Reading at one of our local Starbucks, I was, as is often the case, lost in my book. But I looked up when a late 20s-early 30s blonde and bearded man sat down at a table across the way. I noticed that he was holding his cup of coffee in an odd way. And then I realized that where his right hand should have been there were a pair of stainless steel hooks. Sad, I thought. And yet he seemed cheerful and optimistic. I wondered if I would be in such good spirits if I had lost a hand in an accident. I went back to reading, but looked up again when he fumbled with the sleeves of his jacket. And then I saw that he had no left hand either. Instead, a pair of hooks, left and right, where hands and fingers should be. What terrible accident could have caused a young man to lose both hands, I wondered. Perhaps I was more sensitive than usual, but I was moved almost to tears as I watched him manipulate his coffee and his napkin and his muffin with his mechanical prosthetics. Soon his young and attractive girlfriend joined him. She came on aluminum crutches. "Must have broken her foot," I thought. Then I saw that there was no foot and that she had only one leg.
I'm slow, but I figured it out at last.
Soldiers. Home from Iraq. Bombs -- IEDs -- took off his hands and her leg. They met at a rehabilitation hospital. Fell in love. They're trying to start life over again.
I'm not ashamed that I turned away and started to cry.
And then grief converted to anger.
That damned useless war! That idiot ignoramus Bush! That villain Cheney!. Those two megalomaniacs, and their co-conspirators, who started this war -- they're sitting pretty right now, aren't they? But these young folks right next to me -- they're not sitting so comfortably. They've paid the price.
Belatedly, I wish them all the joy that life can offer. As for crazy George and strutting Dick, there's no penalty that they can pay, there's no retribution sufficient -- but if their pernicious bodies would rot half a centimeter a day, why, that would be a start.