Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Veterans Day Special: Bravo 4-10 vs. The Latrine

A Veterans Day Special
Bravo 4-10 vs. The Latrine

In the military we were all trained to improvise and overcome any given situation. I was with Bravo 4-10, back in 1990, and during our weapon's training, we'd been marched for about a half hour or more, out into the middle of Fort-Lost-In-The-Woods, where we actually lost someone who stopped to piss along the way. Because of the risk of the missing soldier accidentally wandering across one of the firing lanes, we were then ordered to sit and wait in the hot Missouri summer sun until they found the missing recruit.

After what seemed an eternity, and with chow and a canteen of water already passed through our systems, we were allowed to use one of the antiquated WW II latrines that had been all but forgotten, out in the middle of the black widow and recluse spider infested Mark Twain National Forest. I believe this old wooden relic, with it's back to back solid row of wooden toilet seats, not individual seats, but one long hollow wooden box with about 20 or more holes cut into the top of each, that dropped our waste into some horrifying toxic mixture down below that we could not see, but only smell. The smell of the place could be picked up almost a click out, and once we saw it, it filled us all with dread. It was old, like something from a Sam Raimi horror film. There were no lights inside, just the sunlight coming through the door and any cracks in the rook that was in great disrepair. If I could compare the odor to anything, it stank of not only old and new shit and urine, but also like death.
People were dry heaving before even entering and everyone was trying to hold their breaths to go in. A few threw up. Those of us in charge, the squad leaders, could see the Drill Sergeants were enjoying this new kind of torture, watching us all with great amusement. I knew it was my moral obligation to share with the guys my improvised solution to the problem. I told my guys to pull out our M40 pro-masks...or as civilians would call them "Gas Masks." We put them on, cleared them and, lead the charge of the second wave going in. once others saw what we were doing, especially those inside, began scrambling to put their masks on as well. 

Suddenly everyone calmed down and were able to navigate the situation with calm.

Of course, being me, I had to announce, "Now all we have to worry about is getting our asses and balls bit by black widows hiding under the seats."

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


As I recall, I met Gypsy and her mother Dee Dee Blanchard for the first time in 2011, at Visioncon, a popular scifi and comic convention in Springfield, Missouri. I was there to promote my new book for IDW, Code Word: Geronimo. What could I say about them? They were friendly, cordial, Dee was a kind and attentive mother, and Gypsy was a loving elfish, if not more bird like little girl seeminlgy bound to her wheelchair. But, as I and thousands of others who thought they knew this mother and daughter duo, learned today that not all was at it seems. In fact, today, when the Green County Sheriff's commander spoke, he used those exact words to describe the situation that has tragically and most horrifically unfolded over the last several days.

It began for most of us on Sunday, when pple close to Dee Dee and Gypsy had  reported both of them as missing. No one had seen them since the previous Wednesday, June 10th. Then, Sunday afternoon, someone mysteriously posted on Dee's facebook page "The bitch is dead." and an hour later, "The girl's dead too."

Then, after a search of the house, it was reported that Dee Dee's body was found. She'd been brutally stabbed to death in her bed. The mind just went slack. What? This woman, to my knowledge had not one enemy in the world. She was always kind and friendly. What the fuck happened?! I must have wept for an hour, when I saw the news. My daughter sa, in shock herself, and rubbed my back, trying to help her old dad feel better. But, everyone of us who knew them were all terrified of what had become of the young helpless Gypsy. We all feared the worst.

I spoke with my friend, author Shane Moore, a retired, and decorated police detective from Illinois. He spoke the words none of us wanted to, but were all secretly thinking; "What if Gypsy had something to do with her mother's murder? What if she posted those messages on facebook to mislead people and make them think she was dead? Sure, what Shane said comes off as cynical, but, like all of us, he hoped that wasn't the case. He just knew that things weren't adding up.

Then relief came, that Gypsy had been found in Wisconsin, with the young man that law enforcement believed had committed the murder. But, as the hours passed that relief turned to even more horror, as those words Shane had spoke came true. Gypsy was now no longer a rescued daughter but charged with helping murder her own mother.

We also learned that Dee and Gypsy had scammed people for years, that Gypsy was never disabled or bound to a wheelchair at all. She was not as young as we'd been led to believe, either. Not a teen, but a twenty something. She didn't require the oversized glasses that made her look so diminutive. 

Though we are far from knowing or understanding what lead to this calamity. What we do know is that on June 10th, a young man Gypsy had met online, came to get her. Then, according to police, Gypsy handed the young man a knife and told him to kill her mother. And while police collect their evidence, all the rest of us will sit in wonder, shaking our heads, trying to wrap our minds around what has happened, and questioning our ability to know good people when we see them.

In the mean time, I took all the videos of Gypsy and me chatting together over the years while at Visioncon, and I deleted them all today. I want no mementos of her.  Any good memories are tarnished, fractured, unclean.  Because I was one of those people taken in by the facade. Now, I only want to just move on, and let it all go. And who am I? I am no one. Just one more peripheral player, perhaps one voice in the Greek chorus, or more likely just one more member of the audience of this macabre play, who watched a favorite character be turned into a villain. The heart breaks, man. It just breaks, and all you can do is hope something will happen to make it stop hurting. So, I write this blog tonight as a catharsis. Because, as my friend John Del Vecchio said to me once, and I paraphrase, "once you write something down that happened to you. You don't own it anymore. You've let it go."

Here's to letting shit go.