Part 4 - Erik Teaches More About Valor

POW's in 'Nam:

"Within ten hours of my capture, I was en route to Hanoi. At a pontoon bridge, I was taken out of a truck and jammed into a narrow ditch. The soldiers who were guarding the bridge took turns to see who could hit my face the hardest. After the contest, they tried to force dog dung through my teeth, bounced rocks off my chest, jabbed me with their gun barrels, and bounced the back of my head off the rocks that lay in the bottom of the ditch."


"I begged the Vietnamese to set my broken arm and relocate my dislocated shoulder. My requests were ignored. I then begged them to let another American come into my room to help me relocate my shoulder. I received answers such as 'You have bad attitude. You are black criminal and you deserve to suffer.'"
Erik in LA:
For the first day of E3, I managed to jam myself into a child's vintage trucker t-shirt I won in an Ebay auction for six dollars. It ripped a little up the back while I was squeezing into it, and Sean told me I looked like a tiny porcelain Incredible Hulk only more credible. Compliments make me nervous, so the only response I could think of was that he looked like a tiny porcelain Hulk too. Chet's always on the lookout for any subtle indication that Sean and I are either fully gay or edging towards gayness on some sliding scale he's developed in his ample spare time. Sometimes he'll come up with completely non-traditional gay indicators to catch us off guard. For instance, you might be using a straw for drinking and Chet will all of a sudden turn mean and say "Nice sissy stick, fag" and then start gulping his pop right out of the cup, like there's no question that straws have always been incredibly queer. Sean and I complimenting each other's clothes and physiques is probably more on the less esoteric side of Chet's scale, so it really set him off. Earlier, he'd found an oversize Chinese language big-print Bible at the bottom of a drawer in our hotel room, and now he bounced it off the back of my head. He said something too, but I didn't catch it because of the flash and loud electrical pop my head made when the book slammed into the thin layer of bone that separates my brain from Chet. A little blood spurted out of my ear. Chet said he'd done me a favor by creating a drainage sluice for all the blood that my body would normally use to fuel my frequent nosebleeds. I was still sort of dazed, so I didn't get his hint until he started saying it again and poking me in the chest. Okay, okay, thank you, thank you for helping me, I said. Thank you, I added. Satisfied, he marched off into the crowd.

After my vision mostly cleared, I found Sean talking to some Tradeshow ladies who were handing out the daily E3 magazine. Can I have one of those? I asked. One of them told Sean to tell me no. I asked if I could just have a page so I could wad it up and stick it in my ear hole to stop the bleeding. Instead of answering my question, the other lady asked Sean what was wrong with my eye. I told her I couldn't make it open all the way anymore because of my new concussion. Then the first one asked Sean what was the deal with my tiny t-shirt.

It means I'm bad... to... the... bone, I said, touching each word as I spoke it. I explained that I wanted to get a shirt that said I was bad all the way through my bones to the other side, rendering me completely bad, but they don't make those, I guess.

Addressing me directly, she asked if I was really a trucker. You tell me, I said: 10-4 breaker for a radio check. I'm bound for Hog Town and lookin' for a pickle park. Copy that, I got a load of toothpicks, a kojak with a kodak, the mountie county, and I'll be ridin' the granny lane clear to Sussex, England. That's the big four-oh, little buddy, over and out.

She guessed no, and I told her, yeah, not as such, but one time I pulled into a weigh station on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and a guy came out of the booth and asked me what the hell I was doing. I told him I was driving along and started to worry that I might be HAULIN' TOO MUCH ASS! Then I did a neutral drop, smoked the tires, and sped off at one hundred miles per hour. Or at least that was the plan until the transmission fell out of my Tempo while executing the neutral drop portion of the plan. After I started crying, truckers helped me get to a place where I could fix the Tempo. So, while I'm not a trucker la per se, we share a mutual respect.

Then she asked if that was a Confederate flag on my shirt. I don't know, I said, maybe... Who wants to know? She ignored that and asked if I was pro-slavery. Let's put it this way: Since I am bad... to... the... bone..., I said while touching the words with my finger again, I don't think it would be a big freakin' shock to anyone if I were pro-slavery.

You do know the Confederate flag is a symbol of slavery, right?, she asked me. I told her all I knew for sure was that it's a symbol of truckers and how did she think the pen that Abraham Lincoln used to sign the Emancipation Proclamation got to the store where he bought it? Probably on a train, she guessed - wildly. Not unless you're talking about the Robomancipation Proclamation from the year ten thousand, I said.


Life in the year 10,000. Not pictured: The Statue of Liberty... WITH A BARCODE ON ITS NECK!
The pen got there on a truck driven by a trucker, so we did our part, I told her. She said they didn't have trucks back then. I countered that oh yeah they did. Maybe you're thinking about magical flying trucks which they still don't have, I added while flapping my arms and making a magic noise that's kind of hard to describe. You mean cargo planes? she asked. Last I heard, planes aren't held in the air by magic and driven by truckers, I said. I gave Sean a wink and a little elbow to the stomach. She said, ok then, let's say they had trucks - then trucks must have also been used to transport slaves.

And that's the point where I became tired of that topic. Do you even know what Baldur's Gate is? I asked her. When she didn't respond, I said yeah, that's what I thought and stormed off.
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