to pull it off (manage the remote, that is), maybe I can share my thoughts in a future post. But one thing I want to offer you to think about today is their perseverance. The first season was a dismal failure. It ran against Disney’s crowd pleaser and was about the Korean War, during the Vietnam War. When the script writers took it from pure humor and brought out the deep emotional component of loss and war, it moved from the world of Sitcom to a compelling message written with ample doses of humor. The producers and studio hung on and we all know how that ended up. The show had a message and a mission—war is an atrocious futility.

I have a little different take on TV now. When I watch drama, I will pay attention to plot and character development. I’ll look for themes in a series. I’ll note what works and what flops.

So, take what you like from this. I hope it gives you some food for thought and maybe a different take on television.

Have a good week with the pen or keyboard and don’t give up!

Oh good grief. The holiday confused me. I had this scheduled for Monday night instead of Sunday night. So here it is!

Key M*A*S*H actors

Key M*A*S*H actors