John Boston | Kabul, a Shotgun Shell, a Vise & a Ballpeen Hammer

John Boston

During the dinosaur days of my youth, I had a friend. He wasn’t a best pal, just a member of our gang of annoying, shoulder-socking 8th-grade boys in plaid shirts and flattops. Rick just stopped showing up to junior high. It was two months later when he returned. 

Minus right thumb and index finger. 

I can’t imagine his bravery, embarrassment and self-loathing of having to show a thousand-plus kids and teachers his discolored and scarred hand, minus two appendages. Worse? Rick answered the same question, ad nauseum: 


Rick had wedged a shotgun shell in a big garage vise, tightened it, then slammed said live ordnance with a big ballpeen hammer.  

Ka. Blooey. 

Accidents fall into two categories. There’s accidental accidents, no fault of your own, like a caribou falling from a biplane and crashing butt-first and fatally upon your noggin. Then, there’s accidents created through our own, willful invention. In the 1930s, up Placerita Canyon, a lady got blown not so much up — but out. Except for being knocked unconscious and thrown THROUGH the door into her front yard, she woke dazed, scratched, smoky, singed like Sylvester the Cat trying to deliver lit dynamite to Tweety Bird, eyebrowless and hard of hearing for the rest of her days — but — miraculously unscathed. 

She had been cleaning her wooden cabin. 

Using warmed-up kerosene. In a steel bucket. 

Bubbling on her cast-iron wood-burning stove in the kitchen. 

It. Blew. Up. 

Innocently doing the backstroke in the swirling waters of Lake Completely Damn Stupid, accidents change us. They haunt us, especially ones so avoidable and self-created. We are thrust into an unasked-for state of perpetual prayer, beseeching God to disinterested bartenders: “What the hell — went wrong?” 

There’s marrying the absolute wrong partner and having kids. 

There’s spending $4 trillion in a 20-year-war in Afghanistan.  

It’s an insane amount of money. I’m not advocating this as American global policy, but forget ISIS, al-Qaida or the Taliban. If you killed all 40 million people in that hillbilly country, babies to Shiite missionaries, you’d spend about $1 billion per person. Of course, we’re not advocating killing everyone. That was actually the Taliban’s job. A Brown University study noted that from 2001 to 2011, the Taliban were responsible for 75% of all deaths in Afghanistan. Weighing on the karmic war scales, an estimated 150,000 Taliban or Taliban-ish fighters have been killed. 

Apparently, that was not nearly enough. 

Forgetting borders, in the last 20 years, in the various wars in Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc., at least 7,000 U.S. servicemen and servicewomen lost their lives. Add about another 8,000 U.S. contractor fatalities. Add legs and arms and chunks of torsos and healthy psyches, left rotting in that unforgiving climate. Add post-traumatic stress disorder and suicides, nightmares and screaming when a coffee cup accidentally shatters on a dining room floor. 

Last weekend, a hawkish friend was demeaning the fighting spirit of the Afghan military and police, wondering why they gave up their country without a fight to a bunch of Taliban goat herders with a combined IQ of 43, crammed into a convoy of dusty pickup trucks. I can’t read the hearts of Afghan cops and soldiers, holding their country’s gossamer-thin line. But I can read stats. In the last two decades, nearly 110,000 Afghan police and military have been killed. So many widows and orphans. Now, after Stupid Joe’s Saigon Moment, so many women to be raped and beaten — and that’s not the worst in their possible future. So many children to be molded into sex slaves and future monsters. So many people who will never get the chance to become themselves. 

I have another local self-inflicted accident story. It was the 1940s, up here in Castaic. Sheriff’s deputies answered a shots-fired call at a motel. They found a drunk lying in bed, cradling a bottle of whiskey, a pistol by his side. The motel sheets and his feet were soaked in blood. Seems the drunk became fascinated with his toes wiggling on one foot. He took the pistol, took careful aim and shot off two toes, one by one. Gingerly disarming him and calling an ambulance, the deputies asked the obvious. What happened with the other foot — suspiciously minus two more little piggies? The drunk happily explained. When he shot off the first two toes, it didn’t hurt that much. So, he shot off two more on the other foot. 

Stupid? Sure. But, at least — honest. 

Quite the opposite with Dumbbell Joe and our alleged leaders. Quite the opposite, with ourselves. As a nation, with all our technological advances, gifts and luxurious lifestyle, we ignore, embrace and defend stupidity. I listened all week, as Washington bureaucrats and liberal talking heads passionately defended one of the stupidest events in history — the Butt’s-On-Fire retreat by America’s noble military, support groups and families out of Afghanistan. The Signal Legal Department advises not to succinctly describe yet another liberal tragedy for what it was: a circle of squawking chimpanzees in power suits awkwardly attempting to be fruitful and multiply. 

Our daft, dumb, dishonest, inept and impotent president, Joe Biden? On vacation. Ditto with press secretary Jen Psaki. Vice President Kamala Harris? Cackling madly on the floor of a jumbo jet headed to Vietnam, of all places. Pilots were frantically airlifting Americans from Kabul. You know. Like in helicopters a la Saigon 1975 that our hair-sniffing chief executive assured us wouldn’t happen? The president hell-bent on confiscating American guns just handed over billions in loaded weaponry, from pistols to fighter jets. Biden pulled a dine-&-dash, hoping to sneak out and no one would notice. 

Biden? Harris? Pelosi? Everyone remotely associated with this Afghan debacle?  

I strongly suggest we keep with their ongoing liberal policy of stupidity. We overload planes with Joe & His Cabal, airlift and then parachute them — INTO — Kabul. 

Then, we appoint another dip-asterisk, blue-ribbon Democratic committee to figure out how to safely rescue them. 

Or not… 

John Boston is a local writer. 

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