Chapter 5: Secrets and Dirty Deeds
Matthew Dudley always looked forward to the time he shared with his Curmudgeon Crew, but was a bit unprepared for the barrage of questions when they gathered for coffee at Saville &Sons early the following week.
“Well, Sherlock,” queried Abe. “What kinds of dastardly deeds have you uncovered recently at the Old Folk Home?”
Emilio was quick to join in. “Is some evil person taking advantage of those helpless Senior Citizens you hang around with?”
“C’mon, guys,” begged Ray. “Give poor old Doc a chance to at least taste his pastry. I’m sure he’ll bring us all up-to-date on the latest and greatest crimes at, what’s it called again, Doc, The Golden Coral?”
“I hate to disappoint you guys, but there haven’t been any murders or crimes of passion or even someone stealing sopapillas from the kitchen for some time. Things have been pretty quiet recently and I for one I kinda like it that way.”
“Really, Doc? You mean you have nothing interesting to share or some complex mystery you need our help in unraveling?” asked Hakim disappointedly.
“There are two new residents at, and it’s called La Vida Aureo, whose lives were touched by war in very different ways.”
“Ah, a love triangle,” smiled Emilio. “Now we’re getting to the good stuff. You’re sure nobody shot someone in a jealous rage, Doc?”
“Not at all. This is serious and I find it all very troubling. I’ve been helping one of our new residents, a Mr. Larry Blackburn, assemble a rather large scrapbook about his time in the Army in Vietnam. He knows he was fortunate to return home with relatively few physical or mental wounds, but his scrapbook also contains lots of newspaper articles about how so many of the returning veterans received nothing but scorn or worse when they got back home. They were called “War Mongers” and “Baby Killers” as if it was their idea to start a war. The other new resident is a very nice lady named JoAnne Elliott. She’s originally from Bernalillo and has spent her entire life working at VA Hospitals around the country counseling veterans about the mental and emotional wounds they brought home from the service.”
“You guys know that I’m basically not political at all and that I understand that sometimes military action is necessary for the United States, but I am struggling with the fact that we seems to put much less effort into dealing with our soldiers after the war than we do to get them into war in the first place. I guess this all just really struck a nerve with me after talking with the two new residents.”
“So, what’s your point, Doc?”
“I guess I just don’t see why the individual soldier has to bear the burden when the politicians that start these conflicts stay, I don’t know, above all of the ugly and messy aspects of things.”
“C’mon, Doc,” said Ray Litlefeather. “I mean, look at my name, Redondo. I was named after Bosque Redondo where many of my people were forced to live after The Long Walk. Governments do bad things; always have, always will.”
“But, I agree with Doc,” added Abe. “There are evil people in the world and somebody needs to step up. Look, I’m a certified pacifist and hate the very concept of war, but sometimes…”
“I don’t know if I would feel better about things if I thought the politicians were being honest with us,” offered Emilio. I understand that there are lots of things that the general public can’t be told. Some secrets are meant to be kept. That makes it difficult for me to judge whether the President is doing the right thing or not. He has a lot more information available to him on which to make his decision. It just bothers me when the public learns later than we were given a bunch of lies as justification. Maybe ole’ Bob Dylan had it right way back in 1964 when he sang about having God on Our Side,”
“You mean like the famous Weapons of Mass Destruction?” chided Ray.
“Yeah, and don’t forget the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution,” added Abe.
“While we’re on the subject, don’t forget the conspiracy theory guys who say that Roosevelt knew about Pearl Harbor, or that Churchill let Coventry be bombed, or that the CIA planned the 911 attacks, etc., etc.” offered Hakim, who had been sitting quietly by and listening.
“But not all government secrets necessarily bad,” suggested Emilio. “We are just now hearing about The Navajo Code Talkers and the code-breaking work at Bletchley Park in England.”
Dudley tried to get the group back to his concern. “I agree with Emilio. We probably can’t know the whole story or all of the political aspects and ramifications of some of the things our Government does. And, unless one of you guys wants to run for President, we never will. The point I want to make is that there are some more practical things that are within our ability to affect. Like I said a few minutes ago, I believe we owe all the people who serve our country a better deal when they come home. I’ll go further and say that they deserve the absolute very best we can provide. Maybe if we were to reallocate a small portion of the billions we spend on developing weapons on better care for returning veterans, this would be a better place.”
“”OK, Doc, only decaf for you the rest of the morning,” suggested Abe. “Seriously, I think we can all agree with that point. Perhaps, at some future date, you could ask this Ms. Elliott to join us for coffee and we could all learn a bit more about things we could do.”
“I second that idea,” said Ray. “Hey, it looks like Hector has brewed some fresh coffee. Who needs a refill?”