Tuesday, February 11, 2003
Stan's a caretaker, and one of the places he looks after is the cabin I go and write at. He's a nice old man, and I get along well with him and his dog Boomer. I make him cups of tea and he stops and says hello.

This is the conversation that we had this afternoon.

What Stan Says.

You got your gas-mask? says Stan.

Nope, I say. I doubt anyone will be gassing us out here.

Mebbe not, says Stan. We�re a long way from anywhere out here.
But that Saddam, he�s going to get what�s coming to him
We got an air force. He don't got an air force.
We can bomb that Iraq flat, until they�re all dead. Every mother�s son of them.
That�ll teach him.

But it�ll kill a lot of people who aren�t fighting, I say.
People who want to get on with their lives. Who don�t like Saddam any more than you do.

That don�t make no mind. They�ve got missles, says Stan.
Nobody knows what else they�ve got. Bombs and things. Atomic bombs and gas.
And now that Osama, he�s living there in Iraq, in Saddam�s lap,
the one who did that New York thing. There are tapes of him talking.

We don�t know it�s him for sure, I say.
Course it�s him, says Stan. What, you�re telling me there are other people
who speak that language?

Yes, I say. Lots of them. Hundreds of millions.

Anyway, that Saddam, says Stan. We got to go to war,
because he�s a madman. So he has to be stopped. His troops will
kill to protect him, that�s how mad he is.
And he�s got missles.

I don�t think his missiles will reach us here, I say.
Nope. They won�t, says Stan. They�re that clever.
They�ll be smuggled across the border in secret
by folks who look like you or me.

Stan is bald and stocky and bespectacled. He wears check shirts,
worked as a cowman all his life, except for his years in the army.
He retired, too old to get up at dawn to milk another man�s cows.
He�s diabetic. Hardworking, broke and proud.

I wish they could send in the Mafia, says Stan.
Tell them to kill Saddam. The Mafia, they can do that.

Couldn�t we do that? I ask.

Nope, says Stan. That�d be breaking the law. We got to do these things properly.
We got to bomb them back to the stone age.
Anyway. Just checking in on you
to see you was okay.

That�s what Stan says.