Well, you tell us that we're wrong
And you tell us not to sing our song
Nothing we can say will make you see
You got a heart of stone
You can never feel
You say "Oh, I'm not afraid - it can't happen to me
I've lived my life as a good man
Oh, no you're out of your mind
It won't happen to me
'Cos I've carried my weight
And I've been a strong man"

Cyril has a washing machine. He bought it on sale at Sears. He is very proud of it. His wife is the one who generally ends up washing clothes it in, but Cyril is proud of it. He believes in the washing machine. He believes the hours he put in on the job and the dedication he has shown to the company was validated by the presence of this washing machine in the basement of his home. Clothes are washed in it. They smell April fresh when he pulls them out of his closet and drapes them over his body. Cyril believes in the American dream. He believes in clean clothes. He believes in going to the ice cream parlor on Saturday afternoons and treating his family to ice cream cones. He has a sticker on the back window of his car. It is a small American flag. Most of the laundry in Cyril's household is washed on Sundays. Usually sometime after morning church services. Last month Cyril and his wife worked as ushers for the Sunday service. They were glad to see their good friends Barry and Becky in church again. Barry had been in the hospital with cancer. He seems to be doing better now. Barry and Becky don't have a washing machine. Becky goes to the laundromat twice a week. Barry's clothes never smell as April fresh as Cyril's. They don't have any children.

Listen to the man in the liquor store
Yelling "anybody want a drink before the war?"
And your parents paid you through
You got a nice big car
Nothing bothers you
Somebody cut out your eyes
You refuse to see
Somebody cut out your heart
You refuse to feel

Dave was a man who had grown disenchanted with his life. He decided to move out west and seek new frontiers. Alex lives in a box. It isn't a cardboard box. It isn't any more of a box than anyone's home is just a box. He can't see the light from where he is standing. It is the middle of his life and his is stranded on a desert island without a canoe. He knows how to paddle away from the shore. He just isn't sure he has the strength. He isn't all that sure of anything anymore. He stands still. While Dave goes out to explore a new frontier, Alex wishes he could do something much the same. Alex feels trapped. Dave feels a rush of excitement and yet he is unsure of what will happen next. Alex always knows what will happen next. When you stand still you can predict the weather with far greater accuracy. Alex looks for escape. Dave tries to hold the tarp down before it blows away. They toast each other. They toast to the future even though neither is really sure what the future will bring. Safety's just danger, out of reach.

And you live in a sham
You create your own hell
You live in the past
And talk about war
And you dig your own grave, yeah
But it's a life you can save
So stop getting fussed
It's not gonna happen

Willard feels he has done no wrong. They stripped him of the stripes he once wore on his uniform. He didn't feel the explanation was sufficient. Some men have a different definition of dignity and pride than others. Archie seizes opportunity. He allows things to take their course, celebrating the rewards and letting the setbacks wash over him like a warm summer rain. Estefania feels she was due more from life. She thinks it should be much easier. She cannot understand why she cannot have the things she wants and feels that she needs. Sometimes she cries herself to sleep when no one will listen to her complaints. Some have tried to help her, but they keep waiting for her to help herself. She isn't strong enough, or so she believes. She leans too heavily on others to hold her hand. Kristina is fighting against a tide she doesn't see, except in bits and pieces. She wants to make her own way. She wants to explore the sky. She doesn't want it shown to her. Some of these people own washing machines. Some of them do not.

And you'll cry
But you'll never fall
No, no, no
You're building a wall
Gotta break it down
Start again
No, no, no
It won't happen to us
We've lived our lives
Basically we've been good men
So stop talking of war
Cause you know we've heard it all before
Why don't you go out there
And do something useful

The shadow sees too much. The shadow observes. The shadow does not spit. The shadow swallows. The shadow sees chaos unfolding. There are so many little lives across the landscape of the world he knows. He cannot embrace them all. He sometimes can't even embrace himself like he once did. He feels himself becoming weaker as he becomes stronger. He kisses one cheek and turns away from another. He hears helicopters overhead. He drinks a toast to the one who disappeared. He drinks another to the ones who died and two more to the two who took their own lives. He waits for the sound of artillery in the hills. He knows it is coming. He knows it is not what anyone really expects. It will be louder than they know and it will be so much quieter than they realize. He finds someone else to drink a toast to and then quietly retires. There is another world that patiently waits for him. His work here is not yet done. There is something yet to be done and the mayhem that is to come plays a role. Chaos ascending. He loves these people he has embraced over time. He longs for something he can never have. He smiles.

Oh listen to the man in the liquor store
He yelling "Anybody wanna drink before the war?"
"Anybody wanna drink before the war?"
"Anybody wanna drink before the war?"

Lyrics copyright 1987 Sinead O'Connor
"Drink Before The War" as appears on the album The Lion and The Cobra
Used without permission

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