I can’t believe I’m doing something so 20th century as writing a letter on paper, but the doctors won’t let me have a laptop on account of all the machines they’ve got hooked up to me. Everyone thinks we’re lucky to have the government paying for our health care with so many people broke these days, but these people clearly haven’t been stuck in a V.A. hospital bed. This damn place is worse than a ship’s boiler room. Remember when we pulled that double shift overnight and had to clean out the bilge? Sixteen hours - we were such a mess when we got out; must’ve taken me days to get all that grease and oil and shit out of places I don’t even want to think about. But that place was Central Park compared to this hospital. You know those fluorescent lights you see in loony bins in the movies? I swear they get those lights from this place. They’re more than just institutional. The light’s all dingy and green; my head’s hurting from the flickering. And this bed must be from World War II. It takes two nurses to lift the head so I can sit up or lie down. The crappy thing’s not even motorized! What’s that about?
Oh, I got to tell you about this nurse, man. He’s a SEAL – in other words, a crazy person. Did you ever meet any SEALs? I never did and man, am I glad. This guy definitely lives up to their reputation for insanity. He told me all of these stories about killing people in Afghanistan – and I’m not convinced they were all soldiers and terrorists. Sure, we all have those sorts of stories, but I swear he actually misses getting to shoot people every day. I wish he’d stay away when my parents are here or at least keep his mouth shut. Even in front of my mother it was all “fuck this” and “fuck that.” “Don’t worry, ma’am, we’ll take care of your son’s fucking burns.” I wish I weren’t stuck in this bed or I’d take care of him, SEAL or not. Remember when Spencer mouthed off in front of Old Cyclops’s wife? Cyclops hit him so hard he went flying into the hall! Hah! SEALs don’t have that kinda discipline and really shouldn’t be let back into the general population. Can’t they set up a camp or something for them? Tell you what, I’ll be sleeping with one eye open if that nutcase ever takes a night shift.
Hey, you should come visit me when you’re next on leave. I can’t offer much in the way of amenities, though if you come on a holiday, there are these nice ladies who bring a real home-cooked meal. Great that someone appreciates what we do. People get all pissy because they didn’t want the war – yeah, like we did. Anyway, I never even got to see a battle, go figure. Who’d’ve thought that I’d be burned up just because Johnson didn’t check the fuel pump properly? Shit like that is routine, man.
Remember me talking about my girl Lizzie? I missed her so much when I was at sea. Well, I haven’t seen Lizzie for a while. She came once, right after the fire. She just cried the whole time, and I guess I can’t blame her, seeing as how I was all covered in bandages. I guess I kinda looked like that charcoaled guy in the video we watched about liquid oxygen burns. Lizzie didn’t get that I’ll be just fine in a few months. I don’t think she’s coming back, Frankie. I suppose I’ll meet someone else if when I get out of here.
I never thought much about interior decorating (and this is gonna sound kinda gay) but these walls are starting to get to me. It shouldn’t be legal to make paint that color, let alone put it up where people are already sick enough. I’m just glad I can’t see the floor from my bed; mom says it’s “off-taupe.” What the hell is taupe anyway? I bet women make up colors to make us men feel like assholes.
Well, I’ll have to finish up soon because I can hear the lunch cart squeaking down the hall. Meals used to be a good thing, you know, even when the food was bad. We worked up such an appetite through the day. I’m just not that hungry anymore. You can see my ribs now – mom’s awful worried. I told her she’s being silly; I’ll be just fine, right? Mom always worries. Do me a favor when you visit and bring me a bacon cheeseburger. You’ll have to be careful bringing it in so Murse Crazy Seal doesn’t snipe you, but I think it’s worth the risk.
Look, don’t wait too long to come see me, ok? I’m getting bored and I’m pretty sure this place is designed to kill people. Civilians get all upset about Gitmo, but they don’t care much about their vets coming to places like this. I’m not talking about myself here, I’ll be fine, but what about the ones that are really hurt? Maybe I’ll call the Post, see if they’ll do a - whaddyacallit – “exposay.” Think they’ll send a cute reporter with a sympathetic ear? I like the blonde one who writes about the internet, but I guess she wouldn’t do a military story. Oh well. I can’t talk much on account of that tube they stuck down my throat, anyway.
Ok, it’s chow time. Smells like meatloaf. Sort of. I’ll write to you again real soon, I promise. I’ll keep on your ass ‘til you get out here! Say hi to all the guys.