It's Going to be a Nice One."Good day," Ron says as I walk up to his garage, "It's going to be a nice one." Ron has dementia, he will say this several more times, at pauses in the conversation as a way of getting it going again. He's a feature of my morning walk, sitting in his garage and waving at people as they go by walking or in their cars. Most wave back; some of us come over and talk. Normally I stand and talk for about five minutes, but today is hot and the remainder of my journey is up hill to my house, so I sit down. Ron is a good listener and a good conversationalist if you don't mind him not remembering what you talked about yesterday or even five minutes ago. He and I swap stories about our military pasts - he was a Marine in Korea, I was in the Army during Vietnam - but he doesn't hold my Army past against me. He laughs at my jokes, no matter how many times I've told them before. I laugh at his, too; he's a good storyteller. For all that he is a nice guy, he was a proper and tough Marine; a little "Semper Fi" sign is propped up against the leg of his chair. When he says, "It's going to be a good one," he's referring to the blue sky, a few wisps of cloud, the almost perfect Southern California temperature (even on a hot day like this it's only in the 80s), with just a touch of wind. Ron doesn't like it when it's windy. I like talking to Ron. I feel like I'm doing a good deed, giving him some human companionship, but I also enjoy our conversations and I hope someone will do the same for me when I get to his age. He lives alone and seems to manage. His daughter only lives a few miles away and stops by to make sure he's got what he needs. Today I spend more time than usual sitting and talking; I have a few things I want to do, but the day is comparatively light. After about fifteen minutes of talking I get up to go and that's when it happens. A spaceship lands in Ron's driveway and two giant wasps jump out holding what look like science fictional ray guns in their hairy forward legs. That may be why I decide this is an advance party of their invasion. My father was in the cavalry in military school. There were only two things he passed on to me from that period of his life. One was about keeping your gig line straight: the line of buttons in your shirt lined up with the fly of your trousers. The other was if you ride over a hill and discover an army marching toward your own, you attack, hoping to make enough noise to alert your own army behind you, and to slow the enemy enough for your people to get ready. I only remember that after, but it might have been the reason. Whatever it is, I charge at the wasps with everything I have. I would have won, too, but as I am atop the first wasp, punching him to kingdom come while green slime spouts from his wounds, the second wasp gets my neck in his mandibles. I'm done for, but hopefully my sacrifice will mean something in the coming war, I try to turn, but my neck is held fast. And then released in a gush of purple slime. Now I can turn. There is Ron, with a stick of wood in his hand and a grim look on his face. I look at the handle and then at Ron raising my eyebrows. He says to me, "It's the handle off a sledge hammer. I keep it handy; you never know when you'll need it." We turn to the spaceship expecting I don't know what, laser cannon fire, more wasps, some sort of retaliation, but it just rattles a little bit and takes off in a burst of fire. We watch it go. He walks back to his garage and sits down. I say something about needing to get on with my day, wave goodby, and turn to walk up my hill. "Have a good day," he says, ""It's going to be a nice one."
21 Apr 2023
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