Jerg

from SSS.gov of Alexander Pirnie R-NY, December 1, 1969

Dale Farnsworth was not particularly fond of music, but after destroying a music shop during an offensive in Paris Dale hated the War.  He hated the War more than he hated Hitler.  His youth was eaten by this busy work, and he wanted to progress into the next movement of life with on a shorter transition than would occur naturally.  Thus he made the only deliberate decision he would make in his entire life.  He wrote the following letter on November 12, 1945:

Dear Linda,

I love you.  I want to Marry you in San Francisco where nobody knows who we are and we can start fresh.  Meet me at the bus depot.  Just in case you don’t recognize me I will have a broken violin in my arms.

yours,

Dale

Dale left Europe and returned home in December of 1945.

He met his high school sweetheart, Linda Edminton, at the Bus Depot in Memphis.  They then got on a second bus headed to San Francisco and checked into the cheapest motel they could find in the tenderloin.  Nine months later Jerg Farnsworth was born.

The name Jerg was a mistake, but Dale chose not to correct it.  The conversation with the female desk employee took place amidst a noisy hospital setting of announcements over the loudspeakers and crying babies:

“What would you like to name you child?”

“What did you say?”

“I asked you what you wanted to name him.”

“I haven’t thought about it, this was unexpected.”

“Okay Sir.  It’s too hard to hear you over all the noise.  I’m going to have you fill this out yourself.”

The employee handed Dale the clipboard and a fountain pen.  Dale was not literate, but was able to sound out enough words to get through the form. The day was September 14, 1945.  The name of his new son would be Jerry.  Or so he intended.  The last two letters melded together to form a “g” in the eyes of the nurse and so Jerg Farnsworth was born.

The three of them settled in an apartment in San Carlos where Dale found a job as a Car mechanic.  Jerg spent much of his time skipping school and playing with scrap metal pretending to be a robot.  His father and mother approved of since they had also spent their childhoods skipping school and playing with garbage and didn’t regret it one bit.  Jerg did not make many friends except that of Susie McGee, whom Linda didn’t trust because she was Irish.

“Play catch with me!” said Susie on a Sunday afternoon.

“No.  I’m a robot.  My arms don’t go up that high.” replied Jerg.

“That’s okay. We can just roll the ball.  Then you don’t need to lift your arms.”

So Susie and robot Jerg rolled the ball between each other.  Over the course of a few months the game developed into a variant of table-hockey where Jerg and Susie would each guard their own goals.  Susie remained Jerg’s only friend, and he was okay with this.

As cars grew harder to maintain, Dale learned the business of Auto Repair, and how to confuse customers into paying for more of it.  Certainly the new Cadillac would be something no owner would want to damage with their own untrained hands, and so entrusted Dale to explain what they needed.  Dale opened his own body-shop specializing in Cadillac repair.  By this time Jerg had worked in the shop for about five years.  On December 1, 1969 Jerg and Dale opened up the shop and turned on the radio before getting to work on the blue Caddy from the previous day.

The news report went silent and this caught Jerg’s attention.  He had started listening in the middle and was a bit disoriented.  Apparently some congressman had just drawn some kind of raffle  number.  The radio announcer began to narrate.

“And it appears we will be finding the birthdate of the first men to be drafted for the conflict in Vietnam…  Representative Pirdie opening the blue capsule.  We’ll be getting it shortly folks…  It has just been informed, September 14 is assigned the lottery number 1.  All men born on September 14 between the ages of 18 and 26 available for military service will be drafted to fight in Vietnam.”

That night Jerg decided to run away.  At 2am he crept into the backyard of the McGee’s and knocked on Susie’s window.  She was sleeping so he had to knock louder.  She continued to sleep, so he knocked louder.  This disturbed the dalmatian next door who started barking at him.  Susie’s father came out in his white underwear.  He didn’t see Jerg at the window crouched behind some dried up rose bushes.

“Shut that runt up!  Or I’ll get it put to sleep!” yelled Mr. McGee before he returned inside.  Jerg then got back up to check on Susie.  She was now awake, sitting up in bed.  Jerg tapped the window again.  Susie turned around saw Jerg and screamed.  Clearly this would bring the father out again.  Jerg was afraid of Mr. McGee, especially when he was in a bad mood.  So Jerg decided he would have to run away without Susie.

The next train left at 8am the following morning so Jerg decided to sleep at the bus depot and take the next bus up to Portland and eventually make his way into Canada.  At 9am Jerg woke up with his head resting on the lap of his mother.  His father was on the bench across from them smoking a cigarette.

“What do you think you’re doing Jerg?” said Linda.

“I don’t know.  I just don’t want to go to Vietnam.”

“Don’t be afraid Jerg.  You’re father fought the Nazi’s.  And he’s just fine now. right Dale?”

Dale threw his cigarette to the ground and snuffed it with his boot.  “Yeah, it’s as if it never happened Jerg.  You’ll be okay.  You’re like me, we just go with the flow guys like us.”

“That’s what I was doing.  Except my flow brought me to the bus depot.”

“Oh Jerg” said Linda.  “This is not what you want.  We’ll take you as far as we can before you report for duty.  Everything will be okay.”

Jerg was already starting to feel better.  After all, his birthday was drawn first.  It would be more unfair if he were deployed because some other guy went AWOL.

Jerg allowed his parents to drive him home without any fuss.  Three months later they received a letter from the government informing Jerg of the beginning of his training.

The night before Jerg was to leave Linda made him his favorite dinner, shepherd’s pie.  And his favorite dessert, peach pie with vanilla ice cream.  The next morning Jerg was on a Bus.  On the way over he began to think about leaving again.  Perhaps this war would not be as nice as his dad said.  The Nazi’s sounded like awful people, and so did the Americans for what they had to do to them.  Jerg never thought intensely about killing a man until this point, but apparently this would be his job.  If he was good at his new job, it didn’t seem fair that men would die just because the government said he should kill them.  And if he was bad at his job it didn’t seem fair that he would have to die, considering he never said he’d be good at the job to begin with.

After 8 weeks of boot camp Jerg found himself deployed in a village North of Saigon.  He had many close calls on the way, having lost a finger in a close range gun battle to take over a Viet-Cong base.  From there the battalion pushed North.  They continued to successfully raid villages.  The policy was a better-safe-than-sorry approach to asymmetric war.  Even children were the enemy by default.  One day they reached a village near a rice-paddy.  All the houses had thatched roofs so it was easy to burn.  Jerg’s commanding officer, Stanley Coolidge, was a kid his own age.

“What are you doing Jerg!  I told you to set that roof on fire fifteen minutes ago!”

“Yes Sir.  There’s a mother and child inside sir.” replied Jerg.

“Oh I see.  We’ll I’ll help you bring them out.  They’ll probably get on their feet if we both lift them.  I’ll help you.”

“Thankyou Sir.”

So Stanley and Jerg went inside the Hut to carry the mother and child.  Both were very malnourished, and thus very light weight.  Naturally the mother went berserk as Stanley plopped her over his shoulder and carried her outside.  Jerg plopped the child on his shoulders and gave her a piggy back ride.

The mother’s screams, as she was taken further from her hut, began to weaken as she was carried farther away and muffled by the dense greenery.

Jerg was having fun carrying the little girl on his back and she was too.  Laughing and slapping his ears when she got excited.  Now Jerg had no excuse.  He had to burn down the hut.  He picked up a dry trig from the ground and lit the tip on fire with his cigarette lighter.  The child on his shoulder reached for it.  She wanted to play with it.  Jerg tucked his lighter back in his pants pocket and handed the lit twig to the child.  She just stared at it.  Amazed by its dynamic vibrance.  Jerg then brought the child close to the roof and motion with his hand to touch the roof.  The child didn’t understand what he was trying to explain.  So Jerg took the twig and lit the hut on fire himself.  The child danced with glee and lit a twig of her own.  The child burned down the rest of the village herself.

That night Jerg and another soldier, David, were assigned night duty.  David quickly fell asleep, and Jerg took this opportunity to escape into the forest.  Jerg had not idea what happened to his unit, and they never found him either.  He lived the next ten years hiding in the forest living off of fruits and rodents.  If he ever heard a human he would run.  Where there were humans there would be war, and he’d rather be lonely and isolated than in the war.  After five years of dysentery and nakedness his mind changed, and Jerg decided he preferred war to isolation.  He arrived on the street’s of Saigon which appeared more chaotic than he had ever imagined it could be.  Helicopters were flying everywhere.  Vehicles carrying Vietnamese soldiers zoomed by nearly crashing into panicking pedestrians.  All running in the direction of the US embassy.  A car full of reporters spotted Jerg and pulled him inside the car.

“What the hell are you doing out here.  The evacuation is today!  We got to get to the embassy now!”

That night Jerg was flown on a Helicopter to a base on some paradise of an island in a pair of clothes he had obtained from the news report who had snatched him off the streets.  The reporter also gave him his press card since he planned on quitting as soon as the helicopter landed. The following morning Jerg was flown back to the U.S. and got on the Greyhound to San Francisco.  At 7pm he arrived in San Francisco International Airport and took the train to San Carlos.  He arrived at 10pm and decided to catch a bite to eat at the Howard Johnson’s.  After a meal of Shepard’s pie and peach pie with vanilla ice cream he went for a walk.  At 2am he passed Susie McGee’s house.  He went to the window and knocked.  She stayed asleep.  So he knocked louder this time.  A cute little beagle came up to him and started barking.  Susie’s father came outside.

“Chopin!  Knock it off!” he said as he lumbered down the front steps of his porch in his tight white undies.  “What’s wrong boy?”

Jerg ducked behind the Rose bushes.  Susie’s father came and picked up the Beagle.

“Shhh.  Everything is okay boy.”  He let the beagle lick him on the face while he carried him inside the house.

Jerg knocked on the window again.  This time Susie woke up.  She turned around as saw Jerg.  She didn’t scream, but looked a bit ill before her eyes rolled back into her head and she fell to the ground.

Jerg gave up on trying to speak to Susie and instead left a note asking her to meet him at the Howard Johnson’s the next day at 8pm.  He barely knew her.  The notes said:

Dear Susie,

It’s Jerg.  I want to Marry you and raise children in Kansas far away from anybody we know.  Please meet me at the Howard Johnson’s tomorrow at 8pm.  I will be wearing a press card around my neck.

Yours,

Jerg

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4 thoughts on “Jerg

  1. I really love the idea of this story. It’s inspiring, actually. I never thought before of writing a very short story with an epic timeframe. It seems like a format that has really poetic potential.

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