The Jobs I Have Known
|Who amongst you
could stand idly by watching a young military wife's tears when she has
just received the news that her husband was killed in action?
And who but he with the blackest of hearts could do nothing when it's learned that a young boy or girl has been diagnosed with a life taking disease?
The young widow, the stricken boy or girl; those close to them raise their eyes to God and ask "Why? Why them?" The answer, my friend, is so that people like Warmheart can help them find their way through their trials and sorrows.
This, then, is the story of two periods in my life when I was most able to bring comfort and warmth to people who were in most need of those two commodities. It is a short story because, well, I'm not one to talk about myself in glowing terms. This time, I think it will be worth your while to sit back and be regaled by the never-ending generosity of spirit that is truly....Warmheart.
COMFORTING THE WIDOWS
Believe it or not, I have been providing comfort and warmth to people in need since the 1960s. It was during those years that I had a connection with a person in the war department. When I found out that he was involved with sending out the dreaded telegram informing a new widow of her husband's fate, I talked him into sharing the information with me. If one was available, he would send a photo of the soldier with his young wife along with her address.
I really went a long way to help these young women out. I purchased a pretty slick looking uniform and created a military ID that had my name emblazoned across the front:
After reviewing the photo, if it looked to me that I might be of some help to the poor young lady, I would travel to her hometown and wait a few days for the steady flow of mourners and relatives to clear out. Sometimes I had to wait weeks but I knew that my diligence and perseverance were just what was needed in this difficult situation.
Then I would show up, bespeckled in my gleaming uniform, show my ID and introduce myself as being part of the new, touchy-feely US Army. People like me, I told them, were being sent out all over the land to provide guidance and comfort to the women left behind. I assured them that my role was to - for a short time - lend a hand where I could to make the transition easier. All the Army asked, I would casually mention, is that she not tell anyone about my role. It must be kept top-secret I would tell her. And I would assure them that the Army was concerned that as this was such a new project, that if the word got out, too many widows would want their representatives sent out.
Then, maybe I'd mow their lawn or fix a broken pipe. But it was the comfort and warmth that I was able to provide that really seemed beneficial to them, especially later on in the evening when I was at my shining best. A glass of champagne would be poured. A romantic song put onto the turntable, and the evening would be ours.
In the morning, I would be off to the next poor widow on the list.
COMFORTING THE CHILDREN
You've heard of the Make A Wish Foundation. Well, they are a direct but large-scale rip-off of a little organization I created back in the 1970s called Don't Die Pissed. Well, it wasn't really an "organization". It was more of a one man company. Well, not really a company. I would advertise and if a kid was dying, maybe the family would give me a call.
I would show up and talk to the kid, find out what he or she wanted before they kicked off and do my best to either make it happen or convince 'em that maybe there was something better to wish for.
Oh, I have so many memories of those visits. One time a little girl with emphysema wanted a puppy. What was I to do? I wanted that girl to have that puppy and I wanted her to have one that was lovable. I voluntarily went out of my way and, using gas paid for out of my own pocket, drove around the neighborhood until I found just what I was looking for. Here were a few kids playing with a little bouncy, roly-poly Golden Labrador puppy. I stopped the car and looked on, wanting to be sure I had come to the right place.
Finally, after fully five minutes of watching, I was convinced. I just knew that the tiny creature would make the dying girl's heart pound with joy. I got out of the car and walked up to the kids. I pointed down the street and said, in a loud and scary voice, "look over there! There's a clown being killed!". I knew that all kids love clowns and so wasn't surprised when they all looked in the direction I was pointing. I grabbed the little hound and within ten minutes, the little emphysematic girl had the puppy she was longing for.
I know what you're saying. You're saying "but Warmheart. That wasn't really doing much!". You're right. Maybe that's why I saved my best story for last.
This is the story of Little Bald Johnny. I'll never forget that kid for as long as I live. Well, let the story speak for itself.
I was awoken about 11 o'clock one morning. It was another cancer case. This time it was a 10 year old boy. I promptly arrived at the house a few days later to have a talk with the boy. Turns out he was still at school. The kid's mom was pretty cute so I decided to hang around and try some of my moves on the dish. Right when I was getting ready to spring some of my best lines the door opened.
"It's an alien!", I cried as a bald kid walked in. What a weird kid this one was! His mother wanted to "protect" her young child and said "How could you?!"
"How could you?!", I shot right back. "What stinking barber do you take this kid to? He could have left some hair. Damn."
The Mom's arms were folded, and she had a cross look on her face as she explained. "Little Johnny has lost his hair because of chemotherapy for his....condition". I could tell by the way she said 'condition' that they had made a habit out of trying to avoid talking about the very thing that was going to send this dopey looking bozo to the great beyond. I could also see that I had a real job on my hands.
I told the Mom that I needed to talk to Johnny privately. Just him and me. It was very important. While I was telling her this, I was also realizing that it was going to be real tough not laughing out loud at a boy with a head that looked like a goddam light bulb. That I had Miss Over-Protective-Mom to deal with wasn't going to make things any easier either. We went upstairs to his room and sat down.
First I wanted to find out what his last wish was. The wish that was mine to fulfill. Little did I realize that I was walking right into a trap. The little bastard blurted out that he's always wanted to go to Disneyland but his parents never quite had enough money to take him.
Disneyland! My God! I had to think and think fast. How would I ever dig up the money to take the cue ball to that dump? My mind raced, a swirling fountain of mental energy leaping at any and every possible way of talking him out of his wish. My first solutions might be classified as "grasping at straws". I could feign a sudden illness, telling the kid that I had caught his cancer. Nah, he wouldn't buy that. I could say that Disneyland had caught on fire and was closed. I almost ran with that one, but something told me they might figure out I was lying.
Finally, I snapped my fingers. I had a plan, and here was how I carried it out.
"So, Johnny", I began tenderly, putting my hand on his shoulder. "I'll bet the kids at school are really laughing at your hairless grape."
He started sobbing. Which was a good thing because he didn't see the fact that I was doing my best to hold back the laugh. Also, I could tell that I was getting to him. In a good way. "Y-yes." he said.
"And I'll bet they come up with all kinds of names to call you. Stuff like 'hey, here comes chrome-dome.' And 'shine your head for a quarter?'. Or 'AHHHH! I'm blinded by the light reflecting off your head!'.
Johnny was ever-serious. "Y-es."
tell me, Johnny, how does it make you feel?"
"Yeah! Doesn't it make you angry. Incredibly upset that these kids could be so mean and cruel?"
"Yes. I guess it does, Mr. Warmheart", replied little Johnny earnestly. "But my mother taught me to try to not let them bother me."
I replied incredulously, looking to make sure the bedroom door was
shut. I whispered, "you've got to forget all of that
now. Look kid, you're gonna die! You gonna let these
little bastards get away with it all?"
The kid was a tough nut to crack. So I put on my best mocking voice. "Here comes little baldy! Here comes little baldy!"
I kept it up, kept working on him until he finally cracked.
"Yes!", he sobbed, "I hate them! I hate them!"
I knew this was my moment to move in for the kill. So to speak.
what do you wish would happen to them? Come on. Spit it out
kid. You know what you want to happen to them."
Check, and check mate.
I worked through the night with Johnny, reinforcing his anger. By morning, he was ready. I drove the little baldy to school, knowing all the while that I had to keep his mind off of Disneyland and onto his new "dying wish".
As we meandered along, I reminded him to think of each kid that had given him a hard time. To think of each teacher that had slighted him. To think of each girl who had been mean to him. To think of what should happen to them all.
When we got to the school, I pulled the car over and handed him the untraceable pistol. "Go to town, Johnny", I told him. "And remember. Though Uncle Warmheart will be far away by the time you're fulfilling your dying wish, he'll be right by your side, in here." I pointed to his heart.
"Thank you, Uncle Warmheart", he said as he got out. I noticed that his walk, his very manner was far more resolute and forthright than it had been even that morning. I knew he'd make out okay. And I knew that I had fulfilled another kid's dying wish.
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking "Warmheart. What a guy. Being right there every step of the way to fulfill the dying kid's last wish." Well, it's all true or I wouldn't be telling you about it right now