Friday, November 19, 2010

Alive In Okay City

  I was living on North Council and Herb had a house on the South side. I waited about an hour when I heard a car horn. He was sitting in his car grinning like a possum. When he saw me he got out of the car and met me on the sidewalk and gave me a bear hug." It is great to see you!" I told him as we let go of each other.
  "Hop in. " he told me. We are going for a ride." 
  I did not care where we were going, it was just a fantastic feeling being with him, again. We were the two best techs in Eglin Hospital and this was the first time I had talked to him since I was discharged from the Air Force. That was three years ago. We made our way to the south side of OKC in a nice suburb. Herb was renting a nice house with another guy that worked in the medical field. His room mate was a pharmacist.
  We immediately started to flash back to our days of teacher and student. Herb was entering his final year in medical school. He had continued his pre-med when we were attending Oakaloosa-Walton. That was only a two year school but it was good enough for what we needed at the time. I had dropped out when I got my discharge and spoke to Herb very little after I killed the colonel and asked to be transferred off my unit. I was waiting on the questions form Herb about that decision to move. It was not long before I got them. I was doing so well in my college classes, I loved working with orthopaedics, I was loved by my colleagues, things were going great, on the outside. Why did I give up? The truth is that I did not give up on keeping secret something I felt that no one on this earth should know. The choices I made back then had to be kept secret. I could not even tell my best friend. I would have been court martialed by the military and charged with murder by the state of Florida. There is no statute of limitations for murder, so, why am I telling the story, now? In 2008 I was an inpatient at the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center and when I told my story for the first time my therapist stopped me and made sure I was ready to take this where ever it would lead. I had finally told someone else what only I had known for over 30 years. My therapist met with the hospital admin,and chief of psychiatry, and the hospital lawyers, and then came to me and said there would be no legal ramifications, giving me permission to tell my story. Where I was at the time with Herb was years before I got the green light to talk. I wanted to tell Herb so bad it was hard to not tell him. I trusted Herb, completely. Obviously, not completely, enough. It was still great to be with him. I stayed in OKC for about a year and it was time for me to go. I was being chased and I could not stay still, for very long. Once again, I left my friend with unanswered questions. He would ask but I refused to speak about what happened to make me just up and quit. He was no dummy. He knew it had to be something big. He probably thought it was something about drugs. He was close. It was the drugs that allowed me to keep a foot down on the Demon. I was headed back to Bama. Just the two of us. The Demon and myself.   theblogmeister

Sunday, November 14, 2010


  I could not have had a better tech to show me the ropes than Herb. He was 25 years old at that time and I was a young buck of 19. I had joined the Air Force right out of high school, went to boot camp in San Antonio, Tx., then did my medical training in Wichita Falls, Tx. After 12 weeks of med training I filled out what was called a 'dream sheet' which was a list of bases that you would like to go to for you permanent party base. That's what they called it, no shit. It definitely turned out to be a permanent party. Then about 2 weeks before you graduate you find out where you will end up. I had 8 choices and the first choice was Eglin A.F.B, Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. I had chosen all coastal bases because I love the sun and Jimmy Buffett. I was lucky because another airman had chosen almost the exact dream sheet as I. His PP base ended up being Minot, N.Dakota. Go figure.
  I made it down to the sunshine state a couple days early to get my dorm room assigned and get settled in before I started work. My job was a good job working on an orthopaedic surgery unit and Herb knew his shit. Anything about how traction equipment should go, Herb knew it. Setting up traction is an art and Herb was a master. He was great with patients and he was a very good teacher. I was paired up with Herb for my first six weeks on the job. That is where I learned most of my medical training,  on the job. I would volunteer down at the lab, Herb's idea, in the drawing room on my days off. It was not a bad idea, either. It was not long before I became proficient in starting IV's. I took any and all of Herb's advice and it usually benefited the patient. Herb was a great tech and as I am telling him where in OKC I was living a smile came across my face. I was talking to Herb. When I hung up the phone a tear came to my eye and I wished I would have confided in Herb all those years, ago. I want to tell him about colonel DeBarge, that I was responsible for his death, but I knew that as soon as I saw him I would forget the Demon. For a little while, at least.  theblogmeister

Okay City

  Herb and I hit it off from the moment we first met. My first day on the job I did not do that much work. I was lead around the unit like a thoroughbred that was being put up for sale at the horse auction. I walked around the unit being introduced to all the staff members. I could feel the stares from the nurses and could almost read their minds. You know how it goes on the first day. The cool thing about my job was that most of the staff were females. There were about five guys but not all of them were there on my first day. The guy that was holding the reigns was a Staff Sargent named Howard. Henry was the last one to meet me before morning meeting. "Wuz up? I'm Erb. I thank you'll like this place aight." Before I could speak the Charge Nurse, the Boss, walked in and everyone got quiet. I gave Herb a quick nod. We listened on a small cassette recorder about each patient. If anything that went on the night before that was important enough for the day shift to hear. Scheduled tests, expected additions and possible discharges. Since most doctors would make rounds in the evening before they went home that is when doctors orders would be written in the patients chart. I looked up and everyone was taking notes, except Herb. The meeting would last about 30 minutes and then the Boss would give out verbal orders. Just before we were dismissed the Charge Nurse turned to me and said,"I'm Colonel Potter, airman Riley(that's me) I want you to try and keep up with Herb, today, so everyone welcome airman Riley to our family. Dismissed." After a couple intros I missed I followed Herb into a room marked, Clean Utility. Herb put out is hand and said,"I'm damn glad they sent us a southern boy. You like Skynyrd?" I knew from that moment we would become fast freinds. It was the beginning of a long relationship.   theblogmeister