My dog Bug, a Japanese Chin, and I have done pet therapy at the local VA Center for years. This particular VA Center has a number of rehab programs and offers multiple programs to aid homeless veterans.
On a visit to the VA, a disheveled veteran sat and stroked Bug for several minutes without speaking. Then he looked at me and said, “What does this dog call you?”
I recognized this was a serious question and deserved a thoughtful answer. I didn’t smirk or giggle. “I think he calls me Mom.”
The veteran lowered his head to examine the Bug’s face and then resumed stroking him. After a minute, he nodded. “I think that’s right.”
Several months later, a neatly dressed man on the VA campus approached Bug and me. “Hello Bug and Bug’s Mom.” As he talked to me for several minutes, I realized this was the same veteran who had asked what Bug called me. He wasn’t pathetic; he had dignity.
His words kept replaying in my mind over the last few years.
Please note: HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) doesn’t allow health care workers or volunteers to identify patients. However, I don’t know the name of this man and I didn’t describe him in the novel as he looked. Everything about the character in Riddled with Clues is fictitious, except for the description of these two brief incidents. I think the incidents provide insight into the mental state and personality of a veteran in rehab.
Now aren’t you curious to find out how these incidents fit into the plot of Riddled with Clues?
Don’t forget to write down strange things that happen to you. They might make great scenes in your next novel.
Blurb for Riddled with Clues: A hospitalized friend gives Sara Almquist a note, which he received just before he was severely injured while investigating the movement of drugs into the U.S. The note is signed by “Red from Udon Thani.” However, he doesn’t know anyone called Red, and the last time he was in Udon Thani was during the Vietnam War. After Sara listens to his rambling tale of all the possibilities, both are assaulted. The friend is left comatose. Sara must determine whether the attacks are related to events in Laos fifty years ago or to the modern-day drug trade. As she struggles to survive, she questions who to trust: the local cops, her absent best friend, the FBI, or a homeless veteran who leaves puzzling riddles as clues.