As he attends weekly stealth lectures by a retired submarine commander, Jarred learns more than he ever wanted to know about war and soon receives his first assignment at a political rally in downtown Philadelphia. Successful at achieving his objectives, Jarred is triumphant-albeit only for a short time, for his success moves him to the next level of intelligence and sends him to Saigon. He must leave his young family and put his life in jeopardy for those who now own him.
Never in his wildest dreams could Jarred have predicted what he has become-a dark angel obedient to his convoluted destiny.
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The Eye DoctorDark Angel
By Jerold S. Greenfield
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Dr. Jerold S. Greenfield
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTHE TURNING POINT
"INCOMING!" A SHRILL VOICE shouted the warning. It resounded in my head like a jackhammer as I lay sweating in the darkness of my room. I braced myself, every muscle of my body taut in expectation of impending death. An instant later a tremendous explosion shook the room, followed by a flash of light. After a moment, there was another explosion and another flash. The window above my bed shattered, and bits of glass fell on my face and body like raindrops in a storm.
Then there was silence. I was pretty sure I was dead. At the least, I wasn't sure that I was alive. It seemed like an eternity passed while I continued to lie there, and it became sadly obvious to me that I really didn't care anymore whether I was dead or alive. In some small way, I hoped that I was dead. Then, this entire nightmare in Vietnam would finally be over.
I had come to realize that my existence was inconsequential. The past month had been too horrible to think about, and the present was fleeting and insecure. It could only be lived from second to second, or at best, from hour to hour. There was no more to hope for than that. There was no future to hang on to in Saigon. Only a fool would look to the future because life itself could be snatched away at any given time. In a bizarre way, I felt as though I had no past, no present, and no future. I was in a conscious nowhere land. I lay there wondering why I was even there, what I had done wrong to deserve this living hell, and why I had to endure it.
Sweat dripped off my forehead and into my eyes that were still clenched shut. I could feel the shards of glass on my face and concluded that, because I was thinking and aware of the fact that I was thinking, I must not be dead. I supposed it was a good thing, but it really didn't matter one way or the other to me at that point. No one would really care if I died. If I was dead, I would be just another casualty in this God-forsaken war.
Soon, I heard sirens wailing in the distance. This was another clue that I was still alive, so I decided to go see what the hell had happened. I stood and brushed the glass off of my clothes, listening as it tinkled to the floor—another clue that I wasn't dead. I grabbed my .45 and my AK47 and made my way out of the building to participate in the chaos and maybe get a few rounds off at the enemy. The thought of putting a few rounds in the enemy really got me moving.
When I went outside, nobody noticed me. I was armed and ready to fight, but there was no one to fight. All I saw were medical personnel and corpsmen—no fighting soldiers. I was the only dumbass who had shown up armed to the teeth, and no one paid any attention to me.
Two men lay dead on the ground, blown to pieces. Everyone attending the scene seemed casual and matter-of-fact about what they needed to do to clean up the mess. Two more of America's sons had been lost, and that was that. The indifference infuriated me.
Some ragtag Vietcong had gotten close enough to the base to lob two mortar rounds into the base. They had no particular target in mind and had gotten lucky, killing two of our boys. There was nothing I could do, no one to shoot at, no enemy, and no posse armed for retaliation. I just stood there, taking it all in.
like a subconscious volcano erupting in my mind, this was it for me. When I got back to my room, I was a changed man. In that moment, I went from being an observer to being a predator. I didn't yet know exactly what I would do, but I knew that I was going to do something different than what I had been trained to do. I was determined to achieve payback. Somehow, someway, this was a turning point; and the knowledge that I had become a predator brought me joy.
Chapter TwoIN THE BEGINNING
RETROSPECTIVELY, I CAN ONLY say that I was quite ordinary. I came from an ordinary middle-class Jewish family. Well, that's not quite true. My father was of German Jewish decent, and my mother was a Russian Catholic. My father, the Jew, had married a Gentile, also known as the Shiksa.
Back in the 1940s, the Jewish ethic was very strong. When my father married out of the Jewish faith, he was excommunicated from the family who lived in New York.
My mother and father had been born in the United States, but their parents were of European, Russian, and German heritage. They had immigrated to this country as many had during the post WWI and WWII era.
As fate would have it, I am a second generation immigrant to this country. My great-granddaddy was not involved in the Civil War, and no one from my family was part of Custer's last Stand. We were not longstanding Americans; but we were none-the-less truly American—proud and grateful to be American, for the record.
My father moved to miami Beach, Florida to escape the wrath of the family for marrying out of the religion. In the 1940s, there were many more gentiles living in miami and miami Beach per capita than were living in New York, which was strongly Jewish per capita.
My life was rather ordinary. I went to kindergarten, elementary school, and high school in Miami Beach, Florida. The years passed without any major drama or trauma. I was a fairly decent student, maybe a little above average, and never got into any trouble to speak of. No profound drug problems, porn, or anything else had any significant impact on my life as I approached my teens.
I was on the Miami Beach High School swimming team, and I swam the 400 meter freestyle event. I was also the freestyle sprinter on the relay team. Our team went to the state level of competition, where we bombed out but had a great time. I was in great physical shape, and I was as mentally stable as any teenager of the time. I even lettered: in my high school swim team. I wore that letter on my Miami Beach High School sweater, and I believed myself to be a jock.
My father was a traveling salesman who sold designer men's clothing— sports jackets, slacks, suits, tuxedos, and apparel for a large clothing manufacturer. He traveled throughout the states of Florida, Georgia, and Alabama, often confessing to the family that he felt unwelcome as a Jewish salesman. Nonetheless, he had the gift of gab and managed to make large sales to high-end department stores and elite clothing stores. Because he did well; our family lived well.
We lived a comfortable upper-middle class life on miami Beach. My father drove a Cadillac, his pride and joy and the symbol of his success. Mmy mother drove a T-Bird; and I had a Triumph-TR-3-A, a British sports car that was quite chic at the time.
By all standards, I was a fairly nice-looking chap—not fat, not geeky, no acne, on the swimming team, driving a sports car in high school. I was cool—or at least, I thought I was cool. After all, I had a cool girlfriend named Alexa whose father was president of the miami Beach Federal Bank. Her family was considerably wealthy. My family wasn't wealthy, but we weren't poor, either. Alexa's family made it clear, however, that they wanted her to marry someone of substance—a doctor, a lawyer, an accountant, or someone of importance—certainly not a salesman or an ordinary schmuck.
When I was around sixteen years old, my father often told me that I needed to think about what I was going to be when I grew up. He repeated this so many times that I actually avoided him when he was home off the road, even though he was gone on the road for most of the time. He often told me about how hard it was to be traveling all of the time and how hard it was to make a buck. Above all, he didn't want me to grow up to be a schemata, a clothing salesman. Over and over again, he told me to think hard about what I would be when I grew up. He wanted me to go to college, something he had never had the opportunity to do, so that I could make something of myself. After all, that's why we came to America—so we could be something. He strongly believed that we could become anything that we wanted to be if we worked hard enough for it.
I knew I needed to be something—not just another schmuck, but something.
When I was in Miami Beach Senior High, in addition to being on the swim team, I was also the photographer for the high school newspaper and yearbook. The school curriculum dictated that we had to have extra-curricular activities other than just being on a sports team. I liked photography, and it got me into all the school events for free. I could be on the sideline of all the major school events, including the crowning of the Homecoming Queen. I could also photograph the cheerleaders. Certainly, with that camera, I was special. I was somebody.
One day, when I was about sixteen years old, my dad cornered me, sat me down, and bluntly asked, "Well, my son, have you thought about what you are going to do with the rest of your life? Have you thought about what you are going to do in college? Have you thought about what you're going to become? If you grow up and become a salesman like me, I will break your legs."
My dad was a man of the street. He had no high school education. He was just a nuts and bolts kind of guy who made a living the hard way. He worked long and hard for his living and made no bones about it, often telling us how much he had to suck it up on the road to make a dollar. His heroes were Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean martin, James Cagney, and "The Rat pack"—the kind of guys who made it anyway that they could and succeeded.
I told my dad that I had thought about what I wanted to be. I thought about it when I laid my head on my pillow at night in my own air-conditioned room—a luxury that my father had never had when growing up. At long last, I had come to a conclusion about what I was going to be when I grew up.
We were seated directly across from each other in the Florida room of our home.
My dad sat with his legs crossed in a vinyl leather armchair. He wore a six-hundred dollar suit, a silk shirt monogrammed on the right arm, cufflinks, and alligator shoes. He looked like a million bucks. He smoked a rare Cuban cigar in a sterling silver cigar holder.
His diamond pinky ring glistened as he asked, "So what's it going to be, son?"
"Well, Dad, I'm going to be a photographer—you know? like those guys who do photography for National Geographic. I'll photograph polar bears in Antarctica or the zebras in Africa. Or, maybe I'll take pictures for life magazine and get my photos on the front cover."
It grew very quiet as he inhaled a drag on that Cuban cigar. He delicately blew several smoke rings above his distant glare. Then he looked at me and said, "Bullshit."
My dad was not the kind of guy you would argue with. He was a man of the street. He would throw a punch first and ask questions later. He was a Sinatra, Cagney, or Bogart kind of guy.
Actually, I had never really thought about becoming a photographer. I had only considered it once or twice—usually when I was taking pictures of the high school cheerleaders; but I was out of time and cornered. I had thought this would hold him off until some later date. I was wrong. So, I elected to defend myself.
"What's wrong with being a photographer?" I exclaimed. "I'll go to college and study light, optics, cameras, and photographic technique; and I'll be someone important!"
Again, he took a drag on that Cuban and blew a few more smoke rings in my direction. Again he said, "Bullshit."
"We came to this country to be free, so that we could make ourselves anything we wanted," he said. "This is a free country—a country of opportunity to become everything we could want. Being a photographer is being just another schmuck. You will wind up photographing the Goldforb's wedding or the Greenburg's Bat mitzvah. You will be just another Schmuck."
"Dad, you're still from the old country, with old world thinking!" I was hoping and fearing that I would not get smacked with the back of his hand. "This is America. It's a free country, and I can be anything I want to be! I don't have to be what you want me to be!"
Again it became very quiet for a few seconds as he took another drag on that Cuban cigar and blew a few more smoke rings in my direction. Slowly, deliberately, softly, he delivered the ashes from the cigar to an adjacent ash tray.
"You know, son, you are right. It is a free country. You can be whatever you want to be. But all the rules and benefits that apply to you also apply to me. I'm here, too; and I don't have to do anything that I don't want to do. I don't have to support anything that I don't believe in. If you want to be a photographer, go ahead. Go to college and study light and optics. While you're at it, you can pay for it. You make it on your own like a real man. Good luck to you. I'm not spending one dime on your college education for you to become a photographer. So, good luck, Schmuck."
He stood and quietly walked away, shaking his head in disappointment as he left the room.
We never had another conversation about that. The rules had been stated.
For the most part, as time went by, the subject remained closed. Then my older married Dr. Richard light.
My parents were so proud to have a doctor in the family that they told everyone they knew that Roberta had married a doctor. They didn't care that he was a dentist. He had a title in front of his name, and that was what mattered to them. Who knew what the hell their son would turn out to be, but at least their daughter had made them proud.
From that point on, my parents—especially my dad—always pointed out to me the virtues, respect, and benefits my sister enjoyed by being married to a doctor. Whenever we were together, Richard was introduced as Dr. light. I, of course, was always just Jarred. But maybe, if they pushed hard enough, I would see the light and amend my foolish dream of being a schmuck photographer.
Over the next few years, I saw with my own eyes the respect and dignity that Dr. light obtained in the family and with our circle of friends, the people in the community, and his patients.
In retrospect, however, Dr. Ritchie was by nature a lovable man. I loved him dearly; and he had a clear, positive influence in the direction of my life. I admired him, respected him, and thought of him as an older brother. Ritchie died of stomach cancer when he was only sixty-two, confirming in my mind that only the good die young.
As I have pondered Ritchie's life over the years, I've concluded that Ritchie was genetically endowed with the love gene. Everybody loved Ritchie because he was simply lovable. At best, I can say of myself that I am only apparently lovable. I am not by nature lovable, only perceptually. My appearance of lovability is a camouflage.
I am what I am, and that's that.
Chapter ThreeOFF TO COLLEGE
OVER THE YEARS, I did see, learn, and accept the benefits of becoming a somebody. In order to go to college and have my parents pay for it, I was going to have to become something; and I figured that being a doctor would be as good as anything else,
After graduating from High school in 1960, I went to the University of Florida to study premed. I contemplated becoming a psychiatrist—not a psychologist, but an MD of psychiatry.
I do not have fond memories of my first semester at U of F. Alexa, my high school sweetheart, was two years younger than I was. She had stayed behind to finish high school; and her mother insisted that she date other guys while I was at college. This annoyed the hell out of me. Plus, I wasn't such a tough guy. I missed her. And I missed having a girlfriend. I was always wondering, Who's kissing her now?
I was enduring this in the name of, what? oh yeah—to be something.
Then there was the fraternity that rushed me when I got to the University of Florida. I was a jock, I was cool, and thus, I was expected to join an elite Jewish fraternity on campus. For lack of knowing any better, that's exactly what I did. I found fraternity life boring. The Rah Rah Rah; we're the best; we're there for you; and we're brothers forever was bullshit to me.
Academically, college was not as challenging as I expected it to be. I suffered from two basic maladies: immaturity and loneliness. I really missed Alexa; and, unlike in high school, I was no longer the only jock on the block. I was suddenly a little fish in a big pond.
Excerpted from The Eye Doctor by Jerold S. Greenfield Copyright © 2011 by Dr. Jerold S. Greenfield. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
CHAPTER 1—THE TURNING POINT....................1
CHAPTER 2—IN THE BEGINNING....................3
CHAPTER 3—OFF TO COLLEGE....................9
CHAPTER 4—THE PLAN....................11
CHAPTER 6—ANOTHER BEGINNING....................25
CHAPTER 7—THE CLASSES OF MAC SOG CMI CMA....................33
CHAPTER 8—THE ASSIGNMENTS....................46
CHAPTER 10—THE INDIAN....................65
CHAPTER 11—REALITY IN VIETNAM....................74
CHAPTER 12—HOME AGAIN?....................131
CHAPTER 13—BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN....................153
CHAPTER 14—THE ISRAELIE....................175
CHAPTER 15—HO-HUM, BUT ONLY FOR A WHILE....................188
CHAPTER 17—THE RABBI....................209
CHAPTER 18—"THE QUICKIE"-BUT HELL TO PAY....................230
CHAPTER 19—THE HOMICIDE....................240
CHAPTER 20—THE ULTIMATE MANIPULATION....................260
CHAPTER 21—THE ADOPTIONS....................274
CHAPTER 22—BORN AGAIN....................284
CHAPTER 23—THE DREAM....................295
CHAPTER 25—THE RECTIFICATION COMMITTEE JUSTIFICATION....................311
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