Saturday, March 12, 2011

Chapter One

“Gimmie another one, Fred”, said Willy, pointing to his just downed scotch on the rocks. He was on his fourth or fifth one now, nothing new – he drank about 5 or 6 of them every night after work. He lived a few blocks south of Fred’s bar, “The Spot”, and he worked at a VA hospital, a few blocks north of Fred’s.

Willy wasn’t much for walking, but had little choice – his old beater had finally died some years back, and because of numerous bad choices, he was in no position to buy another one. A chief reason he disliked walking to work, Fred’s and home, was due in no large part to the fact that he was walking on the streets of Los Angeles.
LA is truly one of the worst places to not own a car. Nothing makes you feel more like a loser than not having a car in LA. He’d tried the bus a few times, but if walking made him feel poor, then riding a bus made him feel even poorer. Most LA buses were rolling tenements, in his opinion.

Walking also gave Willy a lot of time to reflect on the sad state of his life. He’d often rue how he was on the cusp of something big more than once, but inevitably would find his prospects thwarted by the capriciousness of fate, the unpredictability of people, and his own poor timing and judgment. For decades, Willy had clung to his dreams of greatness, and had sweat blood and tears trying to make them happen. For over 30 years, he’d given his all trying to build a successful, local-market advertising agency.

The job had cost him his marriage, his prized possessions, his investments, and eventually, his home. And at that point, the dream died forever.

After his nervous breakdown, and a brief period in a halfway house, Willy found a job as a file clerk in a VA Hospital. The work was rote, and the pay was enough to pay his weekly tab at Fred’s. And while he had no friendships at the hospital (some of his co-workers called him crazy – as if occasionally muttering to oneself is so extreme), Willy didn’t mind. Years of getting screwed over had robbed him of his desire for much human contact.

And all this time to himself meant that inevitably, dreams of another kind started to swirl about in Willy’s head. Thoughts that Willy himself, termed “crazy.” Impossible pie in the sky thoughts. And one notion in particular had assumed a vice-like grip upon Willy’s psyche of late.

It wasn’t a dream of riches, or fame. Or of companionship. It was a dream of selflessness. Something noble; something for the good of a society in which he was invisible.

The greatest impact upon Willy of working at the VA hospital had nothing to do with his work, but rather, the surroundings of his work. Seeing all those wounded soldiers and permanently disabled veterans, made Willy come to despise war. A natural reaction in most people, to be sure. But Willy had been fantasizing about doing something about it. Something to end it.

And the more he thought about it, the more it seemed possible. His surname, features and fluency in the enemy’s language (his parents were immigrants from there) meant that he could walk amongst those peoples unperturbed. That he could strike at the enemy from within. The hardest part, frankly, would be getting all the paperwork required for travel!

And as Willy sat there, working on his fourth or fifth scotch, he decided that now was the time to take action. To live for something. To do something grand – not just for himself, but for his country – indeed, for the world. Willy was going to bring this war to an abrupt close. He was going to kill the leader of America’s enemy.

He gulped down the last of his drink, slammed the tumbler down, which caught Fred’s attention, and looking him squarely in the eye, exclaimed with gusto, “Fred, I’m going to kill Hitler!”



Chapter Two

“Willy”, said Fred calmly and with some concern upon his face, “Hitler’s been dead for over sixty years.”

“Oh, wait. Really? Yes, I think you may be right”, said Willy. “May be right. Ok, let me think on this some more…and gimmie another scotch on the rocks.”

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