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For unforgotten friends & veterans of the forgotten wars
Based in part on “unforgettable” experiences---

“If it’s not in writing, it never happened.”*

“The Real War Will Never Get Into the Books”
--Walt Whitman, Specimen Days

*(Common phrase, also a sign frequently found in offices for the prison system & the poor, & at Behavioral Treatment & Health and Human Services offices, etc.)

Many times in life, telling stories, giving reports, some persons refuse to believe me. It’s all made-up, they say, exaggerations, hallucinations, imaginations. Nothing could be so strange.
And yet it’s all true. It just takes place during a war they forget to tell anybody about.
And that is why you, too, may refuse to believe. After all, how—or why—could anyone forget to tell anybody a war is going on?
Yes—how or why could anybody ever forget to tell anybody such a thing?

A war-torn world in which all the same fireworks are seen through the trees above the long wooden table where they’re beginning to be seated for the extended family Holiday meal. Snipers among the diners kneeling beside bushes, among the small trash heaps, behind bullet pocked cars. Motorcyclists approaching, machine gunners riding in sidecars beside them. The children are lost in the wonder of exploding pinwheels, bursting stars.

“What’d they do, have a war in here and forget to tell anybody about it, man?” The Troll spits in an arc from the shattered sidewalk, through the shoved open door, into a once-room of broken glass and smashed plaster.
“Yeah. It’s like one of them movie sets. You know, the front wall’s a façade, and behind is nothin’.”
“Nothin’ but junk, looks like to me. Shit man, they drop a bomb in here or somethin’? Looks like photos of Germany or Japan at the end of the War.”
Moving slowly through the rubble. It seems to be smoking, so thick are the plaster and brick dust motes visible in the sunlight shafts swarming through gaping holes and fissures in the used-to-be walls.
Scattered among the debris, tortured remains of electrical equipment, outlets, switches, wall and ceiling fixtures, telephones, desk machines . . . the secretarial lobby area for a central command of skeletons and ghosts . . .
Skeins of loose cables and wiring swaying tendril-like in the flows of aquarium tinted air. An eerie phosphorescence flickering among shadows . . . for a moment wondering if the metallic tendrils are not the moving gestures of mutated beings, their huge-eyed bodies lying camouflaged among the heaps of rubble, watching us, toying with us, letting us enter deeper into their lair.

The West Wing of the Hospital is under reconstruction, so the addicts and alcoholics housed there for treatment have to be taken to the Psych Ward to smoke. Between the areas, a corridor, with on the Psych side a heavy door, with thick glass window containing a heavy metal mesh.

As their own door opens and the Behavioral Treatment patients emerge into the corridor, a mob of Psychs in flapping bathrobes and Johnnies hurtle towards them, shrieking and keening in high pitched tones.
“Don’t let them grab the matches!! For God’s sake, don’t let them grab the matches or snatch the lighters!!” The Nurse is shouting, out of sheer habit...

Pleading faces, searing eyes, clutching, clawing hands, kicking feet, churning tongues—bodies attacking on all fronts, wheedling, cajoling and assaulting for a match, a lighter, a cigarette, or a quick grope. A smell of chemical cleaners and hair gels, body odors and cheap perfumes hangs tattered in the shredded air. A woman smiles seductively and raises her Johnnie, exposing her crotch.
“Bitch like to smoke after sex,” a thick tranquilizer-slurred voice somewhere in the mob booms.
“Me, too, me, too!!!” screams a little old woman, a faded scarf wrapped around her head. “Me, too!” She lifts her Johnnie even higher than did the first woman, exposing wrinkled breasts the color and shape of dates.

Finally the fumbling fingers of the Nurse get the smoking room door open and the addicts and drunks file in. As soon as the door closes, faces smear distortedly against the glass, wild eyes watching every gesture of the cigarette lighting rituals, their distended pupils howling with nicotine hunger.
A sudden banging sound at the base of the door—and there, at the crack between floor and door bottom—lips, open mouths—sucking in what they can of the smoke drifting in the room’s sun-filled air. Some of the smoke is sucked out through this tiny crack, and there await the sucking mouths of the fanatics to try to receive their Communion Hit. At the meshed window stand those not aggressive enough to have gained a place at the Feast. Hungry eyes greedily staring, their sweating palms streak the glass as through the meshing they watch, hypnotized, the trajectories of smoke with riveted fascination.

The Troll is trudging along through the heaps of rubble, kicking at bits of brick and stone, shoving at bits and pieces of fallen rafters. The succession of huge shafts of light pouring through the demolished parts of the walls followed by areas of cool shadow, dim and echoing with a distant dripping, is sending me into memories and dreams of the insides of other Cathedrals. Organ music of Bach playing by Messien at Saint Sulpice following morning Mass long ago. . . smoking hashish in the dim corridors of an ancient winding-staired building . . . the sound of pigeons outside a window overlooking the roofs on a day which---

The Troll is grabbing my shoulder. “Hey man, don’t drift off on me, now. We gotta find this dude.”
The Cathedral, though, remains with me, and walking among the shadows, seeing across the bare, chilly wind-swept stone floors, somewhere in the dim distance, the flickering shadows of—
“Come on, man, snap outta it! We gotta find this dude, man.”

On and on through the shadows the figure went, and I following after, begin to realize his face keeps changing as I see it through his back. Yes, through the cloak on his back I see the face. Not unlike Laurence Olivier as Richard the Third. And hoping all this time it might be a poet, a Saint.
And then words rise up, echoing in organ tones from among the rubble, distinct notes which create letters which produce words which turn into colors and become “illuminated manuscripts.”

And at the hospital among the screaming, desperate words flares up violently the flaming head of a patient who has somehow seized a lighter and, playing with it desperately, trying to light anything that she might be able to smoke, has set fire to her hair. Her screaming mouth is a fountain of sounds amidst the aureole of flames leaping from her burning head. Fascinated, not fearful, many others run to her side and start sticking their fingers and hands into the mounting blaze, while the nurses come running with fire extinguishers.

Jet fueled by adrenaline, the suddenly violent and powerful patients knock down the nurses and beat them with the fire extinguishers, as the burning head supplies them with ever more fire with which to light hastily grabbed magazines, newspaper, prescription pads, toilet paper, tampons, cotton swabbing, bits and pieces of torn down patients’ art works decorating the hall walls.

Watching the pyre of documents and objects burn with maniacal eyes, the patients are ignited by a fiery, ecstatic energy and begin to rush through the corridors, rooms and nurses’ station

Locked inside the smoking room and protected by the extra thick reinforced and wire mesh -netted door and window, the addicts watch with a detached amusement.

A War they forgot to tell anybody about has exploded in the rooms and corridors in the nurses’ station and threatens to spread to other floors as maddened patients smash through the doors leading to the stair wells, and begin climbing, some up and some down, with their flaming torches, and, in some cases, with their own hair and bodies on fire.

One contingent has broken down the doors to the medicine dispensary, and literally enflamed hands and minds are grabbing at any thing they can get their hands on, wildly swallowing pills and tossing syringes about the clean-tiled floors. The sounds of breaking glass and rolling pills, the odors of chemicals being unleashed like genies from their bottles, fill the turbulent and heat seething air, thickened by smoke and the sounds of choking, sobbing voices.

The addicts remain safely locked into their fire resistant room, watching with detachment. A detachment soon shattered when firemen break down the door and drag them out of the hospital, throwing them on to the lawn out front, ordering them to stay there for the sake of their own lives, and not to add further confusion to the out of control scene.

The flame-howling patients who have found their ways to the ground floor are stumbling out of various exits, some of them bearing chemicals with them from the nurses’ station which suddenly explode as they lose balance and fall on the ground.

Others, finding themselves atop the roof, have begun to hurl flaming objects down at the watching crowd and the earnest faced policemen and firemen. M any of them were fearful enough of the insane to begin with, are truly terrified now by the adrenaline amped strength and flaming faces and figures who mock them from above or come flaming out the exit doors , exploding on the lawns and, miraculously still living, come hurtling straight towards them like Kamikaze pilots.

Inside the dimness of the bombed out Cathedral architectures of the subterranean corridors and labyrinths of the abandoned building, the Troll and I stumbled on, following a suddenly noticeable smell of smoke, an odor of burning. Somewhere ahead of us there were smashings and sounds of shouting, and the sudden pop pop of a gun being fired. In the distance in the dimness flared the quick, staccato gun blasts, and by the mounting glow on the sides of the cavernous walls we could see with growing clarity the ritual performance taking place on a small stage in the Theater of the War nobody had been told was going on.

Reaching the crumbling remains of a once-wall of a once-room of some kind, most likely an old storage room for the workshops once there, we quickly cleared away some junk and made a rudimentary structure to use as an “observation post.” We used one side of it as a barricade and squatted down behind it, clutching in our hands the thickest pipe pieces we could find. Unfortunately, many were of lead, too soft and pliable for our purposes; the search for weapons among the broken machine parts was taking more time than we wanted it to.

Clutching our finally found metal clubs we watched as someone emerged from out of the shadows to one side of the cave-like opening ahead and marched towards the flame-lit wall that we could see. From the shadow it cast we could see that it was a figure with a full face mask on, with gloves on the hands. These gloved hands held the tightly bound ends of a rope which was wrapped around a hooded figure, whose arms could not move and eyes could not see. Even the feet seemed to be bound with some kind of restraints. Both their shadows grew to huge proportions as they neared the orange and red flame-colored wall.

Inside the hospital, fires were being put out and the injured cared for and carried away. All the same, there still remained a number of the incendiary rioters roaming the corridors and guarding the roof top.

Suddenly realizing that the patients must have broken into the drug cabinets and helped themselves to God knows what all combinations of chemicals, a small group of doctors and nurses lay siege to the police and fire officers. Screaming that the patients were not themselves so dangerous, but only made so by the mega doses of meds, proved to be not at all as reassuring to the officers as they had hoped.

You mean those motherfuckers ain’t just crazy they’re loaded too?
shouted a thick set fireman running by with a length of hose, while a police officer swore stormily and spat profusely, cursing the day the crazies had been made crazier by drug stoking doctors working for the pharmaceutical companies. He knew all about it he said—because—look u p there!! That’s my daughter! Those fuckheads took away her life and my baby girl.

Seized suddenly by a convulsive rage, the officer began firing at one of the small groups of doctors, screaming that he would wreak justice for the crimes of the drug companies and their paid off accomplices, those fucking drug pushers called doctors who all deserved to be publicly executed for their tortures of the innocent.

Suddenly, as though providing back up, there was a rapid burst of fire from the rooftops, also targeting a group of doctors. Someone screamed—oh my God! They’ve caught some officers and taken all their weapons!

Oh shit, not a hostage situation, a large angry cop said to another. Shit, these assholes ain’t crazy—they’ve just watched too much motherfucking TV.

Talk ‘bout TV Sir—here they come!

The place was being surrounded by a horde of TV trucks, with cables and cameras and cute reporters emerging and swiftly taking control of most of the parameters the police and firemen had negligently left open. Every time an officer spoke to them, asking them to move, they aimed a camera at him or her, baiting them to explode for the evening news so the situation could be blamed on somebody, anybody, but certainly not on the heavy advertising revenues-producing Hospital and insurance companies, and certainly not the pharmaceutical companies and doctors’ associations.

Self-importantly occupied with taking up their battle stations and beating back the police, the newspersons so far had not noticed the apparently allied gun fire from the rooftop and the crazed, vengeful officer. Seeing his fellow officers being shoved about and having cameras thrust in their faces, the already enraged officer launched into a catharsis-driven all out unloading of his weapons in to the midst of the media, while from above there rained down a hail of heavy back -up fire. Not only were a great many persons hit, and much equipment shattered, but it appeared the snipers from above were targeting also the gas tanks of the vehicles, several of which exploded into mini-infernos. Then all Hell broke loose . . .

Mounting the stage of heaped and arranged rubble with the glowing walls as backdrop, the face-masked figure calmly turned the hooded one to face an unseen audience. Placing a gun to the hooded head, the figure behind it unloaded three shots, exploding the skull among shreds of torn cloth, hair, skin and brains. The remnants of an ear landed neatly atop a slight outcropping, which held it aloft as elegantly as though it were a hat hung from a hat stand.

Having found our way as silently and invisibly as possible out of the labyrinthine Cathedral where the Theatrical Cinema of Catharsis of Concealed Faces had taken place, the Troll and I stood again looking at the battered and drab façade which kept the secret ceremonies of the Untold War so well hidden.

You know man, Walt Whitman wrote of the Civil War in his book Specimen Days that the real War will never get into the books. The war, the unwritten war—that lies buried in the countless anonymous graves scattered across the shattered landscapes.

Yeah, the Troll says, the War they Forgot to tell Anybody About.

Shrugging our shoulders, we walked off in the grey rain through more grey streets to find some place to shoot up the dope baggies we had found among the stones and machine parts. Probably left there in an attempt at hiding them by the person in the hood who no longer existed and would never come back to retrieve them.

Even if there wasn’t no War, somebody sure got to take home the Spoils of War—hey!

Well then, they wouldn’t be spoils of War now, would they? If they wasn’t no War--

No—just Acts of God, heroin from heaven.

The War they forgot to tell anybody about . . .

Somewhere in time and space, among memories and dreams, among the scenes of other lifetimes lived, passing in front of the eyes in the Cinema of Catharsis, the Real War of the hospital was being heavily edited and censored, by the TV station, by the police, the firemen, by the doctors, the nurses, the drug companies, the insurance corporations, before it would be broadcast and join all the Real Wars never to be written, never to be told---

You see why no one believes these stories of mine. You never heard of them before, never read about them and never saw them on TV.

That alone gives evidence enough to begin to realize that for this very reason, they are Real, the Real War that never got into the books, the unwritten, the untold War---
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