I held my sign for hours at the median of the stoplight off the freeway exit of Green and McCallister. “That’s the best place for hand outs”, I was told by the young man who had served in the 2nd Battalion of the 3rd Marine Regiment under “Operation Enduring Freedom”. He had returned home in 2006 after having his lower leg blasted off in the Konar region of north eastern Afghanistan. Poor son of a bitch. Like me, he was promised the world to run off to the middle east and save the face of America in the name of finding the enemy who caused 9/11. He was gonna go to college after. Now’s he hanging on corners down in Silicon Valley preying for food and a quiet place to rest his mind.
A lady hands me a small box from a half-drawn window of her new Jeep Cherokee. “Here ya go, man. Good on ya.” Hmmm, accent. She’s not from here. What’s this box say?
Wild Planet – Wild Sardines in Water – sustainably caught in the Pacific Ocean
There’s a couple of pretty pictures of boats on the water, one with a sunset behind and one with a towering mountain in the background. Looks nice. I inspect the box further. What’s on the side here in smaller print?
Micro-Cannery Produced for Wild Planet Foods, Inc. McKinnleyville, CA 95519 Processed in Viet…
What the hell? Processed in Vietnam? Are they kidding me? Hot damn, I served there. Multiple tours over in that hell hole fighting in Phu Loc and Hue in ’67 and ’68. Worse damn years of my life! And here I hold a box a fish processed in Vietnam and it’s 2013! Shit. I’ll bet John J. Culbertson would get a load of this. The only time I felt like somebody was when my baby sister gave me a copy of 13 Cent Killers: the 5th Marine Snipers in Vietnam and I read it twice cause it was about me and my boys.
Now look at me. All fudged up in a wheelchair in the throws of MS. Got my brain and some hair left, but the rest of me deteriorates by the month. Got an arm left that works which is how I’m able to take this damn box out of the lady’s hand in the first place.
Sustainably Caught. Humans are really odd. Carin’ more for the way a fish is caught than the way a man is treated when he comes home from serving his country. Ain’t that all?
I open the box and pull the tab off, but it takes me awhile cause I’ve got to maneuver the one working arm against my body to get it just right to pull the tab which is taut. A bit of smelly fish water spills onto my pants. Great. Another scent to add to the others. I lift the smelly fish up to my nose. Smells clean even though it’s fishy. Well, phuket, I’m hungry and I’m eatin’ this. Excellent source of Omega 3. Well, I’ll be.
(influenced by my readings of fellow blogger Dennis Cardiff and his “Gotta Find A Home” series and my brother Bill – A Vietnam vet who served in the navy and suffers from MS – once homeless too)