The Veteran’s Ball

“When our perils are past, shall our gratitude sleep?” -George Canning

By Ken Sheetz

Mosaic, Rainy Day in Central Park by artist Kate Kerringer
Mosaic, Rainy Day in Central Park
by artist Kat Kerringer

A dangerously thin young man, adorned in tattered desert combat fatigues, Roger McCalister makes his way to park bench beneath the menace of clouds that hover over Central Park. 

The condo skyscrapers of Manhattan, where unimaginable wealth resides, tower in stark contrast to Roger who has not had a shower in weeks.

Still, there’s a handsome aura and stoic humor about this young vet as he breaks out his worn guitar from the traveling home on his back.  Roger perches a sign scrabbled in crayons on cardboard on red velvet inside of his open guitar case that reads:

“Homeless vet.  Give for me to live!”

A young affluent mother walks a luxury baby buggy that could feed ten vets for a week past Roger’s humble sidewalk concert spot.

“Morning, ma’am,” Roger says, not expecting an answer and not getting one as the mother hurries on avoiding eye contact.

A light drizzle begins as Roger tunes up his guitar.  Roger is mystified he’s not getting wet.  He looks up to see an umbrella with a map of the globe on it.  Roger twists further to see a beautiful redhead is being an angel keeping him dry.

“Thanks, but I don’t mind the rain, miss.” says Roger.

“Name’s, Gaia, ” says the redhead beauty.

“Never met a Gaia before.  What kind of name’s Gaia?” says Roger with a strum of his guitar.

“Hippie name for mother earth.  Mom and dad were flower children in the 60s.” says Gaia.

“I dig the 60s.  People still gave a shit, ” says Roger playing a 60s riff on his beat up guitar.

“You’re good!” says Gaia.

“Had a lot of time on my hands in Iraq and then Afghanistan.  Picked it up from a buddy named Bradley, who bought it with an IED,” says Roger sadly.

“Must feel awful to have served all that time and end up neglected by a People you served so valiantly,” says Gaia.

“I was homeless before the service.  Just back on my regular beat.   Signed up right after 9/11.  Only sixteen.  Lied about my age.  Zero hard feeling about serving America.  I had three squares a day and a place to sleep every night,” says Roger fondly.

“Why didn’t you stay in the Army then?” says Gaia.

“I wrote a song about it.  Have time to hear?  Don’t want to keep you if you have a job to get to,” says Roger, expecting her exit.

But the beauty stays and with a nod from Gaia, Roger starts to play:

“Singed up for 9/11.

War for me was heaven.

The army kept me fed.

Gave me a clean bed.”

A small crowd of New Yorkers gather as Roger sings and plays like an angel.

“Eight years went by in a flash.

Saved me up lots of cash.

When an IED took my bud Bradley

I lost my music and way sadly.

Decided to give peace a go.

But little did I know

Sharks live on land.”

Tears well in Gaia’s eyes as Roger plays his haunting song.

“My savings turned to sand.

Never learned to hold a job.

Does that make me a slob?

No one to give me orders

Now I guitar for dollars.”

People from the crowd toss wads of cash into Roger’s guitar case as plays on.

“I signed up for 9/11.

War for me was heaven.

The army kept me fed.

Gave me a clean bed.

But now that I am out

Though I scream and shout.

No one seems to hear…

Somebody buy me a beer!”

Roger stops playing with a grin and the crowd, grown to about 100 people, erupts into thunderous applause.

Gaia kisses Roger on his bearded cheek and says, “May I have this dance?”

“There’ll be no music if I stop playing,” says Roger.

“Your teacher Bradley can take over playing,” says Gaia as she points to Bradley in the growing crowd.

Bradley, all dressed in white army fatigues, steps from the crowd and takes up Roger’s guitar while a bright smile.

“Bradley!  You’re alive, bro!” says Roger taking Bradley into a hug.

“Complicated.  Shut up and dance with Gaia, you lucky stiff.” says Roger as he strikes up a passionate flamenco.

Roger bows to Gaia and they dance to the applause of the crowd in a spotlight of sunbeam.

Gaia and Roger dance up the sunbeam.  Roger looks down on Central Park at Bradley playing guitar and sees his slumped body on the park bench.

“Ah.  I’m dead…, ” says Roger wistfully.

“Nonsense.  There’s much for you to do, soldier.  I need good men like you to save my world,” says Gaia joyously.

“I enlist!” says Roger, sprouting dazzling angel wings as he dances Gaia into the morning sun.


Hi Guys, I am on long-term assignment filming super scientist Patrick Flanagan of PhiSciences in Sedona where I’ve settled down from my world travels these past four years to recharge for a bit.  2014 will see my world travels again to exotic lands and places for our planetary meditations.  For now I take the greatest journey of all, the one within. 

Help support my work awakening the planet.  Make a donation at the PayPal link on and I promise you much magic will find its way back to you.

— Much love, Ken

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