Article Overview:   The Pain Game is a battle we undertake to win victory over the Beast of Terror, and most of us lose.   The reason:  We don't know what the rules are!    Yesterday, I was told my personal Pain Game was alive and would be published in a major magazine.   It forced me to think through my own Pain Game and to find an answer to winning rather than losing it.   If you want to win the Pain Game, read on.


Tuesday, February 10, 2004—Ground Zero Plus 881
The Pain Game--Memoirs Of A Terror Hunter

Cliff McKenzie

         GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--Feb 10, 2004 -- Yesterday I got a call that both shocked and elated me.    A story I had written and sold to a major national magazine was slated for publication this summer, nearly three years after I submitted it.

I was certain the magazine had buried my story in its manuscript graveyard

       The irony of it all was I was sure the magazine had buried my story in its manuscript graveyard and shoveled heaps of dank earth upon it.   The magazine, with millions of subscribers, had suffered severe financial problems and went into bankruptcy following the purchase of an excerpt from my unpublished Vietnam memoirs titled, The Pain Game.   The publication had been funded and was back in full-swing.
       "With all the news about John Kerry and his Vietnam experiences, we thought it would be a great time to publish your story, Cliff," said the editor.  
       The excerpted chapter the magazine purchased is titled, "Body Bag Catholic."  It is about my experiences in 1965 when I was heading for the first amphibious landing since Korea.  I was stuffed on a cargo plane laden with mail and frozen body bags that began to melt in the sweltering heat, and as they thawed out, the frozen bodies began to expand, moving, as though they were coming to life.   I devoted that chapter to my experiences with the dead, and how I didn't want to be the only guy on the battlefield without a body bag.

Experiencing Nine Eleven first hand, I realized the battlefields of the world had visited my homeland

        What is ironic about yesterday's call from the editor was that I was rewriting the various chapters of the book the day the Terrorists attacked the World Trade Center.    I was sitting at Starbucks near Ground Zero on that bright, sunny Tuesday morning of September 11, 2001, revisiting the horror of my experiences in Vietnam in gruesome details when the Beast of Terror slammed into the viscera of America.   As I staggered through rubble, I was stunned, realizing that the battlefields of the world had come to visit my homeland, and that the Beast of Terror and his "Pain Game" was being played out in my children's and grandchildren's backyard.
       The "Pain Game" had come to life again.   The past was the present, and, more importantly, the future.
       Pain is the purpose of Terrorism; it is the end result, the primary objective.  
       Killing is not the goal of Terrorism.   Wanton, senseless death inflicted upon innocent victims is only a tool to issue pain to the people who witness it.    If ten people die from a suicide bomber attack, a hundred fold, a thousand fold (for each death) shudder in the wake. The long, cold, clammy fingers of the Beast of Terror rake all those within sight or shout with degrees of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency, filling them with the latent Terror that what happened to others might happen to them.
       Living in the wake of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency is the essence of the Pain Game.   The Beast of Terror thrives not over the bodies of the dead, but instead by infecting the living to cower in his shadow.  Such Intimidation is his victory, not the deaths he creates.   He bares his teeth and snarls at the surviving masses, threatening them and their loved ones with the same horrible consequences of opposing his power.  He seeks to disrupt peace and harmony, to weaken the resolve of order, and to create chaos at the drop of a grenade or the raising of an arm in a threatening manner.   

Emotional rather than Physical pain is the hallmark of Terrorism

       Emotional rather than Physical pain is the hallmark of Terrorism.    If the Beast of Terror can confuse and corrupt society's sense of order, he will.   His Weapon of Mass Destruction(WMD) is "pain."   Such pain lingers, like a sharp thistle stuck under the saddle of the soul.   It haunts its victims, stabbing at their well-being, creating pain and suffering that is hidden beneath the flesh, in the inner hollows of our being where we flinch at the presence of a shadow, or grimace with "worst expectations" when our name is called to go into the boss's office. 
       The Beast seeks, like a termite, to burrow into the marrow of a person's inner foundations, gnawing at one's Courage, Conviction and Right Actions, blinding these defenses against him with Fear, Intimidation and the sense of Complacency that we are powerless to thwart his violence, inept to defend ourselves against his senseless tyranny and oppression over the innocent.
       The Beast is not just playing the Pain Game in Iraq.  
       A child who is abused by a parent--physically or emotionally--wears the scars of the Beast and suffers the wounds of the Pain Game.   Some children live in a constant state of Nine Eleven.  When they reach for the door to their home or apartment, the Fear, Intimidation and Complacency of being assaulted either by tongue or hand is just as strong a threat as it was to those who were at Ground Zero on September 11.
        The adult who thinks he or she is "less than" or not as "worthy as," or simply a "doormat" to be used by others to wipe their feet when passing by, writhes in the pain of being a "nobody," of being a "loser."   They live in the daily "Pain Game," a pawn for the Beast of Terror.  For some, every day is Ground Zero.   They try to win but lose the sense that they will achieve their goals, and surrender to the false belief they will stay in the rut of life forever, trapped in the bondage of routine and drudgery.
       They become perpetual players of the Pain Game, pawns of the Beast of Terror.
       I think I had become such a pawn prior to September 11, 2001.

I remember the horror of Nine Eleven in ways that others might not

         I remember the horror of September 11 in ways that others might not.   As I stood on the corner near the World Trade Center watching bodies leaping from the building to their deaths, I felt the same numbness I experienced when I walked over the dead bodies in a Vietnamese village ravaged by our gunfire.    At Ground Zero that day, there was an emptiness within, a hollowness, an evacuation of all emotions that most around me did not have.  I was inured to the Pain Game.   They were not.
      Most people that day were in a state of Survival Shock, screaming and running for their lives.   I stood in awe, the past rushing to the present, wrapping me in a cocoon of emotional insulation that comes from seeing too much death, most of it senseless.
      The horror of the past was triggered by the present.  I recoiled at the recollection of the young child I saw on my first operation whose head had been severed by a piece of shrapnel and his mother had placed him up against a tree and put a straw hat over the stump of his neck as she searched for his head so that he could be buried whole.

Suddenly The Pain Game was a chapter of my present history

       Thus, when the buildings collapsed, and that angry fist of dust and dirt, millions of pounds of pulverized concrete racing at me, I thought:  "Hell, the Beast is back.  He's followed me here!"
        There was no Fear in me at that precise moment.   I saw the Beast chasing me down, the one I thought I had left in Vietnam.   He had come to haunt me yet another time, to skewer me like a piece of meat on a shish kabob, and roast me slowly over the coals of his Pain Game.  He came to torture my children, to stalk my grandchildren.
       Suddenly, The Pain Game was not just a memoir but instead a chapter of my present history.  It was alive, traveling at me at warp speed.   My experiences in Vietnam were nothing more than background, a canvass upon which the current battle against the Beast of Terror could be painted, framed, brought into the current time stream.
       All these thoughts rushed through my mind as I hung up the phone.
       I took a deep breath and wondered about the purpose I had undertaken to become a TerrorHunter after Nine Eleven.  Why had I become so obsessed with trying to battle the Beast with Vigilance?   Why had I chosen to devote every waking hour in a vainglorious attempt to get everyone to subscribe to the Pledge of Vigilance, to vow to protect the Children's Children's Children over all other concerns?
        Perhaps, I thought, it was to help them avoid losing the Pain Game.    Terrorism is, after all, a game in which either the Beast or the people the Beast tries to Intimidate wins.    But unless one understand the rules, he or she cannot win.    If one doesn't try to neutralize the pain of Terrorism, it seethes in the soul.  It metastasizes like cancer until it consumes one's self-worth, self-dignity, self-image.

The Pain Game is about learning how to win the Battle With The Beast

       The Pain Game is about learning how to win the Battle With The Beast, I thought.   It is about becoming a Sentinel of Vigilance, preparing one's self for the next Terrorist attack, and not just the one that slams into a World Trade Center building, or the Pentagon.  It's about dealing with the daily Fears, the daily Intimidations, and the daily Complacencies that accrue when we don't shovel them out of our souls.
        When I stopped writing The Pain Game and launched the VigilanceVoice, I thought I was eliminating my past obsession with the death and destruction I participated in during my tour in Vietnam.    I thought I was moving on to the more current, pressing issues of my life.
        I could not have been more in error.   
        Life is about Vigilance.   It is about recognizing that happiness and joy, and personal security of the self, is admitting to the presence of the Beast of Terror, and arming one's self to battle him on every front.

Sometimes all one has to do is to look in the mirror to experience Self-Terrorism

       One doesn't have to walk over dead bodies on a battlefield to understand Terrorism.   Sometimes, all one has to do is look in the mirror and hate what he or she sees, or regret the waste of one's life, or feel one is worthless.     This Self-Terrorism is perhaps far more devastating than any attack on any World Trade Center, for it poisons the value of life itself, it corrupts the essence of a being.
         I believe far too many people life the Pain Game each day, in greater or lesser degrees.  And far too many lose when they could win the battle with their Beast of Terror.
         But to achieve that victory, one must be willing to be his or her own TerrorHunter, to hunt down the Beast of Terror Within with the same Vigilance he or she would a Beast stalking a loved one, a child of innocence.    
        We cannot pass on to others what we don't have ourselves.

I will revise my memoirs to include the Victory of Vigilance over the Pain of the Beast

        So, when I got the call yesterday that "The Pain Game" was still alive, I realized that my memoirs were not so much about Vietnam as about how we all can battle the Beast and be victorious.

        What I thought was dead--my story--was now alive.   
        Now, I must remember that learning the Vigilance Game if more important than watching the Pain Game.    If there is a message I received yesterday, it is that I must revise my memoirs to include the Victory of Vigilance over the Pain of the Beast.
        Until yesterday, I had no ending to my book.
        Now I do--and that ending is that Vigilance conquers Terrorism, that Courage overpowers Fear, that Conviction supercedes Intimidation, and that Right Actions for future generations defeats Complacency.

Feb. 9--The Terror Of Fighting For Disability Insurance

Some Highlighted Stories From Last Year

Dec 31 Bush's New Year's Message:  Era Of Vigilance
Dec. 30
Walking The Path Of Terror: The 839th Day

Dec 29 Terrorism's New Year's Ball
Dec 27-28
Indiscriminate Terrorism:  Mother Nature's WMD
Dec. 26
The Beast Attacks Like The Mad Cow Disease
Dec 25
Learn The Secrets Of Vigilance On Christmas Day
Dec 24
Eve Of The Youngest Sentinels Of Vigilance Part V of V
Dec 23
Parable Of The Ant & The Leaf: The Third Secret Of Vigilance
Part IV of V from the Legends Of Christmas Vigilance
Dec 22
 Part III of V:  How Rock Candy Banished Darkness From The Land Of Vigilance
Dec 21
Part II of V:  The First Secret Of Vigilance
Dec. 20
Part I of V--The Legend Of Christmas Vigilance.
Dec. 19
What Do Michael Jackson & Saddam Hussein Have In Common?
Dec. 18
Torturing Saddam In The Zoo Of Vigilance
Dec 17
Interview With Saddam In His Iraqi Rat Hole
Dec 16
New Drug Fights Teenage Beast Of Terror
Dec 15 Capturing Weapons Of Mass Destruction:  Saddam Hussein

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