Blind Spot

by Gabriel Urbina


George and Tyrone enjoy shooting pool together, as a way to relax, and to forget about everything else for a while.

"Nice shot, George," says Tyrone very softly and I laugh. I'm laughing because of the double entendre. Ty knows my story, and I know his sense of humor. I may be good at shooting pool, but I was hopeless with the rifle. My right eye has a blind spot right through the center of it. I have a "lazy eye." Since I'm right-handed, this defect made me miss the target, any target, when firing a rifle. During my physical examination, before I was inducted into the Army, this condition, which is not correctable, was totally ignored, maybe because they thought I was faking it, in order to stay away from military service.

In basic training, there were six of us who could not hit a target. We were shamed for it regularly, in front of our Company. We were called 'bolos.' i brought the subject up with the people in charge, and I went on sick call several times, until I saw a doctor. " Yes, there is a minor defect in your right eye," said the doctor. Then, I was sent back to duty.

Miraculously, at the end of our basic training, everybody in our Company had qualified as riflemen, including myself and the other five men who couldn't hit the target. So, I was sent to war, knowing I couldn't kill anyone. I only had to deal with the issue of my own life. I was able to survive, but I was shot in the neck, and lost my ability to talk,

My friend Tyrone was a Navy corpsman, a medic, who served for one year in Da Nang, attached to the Marines. He saw and helped many casualties during that year. He put in a request to serve another year, and part of that request was to be reassigned to the U.S, Naval Station in Saigon. His request was approved.

The love of my life, Beatriz, the nurse who took care of me when I was wounded, met Ty at the transit camp in Saigon, near the airport. They both had to wait a week before they boarded a military transport airplane to return come. They both were in the medical field, so they talked in general about their jobs, without going into too many specific details. They both had time left in the service, but they kept in touch, and presently, they both work at the same hospital in San Francisco.

It is a foggy Sunday afternoon, but it doesn't matter in "this beautiful city by the bay." We are indoors at one of those really old-fashioned pool halls. We are on the second floor, which doesn't have any windows. The potent lights concentrate their energy on the pool tables. Tyrone and I enjoy spending time here. This game requires concentration, and it makes us forget anything else for a while. It is so peaceful here. We are both very good; we are finesse players. None of this business of striking the balls all over the place, and let them fall where they may. We don't even do this at the break. Every one of our moves is thoughtfully planed and softly executed. We are not 'shooting' pool; we are playing pool. We are just two guys, spending a pleasant Sunday afternoon, not hurting anyone or anything.

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