So much has gone by in the past few weeks. So much has gone by in the past five years. The kids I first taught when I got The School in 2002-2003 are graduating next year. I don’t know whether to shout or cry. It’s hard watching them. This sounds sappy, I know, but I have special bonds with some of them. Letting them go will be the hardest part about today. (I’m writing this after midnight on the 19th.) There’s a lot I’m gonna miss; too many things to number. My room is gonna be quiet and empty without them popping in and out at will between and during classes. Empty is a good word.
What also hurts is that I’m leaving The School after the end of the year. The bad thing about a private church school is that church politics can bleed over into the school. I never felt quite like we were getting the support from the church that we (that is the HS drama group) needed in order to really do what we needed to do. Oh, we got to use their stage, but it always struck me as though they begrudged us that we wanted to use their stage. It wasn’t whole-hearted support. It was very grudgingly given support.
Well, after a small terra cotta pot (containing a terribly ugly fake bush) was cracked recently, the wheels were set in motion to get us off the stage. I got the feeling, however, that that may have been underway already for some time. Anyway, I was initially told that the drama group was going to be off the stage in the gym, with the inference that it was gonna start next year that way. The gym is a barn—acoustically speaking. It also has no lights, no sound system (for SFX), and the seating is roll-out bleachers. Classy. I turned in my letter of resignation (set for the end of the school year) the next day. Then, I broke the news to my guys, explaining what had transpired. The day after the announcement that I was leaving and why, I got called into the Principal’s office (a day later) and he tried to convince me church politics had nothing to do with it. Yeah. . .and I got a bridge in Brooklyn for sale. He tried to convince me it was his idea. Yeah. . .right. And he also tried to convince me it was an improvement for my guys that would get rid of some stress. Whatever. . .the move to that barn would only make my stress worse. So, needless to say, there was a lot of crawfishing when word got out I was leaving and why. It doesn’t look good for the church or the school.
So, it’s been a tough couple of weeks. My guys are done; I’m leaving the one job I’ve waited years to get (teaching, in general), and my seniors are graduating. As you can gather, I'm a bit of wreck right now.
27 March 2007
It’s 1:45 AM and I’m asking myself, “What am I doing on the roof of my shed at this hour?”
That’s right. . .I was on the roof of my shed in the middle of the night, having just climbed up a Chinese Tallow tree that grows right in front of it. It’s not like I’m some idiot waiting to howl at the moon as it emerged from behind the clouds, so, don’t start calling the white coats yet.
No, I was hunting for a cat; a lost cat; our lost cat.
The night before, the early morning hours of the 26th, the backdoor popped open. I usually check it at night before I go to bed, but, that night, I didn’t. It popped open, and our most curious (and skittish) cat, Kira, eased into the space between it and the screen door. She must’ve leaned on it chasing something and. . .SWACK! The screen door slams behind her and she’s now on her own.
I noticed on the morning of the 26th that she was missing, after I found the door popped open and my concerns raised ‘cause Andromeda, our most adventurous cat, usually likes to slip out doors when there’s a chance. She used to be feral and loved it, so, I figured I’d best do a head count before leaving. I found Rommie; I couldn’t find Kira. So began my Monday.
I wasn’t in the greatest shape at work, after spending about an hour walking around the neighborhood calling for Kira and looking frantically for her. Mel and I were real unhappy, especially when we considered an ugly possibility: we’ve noticed coyotes encroaching toward our neighborhood from the south. They haven’t crossed the railroad tracks, but, we’ve seen at least part of a pack of them. That put a spur under to find Kira as soon as possible.
I got half a day off from work. While I had been there, I drew up a “Missing Cat” poster and, after I left, got it copied at a FedEx/Kinko’s nearby. I put shoe leather to work and pounded the pavement as I knocked on doors, stuck fliers in screen doors (I found myself thanking God for the Southern screen door), and intently eyeing bushes everywhere. No luck. I had a small lead, but it turned out a neighbor’s calico cat had been in that area and not our little calico cat.
So, Mel and I drove ourselves nuts looking out the back window. We had put food and water out back, along with a litter box for a familiar scent. All night, through “24,” and the news, we saw nothing. I crashed in bed about 11:00 PM and prayed, “Dear God, I know it’s asking a lot, but, we need a miracle.”
About 1:30 AM I heard something and got up. Mel wasn’t in bed. I walked into the kitchen to find her opening a can of tuna. She had seen a cat twice in the past hour walking up to the food, but when Mel either leaned in toward the window or tried to open the door, said cat fled and disappeared. She said it could have been Kira, but she didn’t know.
I dressed quickly and slipped on my old deck shoes and got ready to take up a watch. The tuna was put out where we could see it from the back windows; we grabbed a flashlight so that when the cat came up, I would light it up and see if it was Kira. The den was pitch black; thankfully, however, the cloudy overcast that night was reflecting the burnt orange glow of the city lights down and the reflectivity was making it easier to see things in the yard.
My view, however, was not perfect. Where the cats had walked that window ledge in the past and stuck their noses to the window, a greasy streak had formed. I went quickly (and quietly!) to the bathroom, grabbed a washrag and came back. As I stepped up toward the window, I saw a light colored form moving toward the tuna.
“I got motion,” I told Mel. “Bring me the flashlight.”
She eased up to me and I saw the cat pause and look up at me. Mel put the flashlight into my hand. My eyes were locked on the form standing six or seven feet from the tuna. The cat started moving back slowly. I lit her up.
Lo and behold, it was Kira. She eased around a tree and when we moved to the window to get a better look, she shot to the Chinese Tallow in front of the shed and started climbing. Mel broke for the back door.
“Wait,” I said. “She goes up that tree, we got her!”
I watched Kira go up the tree and when I realized she was up in the branches, went outside. I moved quickly to the base of the tree and shined the light up in it. No cat.
“Where’d she go?” Mel asked.
“I don’t know,” I replied. “I’m gonna climb that tree and see if she’s on the shed.”
So, Mel brought me the folding step stool and I eased up into the tree, and then eased over to the roof of the shed. No cat. I can only figure she had jumped into a nearby peach tree and skittered down and back under the shed, the only logical place she could be sheltering.
So, there I was, briefly admiring the view of the surrounding area at 1:45 AM.
We lost sight of her for the rest of the night, but left tuna out on top of her food bowl. This morning, the tuna and about half the food was gone. She’s still around. We’re working on trapping her next.
13 March 2007
Wow. Where do I begin? I just checked my pulse for the first time since I got home from the hospital. Bump. . .bump. . .bump. . . That’s not something I’ve been accustomed to for the past few years. It’s been more like bump. bump. bump-bump. bump. . .bump-bump. What was normal for so long is no longer normal. But, what had been normal was not supposed to be normal. Wow.
It started ridiculously early: 4:30 A.M. yesterday. We drove up to Houston and I was admitted to the Hospital up there for “catheter ablation.” That’s a fancy way of saying, “We’re gonna burn your arrhythmia right out of you!” Just after 6:00, with Mel and my parents there, I’m taken back to change (into a gown only—farewell dear modesty!) and wait to be taken by gurney into the catheter lab. Mel, Mom, and Dad join me for about half an hour or so, while I’m signing this, that, and the other release. At 7:40-ish, I’m taken to the catheter lab.
You know you’re something of a nerd when you see something and think, “Right out of ‘Star Trek.’” A bank of 10 flat-screen monitors to my left; a radioscopic ring with two projecting thingies around me; computers behind a glass partition (where folks are seated); and dozens of other gadgets. Now, I was nervous; near down-right scared, to be honest. I wanted to back out, but I kept thinking about the end goal, that steady bump. . .bump. . .bump. . . The docs showed up and geared up from about 8:00 AM (I had a clock nearby I could read w/o my glasses) and at 8:13 I got three shots. . .right in the groin where my leg meets my hip. NOT FUN. After they numb that area, they put in the catheter port and I could see (on one of the screens) where the wires were going. It was bizarre to lay there thinking, “That’s up inside me?” Every time they fiddled with that port, it felt like someone was kicking in that very sensitive spot. NOT FUN FOR SURE. But, when they started mapping the heart, which began with something that felt like I was being baked @ 120 degrees for 1 minute, that’s when things really got NOT FUN AT ALL. I could feel almost a scratching in my chest and between that and the pain down low, I started reciting everything I could think of at that moment: Greek paradigms (all nouns, by the way—why? I have no idea), Hamlet, Henry V, and even The Trojan Women (what little I could come by). That lasted for about 10-14 minutes and then they put something in my IV and I went bye-bye.
The rest of the day was here and there, kinda spotty until about 5:00 PM or so. My first recollection was just outside the cath lab with Mel, Mom and Dad there. I complained of my chest hurting, so they did an EKG. Nothing. Then I was out. (I heard later they did an sonogram of my heart, but, I didn’t mentally check in for that session!) I woke up again, this time feeling someone had scrubbed the inside of my chest with a Brillo pad. It got bad, then worse, and then really something terrible. I asked for pain meds. The first one arrived about 1 hr after asking. Darvoset—didn’t do jack. Complained about 40 minutes later of no decrease in pain. This time, I got something really good. It only lasted for about an hour and a half, so it must’ve been low concentration. But, it was morphine none-the-less. I said “Goodnight Gracie,” and was gone for about an hour to la-la-land.
I woke up feeling pretty good. . .until the pain returned. So, they gave me, the kid with an empty stomach and a lot of pain, Tylenol III (with codeine). As I was laying there, waiting for it take hold, a nurse came in with paperwork about discharging me. I wasn’t crazy about this idea, and very weakly said so. In the mean, the Tylenol III turned my stomach and 40 minutes later, it bounced like a rubber ball. Threw up all in a trash can. (That really made me feel good, lemme tell ya.) But, some of it got into my system and for almost 6 hrs, I enjoyed reduced pain, as long as I didn’t talk much, laugh, breathe to hard, or exert myself. I was able to speak some with my folks and with Mel, but, I promise ya, I wasn’t much company. I did nap on and off.
The pain gave the doctors some concern (they had just been screwing around with my heart) and they decided to admit me for the night. That was about 4:30 P.M. and Mel put in a private room request. We waited. . .and waited. . .and waited until about 7:30, when I was ushered to a private room. We got there and situated just in time for “24.”
I stayed overnight. I was given at least 2 more EKGs, hooked to a Holter monitor, given so much IV fluid I didn’t need to drink much, and still hurt. They gave me large doses of Ibuprofen and that seemed to help, thanks in large part to the lessening of the pain over time. The next morning, they took my vitals (at 4:30 AM), took one more EKG (at 5:30 AM), and brought breakfast (yeck!) at 7:30.
I knew I was going to be released this morning, but, when the kind face of my cardiologist came in (and I mean that sincerely; a very nice gentleman), he told me he was gonna let me out, and then asked about the Spring Play. (He’s very interested in the theater scene in the Houston area.) After we talked a little bit, he left and started the ball rolling. I was discharged about 11:30 AM and made it home by 12:45 to the Island.
What a day. There’s so much more I could write about, but, I had to get this out first. There were some other things that I recall, but, I’m not gonna touch them right now. I’ll probably address them tomorrow or the next day.
I’m just glad it’s over. Bump. . .bump. . .bump. . .
23 February 2007
I haven’t felt much like posting because of all that’s been going on—between funerals, the Spring play—all of it. But, I gotta keep moving; no time to stop and think, ‘cause there’s too much to do.
I guess I’ve always been different from most of the people in my generation or closely behind it. I was sitting my car out “The Colonel’s” waiting to get dinner when I saw the carload of young folks in front of me. They couldn’t have been much older than 16-20 years and they were goofing and laughing and having fun like kids will do. Then, I saw a piece of paper come flying out the driver’s side window. A couple of minutes after that a plastic cup and more, larger, pieces of paper came hurtling out the window and falling to the concrete of the drive-through line.
That bothered me. I’m not an environmentalist by any stretch, but, I don’t believe in making everything around you trashy. It’s the same kind of feeling I get when I drive down pretty countryside (say in VA, MD, or WV) and see trash on the side of the road, spoiling the view. It’s unnecessary and it’s senseless. I know littering isn’t good for the environment, but watching those kids do it right in front of me bothered me. Maybe it’s the thought that they don’t care about what happens next. They think that life will keep rolling along; they’re invincible; they’ll live forever and nothing bad can happen, right? Bothers me a lot these days when I see kids thinking like that.
On a more humorous note:
I was passing through the High School hall and overheard a co-worker of mine saying, “Go to class! Come on! I like compliant students.”
I turned and said, “Isn’t that a mythical creature; like the Loch Ness Monster?”
“All right, Mister Director! The cast is set. Take over.”—Lucy, “Charlie Brown Christmas”
To me, the worst part about the whole process of the Spring Production is setting the cast. Usually, I don’t have enough guys tryout, and I wind up having to take a role to ensure the success of the play. This year, we had just the right number of girls and more than enough guys. What a nightmare! I had four good choices and only three male roles to fill.
And now, the real stress begins. Not only do I have to direct the play, I need to work on pulling scenery together, compiling costumes, and finding weapons for it. Add to that all the other stress going on: I might be diagnosed with a rare heart condition; my wife’s family is slowly losing a member to cancer. It’s not fun; there’s too much to deal with, think about, and fight. But, I’ve got the play. I’ve got something to throw myself into. It’s my escape. (Real smart, huh? Flee the crushing embrace of stress for the crushing embrace of stress. I always knew I was a genius.)
This year, though, I think we’ve got a real winner. It’s Euripides’ “The Trojan Women.” I’ve got a veteran cast that, I utterly believe, can carry this thing. It’ll take work; a lot of sweat; a lot of worry. But, I think we’re going to top our best year, which was our first year 2 years ago, with “Hamlet” in 2005. Break a leg, y’all.
31 December 2006
It’s the end of year. I don’t make resolutions for the next year. They tend to succumb to the old axiom, “No plan ever survives contact with the enemy.” In this case, the enemy is the unforeseen. I have only two major projects for the coming year. One is an extension of something I already do for fun—translate Greek and enjoy it. The other is just to get the freakin’ Spring production done, with minimal hassle, headaches, or stress. And for those who know, I really don’t need the stress. But, in veritas, I do enjoy doing the play. There’s something masochistically addictive about it. Ever since “Hamlet,” two seasons ago (this is our 3rd season), I’ve been hooked on the rush of performance night. Shoot, I’ve been hooked on that since college, after I got on stage for my first serious performance. (There’s nothing like being a rookie and handed the comic relief part. Nothing like pressure.)
Another year gone. I’m year old, a little wiser, and I’ve learned some more. I expect that what life’s all about. Between surprises, heartache, and miracles, 2006 has been an interesting (in that Chinese curse sort of way) year.
First off, let me say: Happy Birthday, mom. (If you read this.)
Now, to my gripe!
We pulled off our Fall One-Act last night (Lucille Fletcher’s “Sorry, Wrong Number”) with flying colors. The most light/sound technical piece our little school’s production group has done so far. If you haven’t seen it, the movie version, or heard the radio play, the main character (Mrs. Stevenson) get bumped off at the end after overhearing a murder plot (her own, set up by her husband) on a crossed up telephone connection.
Anyway, after the production (which was tagged in behind the band’s winter concert) I was approached by a woman from another school (her kid is in the “combined” band—students from three schools) and said something along the line of this:
“I videotape the concert for the kids and I brought my own because of the family atmosphere of the concert, but we could’ve done without the violence. Do you think you could do something more family friendly next time?”
Blink. Stare. Blink. Stare. “This wasn’t when were supposed to do this, ma’am. We were slated for November, but were bumped to due to a scheduling conflict.”
“I know, but I thought it was a little too gratuitous, not that y’all didn’t do a good job, but I thought it was a little much.”
Blink. Stare. “Well, we do have a lady here that puts together childrens’ productions. I handled the high school only. We’ve done “Hamlet” two years ago, and this spring we’re going to do a Greek classic.”
She blinks. She stares. “Well, I thought it was a little gratuitous, but y’all did a good job.”
The conversation ended when she walked away, realizing she wasn’t getting anywhere. What was really funny, when I saw her stall after I mentioned “Greek classic,” I swear, I could hear her brain screaming, “Omigod! He’s going pagan!” Stupid idiot.
It’s not like the death of Mrs. Stevenson was gratuitous. It was a suspense play that ended with an ironic twist. Besides, the death scene was done in the dark where the audience couldn’t really see what happened, because: a.) That’s what the script called for since she knocks her bedside lamp over, and b.) I wanted to heighten suspense by not bringing up the spotlight on the cop she’s calling until after she’s dead and the audience is re-integrated into the scene with her body slumped to the side and killer rifling her bureau drawer.
This lady, at first, was horribly irritating. She couldn’t just say, “Good job,” and go away. But nooooooo, she had to say this to me, in front of some of my cast members!
Now, however, she’s laughable. Her child doesn’t even attend my school; probably never will. So, what invested interest does she have? Zip. Zero. Zilch. Also, it’s not like the way I worded the director’s notes in the bill didn’t indicate it was going to be zippy. The word “suspense” appeared twice in the brief two paragraphs! Like someone noted to me, “I could tell it was going to be a murder/mystery type of play.” And finally, why does everything have to conform to her view of how things ought to be done. If she had seen “Hamlet,” which we put on three years ago, she’d have to be carried out on a stretcher, dead, thanks to the “gratuitous violence” in that play! We dropped 5 bodies on stage (4 in the last scene alone!) and three other characters died off-stage. In all, we killed off 8 character! Wow! I don’t know about y’all, but that strikes me as more gratuitous then one little invalided lady in her easy chair murdered because her husband wants her dead.
Some people, huh?
03 November 2006
So, I was driving home yesterday, music blaring in my ears, when thoughts started pouring through my brain. I could see scenes from the story scrolling past my eyes; characters started taking more definite shape; and events in the story felt more solid, more definite. I knew where the story was going and what was going to happen. It felt good to have some idea to work on again. An artist, or a writer, or any creator-sort like that, feels useless and (possibly) of little value if they don’t have something to work on. Hooray for creativity!
02 November 2006
Not much to note. Just some basic housekeeping. I’m about ready to pull my hair out where the Fall One-Act is concerned. As usual, no one feels that they have to show up for rehearsal, so, I’m about ready make some tough decisions and cut folk, not only to set examples, but to drop the dead weight, if you will. I’m about getting the production done, not showcasing any particular people.
One funny observation: 31 October is day when Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany, starting the Reformation. Well, our high school Bible teacher was showing clips from a movie about Luther and explaining the events surrounding the 95 Theses to the students. (I got invited to watch the clips during my off-hour; was pretty cool.) Well, anyway, the school I work at is a small, private school backed by a local Protestant church. But, we don’t cater to just Protestant students; we do have some Catholic students, some of whom I know personally. One such student, a Catholic student, had apparently got into the whole Reformation thing. The Bible teacher (because our school doesn’t celebrate Halloween) was wishing everyone a, “Happy Reformation Day.” Well, I could hear this Catholic student, on more than one occasion, wishing folks, “Happy Reformation Day!” It was all I could do to keep from laughing at the irony of the whole thing.
I’ve decided to try my hand at NaNoWriMo again this year. Last year, writing the novel, Promises, I won on my first try (made 51280 words, or thereabouts). This year, I’m trying another Western (Promises was a Western) that’s set in 1900, really after the close of the Frontier and the dying days of the West. I’ve only made about 281 words as of yesterday; got a few more in today, though, I can’t guarantee I’m going to make it with this one. Got a character; got a setting; got some idea of where to go, but the plots still murky right now. But, like the good man said, “No plot? No problem!”
28 October 2006
Caught “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” on TV tonight. Probably my favorite of the three. The soundtrack is somewhat uncharacteristic for John Williams, at least I think. While he does give what he’s best known for—easy to recognize and hum themes—it’s a soundtrack that has a Renaissance feel for it. I found it very intriguing when I first saw the movie (yes, I do listen to the music as I watch the movie the first time through) and I have enjoyed having it in my soundtrack collection since.
In fact, I owe that soundtrack a lot. When I directed my first play for the High School, I was looking for music to help my thinking. I always listen to music, particularly soundtracks, for inspiration when consulting Melpomene or Calliope. Well, we were doing “Hamlet” that first year; and believe me, I look back on that wondering, “How did we get through that? How did I get through that?” I had to take a massive script that, when performed, is at least 4 hrs if the play is performed without editing. Well, I had to squeeze it down into something manageable and people would hang around to see the end of, even with an intermission. I managed to get it down to 3 hrs. Add to that fact that we accomplished the play with a cast of 14 actors (which included myself) performing 22 parts (of which I performed 3).
Anyway, I was coming down to last scene, Act V Scene 2, and it had to be edited a little and blocked out just right. Our stage was small, a little cramped, and four people dying all at once was not easy. Well, I scattered the deaths over the stage (making the place look like a morgue) around a massive oak table that dominated the upper stage. As I was thinking about the last lines of the play, I was having trouble seeing it with them bearing Hamlet off stage. That’s when Melpomene visited me through the HP:PoA soundtrack.
Now, some purists will call me a butcher for shaking up the lines, but, the way I did drew a powerful end to the play, closing out with Horatio beginning to tell the tale of how the royal family all met their end. Here’s how it went:
The sight is dismal;
And our affairs from England come too late:
The ears are senseless that should give us hearing,
To tell him his commandment is fulfill'd,
That Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead:
Where should we have our thanks?
Not from his mouth,
Had it the ability of life to thank you:
He never gave commandment for their death.
But since, so jump upon this bloody question,
You from the Polack wars, and you from England,
Are here arrived give order that his body,
On the table be placed to the view;
And let me speak to the yet unknowing world
How these things came about.
(Hamlet’s body is carried to the table)
Let us haste to hear it,
And call the noblest to the audience.
For me, with sorrow I embrace my fortune:
I have some rights of memory in this kingdom,
Which now to claim my vantage doth invite me.
So shall you hear
Of carnal, bloody, and unnatural acts,
Of accidental judgments, casual slaughters,
Of deaths put on by cunning and forced cause,
And, in this upshot, purposes mistook
Fall'n on the inventors' reads: all this can I
Personally, I think the play ended on a powerful note when done up like that. But, having Horatio end the play with the last lines which were harsh words was inspired by the a piece from the PoA soundtrack. It worked beautifully and to John Williams and that soundtrack (particularly the last 2 minutes of No. 20 “Finale”) I will forever be indebted for the last moments of our production of “Hamlet.” And like the sentimental idiot I am, I cannot listen to that music without seeing that scene and those kids who pulled off one of most amazing feats I've ever seen in my life. And I was derned proud to be a part of it.
The H.S. Drama cast got their first reading of “Sorry, Wrong Number,” in today. We had a good reading. The young lady I picked for the role of Mrs. Stevenson read really, really well. I am pleased with how she interpreted those lines. The young man I picked to play Duffy, the Desk Sergeant, had a really good reading as well. Over all, I’m extremely pleased with what I heard. Now, it’s gonna be down to the tweaking of how they interpret those lines, adding the blocking (what little there is), fleshing out the characters a little more and developing ways (timing and vocalization) to ramp up tension from midpoint to climax. I’m seeing another good production in our future.
Finally got the AAR (After Action Report) for Claiborne up on the board (Shattered Corpse—Gun Forum). Stupid me, always learning new things and how to do them; can’t figure out, on my own, how to put an image in a post. Feel like an idiot for asking Cait how to do that. I know she’s got bigger fish to fry since she runs that board. (Sorry, Cait.)
I get together with a few folk at lunch (when possible) to read from the Greek New Testament. We’re working our way through the Gospel of John right now, and we’ve gone through the first four chapters in about two weeks. It’s interesting: In John 3, when Jesus is discoursing with Nicodemus in verses 1-21, the verbs in Jesus’ reply in vs. 11 shift from first singular (“I say”) to third plural (“we know, we speak”). This begs the question, to whom was Jesus referring in the “we?” Here’s the text in Greek with my English translation after it.
amhn amhn legw soi oti o oidamen laloumen kai o ewrakamen marturoumen, kaithn marturian hmwn ou lambanete.
“Truly truly I am saying to you that things which we have known we have spoken and the things which we have seen we are bearing witness, and the testimony of us not you are receiving.”
I can see two possibilities: Jesus is referring to his disciples or Jesus is referring back to the three persons of the trinity, who were gathered for his revealing when John baptized him in the Jordan (John 1:32). I need to do some reading, I see. Would definitely be worth my while.
22 October 2006
Disclaimer: The author of "The Lost Cause" does not endorse or support Nazism, Fascism, or any other “ism” that his grandfathers fought to destroy in WWII.
We were on a hard push. My unit, the 16 or so guys of the 228 Panzergrendiers/116 Panzer Division, had pushed down a road and turned off the right of it and were making our way toward the Allied camp. Resistance was swift and fierce. They poured nearly everything out to blunt us. I had been near the point of attack slinging “grenades” and killing Airborne guys (mostly 101st) when I got too far out and got “killed.” Dead, done, time to fall back. I took my hat and fell back to watch the battlefront move up. Our guys were giving to them good when things took that dark turn. The Allied had sent a flanking force around to hit us from behind. Worse yet, it was supported by armor—an M3A16, a half track with a quad .50 cal on it. I had been pretty engrossed in the battle along the MLR (main line of resistance) when Mick (not his real name) came up and got me.
“That halftrack’s taking everybody out,” he said, pointing about 80 yards back. I could see through the trees (which were well spaced out) the M3 moving up through the woods, then to the road. Between it and its supporting infantry, they were killing our reserve.
“Gotta do something,” I noted as I looked at the fight I had just come from. “They’re gonna hit our line from behind and kill us all.”
The halftrack moved back to my left, still about 60 yards out, away from its supporting infantry. “We can’t attack it with all that support.”
“What then?” Mick asked.
It hit me. “We wait for it to come to us.”
Now, that was risky, given it might not come at us and the infantry support would mop us up. But, we hit the ground, got behind a small mound and watched as the halftrack came up. It weaved through the trees as it slowly headed toward our line’s rear. I pulled a “grenade” from my inside my Zelt smock and looked at Mick, who had a “grenade.” Since he was on my right, I told him to take out the supporting infantry around the track with his “grenade” and I’d get mine in the track somehow.
He shook his head after a moment. “See what you can do with yours.”
I didn’t understand it then, but he put his grenade away and took up his Mauser.
I watched and waited as the halftrack eased slowly towards us, shooting up our guys from behind. After a moment, a long moment it seemed, the track turned head on to me about 20 yards away. I jumped up and threw the unlit “grenade.” (Those vehicle gusy are understandably anal about their vehicles.) It was only 2-3 seconds, but the grenade sailed in a shallow arc and dropped in the bed of the track behind the driver. Ecstatic, I celebrated as I hauled out of there. After running a short distance and I ducked behind a tree and saw that Mick wasn’t with me. I was on my own. Allied infantry don’t care for it when their vehicles get taken out. One Airborne trooper (not older than 20) came right at me. I turned out from the tree and popped him. Threat removed.
Mick, I later learned, had gotten up to run and before the 5 seconds ended (most vehicles stop 5 seconds after the grenade hits) he had been hit by a blast from the forward mounted .30 cal on that track. He had been trying to cover me when I threw the "grenade."
My taking out the halftrack blunted the Allied flanking attack; our reserve infantry (those guys who had died at the MLR and “resurrected” after a short period) turned around and destroyed the remaining infantry.
And, so, I got my first Tank Destruction badge yesterday. Been all smiles since.
16 October 2006
Now, I’ve got the hammer and nails. Was it, “Get gopher wood?” or “Get goin’ fer wood?” Dern! I forgot all about the animals!
We haven’t floated away (yet!), but a lot of the roads down here in SE Texas are getting rather inundated with water from all the rains. Tide’s come up to (at the right time, of course!) added to the backwash up the creeks, canals, and bayous. The salt marsh out front of our secluded subdivision hasn’t come up to the road, but it’s got the ditch by the road all full.
The weather today has been pretty impressive. The drive from work to the house down the Interstate reminded me a lot of 2003, when Tropical Storm Fay rolled through in one September morning. I had just started working at the school (where I am now) and, being the conscientious person I am, I got up and went to work. . .in the middle of this tropical storm. Winds weren’t bad; gusts would blow the car a little and I’d have to compensate. It was the rain that was killer. The storm was a slow mover and dumped a boatload of rain on the SE TX coastal areas. The Interstate tends to pond real bad, so, I was hitting serious puddles of water and it was checking my car up. But, today was different in that, while driving, I didn’t have the wheel turned all the way to the 9 o’clock position and was still driving forward. I drove for a mile or more like that; rather nerve-wracking. But, today wasn’t too bad, until I felt the rear end sway this way, then that way. That means, “Time to get off the gas and slow down, stupid!” And, so I did. Didn’t last long, but it was enough to get my adrenaline going. I like adrenaline highs, but not like that. I’ll take mine at the event this weekend, thanks. :)
Sunday evening. We just came back from Mel’s parents for the weekend. Drive was rainy and messy; bad visibility at points. Other than that, not too bad. There are two ways to get back to the Island from the Mainland and the the Ferry is one. It’s a nice ride across the Bay to the Island and given the weather today, the Ferry was a nice choice.
Coming up to the loading queues, your car can be directed to the waiting line or to the random “safety inspection.” Now, I worked as a security guard once, so I don’t envy those folks working the “safety inspection.” At least they have a segregated area with a large tent in case of sunny days, which today wasn’t. Mel and I have been directed to be “inspected” at least twice. The first time was, “Please exit your vehicle while we check it.” They poked and probed and found—guess what?—Nothing! That’s right, my American self with my brown hair and pasty white skin didn’t have anything terribly dangerous in my car! So, Mel and I were allowed to go on our merry. The second time, they discovered—Oh no! Oh no!—an audiobook of “Beowulf,” by Seamus Heaney. This time we were shuffled off to the front of the line and allowed to go on our merry, again.
Today, however, I saw the archetypical terrorist at the Ferry loading line. I pointed this dangerous assassin out to Mel and we couldn’t believe it. She was white, mid-twenties, driving a lemon yellow 2000 or better VW Beetle. The security people (whom I have the greatest respect for, mind you) thoroughly checked her vehicle. Ten minutes later on the Ferry, I saw this dangerous woman in line three cars behind me.
Was she dangerous? No. Was she a terrorist? No more than I am. I just don’t get these safety procedures that pull ordinary folk off to the side and disrupt their lives like their something dangerous only to be sent on their merry ways. What’s the point? Beats me. Does it make us safer? Doubt it. But then again, it’s a government (Texas, in this case) mandated “inspection” for riding the Ferry. So, the government does what it does best: disrupt our lives, irritate us, send us on our way, and not so much as with a “Thank you for your time,” line. Woohoo.