Georgie was an aging Vietnam Vet who suffered from 'Agent Orange' exposure and general 'dope sickness' from being a heroin addicted veteran. He was the uncle of other childhood neighbors of ours and my Dad always thought he was crazy. Not good crazy, like someone with a witty and colorful sense of humor. More like really drugged out crazy and out of control. I think he was a little bit of both and I enjoyed his jungle story experiences in Vietnam. He told me he once 'fragged' a fellow soldier because the soldier had shot and killed a rare White Lion in the jungles of Vietnam after warning him not to do so. The Lion was no threat. Just going about its daily routine as many in his unit were mesmerized by the sight of this awesome beast. The soldier raised his M-16 to take aim and Georgie yelled, "If you shoot that Lion redneck, I'll be returning fire towards you, motherfucker!" The soldier ignored Georgie's threat and killed the Lion dead on the spot. Apparently, another soldier agreed with Georgie and pounced on this guy, knocking him over to the ground hard. Georgie nonchalantly pulled out his .45 caliber hand gun and pumped two rounds into his fellow soldiers head, killing him instantly. He was proud of this because he would re-tell the story often. And it never changed so I thought it to be a true story. One day reluctantly, I asked him, "Why did you do that, it was only a Lion? He explained, "This idiot from Kentucky would shoot anything that moved. I was always too busy shooting heroin to really care about anything else. I never thought I'd make it back home anyway. This Lion was beautiful, not menacing, nor did it notice our presence. I was really screwed up in the head from the whole Vietnam experience and felt that the Lions life was worth way more than this redneck's life, so I shot him dead after warning him not to do so." He went on,"Killing had become a daily occurrence, and I felt that there was no sport in taking the life of this precious animal. I had more respect for that Lion than I did for myself and others in my unit."
One day Georgie had nodded out in his VW bug from an injection of heroin while smoking a cigarette. The cigarette started a fire in the car which was parked directly in front of our house. It was about dinner hour so my Dad was home waiting to eat the fine meal my mom was preparing. He smelled an odd burning and peered outside the front door. The car was now engulfed in flames. So my dad ran outside to see if anyone was inside the vehicle. Georgie was slumped over the wheel, unknowing he was now on fire. My dad instinctively grabbed the door knob, only too suffer second-degree burns and tore Georgie from the car to safety. Someone else must have called the fire department because very shortly there after, they arrived to extinguish the flames and took Georgie to the hospital. My Dad was not really fond of him, but he surely wasn't going to sit - by idly and watch a car engulfed in flames before him. The neighborhood thought Dad saved Georgie's life. But he didn't much care to revel in heroic gossip and went back inside to eat and ice up his hand.
The cops showed up and asked him to come outside. He probably thought since he pulled Georgie out, they wanted to question him. And they did. While all four of them now inspect the extinguished Bug, they point out all of Georgie's paraphernalia that was not completely intact, but detectable to identify. There were syringes, burnt spoons, arm ties, and most alarming, hundreds of rounds of all different bullet calibers strewn about the car. They asked my Dad what his association was to Georgie and was very adamant about the live rounds laying all about. He explained exactly what he did, and was unaware of the drug gadgets and live rounds that luckily didn't turn into a small tank, firing bullets everywhere from fire and heat. After learning of these tasty tidbits of information, he was really pissed and lectured Georgie the next day about everything and adamantly stated to us, "Stay the hell away from him. Don't ever let me catch you even talking to him, understand me? That was the summer of seventy-six, just a few months before his own death.
After my Dad died, I did occasionally hang out with Georgie in my teenage years. He turned me on to some great music that I still listen to. Joe Walsh, The Eagles, Jefferson Starship, and CSNY. Those California blends that always had a sound and feeling of familiarity to me. He also gave me my first couple of Carlos Castaneda's books, which completely mesmerized me. So he did have some intellectual endeavors, but sadly, heroin was his closest companion.