Hope, Oregon – At Happy Fields Senior Village, a lone figure sits alone in a rocking chair by the window. A Special Forces Operator in Vietnam -- the look in his eye tells onlookers plainly that he is deep in reflection of many years of war and toil.
His past haunts him every night.
Born July 6, 1947, he is one of the younger members here since his admittance by old friend Ms. Sarah Miller, but his stoic meditation hides the chaos that reigned just days ago.
Many witnesses reported that everything was going fine for John. The former soldier was actively involved with gym days and was the teacher’s assistant of the knitting class.
But then the quiet mood was dashed by the "gunshot-like" sounds from someone air-popping a bowl of popcorn.
“Shots rang out everywhere!” recalls a traumatized John. He got to the ground during his gardening hour, using soil and leaves to camouflage himself.
“He’s ripping up my azaleas to smear all that dirt on his--” started resident Betsy Cromwell, 76.
John interrupted, “War is Hell. Get over it.”
The senior center soon erupted in mass chaos as the disheveled war hero climbed through the window, arming himself with a soup ladle and took a nurse hostage. The intern was heard screaming, “What is going on? I just started yesterday; I don’t even know what to say right now!”
John’s reply was straightforward and matter-of-fact: “Well then I guess you shouldn’t say anything, should you?"
Poor luck was abundant that day, as a bus full of school children was visiting the senior center to share their energetic company and finger-painting expertise. John swung wildly through crowd, cracking osteoporosis-weakened bones and permanently stunting growth spurts. As he fought his way madly through the melee of society’s outcasts, fragments of his past were streaming slowly back into the forefront of his mind.
Bullets rained down upon him in his delirious fantasies. Viet Cong may or may not have engaged him in mortal combat. He grabbed a second hostage, a small boy, and barged his way onto the school bus, pointing the large, useless utensil at the driver. Cameras inside the bus recorded a wild look in the senior’s eyes, as well as the following conversation:
John: Drive! [Pause] Don’t look at me, look at the road! That’s how accidents happen!
Intern: [sobbing] Oh God… What do we do?
School Boy: Nothing we can do.
John: These windows have major tint… I don’t like it.
The bus was stopped twenty miles East of Gladstone, OR when John reportedly fainted as a result of missing his diabetes medication. It was suspected he was leading the bus toward the Cascade Mountain range, as the bus was on a direct route toward Mt. Hood. Experts believe that if the bus had reached its destination, the four individuals on the bus may have been lost forever.
“I thought I was going to be raped fifty times and get my fucking head cut off,” said Katrina Blair, his first hostage. “I just thank God I came out of it alive.”
The officer that first arrived and evacuated the victims, Sgt Lewis, was quick to reply, “God didn’t save your life. We did.” He glanced over at the Army Veteran, now parked in a hospital wheelchair. “You can drop the thousand-yard stare. I've seen it all before, and I'm not impressed.”
John was immediately brought to the nearest hospital for treatment. His hostages were released with no medical attention necessary, albeit severe psychological scarring. Experts say this was an isolated psychotic episode and was unlikely to happen again. Happy Fields has claimed it will not be pressing charges, and that John did them a service by clearing out some tenants at the overflowing senior center.
At the end of the day, the dead numbered in the twenties and several dozen were wounded. When asked how he could keep living in Happy Fields Senior Village, he responded, “Day by day.”