Charley Gets Married

Sit at Panera with Charley, disabled veteran of Vietnam era antiwar movement, prolific writer of freewrites and haikus. Describes himself as recognized expert on PTSD based on his experience battling it. Says he has traveled widely to address conferences; others have urged him to submit his lectures and opinions to Newsweek for publication. Right corner of his mouth rises slightly, see beginning of smile.

Tells me about his dream. He’s in Saigon trying to drive down a long road. Traffic is stopped, even on the dirt roads that run parallel to the main road. Armed guards are at every intersection. “I started talking with one guard. I remember him being child-like. The scene went hazy after that and I was uncomfortable that I had had that dream.”

On 100% disability. Knows any money he makes will reduce benefits. Wants my advice on how he might become a professional writer so he can raise the $10,000 he needs to bring recently married second wife, love at first sight, victim of sex abuse and PTSD, up from Louisiana.

Pretty certain likelihood is impossible for his immediate need. Suggest he call Newsweek and tell them what he’s got. They could take it as is or suggest a rewrite. Have to believe it can happen.

I ask, “Can’t you just drive her up in a car?”

He says, “She has a better mattress than I have. And her sculptures won’t fit in a car.” Drifts off momentarily. Returns discussing different subject.