by OPOVV, ©2016
(Apr. 5, 2016) — “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to another educational and entertaining episode of ‘Pulse of the Nation.’ We’ve come a long way since our first broadcast under the awning across from the railroad station, all the way to our city’s convention center to act as Master of Ceremonies at this year’s ‘The Audie Murphy PTSD Awards’ show.
“This year the emphasis has been on the warning signs of PTSD. We’ve had a record number of applications for first prize: a cabin in the middle of nowhere. Thousands of stories about having lost it have been scrutinized and judged, and it’s all come down to the final two contestants.
“Each of the contestants will have a chance to tell his story, at which time the judges will announce the winner. First to tell his story is James Nichols.
“Welcome, James, and congratulations on making it this far.”
“Excuse me, Roving, but the word ‘congratulations’ doesn’t quite cut it. What I’m saying is that some sort of trauma had to occur to each of us contestants to get to this point, but to call this ‘The Top’ is a misinterpretation.”
“Ah, let’s lighten up a little, okay? Top, bottom; first, last; who cares? Let’s stick with the program. So how about giving us the basic story about your background?”
“Okay. I guess my childhood was just about like any other kid’s. I had a train set, played baseball until it snowed and then played basketball. After I graduated from high school in La Grange, Illinois, I joined the Army.”
“That’s real good. Now tell us about a time you became really unglued. Tell us when you ‘lost it’?”
“Well, sure. I was going to college on the GI Bill at that time, so it was like signing up for courses and then partying for 30 days until the next check arrived, just like clockwork. One day I was bored so I looked in the WANT ADS for a part-time job and there it was: Part-time Burglar Alarm Salesman, no experience necessary. Since I wasn’t a felon, I applied, attended the necessary courses, passed the required tests and got the needed state license.
“They gave me an office with three phones on my desk. Two of the phones were outside lines, while the third was to the phone in the outer office on the secretary’s desk. The secretary didn’t have a heck of a lot to do since I was the one who made the cold calls for appointments and went out on the appointments to do the sales pitch.
“’Slow’ is not the operative word here: ‘zero’ is. After six months I sold a grand total of one alarm system, and the only reason I sold that one is that the old man wanted someone to play chess with.
“Anyway, one day I was sitting in my office making calls and hooked one. YES, she’s interested! Yes, she’ll be home at 2:00 p.m.! Yes, please let’s hear your sales pitch!
“I even went home to get a clean long-sleeved shirt and tie and at 1:55 I backed into the client’s driveway. Nice ranch house with plenty of openings (windows). A $600 sale; in the bag; a sure thing. I was spending my commission money by the time I was at the front door.
“Perfect: 2:00 p.m. on the dot when I dutifully rang the doorbell. Beautiful, expensive chimes could be heard; the sound of St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Easter morn, it was. For every bell that rang, it was as if the cash register chimed: music to my ears.
“I peeked around the front door and looked into the living room, through the dining room and out to the pool area where I saw a quick glimpse of a person moving out of sight.
“I rang the doorbell again. Waited. Rang again, and then again. Waited. Rang. Waited. Rang, rang, rang to the point where I was holding my finger on the button.
“Okay, obviously the doorbell isn’t bringing the lady to the front door to let me in; to open her checkbook. Maybe if I would knock?
“So I knocked. ‘2 o’clock appointment, lady, remember?’ Knock. Knock knock. Variations of knocks.: Gene Krupa, step aside.
“What about POUNDING on the door with both fists and yelling ‘OPEN THE DOOR!’? Let’s try it and see if that’ll work. Sure, that makes sense, let’s POUND on the door and YELL ‘Lady, OPEN THE DOOR!!!’
“And not POUND on the door once or twice, but a full ALL-OUT ASSAULT on the door, BANGING AWAY! Now I’m over 6’ and work out; bench-press 280 lbs. every other day — three sets of 10 reps — and here I am, POUNDING and, by this time, SCREAMING ‘OPEN THE DOOR!’ when I step back – mentally – and watch myself pounding and yelling away on a beautiful sunny afternoon in Southern Florida.
“That’s when I realized that I was over the edge and unless I stopped, stepped back, and left, pronto, I’ll be spending time in jail, or in a nut house, at the least.
“I left that job shortly after. I’m not sure why; maybe it was to keep my record of one sale in six months intact. And that’s my true PTSD symptom story.”
“Wow, great story. And you never knew if the lady ever called the police? No? Man, that must’ve been some sight. You’re lucky some neighbor didn’t walk out with a shotgun. Great story, and thank you for sharing it with us.
“Next up is Don Marshall. Where you from, Don?”
“Mission Beach, California. Childhood normal and joined the Navy after high school. After the Navy moved to Florida, I had a job in Ft. Lauderdale but was a single parent living 20+ miles to the north in Lake Worth. My kid was in school and we had a nice place to live so I made that I-95 drive every day.
“After about a year of rush-hour traffic, I was getting a little bit on edge. What set me off was that there was a car parked on the right shoulder of the northbound traffic and they were all slowing down, like to a crawl.
“That’s okay, to an extent, but what unglued me was that the southbound traffic – that included me — was also at a crawl; you know, the gawkers and the rubberneckers. To top it off it was raining; not cats and dogs, but raining.
“And that’s when it happened. It wasn’t a thought process; I mean, I didn’t think about what I was doing, I JUST DID IT. I drove onto the grass meridian and floored it. So here I was, fishtailing at 70 mph, in the rain, window down, flipping everyone the bird, and I mean everyone, both southbound AND northbound.
“And yelling. Screaming! One hand on the steering wheel, the other out the window. It’s raining and I’m fishtailing at 70 mph in the grass. I need more, so I move my right hand on the horn while steering. Now I’m getting their attention. Wait! I up the ante and turn my flashers on! Great!
“I’m serene, like in combat. Calm and cool as a cucumber. Everything’s in slow motion: I’m having a real, honest-to-goodness flashback, my first one while awake, not one while having a nightmare.
“I was caught unawares: let my guard down. Two guys had me for sure. One was pulling my head back by my hair while the other had one big humongous knife at my throat. There it was, right in front of me: with sound and color.
“So there I was, a person who went over the edge. I remember – in my calm state of mind – looking at those northbound drivers, each one in the eye as I flashed by fishtailing in the rain at 70 mph.
“They knew I lost it: I knew I lost it and better get back to the here-and-now before something bad happens – like flipping over – and doing some real harm. So I slowed down and merged onto the southbound fast lane; went to work and knew it was my last day, and it was. No more rush hours for me on I-95, forever.”
“Great story, James. If anyone out there knows a Veteran and witnesses any bizarre behavior such as what these two displayed, you need to get them into some sort of therapy. 22+ suicides a day is completely unacceptable, as Donald Trump has been telling us. Unacceptable.
“I’m getting signals from the wings that we’ve reached our time limit and must sign off. Thank you for watching. The winner will be announced in the morning edition of our newspaper. On behalf of everyone who put on the show for you, I’ll be saying goodnight. Goodnight.”
“Hey, great show, guys. We usually grab a burger after a show and you’re welcome to join us, James and Don. My treat.”
Sharon Rondeau has operated The Post & Email since April 2010, focusing on the Obama birth certificate investigation and other government corruption news. She has reported prolifically on constitutional violations within Tennessee’s prison and judicial systems.