“I like this place all right,” I said while Patti helped me into the bath. “The problem is keeping busy. One really has to work at it every day or you’ll drive yourself crazy. I mean I’m here, nearly forgotten by my children and my other kin, and well….” I felt the heat of my face reddening and going flush at the thought of my children, brothers and sisters living and dead. They were all sort of jumbled up somehow in my mind and I had to go through them one by one to remind myself which were still alive and which weren’t. Patti washed me quickly and sang a little song to herself as the thoughts in my mind’s eye played their silent movie across the inside of my skull.
I was thinking about how I’d lost my son Johnny in the war in Vietnam. What a waste of good American stock. Our boys just thrown into that jungle like so many logs on a fire. Just to keep it all burning so those people could make their millions and billions. I remember thinking as his flag draped casket was lowered into the ground that we’re all going to have to stand before the All Mighty some day and explain ourselves and my Johnny; poor Johnny who had been tortured before he died, would get to ask the questions of those that sent him to that God forsaken place.
“Now we have a new Vietnam.” said Patti startling me a little. “How did you know I was thinking about Johnny?” I said as she helped me stand up. “Oh I knew what you was thinking Rosie.” she said. Every time you think about your son Johnny you get as red as a beet in the face! Patti laughed. “Plus the fact that you start mumbling out loud about Vietnam this and Vietnam that… It’s not gonna do you nor anybody else any good to keep on thinking about things you can’t control Rosie. .. but I guess if I was you, and had lost a son that way, I’d be mad to! Uhh Huh.”
Patti was drying me off with a towel now. “We got us a new Vietnam. That’s what everyone is sayin ma’am. Over there in Afghanistan and Iraq. What the heck are we doin anyways? I tell you I just don’t understand why our gubment can’t just stay outta things and git this country under control before going off payin all kinda people over there and killin all kinda people over there. For what? I ask my self. Let’s say we waltzed in there and won. I mean immediately won everything we’re trying to do. How would my life or the lives of my children be better? Heck we’re losing the real war over here. While our people are over there, they’re over here using our own system against us. Puttin up they mosques and their laws in our courts. Anyone with even half a nut between their ears can see what’s going on. Everybody but our gubment? What do you think that is Rosie?” Patti said as she helped me out of the tub and onto dry land.
“I’m sure I don’t know Patti. Seems like we Americans, somewhere along the way just lost control over our own country. The government just got so big that it became a thing unto itself and it passed laws to keep itself well fed and clothed and… well it just sorta got completely out of control that’s all. It’s really hard to understand how a bunch of bureaucrats that have no idea what my life is like could run my life from cradle to grave and pass laws and regulations governing nearly every aspect of my life without me even knowing about it, being asked about it, or even having the chance to say anything about it. They just run people’s lives like moving checkers on a game board with no thought of the consequences or how it might impact one person vs. another person.” I was shaking my head as Patti slipped my nightgown back on over it and we walked out of the bathroom together.
“You remember why trade unions where formed Patti? It was to protect the rights of the worker against big business right?”
“Yep, that’s right.” Patti said as she settled into the chair next to me and switched on the television.
“Well isn’t it about time that we have something like a union to protect us against the government? We all thought that was supposed to be our representatives, but those people are bought and paid for now and no one that I can think of, has the ability nor the where-with-all to stand up for and protect the rights and the freedoms of the common person in this country. As long as we have our comfortable lives until death, those idiots can use us for whatever they want and get away with it! Why it’s worse than using us as batteries like in that movie.. Ohh.. Patti, remember that movie we saw.. where the humans had been turned into batteries and lived like.. Uhmmm virtual lives within their own minds instead of being free..? What was it again?”
“Oh you mean The Matrix ma’am. I know what you mean. Why the other day I was watching Oprah. This poor woman was on there and you know what? She was just back from Iraq and when she got home, her man was gone. He’d been snatched up by the police because they thought he was buyin and using drugs,.. But you know what. He didn’t have any, never had any, never used any and just because they could say to a judge that they thought he was involved with drugs, they had the right to take all the things in his house, take his house, his car and everything he had and sell them and take the money for themselves. This poor woman finally gets home, and her husband was in jail, her kids were in foster homes, her house and car and everything she was workin for were sold to the highest bidder! “
“What did she end up doing Patti”, I said, popping the top of a can of Diet Sprite.
“Well there wasn’t much she could do Rosie.” she said shrugging her shoulders. “She got herself a lawyer, but the law’s the law Rosie and they just keep on oppressing her and every other person involved and there wasn’t much her lawyer could do about it, is all. So she came on Oprah to tell her story and try and git people to donate money so they could fight and get the law changed.”
“Sorry to hear it Patti.” I said taking a small swig of my Diet Sprite. “We got some really big problems and issues here in America that we need to get straightened out before we go off to anymore wars or give away millions and billions of dollars to tin-horn dictators in other countries. I just don’t know how it’s all gonna get done Patti. I mean, I really think things are so far gone, they’re irretrievable at this point. Don’t you?”
“That’s a really hard question. It’s so hard to know. I think that Americans by-and-large have just had it. They’ve had it with the gubment telling every body what they can do and takin every last dime we earn and every last thing they can git they hands on anytime they like and whenever they like. I member studying the constitution when I was in school and one of the things the Americans were fighting against in the revolutionary times was the British keeping soldiers in their homes whenever they liked and for as long as they liked. Our own gubment is doing the same thing to us now. They might not keep soldiers in our homes like them British did, but they can tell us what to do, when to do it, for how long to do it and so on and we got nothing at all we can say about it. Nothin! We just have to smile and bend over’s all we can do. Just smile and bend over… Let the gubment take everything and tell us everything we have to do every day of our lives. They use us and abuse us all in the name of what? I surely don’t understand Rosie. I surely don’t.. I think we’re on the brink of a new revolution. I can’t see any way around it. The gubment is outta control. No one at any level in gubment pays the least bit of attention to the law unless it serves their own purposes. The minute the law gits in the way of something they want to do, or making money for themselves, why then the law just don’t matter. It matters plenty when they’re coming after my paycheck, or want to punish me for something I should have done; but not the other way round.”
“I think I’m gonna smoke a cigarette Patti.” I said pulling a pack from the pocket in my gown.
“Now you know you’re not supposed to be smoking Rosie! Why I’ve told you a thousand times that smoking ain’t good for you and we’re not allowed to smoke in our rooms neither..” she said getting up out of her chair and coming toward me. "Where did you git those from?"
“Crack the patio door a little Patti. For heaven’s sake we’re grown adults who have worked all our lives. Don’t you think we can decide what we want to do and when we want to do it!”
Patti stopped and looked at me. I took two cigarettes out of the pack, placed one in my mouth and extended the other to Patti. “Want one friend?” I said looking up at her.
“Why I…” Patti said. Pausing for a moment; “Why uhmmm.. Yes, I do.” she said. “I’d be happy to sit here quietly for awhile, not hurting a soul in this world and have a smoke with you Rosie.”
Patti went over and cracked the patio door a little and I felt the air rush into the room. It felt good. Felt like… freedom. A new kind of wind that has too long been kept out of our homes, our laws and our discourse.
Taking the cig from my hand and placing it into her mouth, Patti said - “If we git caught up in here with these, I’m gonna blame the whole thing on you Rosie.”
“Well Patti, if we get caught, they’ll probably throw us both in jail and throw away the key until we repent of our sinful ways!” I said as I lit the cigarette in my mouth and handed her the lighter.
“We’z bad!” she said sitting back down in her chair and taking a puff off the cig.
“You know it!” I said and giggled a little.
Patti turned the television up a notch or two. Oprah was on…