Do you want some eggs?
People expect me to sit with a tin cup somewhere, just because I got wounded in the war.
This includes my girlfriend Margaret, who insists on calling me “Georgie” and cooking me eggs.
I hate being pampered almost as much as I hate eggs.
Most people also expect me to be bitter, and in that I never let them down.
I guess I’m angry most at the fact that I was so patriotic when I enlisted.
I saw the Twin Towers fall from my kitchen window and knew that I wanted to get even with the son’s of bitches who did that to us.
My old man, who had fought in Vietnam, warned me.
“Never trust the government to look out for your welfare,” he said.
My old man didn’t come back with a scratch – at least nothing you could see. But he wasn’t the same man who left us either, mumbling about things he wouldn’t say straight out. He cursed all those Chuck Norris movies for being fakes.
“Why do they got to lie to people like that?” he said. “There ain’t no secret prisons in the jungle. Those guys that are missing are dead.”
I never imagined how when I got back after I lost my legs that I would be thinking about secret prisons, too, or the fact that our side had them, not the bad guys Chuck Norris was always after.
I’m not even proud of the chest full of metals I won, although I always secretly wondered how I might feel after seeing the drawer full my old man got for what he did overseas.
I didn’t feel anything.
My old man always complained about never getting a parade when he got back, the way vets before he did.
Me, I didn’t want one.
Iraq isn’t even like Vietnam. We weren’t fighting some evil empire that would take over the world if we didn’t stop them.
We fought ghosts, sometimes scaring me more than any ghost story I ever saw in the movies.
Sometimes, I imagined how the ghosts felt, seeing us rushing up in our armored vehicles, hoping out with our high tech guns, looking at them through night vision goggles.
We must have looked as terrible to them as invaders from Mars, so technically superior to everything they had they must have given up all hope of ever beating us.
Us with our cruise missiles and our atom bombs. Us waving our flag and saying how free and righteous we are even as we pissed on prisoners and made them walk around like dogs.
That made me think of my grandfather, who helped liberate the polish Jews.
His stories seemed even more like science fiction, about ashes and bones, and people who were as skinny as skeletons but still alive.
I always wondered how any human could do that to another human and still be human.
My war gave me an idea how.
I never hurt anybody more than I had to. From what my father said, neither did he, though we both saw others on our side who did, who didn’t know where to cut off the hate they felt.
When the car bomb blew up and stole my legs, I was almost relieved.
I thought “That’s the end of it, now I don’t have to hate anyone any more.”
It wasn’t the end of it, of course.
Even though the government fitted me up with prosthetics, and helped me get over the trauma of my wounds, they didn’t prepare me for the pity people would feel, the look in people’s eyes when they look at me and tell me how proud they are for my fighting over there.
Like going off to kill people is something to be proud of, and that coming back half the man I was is some kind of badge or courage.
My grandfather said it best, I guess, when he claimed “Anybody that goes to war is nuts. But most don’t know its nuts until they get back. And even then, some don’t.”
Sometimes, I dream about going back, searching for my soul and my legs in the sand.
But then I wake up to hear Margaret calling me “Georgie” and asking “Do you want some eggs?”