This was a terrible time for me, Father. The Rev. Guess years are still a big blur. I remember little, only noticing now and then, the passing of yet another restricted law.
Women were quickly tossed out of the military. Gay marriages were banned. People who got caught even carrying as much as one joint, were thrown in jail for years.
The clerics had taken over. Rev. Guess’ entire cabinet was one big congregation of religious leaders.
Father, you wouldn’t have recognized this America! For the first time in our history, we had more people leaving than coming in. No one with good sense wanted to come to America, which was just fine with Rev. Guess and his boys.
Along with gays, and women not staying home and raising their kids, and having the right to murder the unborn, they laid much of the blame for America’s fall from grace on the corruption of “foreign influence.”
Soon, the sneering stopped. The rest of the world started getting very nervous. Rev. Guess was no longer a comic figure to be snickered at, but was gaining by the day, more and more power, and was armed to the teeth with nukes and the best military hardware in the world. The world knew that America was on a hair-trigger and one false move by anyone meant a sure attack.
But I could have cared less by all the politics. I had gradually withdrawn into a harden shell, which became harder, and harder until I totally withdrew from the world. Politics had become vague, although I knew instinctively that I was living in a world now more dangerous than anything that you could have imagined, Father.
Still, I didn’t care what happened to the world. Let them all die, like my friends had died! I just walked the beach unshaven, often talking out loud to Mother, and David, and Gina, and my leader, Colonel Bird.
I hung on for dear life to Mother’s apartment. I supported myself mainly from my pension from my Army service. Rev. Guess was smart enough not to piss off us Vets. In fact, he even increased the amount of money we received.
He even went on the air and made the announcement. This is what he said to the nation. And this is the last time I ever listened to anything he had to say:
“We have had an effete elite that was willing to fight to the last black, Hispanic and hard working poor white, but they and their children wouldn’t be caught dead in a uniform. They just saw war as a means to money and power for themselves, and people like them. The rest of us were just cannon fodder.
“They never witnessed the dying. They never saw buddies being blown to tiny pieces. They never saw dead citizens piled on top of each other like hogs in a slaughterhouse. They stayed back in the comfort of their plush offices in New York and Washington and wrote articles and books, and gave expensive speeches, urging us on to fight their battles.
“War was just a big theory for them. And those bloodsuckers became richer and richer off the fallen blood of our countrymen. People like those deserve our contempt, and do not even deserve citizenship, much less the elite status they once enjoyed in this country. Well those days are over! We will reward those brave men who are willing to put their life on the line. They are the true elite!”
That Guess fellow was sure a hot number wasn’t he, Father! You can imagine how resentful Middle America applauded those lines. I even clapped, for Christ sakes. They can keep their phony thank you for you service, bullshit. Give us Goddamn money, assholes! Go on Rev. Guess!
But that was the last time I ever listened to a political speech.
The other source of income also came from the Government in the form of disability payments.
It seemed that those of us that could have been killed that day, but for some reasons were spared, suffered much mental anguish afterward. We now have our own little category of mental illness: “The Manhattan Syndrome” as it is officially called.
It was recognized that people like us could no longer function as we once did. We were filled with too much pain. So we were paid our little bit of money each month, but on the condition that every month we visit our assigned shrink. They wanted to make it twice a month, but there was so much protest that they made in monthly.
The major reason why we protested, and most of us hated with a passion going to those witch doctors, was because we felt that we had become lab animals, curiosity pieces.
My first doctor was Dr. Francine Anderson, a forty-eight year old Ph.D. Dr. Anderson was clearly fascinated by what goes on in the mind of someone who have experience such total, irreversible loss.
She would greet me in her office in downtown Newark in the same manner, month after month. For some reason, Father, Newark had become the new Manhattan.
“How are we feeling, Major Litvinova” she would unfailing ask.
With Dr. Anderson it was always how were “we” feeling, as if the pain, hurt, fear, loss and deep depression I carried around with me, was also her pain, her lose.
She was nowhere near Manhattan when the bomb went off. She then lived and worked in Chicago, and rarely, if ever, came to New York.
She once quietly confided in me, bending her face so close to mine that I smelled her breath, becoming so intimate, probably as a ploy to gain my confidence, and maybe open me up a bit, that when the government announced this program on our behalf—she couldn’t wait to be a part of it. “The team,” as she put it.
“It’s a chance of a lifetime,” she said.
Dr, Anderson wasn’t bad looking. In fact she looked fairly attractive for a woman her age. She was of average size, and looked to be in fairly good shape. She was blond, and she looked like she came from a highly privileged background.
You know what I mean, Father? You’ve seen people like that. They just look rich for some reason.
I didn’t know if she was rich or not. We never discussed that. In fact, we never discussed much of anything.
I spent most of my time with her muttering little “yes” or “no,” or “maybe you’re right,” as she pressed and probed me. I really didn’t want to talk to her, despite her seemingly open manner. No matter how many times she said “we” I knew she wasn’t talking about her and me. She could never begin to understand my pain. No matter what I told her, how could she even begin to understand what it felt like to see a gay, happy world completely disappear, never to be seen or heard from again.
What did she know of that, Father?
A few months before she finally gave up on me, she snapped and started yelling at me in a very unprofessional manner, for being such a weenie
“For God’s sakes, Major Litvinova! I know your service record! I read it. You’re a brave man. You had a command vehicle shot from under you, but you were able to pull several to safety, while risking your own life. They gave you a Silver Star for that! You were one of the tough guys. You have looked death in the face, but you have always come through, and showed great leadership.
“So show some leadership now, Major! Show some leadership, damn it! Tell me how you are feeling about all this. How can I help you if you won’t talk to me?”
Despite this emotional outburst, I still kept looking away, still locked deeply in my own private space.
Dr. Anderson suddenly started crying in sheer frustration.
“I’m so sorry, Major. That was so unprofessional of me. I apologize, Major Litvinova. I apologize.”
Dr. Anderson reached over and took both of my hands into her’s and placed them gently beside her left cheek. I could feel the warm tears against my hands. But what could I say to her, Father. What could I say that could make her feel better?
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