So. I started my day after coffee and the newspaper by rearranging the front room here to La Casita Johnson de Santa Fe.
“Look, shithead,” the Squirt said to me at dinner last night, “move this big rug from under the dining table and switch it with the smaller one over in the living room side. This monster is in the way over here and will make our living room cozier by the fireplace.”
“Huh?” I replied. “I thought I threw all of those Martha Stewart magazines away. Who’s been filling your cute little head with decorating ideas?”
“Don’t be an asshole. It’s common sense. Besides, you won’t keep tripping over the thick hem of this big carpet if it’s over there out of your path.”
The dog had a point. I have almost busted my ass a dozen times tripping over the carpet in the dark. We finished moving shit just before noon and I must admit that it has changed the front of our home for the better.
“Now get your rangy ass to the store and get us some dog food. The goat dog says he’s going to eat some of your new undies if you forget and he has to wait on his supper tonight.” Squirt though about it for a minute, then added, “And get us the one with lamb—not chicken. I’m tired of chicken.”
“You’ll eat what I buy you, shitbird. You’re lucky I didn’t take you to the pound after what it cost to fix your fucking teeth. Why didn’t you tell me you broke your molars? If I hadn’t been so concerned about your stinky breath your entire mouth could have rotted out.”
She tried to bite her new vet when he touched her sore gums. “And if you bare your spiky little fangs at the doc again I’m giving you back to your previous owner.”
“How about I latch on to your nut sack and shake my head like a break dancer?”
I love that adorable little bundle of piss and vinegar. Starting to be major league attached to the goat dog as well. As for the fucking cat, Honor came home long enough to puke bird feathers and rat bones on the island in the kitchen and shed maybe three pounds of hair and pine needles onto the aforementioned large rug.
The rug is one that Gram picked up from when she, Mother and Daddy visited Iran back to when the Shaw was running things. I was a much younger man and Sister yet the age of consent. When I asked Gram what she had to pay for the beautiful Persian carpet, Mother hurriedly clamped her palms over Sister’s ears and sternly told Gram, “Don’t you dare whisper a word of your debauchery.”
Rug was worth a couple grand, and I’m guessing that Iranian men had never met an old broad quite like my grandmother. Likely some poor fellow gave Gram the rug to get her out of his bed.
Which reminds me. My neighborhood is a transitory migration area for Santa Fe pedestrians. There’s a group home, a shelter and soup kitchen a couple miles away to the west and State of New Mexico Services buildings and the Interstate highway is on my east. So we get quite a bit of foot traffic. I like this aspect of my neighborhood and will as long as I remember to take everything out of the cars before coming inside.
I like to know that my new hometown is taking care of its needy and the stream of pedestrians provides that confirmation. Of course, as Santa Fe has terrific public transportation, many of our walkers are going to and from the train and bus stops and aren’t passers-through.
When I got back from the store with dog food and a reload of Carta Blanca beer, I fixed lunch and turned on the TV to watch Andrea Mitchell’s show on MSNBC. She is, in my eyes, one of the best of her kind and I try to watch her anytime I can. From my chair at the table I can see both the TV and out of the big window that displays a clear shot of my street to the corner, and three houses either way on the cross street.
I took a first, big bite of my egg salad sammy just as Andrea cut to commercial. It was that Trace Atkins ad for his Wounded Warriors Foundation. In the first ten seconds I was blinking tears and by the time it ended I needed to blow my nose. I got up to get something for my snotty snout and looked out my window at motion that caught my eye from the street corner.
A neighborhood dog was harassing a man on crutches. The man wore old Army clothes and seemed barely able to navigate the icy street, much less deal with my neighbor’s asshole dog. OK, I should have said “my asshole neighbor’s shitty and mean dog.”
Without wiping eyes or nose either, and in my house slippers and no jacket, I raced outside to help the man. I ran his way and when I got near enough I yelled, “Hold on brother, I’ll get rid of the dog.”
I got a dozen yards out and Dickhead the dog looked up at me. “I’ll bring Yoda and Squirt out to kick your ass, Dickhead,” I said. “Get back home now!”
The dog was named Dickhead by the Squirt and he fears Yoda. I think his owner is the actual dickhead and the dog simply badly parented. He took off for home and I got to the man.
“You OK?” I asked. “You need some help?”
“Naw, I’m not hurt. But I can’t get into the VA Hospital until summer to get fitted with a leg, and these crutches are a bitch on ice.”
The man looked me over and shook his head. He reached into a backpack I hadn’t noticed before and removed a paper towel. “Here, take this and blow your nose before you get icicles in your beard.”
“Huh?” I replied.
“Why don’t you walk with me over to the shelter and we’ll get you some shoes and warm clothing. Really, you’re gonna freeze your nuts right on off.”
Then I got it. He was worried about me.
“Naw, you come with me. That’s my house,” I pointed. “Come have an egg salad sandwich and a beer with me, then I’ll drive you to wherever you’re headed.”
His name’s Teddy and he lost a leg from below the knee and one ear’s worth of hearing in Afghanistan. Lost his leg and hearing and wife with two kids, his home and car and life. Teddy lost almost everything while serving our country, but he didn’t lose his dignity.
We ate and had two beers each, and I drove him over to the Human Services offices for whatever business it is he wanted to do. I asked Teddy why it’s taking him a year-and-half to get an appointment for a new leg, and do you know what he said to me? He said, “Hey, Mooner. I’m one of the lucky ones. It takes most folks three-and-a-half to four years to get fixed up. Between the lack of funds and red tape, some guys kill themselves to avoid the wait.”
I just checked and it’s true. Most wait years and many wounded veterans have to wait as long as four years to get treatment for wounds suffered while serving, and military suicides are through the roof. Four fucking years!
Hey Congress, Mister President. Whatinthefuck is wrong with you? You ship our service folks off to your stupid wars and then treat them like unwanted damaged goods upon their return?
From reading my buddy Reckmonster’s accounts, a veteran getting treatment isn’t any big treat when he does manage to get to the head of the line. Lack of funding doesn’t allow the VA to provide the best of service. Michelle works in the mental health section of a major VA hospital and she sees some shit.
But this has got to stop. Congress must act to fix this. How about this idea—we have the Congressional health insurance be identical to what wounded soldiers get. Those assholes must get in line with our wounded warriors for their treatments. We’d have this issue be a non issue before February.
This is America, for shit sakes. What is wrong with us? I mean other than big business runs Washington DC and big business doesn’t give a shit about veterans. It seems that a soldier is only valuable to the Military Industrial Complex as long as he’s consuming ordinance and Halliburton’s services.
Anyhow, I’m headed over to Dickhead’s house with the dogs to see what we can do to enforce Santa Fe’s leash laws. Manana, y’all.
And BTW. Think about making a donation to the Wounded Warriors Foundation. Good organization doing good work.