He was born in the 1950’s, after his mother had taken thalidomide. As a result he had hands attached to small appendages on top of his shoulders. Mike was quite adept at using his hands in this location. When I first met him, he asked in greeting, “Wanna get stoned?” When I said , “OK,” he deftly reached into his shirt pocket, produced rolling papers and a small matchbox with pot in it. He quickly twisted up a joint, pulled out a match and sparked it. All the while a brisk wind was blowing that would have given me trouble getting a match to stay lit. By cupping his hands with his back to the wind, Mike got the joint lit and so did we.
I did not witness him typing, but I am certain he was well adapted and seemed to have no limitations. Quickly he used his thumb to fetch us a ride.
A Volkswagen Beetle towing an identical one pulled over. We got into the first one with Wayne. He had just finished a thirty year career in the US Marines and was moving all his belongings to Florida. He had room for us in the lead car, the rear one was loaded with his possessions. Wayne was a professional soldier, having served in WWII, Korea, and Viet Nam. He was a senior enlisted man and during times of no conflict attended the War College, a military institution to study and learn the art of war. He was certain that all his experience taught him one thing only. Wayne reiterated several times, “All I learned is dead men stink in the sun.” We spent several hours traveling through Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle trading war stories and anti-war stories. It seemed an unlikely paring, one who had avoided going to war and another who immersed himself in war having a meeting of minds about war’s outcome. When we parted at Lake City, Florida we offered each other congratulations for the courses we had taken. Mike had not said much during our trip, but like a good reporter took it all in and made notes. Together the three of us made that day’s story.