The war in Iraq was brought home to me last night. Right out of the blue, right into a living room in suburban Las Vegas, Nevada. Brought home and dumped unceremoniously into my mind by a pair of perfectly-coiffed, over-botoxed talking heads grinning like lobotomized idiots as they struggle to keep up with their teleprompters.
Yeah, I’m not a big fan of media flunkies especially those found on local levels the country over.
I’d just gotten home from work. I had kicked off my shoes, poured a tall glass of iced tea, grabbed a handful of Ritz crackers and was beginning to melt into the couch. Seconds after I turned on the tube, I was jolted out of a state of semi-conscious after work funk as faces I knew and knew well began flashing across the TV screen at me. “What in the fuck did these guys do now?” I wondered to myself. Just exactly what sort of trouble did my friends get into that would make the 11:00 clock news? None as it turned out. Fortunately.
I turned up the volume on the tube and just caught the ass end of the story, “… and a memorial service will be held on Sunday, June 19th 2005. His parents would like to thank all of his friends for their continuing support during this time of very great sadness ….”
Cut to commercial.
“Well, what the fu… Whose parents? What happened to who? Where? What in the hell is happening ? And WHY are my idiotic friends on the 11:00 clock news?”
Flipping through the channels real quick I caught the beginning of the story that I’d just previously missed, airing on another local news broadcast. “And in Iraq today, blah blah blah blah blah … a local soldier was killed when his vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb. Corporal Stanley Lapinski, 35, of Las Vegas will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors and…”
I started to get this empty feeling in my body and I began to shake inside just a little bit ever so slightly. It was shock setting in, is what it was. I kept on running the news story through my head. “That cannot be right, must be some mistaken identity” or something. It’s not true, I just saw him a few months back when he was home on leave.
As I ran the scenario through my mind I felt as if I was just waking from a bad dream only to find out that I was still in yet another bad dream. I just kept on telling myself that my friend Stan was not blown to pieces in some filthy assed, godforsaken alley in fucking Baghdad. Nah, he didn’t just lose his life at 35 years young, to some chickenshit cocksucking insurgent in an urban ghetto halfway across the planet.
It didn’t seem real. It still does not seem real. But there he is on the national news. Another number. Another casualty. Another day. His death just one of 7 or 8 others for the day (actually he was killed on the 11th, but it was not reported for a few days, pending notification of next of kin and all that.
I went to bed not too long after I heard the news. I layed there for just about an hour, running it through my mind trying to shake this feeling of surreality that it gave me. I woke up the next morning to my phone ringing. It was my buddy Johnny H., asking if I’d heard the news about Stan. Any hopes of it just being a real bad dream out the window. A few minutes later I was off the phone and I turned on the news. Guess what the first story was ? “A local soldier was killed today in hostilities in Baghdad when his vehicle was targeted by an IED”…
I just fucking lost it. I cried like a damned baby. I cried until I could not cry anymore. Period.
You guys don’t know him personally but you know him. He lives next door to you and works with you. You’ve probably ran into him at the corner bar and had a beer and shot a game of pool. Stan was a cool guy. Easy going, never had a bad word for anyone, liked by all who met him and a good point guard on the B-ball court. Just an all around cool guy.
We were never super close but we were good friends nonetheless. We would run into each other at used record stores. We’d try to make the other guy jealous of our scores and finds, just friendly collector competition shit. We used to be part of the same DJ collective (“Blue Velvet Elvis”) that would throw these crazy “Monday Night, Start The Week Off Right” parties, then laugh as we were suffering our fool asses off the next day at work. We dated a few of the same chicks and exchanged notes and stories on ‘em and usually ended up having a good laugh all about them.
Last time that I saw him was about five months ago. He had thought he was all done with his tour of duty but his unit was held over like so many others. I said goodbye to him with something along the lines of “Later Ram-Bo, don’t wear out your machine gun” or something equally goofy like that. We shook hands and went our ways. I had no idea that I wouldn’t see him again. No one ever does.
So, Stanley, wherever you are, may your soul rest in peace. I’ll miss ya man.