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March 31, 1972
Author: Shiloh

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Jesus Montoya had a lot of things... he had the house in Chelsea that his parents left him after his mother died and his father drank himself to death, and with the insurance money he was able to keep up with the taxes. He had a job at a clinic downtown, with a bus stop right outside, which was very convenient.

He'd tried to get a job in one of the hospitals, but in the '70s no hospital in New York was going to hire an ex-army medic from Vietnam - they were scared - he was Hispanic, he lived in Chelsea, he had been a combat medic... Yeah, instead of wanting his experience and knowledge, they figured he was more than likely another druggie vet who would steal them blind, given half a chance, and they weren't giving him half a chance.

So for a few years he worked at a storefront clinic, handling stuff a doctor would normally handle, stuff a nurse would normally handle, and the nurses and docs there appreciated that, and prayed to God that he never found another job, and they wished they had the money to pay him more, so he would never want to leave.

Jesus had trained at Fort Sam Houston, hit the top of the class, had his choice of assignments anywhere in the world. Paris, Berlin, Italy, England, even Tripler Hospital in Hawaii... but he wanted to be a combat medic, and he asked for, and went to, Vietnam. Twice.

In Vietnam he did things that medics were not allowed to do. Medics were just supposed to patch you up as good as they could, try to stabilize you so you could make the trip by chopper, and get you on one, and back to the docs and nurses. He wasn't supposed to do things that only doctors were allowed to do, but he did, and a lot of guys made it because he knew what to do,and wasn't afraid to do it. Sometimes he didn't know for sure, but he would try anyway, because sometimes Jesus was the only chance the guy had left. Most of the time Jesus saved. Really.

But back in the real world, in the crisp and clean and orderly world of clean sheets and sterile rooms and operating theaters and adequate medical supplies, where you didn't have to worry about incoming other than another ambulance, he wasn't quite good enough - he was Jesus Montoya, from Chelsea, and he'd been a combat medic, and they knew all about those guys - they'd seen all the movies.

Jesus had a few other things... he had two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star, an Honorable Discharge, an aversion to drugs or alcohol, and he didn't smoke. He went to Mass regularly, was respectful to everyone he met, volunteered at the Senior Center on his days off, and most of the time he felt he had a good life.

He also had a divorce, and a son and daughter he saw on weekends, when he would hand over half his pay to his ex, voluntarily, and he didn't hate her - he knew he hadn't been easy to live with, and looking back he was surprised how long the marriage had lasted. Because Jesus had one other thing, and no one knew how to handle it yet - they didn't even know how to label him, or his problems -Jesus had PTSD, and that made his life a living hell, and his wife got tired of it after a few years.

Every relationship he started since his divorce, he broke off from, or it would come apart because of the special demons that lived within him, usually quiet in the darkness of his soul, but sometimes they would come back, and he didn't know how to stop hating himself.

Jesus thought he was nuts. After all, normal people didn't act the way he sometimes acted, they didn't think about the things he thought about... and he didn't know what to do. The VA had him talk to a shrink, but the shrink had never worked with PTSD, and the drugs they gave him to help him sleep, calm him down, didn't do a damn thing for him. He'd tried overdosing once, but his stomach reacted by making him throw up, then giving him the dry heaves until he made it to the ER and they gave him a shot to stop the muscles from doing that.

Jesus hated himself. Plain and simple. Every time he tried to get his life in some kind of order, every time he planned something nice for himself, it all ended up in the crapper, somehow, and he blamed himself. Mostly he hated the nightmares and the flashbacks and the night sweats and the mood swings and the anger and the fear he didn't understand. He didn't understand anything about PTSD.

In the afternoon of Friday, the 31st of March 1972, a car from the 10th Precinct got a call about a man with a gun, and they, and several other cars, responded to the little bungalow that Jesus owned, almost immediately after Jesus put the phone down after calling the Precinct.

Neighbors were rubbernecking, cops were leaning across their trunks with shotguns, and a plainclothes detective with a bullhorn told Jesus to come out with his hands raised.

Jesus stepped out onto the little porch, holding a sheet of paper out in front of him with his left hand, keeping his right hand behind his back. The detective told him to show his other hand, to please, slowly, show his other hand...
"Show us your other hand!" yelled a cop.
"Both hands in the air, damnit!" from another badge...
"Get down on the sidewalk!" hollered another...
"Watch that other hand! Watch his hand!" screamed another cop...

But Jesus was crying now, and he just kept crying, waving the paper around, and didn't respond to the detective, or to anyone... Another cop had come up from the back of the house, behind Jesus, and exclaimed, "He's got a gun!"

Almost as if on cue, Jesus showed the cops what he was hiding behind his back, suddenly aiming what looked like a 9.-millimeter semiautomatic pistol at the closest cop. He was hit by shotgun blasts from two sides, and 8 of 23 rounds fired from pistols by the cops nearest him. 15 rounds missed Jesus and went into the woodwork of the house left to him by his parents. Jesus was lifted off his feet by the impacts, and thrown back down onto his back, where he bled out, dying within a few seconds, his heart and chest literally shredded.

While the neighbors piled back into the street, one older woman fainting away, others wailing and crying, children shrieking... the plainclothes detective picked up the paper that Jesus had been waving, now blood-splattered and wrinkled from being crushed in his hand, and he looked at the gun Jesus had held, which turned out to be a realistically designed water pistol. The detective squeezed the trigger, and when no water squirted out of it, he said aloud, "Damn! It wasn't even loaded!" It was a poor attempt at humor, an attempt to lighten the mood.

Another cop, the one who had fired the first shotgun, asked, "What's the paper say?" The detective read aloud: "I offer my heartfelt apologies to the officers of the New York City Police Department who responded to my home today. This was the only way I could summon the courage to end my life of misery, and I ask for your understanding and to be forgiven for having to put you through this. Thank you. Jesus Rodriguez Montoya."

It was Good Friday, and the detective wondered if anyone besides himself realized that today, on the anniversary of Christ's death, another Jesus had died...

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Comments on this poem/writing:

Luke Mudge (216.162.18.225) -- Tuesday, March 10 2009, 11:54 am

WOW

another goosebump road created up my back and down my arms, felt like i was right there
Bipedalguy (75.67.61.151) -- Tuesday, March 10 2009, 01:00 pm

Sad story, Fantastic writing.

That's the best writing I've seen in some time. It's a very familiar story of tragedy, but it expresses that tragedy in a way which says "I understand". You do understand. You should write a book.
Bipe.
shiloh (74.65.121.49) -- Tuesday, March 10 2009, 03:54 pm

it happened a lot...

still does, i hear. suicide by cop, death by cop, because someone doesn't know what else to do to get away from the garbage in his life, in his mind...

thank you for your comments - much appreciated.

peace...
Becky (0.0.0.0) -- Tuesday, March 10 2009, 05:22 pm

Moved...

wow this was powerful Shiloh. I could see easily read this, as if seeing it on an episode of TV series or movie. It's a shame that it probably happens in real life more than people realize.. sad and true.. This was really good..
Donna M. Russell (75.91.200.111) -- Saturday, September 25 2010, 12:32 am

Broken

is what my heart is.
Melissa Trotter (75.93.62.136) -- Monday, August 8 2011, 04:08 am

Deep

Good way to help the ordinary reader see it from that point of view. PTSD is a hard thing to understand...I know a few dealing with it...everybodies reaction is a bit different..I am glad I do not have to deal with it..feel for those that do.
shiloh (74.67.103.47) -- Monday, August 8 2011, 04:12 am

re; deep....

thank you for your thoughts, melissa.
JMarshall (72.84.206.30) -- Monday, November 11 2013, 03:55 am

Thanks

Thanks, Shiloh, for sharing this on FB. Even now, in 2013, we see so many young soldiers back from the desert with too many bad memories. Sad, what we do to our young people.
 
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