A Strange Occurrence at the Passing Sun
Rounding the corner, I tripped on my shoe lace. As I bent down
on one knee I looked straight out as my hands grabbed my laces
and began their dance. A blinding flash, as the sun made a quick
turn off a marble surface in the distance. Which happened to
make my hands slip upon something they knew as well as my lungs
know to breathe. I looked down to concentrate on what I was
doing and finished the knot, double tied.
Damn size fourteen shoe laces. After size 12, they make one size
only that you can hang a full size man with. Sometimes I think
they are artifacts of the appropriate length to hang myself
after a full night on a bender of Martinis and M+M's. Granted a
strange, mixture, but indeed this morning was one of those days
I was second guessing it. I first encountered the pair on a
train returning from Montreal. An older man had got me a
Martini, being only twelve at the time I asked for a bag of
M+M's to go along. Over the airs of a Piano player, in those
days was quite common, doing his best renditions of Billy Joel
and other Magic 101 numbers. Unfortunately the man imparted some
ill timed information about the where abouts of the ladies of
the evening who paint the old town scarlet. Been back since on
my various travels, but have not looked up his veracity as of
yet. Which bring me to this morning.
Being a reporter for The Times, keeps me out of my own bed
allot. I tend to feel bad kicking all those cockroaches out of
their's, but I figure I am at least a paying client. So the M +
M+M's mixture is a habit of travelocity. I checked into it with
Blue Shield and Blue Cross, but there is no coverage for it. So
this brings us back to the shoe lace I am tripping on for the
second time. I am just not up to snuff this morning as my trick
knee does its act. So I pop one my Percs and head mindlessly to
As I walked past those countless interments of scores of boys
who never had a chance coming from the backwoods of some
forgotten town with those hilarious signs, population 5. The
mill always closes appropriately right before a war.
As I rounded up the grass toward the bright white marble, those
three ladies; victory, Peace, and Valor winked at me. Victory
flashed her leg, Valor stuck her breasts out, and Peace seemed
to be brushed aside by Victory as she did her best Claudette
Colbear. I read the four marble slabs that rested flat into the
plaza before those ladies. From east to west was The Unknown of
WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. As I got half way through the
inscription of the slab on the Unknown from Vietnam, I was
disturbed by some punk humming some insidious tune with lewd
overtures. I looked up and saw what was very popular in the
Urban outfitters. He was wearing something purchased fom the
local Army Navy store. But something was off about him, but I
could not place it. Just the average military uniform worn
without the spit and shine. My time in the Gulf got me five in
the jaw for wearing my zoot that way.
"Do you mind! Lets have a moment of silence."
"For the departed unknowns?"
No for my splitting head, I responded as he only laughed.
"So what are you doing here with the stiffs?" the kid said over
"Oh I just figure if I show up in enough cemeteries I might find
all of those brain cells I have killed in the past. I found this
witch doctor in Harlem, oh never mind, it is just a quest in
vain." The kid approached me and offered me a fag, as he shook a
pack of Pall Malls to have a couple of cigarettes jockey for top
position. I took the winner and turned down his light for my own.
Besides the Trench lighter, the fag comment brought to light the
confusion I was facing all morning. I had reported many Gay
pride parades in New York, even ask Bloomberg if he would be gay
for the day as he earlier proclaimed he was going to be Irish or
Italian for the day. No comment.
"So how long you been State side, you know in country?"
" Only three months out of County Roscommon before my departure
back across the sea. You believe after fighting those damn
Gufies and puddens, I had to share trenches in the desert with
them. From throwing grenades at them from ditches on the side of
the road to sharing a canteen. Tis a strange world Mary Joseph
I was a bit lost to what a guffie or pudden was but I nodded any
way since he seemed quite agitated.
"By the way, the name is O'Niel, Seamus O.Niel. I hate going
around anonymous with those who comes to these parts and commune
with me. But being a dime a dozen, you know Joe smith like. But
being Jon Doe is something I never could stomach." he finished
with a slug from a silver halmarked flask.
Well hair of the dog and all, I took my obligatory swig from him
and felt like I should use that empty grave for the Vietnam
unknown. Damn DNA testing gave that one a name and moved him
out. Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie. That war still
being a disgrace to most, they never thought of placing maybe
one of those M.I.A. in it they keep occasionally digging up in
some farmers rice patty.
They never dared give us gulf vets one, the ghosts of this
monument would reject him for being not killed by an enemy. But
then again it is all friendly fire starting from birth in
impoverished towns. Failing schools always breed a great feeding
pool for those starched uniforms circling in . Ignorance and
desperation is always the way to sow the fields to feed the
cannons. From the earth, back to the earth.
"It was a shame about that one, I was just getting to know that
shagger before they took him away."
I thought it strange he had such animosity for the brits being
from a southern county. Maybe hatred could still linger in
Atrium, but gernading some modern Black and tans in the south?
It was not sitting straight. Then that uniform, heavy brown
wool. In the summer. Yes he had it open bearing his dirty T with
a hole in the belly. As I looked again, I saw the jacket line up
just right to see a hole line up with that one. Then the fag,
Pall malls not Marlboro or GNC. The trench lighter
"Yes, even more dangerous than three on a match. Damn blow torch
will give you away each time."
"Yes, Jesus Mary and Joseph you are one of the slowest. I am to
be unknown no more. I told you I am to be no Jon Doe. Cursed
alive it was bad enough to be Seamus O'Neil, bloody bullocks on
those arhses if they think three months in country before
shipped out I was going to be Jon doed and all."
So I turned quickly around expecting the other two to be
standing behind me.
"Nah by this time of day they buggering the senators of the
wartime appropriations board, plastic trucks to stop bullets, by
noon they should be Harassing that Defense security. A real good
Dickens they do on them, real top draw act."
"Silainte!' he took one last slug before he disappeared.
"By the way I would quit sucking on those fags, they will kill
you every time."
My cigarette dropped from my lip with a full inch of an ash
landing on my London fog. I know who am I to talk, summer time
and all. But my blood never seems to warm up from the M+M+M's
until I get a prairie Oyster into me.