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
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unpublished Vietnam memoirs titled, The Pain Game.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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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,
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.
one has to do is to look in the mirror to experience
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
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
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
Until yesterday, I had no ending to
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