Wednesday, March 28, 2007

One At A Time

Last night on the way home, I stopped for a beer with the girlfriends. It was Taco Tuesday at the local VFW, and since I could rate yesterday in the Top 10 Sucky Days at work, I decided Old Sarge could suffer with tacos or go hungry, I wasn’t cooking. So I’m waiting for my take-out, chatting with the girls, not really noticing that a young man has walked in and is sitting a barstool away from me. His hat is pulled way down, so I can’t see his face. Bev the Bartender leans over to me and says that he said he is from my VFW post. I look over. I know this young man; he is a Navy OIF vet who is out of the service now.

RM: Brian, remember me?
Brian: I know you from Rochelle, don’t I? I’m sorry, I forgot your name.
RM: Raging Mom, I know your dad and stepmom. Hey, let me buy you a beer.
Brian: Thanks! This is my first time in here, thought I’d try it.
RM: Well, it’s not as fun as our Post, but a nice port in the storm. They have tacos tonight, you should try some.

I am noticing that he looks tired, and has probably had a few beers elsewhere. But his hat is tipped back a little now, and I got a smile out of him.

Brian: I’m living over here now, but working at XXX over at Rochelle. Just moved to ***apartments from ###apartments.
RM: The one that burned down last month??
Brian: Yep.
RM: Hey, did you lose anything? Do you have what you need right now?
Brian: Oh yeah, I’m good, thanks though. Wilma asked me the same thing. She’s something.

(Wilma is the bar manager at our Post, and quite possibly a force of nature. One of my best friends.)

RM: Okay, but you know who to ask if you do. Do you ever hang out at The Well?
Brian: Yeah, I do as a matter of fact.
RM: I just wondered if you’ve met my boy, Eldest Son. He used to bartend there and still hangs out quite a bit.
Brian: ES?? The Marine? You’re his mom?? Yeah, he was the first guy who talked to me when I went in there.
(This doesn’t surprise me, but it makes me smile)

A basket of tacos now appears in front of him. I grab the ticket, then pay for my own, too.

Brian: Hey, you didn’t have to do that.
RM: I know, just eat up. Here’s my address and phone number. We’re just up the street from you a few blocks. It’s getting about the time of year that we sit out back, have a fire and have a few beers at night. You should stop by!
Brian: I will, thanks. I’m glad I ran into you tonight.
RM: Me too, sweetie, but I’m at the end of my leash, so I gotta run. See ya!
Brian: Thanks, Mom!

He’s been drifting a little since he got out, I can tell. I have seen him in Rochelle occasionally, having a few too many, living in a not-so-nice apartment, working a factory job. Making the transition that so many of the young vets are doing.

The Bible tells us we should be fishers of men. That’s how I feel we can help these young kids who are looking for…something…a little breathing room, acceptance, a place to fit in, maybe sanctuary. Maybe they are just waiting for us to reel them in home.


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