Veteran's Stories 1.0
Turlock, California - early 1950's;
Houck's Drugstore - SE corner of West Main & South Broadway.
A legless & tattered man scuttling around on a platform cobbled together
from discarded 2X4's & re-cycled roller-skates: selling pencils.
Holding my father's hand, walking into the drugstore for - coffee & donuts;
watching others - stepping-around and ignoring the legless man.
Dad always, every time ... bought one pencil for $5;
$5 for one fucking pencil!
Whenever I asked Dad about the legless-man,
his body seemed to become ... harder than it was
(restraining some ... dark energy), and, then:
Modern-day war-pundits would say that my father's eyes
took a "1000-yard stare" ... ("something that comes from
looking for the enemy").
Looking into the eyes of the legless man,
My father's eyes were "tunneling-into-his-own-past":
seeing, SEEING and re-living NOW what was then;
LEYTE GULF - watching legs being blown off by Japanese bombs;
terrorfied that his legs would be the next to go.
Dropping $5 into the legless man's empty cigar-box
without the compensation of a pencil
would have dishonored & diminished them both.
Now, after all of these many years later, when I look into a mirror ...
I see my father's eyes,
Mirroring my eyes ...
The eyes of a veteran ...
An infinity of veteran's eyes.