“Oh, ho, ho, why you asking me? I’d think the answer is clear to see.”
The stranger then continued, “The nuttiness of Trump is very much on display, the glory that was America seems to have gone far away. I’ve been terribly downcast and fearful for our land The people have forgotten how united we once did stand . I’m thinking back to the good old quiet days. They have gone so very far away.”
He looked about my age but something told me he was much younger. It is probably just that the years have been hard on him. We sat there on the bench in the Common. I’m not sure why I decided to sit there. Perhaps it was because I was early for my appointment and the air had a spring-like feeling to.it. I thought as I was sitting down of an expression I heard in Japan, “If winter’s here can spring be far behind.” It always surprised me how I can remember where I first heard expressions that I treasure; or, how a scent in the air can bring back dormant memories.
I saw him approaching me. He walked slowly looking neither left or right. He stood straight, his head bent slightly forward and his right hand softly stroking his chin as if pondering some great mystery. I would have bet he hadn’t even seen me sitting on the bench and had almost walked past when he made a sharp left as if a command in his head said “to the left flank march.” He sat down about four feet away from me to the left.
I nodded saying, “it sometimes feels that way.”
“Did you serve?” he asked. I said I did. “So did I,” he said. He lifted up his sleeve. On his arm in big black block letters was written KHE SAHN.
“Semper Fi,” I said.
“You in Nam?
“No, missed it. After my time. My cousin was there in Khe Sahn – Captain Jimmy Ambrose .”
“Didn’t have the pleasure.”
“Did you ever get to Camp Carroll?’
“No – knew some who did.”
“It was named after Jimmy Carroll. Lived across the hall from me in Basic School. A really nice guy. Earned his tuition for Notre Dame travelling in the summers with the circus doing those high dives from a high ladder into small pools.”
He shrugged showing little interest. His mind was on something else. “What do you think?” he said.
“The country we wore the uniform for?”
“Pretty much the same as you. Never seen it so divided thanks to Trump demonizing others — making it appear like the Democrats aren’t good Americans.”
He shook his head in agreement. “There’s gonna be lots of blood an the streets before this is over. Trump is the worst thing that ever could happen to America. Guaranteed his right wingers will be beating up Democrats which will bring out the anarchists and all bloody hell will break loose. Don’t see no other way especially with those Christians who think God sent Trump to restore America to its great past.- guess that’s when we had slaves.”
“I hope you are wrong,”I said.
He stood up, “I’m not.”
He started walking away, stopped and turned. “You Irish?”
“Happy Saint Patrick’s Day”
“Happy Saint Patrick’s Day” I said back.