Tuesday, March 25, 2008

At the drug store

He was in his twenties and wore ear muffs over his shaved head. On the left side of his scalp was a scar, which he touched repeatedly with his right hand as he spoke.

"Flags, I want flags," he said to the drug store clerk, then repeated it.

"The only flag we sell is the one we have in the window," the thirty-something blonde woman replied.

"I've bought that before," he said.

"I know," she said. "Yesterday. And the day before that." She looked at me.

He turned around, saw me in my wheelchair, then said "I wasn't always like this. I could talk better and people understood what I meant."

"Before the war?" I asked, guessing. Flag. Young. Brain injury.  

He nodded. "You understand. Yes, I want as many flags as possible hanging up all around to show people that - that - I used to be able to say this better but-"

"I think I understand," I said.

"You do?"

"To remind them? " I asked.

"Yes, that a war is going on," he said. "Yes, you get it. She gets it," he told the clerk. "I'm going to the front of the store to look for more flags," he said suddenly.

"Okay," she said.

I sat there, waiting. He came back, his hands empty, two tears running down his cheeks. "They only have one flag," he said, shaking his head. "Why  don't they understand how important it is to carry more flags? There's a war going on."

2 comments:

blue girl said...

Oh my. That brought tears to my eyes.

Anonymous said...

Heartbreaking.