Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Captain Truman and General Percocet
by Pa Rock
Yesterday I had some surgery at Research Hospital in Kansas City which,
although the surgery was completely successful, required spending the night at the hospital for observation. The nurse came in around 9:00 p.m. with some meds, including two kick-ass pain pills (percocets), and soon I was snoozing peacefully, and deeply, while visions of sugarplums danced in my head.
The lights in my room were off and I couldn’t see the clock, but it was somewhere close to the midpoint of the night when I felt a strange presence hovering over me. There was just enough light seeping in around the door to reveal a relatively short man wearing an old military uniform and wire–rimmed glasses.
“Sir,” my visitor said, “I'm off to make rounds and check on the sentries.”
Although the effects of the surgery had worn off, apparently the Percocet had not.
Bewildered and trying to clear the sleep from my head, I managed to mumble, “Are you my nurse?”
“Nurse? Nurse! Hell no - sir!” He clicked his bootheels together smartly and issued a sharp salute. “Captain Truman, Harry S., reporting as ordered, General Pershing!”
“Captain Harry Truman, CO of Battery D, 129th Field Artillery.”
“Captain,” I said trying to gain some control of the situation, “I think you are a little confused. Do you know where you are?”
“We’re in a hospital, General.”
Me, hopefully, “That’s right!”
“A field hospital in the Argonne Forest – and outside is France, as far as the eye can see!”
“Actually, Captain Truman, we’re on the sixth floor of Research Hospital in Kansas City.”
“Kansas City! Why I grew up in Kansas City, and my sweetheart, Bess, lives there now. But I don’t remember any six-story hospitals.”
“It’s actually seven stories,” I elaborated. “And you have been here before. In fact, you spent quite a bit of time on this very floor.”
“Yes, Captain, you did. In fact, sir, you died here, just down the hall and around the corner.”
I’m afraid so, Captain. More than forty years ago.”
“But I’m only thirty-four years old!”
“You were eighty-eight when you passed away.”
A cloud of bewilderment slowly crossed the face of the nocturnal visitor, and with its passing he aged into the elder statesman that America knew and loved so well. “So that’s it,” he said with more than a little regret in his voice. “Life ran off and left me – and I don’t have anything to show for it.”
‘You had four fine grandsons and your own library.”
“A library! I had a library? I’ve always loved to read!”
“Yes Captain, a beautiful library, just over in Independence. Maybe you should go haunt that.”
Haunt? You mean I’m a ghost?”
“Either that or a drug-induced hallucination. “
He turned and opened the door to leave. “Well, if that’s the case, I believe I will go find that library. I probably have a lot of history to catch up on.”
“Indeed you do. Head east, Captain. Your library is in Independence.”
“Thank you, sir, I will.” And with that he snapped his heels and popped another sharp salute. “Good evening to you, General Pershing.”
“Percocet,” I replied dully.
“Yes, sir. If you say so, sir. Good evening, General Percocet.”
“And a very good evening to you, Captain Truman.”
Then he was gone – more gone than me!