THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter I

THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter I

THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter I The words “stay with us” burned their way into my consciousness, as I fought to comprehend the awful condition of my body and even my state of existence on the planet. The words kept repeating, as I tried to see through a distorted return...
THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter II

THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter II

I awoke in bits and pieces. I blinked my eyes up at the ceiling, which was made of some strange greenish plaster, with light bulbs swinging slightly from wires hanging vertically down. I realized, hazily, that I was in some sort of hard-roofed tent. I tried to move my...
The Cowardly Lion, Chapter III

The Cowardly Lion, Chapter III

I.C.U. was nothing more or less than a long single room with three beds in it. There were no windows, no television set, but, I noted as I was wheeled in, there was the ubiquitous large clock mounted on the wall over the doubled doors that had split down the center to...
THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter IV

THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter IV

The room was silent, as the three colonels shifted and arranged papers in their laps. The major held up a single sheet of thick paper and began to read, as the staff sergeant readied her hands over a small electronic device that sat on the tiny top shelf of her...
THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter V

THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter V

THE COWARDLY LION Chapter Five There was night and day in the I.C.U., only the night was brought about by merely dimming the existent lighting enough so that the pain drug clock could barely be seen. Visitors did not come at night. Doctors only came if emergency care...
THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter VI

THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter VI

THE COWARDLY LION Chapter VI Shoot appeared from seeming nowhere.  I hadn’t noticed the doors swinging at all. He helped my brother back to a vertical position and gave him a towel, and then went to work cleaning up the mess on the floor. “So sorry,” my brother said...
THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter VII

THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter VII

THE COWARDLY LIONChapter Seven I went on my Sippy diet a few days later, while also being proud of myself for not giving in to the morphine shots coming every three hours instead of every four. General Masters visited all the time, and even went to the extra effort of...
THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter VIII

THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter VIII

I was awakened by the pain and by the noises being emitted from within my room. I stared over at the figures of Pus, Kathy and Barbara, gathered together as they worked to set up an additional bed and get all the connections correct. Barbara was the first to notice...
THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter IX

THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter IX

I watched Japanese television. I didn’t understand almost any of it, but Shoot had clued me in, early on, that the Japanese had no qualms about showing bare female breasts on their regular programming. That part of Japanese television was okay. Rory had come and gone...
THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter X

THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter X

The flight was nothing more or less than a disjointed series of buzzing noises, vibrations, and brief bouncing bouts where my plastic cocoon swayed out a few inches from the metal bulkhead, and then gently smacked back into it. I was aware, but unaware, both at the...
The Cowardly Lion, Chapter XI

The Cowardly Lion, Chapter XI

There was no delay, no time given, no quarter extended by my body, nor begged for by my mind.  I’d never detoxed before, although the pain had become an old bad friend.  The codeine tablets in my nearby metal drawer, twenty-three of them, got me through the night and...
THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter XII

THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter XII

My daughter was a very definitive curly blond thing that was simply delightful at every point of her five-month existence, and for some unknown reason, in spite of my shattered condition, colostomy bag, and scant physical presence, she found me to be the apple of her...
THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter XIII

THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter XIII

The .45 was in the box it’d come in when the commanding general of the base at Quantico had awarded it to me. My wife had put it up, and as far back on the top shelf of our bedroom closet, as she could. She and Pat had taken Julie to the shopping center for some...
The Cowardly Lion, Chapter XIV

The Cowardly Lion, Chapter XIV

I’d been home for a week before my first contact came in from Oak Knoll, but it wasn’t from the medical side. It was from Johannson, the Marine Corps liaison officer both Mary and I’d dealt with when I was in the ward with the other prisoners. The call came in at...
THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter XV

THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter XV

My wife drove Mickey’s 442, since she wouldn’t let me drive, as we made our way to Highway 280, then 80 across the Bay Bridge, onto 580 to head back south to where the hospital was set back on Mountain Boulevard some distance from the MacArthur Freeway. “Why do all...
THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter XVI

THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter XVI

Getting a full Marine Corps Class-A green uniform together took more work than I expected. My report date was for the next day, as there were no free or lull days in Marine Corps life. I had been determined to be available for duty and ordered to my duty station....
THE COWARDLY LION.  Chapter XVII

THE COWARDLY LION. Chapter XVII

I walked outside the office and onto the gravel trail leading up to the parking lot I’d come down from earlier in the day. I heard a motorcycle start up behind me. I stopped and turned. The motorcycle drove slowly up to me on the gravel. I stepped off to one side....
The Cowardly Lion, Chapter XVIII

The Cowardly Lion, Chapter XVIII

The trip to Yerba Buena Island wasn’t remarkable in any way, except for the fact that I remained entranced with the passing scenes of difference and beauty that the entire San Francisco basin always offered. Pat drove her low-powered Pontiac to the parking lot and I...
THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter XIX

THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter XIX

I was surprised by the obvious difference in the way I was received at the gas station from previous visits. I knew it was the uniform, as well as the Saran treatment that kept me from looking like a weakened Hunchback of Notre Dame creature. Mickey’s friends, those...
The Cowardly Lion, Chapter XX

The Cowardly Lion, Chapter XX

I walked into the room, turned, and handed the orders to my wife, tossing the useless envelope it’d come in onto the couch located across our small living room. “Hand-delivered by a Naval messenger,” I said, not knowing what else to say, my mind already beginning to...
The Cowardly Lion,  Chapter XXI.

The Cowardly Lion, Chapter XXI.

The crowd was stirred up for the coming run, as Danny Ongais climbed into the GTO and belted up. Mickey and his helpers, many more than had been around before, gathered behind the car and pushed it to a place just a few feet from the starting line. The near-identical...
THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter XXII

THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter XXII

It was hard to imagine, much less witness, that everything my wife, daughter and I owned could be fit into the interior spaces of a 1966 GTO. Nothing was attached or tied on the outside. I’d been raised in a Coast Guard family where the frequent moves were paid for by...
THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter XXIII

THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter XXIII

Chapter XXIII The trip onto the base was quick and easy, although getting through the gate for the first time without having to travel ten more miles to Mainside to sit, qualify for, and get a base sticker, was a bit problematic. The two guards were suspicious of the...
THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter XXIV

THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter XXIV

Piaget, the man who owned, with his prisoner brother, the San Clemente Hotel, was a font of information and assistance, although arcane in attire, language usage, and personal style. “Do you have a first name?” was one of the first things I asked him when we got a...
THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter XXV

THE COWARDLY LION, Chapter XXV

The day wore on, my time spent playing with Julie, watching her sleep, and trying most unsuccessfully to write about what had happened to me in Vietnam. How to tell a story and have it accepted in a time when no such story was going to be received by anything other...