What’s the slumber dearth about this time?
This. I’ve a new Facebook friend — an ex-military dude who’s spectacularly sensible, acerbic, witty and smart. Fab, right? Yes indeedy BUT now a whole flood of memories, questions and insecurities have zoomed back to the surface.
Warum? Well, there's this here massive coincidence thingie goin' on. You see, he knew my beloved BFF Kevin. Kevin who’s been gone for 23 years now. Kevin who was a Hebrew and Arabic linguist with the Navy.
Incredible — astounding even. Nicht wahr?
I asked New-Facebook-Friend, John, to please tell me any stories, snippets of recall, evanescent whatevs he might have. You see, apart from a couple of college pals who hadn’t seen or spoken with Kevin post school, I don’t know anyone who actually knew him.
After Kevin croaked, I made no effort to keep in touch with his mother or his pal Perry — Perry who took such astoundingly wonderful loving care of Kevin during those last horrifically, wretched years.
Why not? Eh, I was pretty much flat out devastated. That and, upon walking in the door after taking the train back home from his funeral in Harrisburg, I got a call from my sister Celeste — Daddy’d just gone into the hospital with a blood clot in his lungs. Things looked bad — we had to get down to Pittsburgh STAT.
I had hearing back then so I was the one to call, inform and calm Grandpa, Daddy’s father, and Mary Ann, his sister. I was also the family go-to person for the docs, nurses and surgeons — poor things. I was in imperious, demanding overdrive.
Pop had made it clear, telling us quite specifically that he was ready to die. Well boyhowdy I wasn’t about to put up with that shit. No I wasn’t. I yelled at the poor man laying in the hospital bed — yelled.
“Don’t you fucking dare even think of giving up and checking out. Kevin died on me last week and I WILL NOT have you croaking on me this week. No sir, that will not fly.”Celeste and I worked together to boost Pop’s spirits. Her with humor, me with more of my boot camp-ish abuse. He pulled through but it was def rough going. After a couple of weeks, he was out of the woods and on the mend. Celeste and I voyaged back to Boston, our jobs and our own health dust ups.
I thought about getting in touch with Perry but was afraid that he wouldn’t want to hear from me. Why? I believe I was experiencing rabid, foaming-at-the-brain insecurity. Amongst Kevin’s family — his mother, sister and brother as well as Perry who’d been with him through the worst of everything — I felt like a distant, superfluous bit of nothing. I felt as though maybe the intensity of our friendship, our bond had been all in my mind.
Self-doubt? No thanks, I'm full up.
Back to new friend John though — he hasn’t written back with any Remembrances of Kevin Past. Quite likely that’s due to him being busy or just not remembering much of anything about him. Or not. Doubt creeps in at midnight while I’m trying to fall back into dreamland.
When Kevin was explaining how he came to contract that fuckwadded, asshole, lethal strain of Hepatitis, he told me this — there’d been an emergency and he’d been flown over to the Middle East in the middle of the night and had not been given all the proper travel shots. You know, the ones to insure that he wouldn’t pick up some fuckwadded, asshole, killer strain of something or other.
I was flabbergasted...and shit. Who’s responsible!? We’ll sue! (yeah, like that'd undo the damage //snort//)
His response was that some underling type dude who had it in for him had rigged the system such that the midnight crisis flight happened.
No can do — you see, the navy was providing his health care. They were hunting a cure and making sure he’d live as long and as comfortably as possible. This being pre-Affordable Care Act, if he sued the Navy he’d lose his health care, the hope of a possible cure and any shred of a fantasy of comfort and slightly extended time on this small blue marble of ours.
But...but...I want revenge on this vile shitstain who arranged for your zero hour, immunization-free drop into a war zone!
It’s alright, Kevin said, I got him transferred to the middle of nowhere in Alaska.
At the time. the late ‘80s, Alaska seemed as far off and hostile as the moon. That’d have to do.
Ex-military, new friend John who knew Kevin way back then? He lives in Alaska.
Outrageously huge coincidence? Probably. Possibly. I wonder.