"Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; truth isn't." Mark Twain
My husband, a commercial and residential home inspector, had a rather interesting experience this week when he did a well test for a customer who was a Vietnam veteran. There were actually two veterans at the site, the owner of the property, and a friend who rented from him.
The men, both tanned, tattooed, pot bellied and shirtless, fit the stereotype of "rednecks," my husband said. He was, however, fascinated by their home, situated on several acres out in the country, and their life style of living off the land.
I realize any war vet experiences trauma, but Vietnam vets had their trauma compounded by a hostile homecoming. Perhaps some of them prefer living in isolation. Just my thoughts.
"They let their guard down with me," my husband said, "and let me into their world. They appreciated my interest in their way of life, and I learned a lot. They had wisdom to share, they were fun to be with, and they had lots of cool stuff to look at." He placed a bag on the counter. "They gave me some apples. There's a tree in front of the house. It's a deer magnet! It attracts them like crazy. As a matter of fact, the guy can just look out of his living room window--and bam! He doesn't even need to leave the house to hunt!"
"Oh..." I said. Not that I have anything against hunting, as long as it's for food, and I do like venison.
"And they taught me all about shot guns, high powered rifles, and pistols."
My eyes widened to saucer proportion.
"They do all the dressing themselves. They have a huge butcher shop and a walk-in freezer."
Well, at this point, my writer's imagination began running out of control. "So," I said, "didn't you start to wonder if there were any dead bodies buried out there, or hidden in the basement--or in that walk-in freezer?"
Now my husband took offense. "It's comments like that, that make Vietnam war vets feel like outcasts!"
"I'm sorry. If I'd been with you, I certainly wouldn't have said anything like that. And I wouldn't have been scared--unless I'd seen an ax."
"Oh," hubby said, "I saw an ax alright! Actually, it was a two handed cleaver about three feet long. You'd use it for cutting off a leg." Now I had a deer in the headlights look. "The leg of a deer! They also had a vertical band saw for cutting apart carcasses, a meat grinder for sausage, and a smoker for venison jerky."
My imagination was on fire now, but I didn't say a word. No more snarky comments from me. These were brave men who'd served our country and carried emotional scars, and probably physical ones unseen by my husband. One had done three tours of duty and wanted to serve more, but was told he'd had enough. If I hadn't seen the movie Hurt Locker, I wouldn't have understood the desire to go back again and again.
On to the apples. As I pulled them from the bag, each appeared more grotesque than the next. Some sported gray spots or deep black marks, while others were globular in shape.
"Eeew!" I exclaimed horrified. "Were these picked over by the deer and left behind?"
"No! They came right off the tree! There not gonna be perfect like what you find at a grocery store!"
Okay, call me a city girl. I'm used to pretty apples cultivated with pesticides and gussied up with wax. "Well," I said, "they'll probably taste better than what's at the store, but they're too scary looking to eat like this." I smiled. "I'll make an apple crisp."
And maybe I'll share that recipe another time!
Any life stranger than fiction stories come to your mind? Thanks for stopping by!
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