The nurse from Landstuhl called me as Ollie was waking up from the three day sedation after the blast. I didn’t want him to wake up in a strange place, surrounded by people he didn’t know, to discover the extent of his injuries. She handed him the phone as he took a self-inventory. He wasn’t (and still isn’t) very pleased about that.
“I fucked up, baby. I fucked up. My legs are gone. I fucked up…..oh my god I fucked up….”
“Ollie, you didn’t fuck up. You still have your right leg, anyway, right? You have it.”
“I promised I would come home and everything would be okay and now my legs are gone and I fucked up…oh wow I fucked up….”
“Let me talk with the nurse, okay honey? Just for a minute. Hand her the phone.”
“He still has his right leg, right?”
“Yes, ma’am, he’s a little confused right now.”
“I get that, I just want to make sure that what I’m saying is the truth. Can I speak to him again?”
“…I fucked up and my legs are gone…”
“Ollie, I have a secret. You wanna know what it is?”
“I never told you, but I kind of have a fetish for amputees.”
“You asshole, I knew you were going to say something dumb like that.”
“You promised me you’d come home. And you are, baby, you’re coming home. You didn’t fuck up.”
The next time he called, it was from Walter Reed.
“So…I have been trying to think of what to name my stump,” he greeted me.
I don’t remember the first couple of names he suggested, but they were dumb. “No. You can’t call your stump that. That’s dumb,” I insisted.
“What about Stumpalufagus?”
We had a winner.