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My recent lunch with a partially disabled Riverside County sheriff’s deputy prompted me to wish that I had more information about the many police officers who remain disabled because of the hazards they run into while protecting us.  I get the same feeling of course about our soldiers.  But I am well informed in every media about the challenges and the programs available to our war vets.  But what about our street vets – that is, what about our disabled police officers?

My friend Paul who is the Riverside County sheriff’s deputy is only partially disabled from an on-the-job car crash that is much more common in emergency police duties than the general population realizes, and he is well enough now to be able to stay on the police force.  But he had to be transferred to work in a police forensics lab to accommodate his new disability and partial immobility.  The adjustment has been somewhat difficult for him, but he is glad to be alive.

In my new collection of short stories that is out now on Amazon Books, “Every Kind of Angel,” I have written stories about people I have known who come out of some very challenging emotion and physical collisions with the help of their angels.  I think Paul has an angel, and I would like to have written about that.  Bu like e the general population, I have been educated very little on the news of our wounded police officers.  Instead I wrote a story that has the benefit of being more familiar – the story of a wounded war vet included in “Every Kind of Angel.”  In a way, it is also a story about Paul.  If you have ten minutes, here it is for you to read:

The Out-of-nowhere Angel

Marine Sergeant Ozzie Oldfield brought a ruined leg back from Afghanistan, while he thought of the wounded limb as the little stranger on his plane. The stranger wasn’t there for good times or fine conversation or entertainment. In Ozzie’s younger years, his legs working together earned him pure pleasure in most of the running sports. But now he felt stopped from even running toward a tennis ball.

The IED came out of nowhere and turned into pain the second it got into the leg. Three men with Ozzie had been less wounded as their reinforced Cougar armored monster was determined to stay intact. Everyone inside was lucky, and afterward extremely happy. Ozzie was simply happy for all of them, and for himself.

After being discharged and moving back into his father’s duplex, Ozzie settled into walking around with a cane. A new life followed with nearly a year of taking operations and physical therapy. In the end of all that, his black cane became “my most reliable helpmate.” When Ozzie articulated such thoughts to himself, he brought his cane into bed with him, and started sleeping with it.

Ozzie found himself sharing almost exactly the bachelorhood of his father. The two were left alone after Ozzie’s brother moved out into a new life. Years before, the mother moved to Heaven on the momentum of cancer spreading from her chest. Now the father called Ozzie “Sarge” and was clinging to a son as the last hope of a family life.

“I can help you into a good workout club, to stay enriched during days when not much else is happening here. I’ll get a three-month membership for you.”

“You don’t have to do that, Dad.”

“Get some new nourishment into your life, Sarge,” the old man went on, oblivious to any idea but his own as he went out again.

Then, when Ozzie had the place to himself, he started with his daily walking exercises. He practiced lining his right leg up with his cane when he stepped, to minimize both the weight and the pain on the leg. He would rather practice inside than in the town, after he had been such a two-legged sports star for so many years.

But there was too much quietness in the old duplex since Ozzie got back. That was corrected to a degree when he struck up his old friendship with the guitar of his high school years. The guitar could put music into the very center of quietness.

His goal was still to use three strings to create good, silvery chords. The pick couldn’t do it, so he threw it into the garbage and used his fingers. The fingers also fell short, but they came closer. He came a little nearer every week to creating true silvery chords.

He was happy enough with his progress to keep his cane off his bed, to be replaced at night with the guitar.

One Sunday morning the father asked Ozzie if he wanted to attend church with him. Ozzie hadn’t even heard of his father ever attending church.

“That’s all right, Dad. No thanks.”

“The reason I ask, this church has put together a group of guitar singers for its music.”

“No, I’m good.”

The next morning, Ozzie decided to walk off the feeling that his isolation was driving his father into even accepting religion.

He walked for nearly a mile, hobbling on his cane with every step. He arrived at the shopping mall where his neighborhood bought practically everything it used.

Even with a cane, after a time he would begin walking with the full weight of his pain going through his right leg. People looked at him as if discovering a celebrity, staring right at the pain in his face, the grimaces and winces that he wondered could be turned into practiced snickers.

A young woman who could have been a high school classmate in flip-flops and bright-tempered wraps walked right at him, as if stepping through her bedroom, like the cars around her were just furniture.

“Good morning,” he said to her.

He stopped.

“Could you accept on faith my taking you to lunch today?” he asked.

“Just out of nowhere, huh? I don’t think so.”

“I just have a hunkering to go to a good restaurant today, that one there.” He pointed to a new place that looked good

“Have you by chance been in the service?”

“Yes. Why?”

She pushed her hand to him, away from his cane. “Thank you,” she said, “for your service to our country.”

He shook her hand. “My service is over,” he said. “Today I’m out and I’m going to organize a band.” He was telling her the most current truth he knew. He was already forming his most serious thoughts about organizing a musical group. It would use the VA money the government sent him while he started making an income from live-action performances and his thoughts of beauty.

She looked him through his eyes. At the same moment he felt something happen like a pack of paparazzi at an Ozzie Oldfield rock concert trying to capture her expression for future editions.

Some years later, when a fellow jammer asked how he had met his wife, Ozzie said she was like an IED that came out of nowhere. But then she got stuck on him.

*****

Chris Sharp- Commentary

Chris Sharp is an Educator and a prize-winning professional writer. He has recently published a new book titled How to Like a Human Being . Sharp's latest book is an Amazon Kindle collection of his published short stories, Every Kind of Angel . His commentaries represent his own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization he may be affiliated with or those of The SCV Beacon.