“And now…..designed for war!”
And now…. for the story of Bill…the impossible story…that can’t be written. It is too profound, too – fucking insane! The wise men and their muses that cranked out those ancient Greek tragedies, stir, from their un-Christian-like slumber, in the shadows of the pillars, cradled in the lap of Diana, laying like drunken Dionysus bitches …waiting for the second coming of – a true tragedy!
Only after I heard Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor, spat in the face of the director of Suddenly Last Summer, did I get a glimpse of that Brilliant America that blossomed after the impossible victory over Japan and Nazi Germany. And, here he come, crawling, retired Lieutenant Bryan C. Arnold in his long johns, crawling along the floor of the Arnold living room, as Bill and I watched the Twilight Zone? Perhaps it was the Ernie Kovacs Show, that was interrupted by the gangly frame of a six foot four Veteran, who the Army had trouble getting rid of, because, he was not right in the head.
Bill and I had been friends for one miraculous month, and, he complemented me on my painting I did that toured the world. I was twelve. Bill was six months older. We were both artists. This is what bonded and grounded us.
“You have good powers of deduction. I want you to come and spend the night in my house. I need you to see something. I want you to be my witness.”
Mr. Arnold crawled but a foot from me. I was startled. Something must be wrong. Why is this big grown man crawling along the floor in his log johns? I glanced at Bill and he was looking at me sideways. He was carefully studying me. He desperately needed to see how my mind was taking this in. I watched Bill’s father disappear in the dark as he crawled past the dining room table. Bill quickly looked at the T.V. He didn’t want me to think anything unusual was going on. I should pay it no mind as he was bid to pay it no mind…all his live-long -days! How would I endure this one solitary hour? Would I ever be the same? Where do you put a vision like this? Maybe I should go home, call my Mommy on the phone.
“Hello Rosemary. Would you please come get me. My friend’s father is scaring me. He’s not – normal!”
“Buck up! Did I tell you your father stole your dental appointments, and this is why you kids have rotten teeth?”
Then, here he come again, down the hall that leads to the kitchen. This was not an anomaly. Again I felt Bill’s hard look. The light from the T.V. was blocked. I heard faint grunting. Now I got it. What Bill was waiting for was me to break out in hysterical laughter. I could tell he was proud of me after the third pass. Then, Mr. Arnold got up off the floor, and grabbed this exercise device with two red handles, and stood there flexing his muscles, looking dead at us.
Squizzle! Squizzle! Squizzle!
“Are you boys enjoying your T.V. show?”
That was it for Bill. He now had proof that his father was a fucking nut, and this was not normal, for I was a normal boy, and a very good boy, then. He read me like a black plastic eight ball.
Bill pointed at his father and let go this jack-ass laugh that I know his wife Virginia heard, she waiting for her husband to come to bed and make vigorous Army Love. I know Vicki Arnold heard it, and pulled the covers over her head.
This family had spent years in military camps in France and Japan, and, now they were out of the army. And now….here was their first American friend. The Good Witness was here! Bryan had fucked up in battle. He sent troops to their death. Bill later took me down into the basement – where the Arnold war booty was stored – to watch his father’s home movies.
“That’s my father in a trench, on the front line, or so he says. This is staged. He was convinced he was going to be a famous general.”
I could not believe my good fortune. I thought my family was eccentric and, troubled, but this was over the top! I understood I was in a movie – a great movie. I made mental notes that have driven me insane over the years, for who would believe – it?
Bill’s laughter was blowing my mind. It was utterly disrespectful. My father would have beaten the shit out of Bill, or me. Mr. Arnold had a acme scarred face. He managed a smile, and said;
“Ha! Ha! Yourself!”
In no time I found out it was true, that Bryan Arnold beat Bill black and blue. A friend saw my new friend playing on the field at school.
“He had these red welts all over his back. He said his father beat him!”
Well, enough of this. I have written as much as I can. I don’t have to write about this – at all – because I am in therapy, and, we are working on my dissociation. I am learning to be in my body, perhaps for the first time. Consider this a little scouting mission into The Military Twilight Zone that is way more berserk than the Civilian Twilight Zone. This movie was made at the PX where I taken shopping in the Arnold Staff Car, the 1948 black Chrysler. The Arnolds had no friends. Their adjustment to civilian life – was an utter failure! I was their last hope. I was their….Civilian Experiment.
At the PX Bill took me to the Canned Army Exotic Food Section. There were no labels on the can, just a purplish stamp on top.
Here is Cream of Macaroni and Cheese. Have you ever had Chewy Chopped Cow Tongue, or Spicy Turkey Neckes? How about Vaseline in a eighty ounce can, or Tooth Paste in a gallon can? Do the Presco’s need a big can of tooth brushes? Come here, dig in and help yourself to some army can openers. They got fifty of these cardboard barrels in the warehouse.”
Did I tell you Bill dies twenty-four minutes after my eighteenth birthday? I can’t full handle that, yet. We tried to save him. My dear friend was the last casualty of World War Two. He tried to save himself. One day we are going down the back steps, when Bill spots his father’s used condom hanging on the clothesline with clothespin.
“Have you ever seen a rubber before?”
“My father is too cheap to use a new one every time. The sperm is collected here. Wait here.”
Bill had an I.Q. of one hundred and eighty. He came back with a pin and began poking holes in the sperm reservoir.
“Why are you doing that? Won’t…….”
“I need a brother so my father will concentrate on him, and not me!”
I understood I was in the presence of greatness. Riding with Bill in the massive back seat of the Chrysler…. took me out of my family – forever!
I just sent an e-mail to Seth Zachary who is associated with Meg Whitman. I thought about blocking out his e-mail so my Female Gas Lighters won’t contact him, and show him the fake WANTED poster that Alley Valkyrie posted. If I am perceived as INSANE, then I will do a Harvey routine.
Bryan C. Arnold 1937
Cullum No. 10973 • Nov 14, 1987 • Died in Los Altos, CA
Interred in Alta Mesa Cemetery, Palo Alto, CA
When I beheld a photo of Bryan C. Arnold last night, I saw my late friend brought back to life. Since his death in 1964 I have had dreams where he appears and is carrying on our great friendship. I am overjoyed. Alas, the great tragedy can be lifted. Then, the bright sunlight that had filled the room, begins to fade. I am heartbroken at yet another lesson that Bill gives, being, all is illusion, and only the truth will set you free.
“What is the truth, Bill?”
When I look at Bryan’s face I see the chiseled face of a warrior that moves the world. It does not contain ideas, as much as it moves whole concepts to its liking. They don’t make faces like this anymore. This is a Norman, a large man of six feet four inches. This is a man I now find much love for. This face is not that of my mortal enemy, because alas I know what he wanted all his life, a close trustworthy friend who would be honest, and always tell him the truth.
Bill Arnold had such a friend in me. I was his foil to his father, who came at William all the time, in his unbending duty to break his will. Reading his father was a Jurist and Mayor of a small town in Texas – whose mother was an artist – allowed me read between the stoic lines of this infamous and tragic tug-of-war, that ended up ruining so many lives. This story is bigger than Texas!
I remember the day Bill took me home to wash the outside windows on the house on Wayne after school. When Mr. Arnold came around the corner to see how the job was going, I was overwhelmed by the sight of him. He was a giant, but it was the look on his face. I glanced at Bill who was intently studying me. He needed to see my reaction. Growing up in Army camps he did not make close friends. We had become wonderful friend-artists in the last week. I think Bill was wondering if I was going to run away.
“And, who is this, Bill? You didn’t tell me you were going to get someone to help you. You should have cleared it with me, first.”
Having grown up around Prussian career soldiers, and Captain Vic, I was not intimidated. I got what was going on. Bill was being punished for some infraction. It was his duty to wash all the windows on two-story Arnold house, all by himself. But, Bill has pulled a sneaky. He went and made himself a friend – a civilian!
You have to understand, that everything was exaggerated between these two – puffed up! It was a War of Big Egos – Texas style! Jaspar the Ghost was lurking about, shaming his son, Bryan never able to do anything right! So, what was I going to get out of this. In a week I understood I was the designated witness, the fair judge, the third man in the ring.
When I didn’t go away and hide, and came back again and again, and when the Leutenant saw I was a hardworking loyal friend to Bill and the Arnold household, I could see Bryan took a liking to me. Bill informed me this was because we were both Libras in need of balance.
Why didn’t my friend tell me his father was a thespian, a poet, and a singer. I would never had guessed such a thing. But, employing my Vulcan skill of reading deeply into photgraphs, I could see Bill staring at this image, he taking it out of a drawer, and staring at it for hours.
Seven hours after Bill’s funeral, and while being driven across the San Mateo bridge in a huge storm, the Texas Giant, speaks. He asks me to be his son, now that his son was dead. I look at this image of a lonely man, whose father perhaps turned his back on Bryan, and now understand Bryan is asking me to be his friend. I can’t tell you how deep was my grief, deeper that any tears, as I went down, down, down into the depths of two souls that were at war with another. This father and son, is the beggining of the Vietnam War story. Here is, Darth Vader and his son, Luke. For there are no true villians in stories like this one. For, we are all forgivable, when we set out to capture beauty, for just a little while.
Because there is a being in us that is eternal. We conspire to be remembered, when we realize we will not live forever. Bryan Coffield Arnold has a memorable face. But, in God’s name, tell me what is going on behind that great mask.
If you look at the small photo of Bryan, you can see he is disfigured. Mr. Arnold had a terrible case of acme as a teenager that left him scarred for life. A professional was brought in to remove the scars in the West Point photo. Bill put me thru a test. He wanted me to see how I reacted to his deformed father who had his skin sandpapered off in Japan.
Before I lay eyes on Bill, I heard about him. My friend told me about a new kid in school that played football without his shirt on.
“He has these welts on his back. I think his father beats him. He doesn’t care if we see this.”
Bryan Coffield Arnold captured my beautiful friend, and he never let him go, not even when he drove onto the railroad tracks, and was killed by a train.
Dr. Henry Summerfield Arnold (b. April 17, 1837, d. July 10, 1913)
Henry Summerfield Arnold was born April 17, 1837 in Mount Pleasant, Tennessee, and died July 10, 1913 in Coryell County, Texas. He married Polly Molly Walker on November 19, 1865 in Brazos County, Texas, daughter of William Calvin Walker and Nancy Bolton.
More About Henry Summerfield Arnold and Polly Molly Walker:
Marriage: November 19, 1865, Brazos County, Texas.
Children of Henry Summerfield Arnold and Polly Molly Walker are:
- Edwin P. Arnold, b. August 15, 1866, Texas, d. September 15, 1910.
- Jasper Henry Arnold, b. 1869, Texas, d. date unknown.
- George J. Arnold, b. May 01, 1871, Texas, d. date unknown.
- Joseph Arnold, b. September 01, 1874, Texas, d. date unknown.
- Robert Marion Arnold, b. 1876, Texas, d. date unknown.
- Harry Lee Arnold, b. March 1880, Texas, d. 1934.