A Pointless Life
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 by Frank Shortt
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I met Artie when he was the maintenance man of our complex. He was always very congenial, accommodating, but liked to get into long genealogies, as that ate up his time on the job! He would rather talk than work! I sometimes felt guilty for keeping him from his work.

As we grew to know Artie a little better, we learned that he was a very accomplished artist. He could do just about any genre of art. He did watercolors, oils, murals, and was well known in his circle for decorating entrances to houses in large foyers. He worked mostly, in his spare time from his maintenance man job, pursuing the larger homes in Saratoga and Los Gatos, California. I remember one instance where I had brought home a plaque, bought at a garage sale, with 3 apples painted on it. My wife was a collector of anything apple so she saw the potential of the plaque right away. We had four grandchildren and she determined that there was room for one more apple on the plaque and this would represent all our grandchildren. The plaque read, “Grandchildren are the apples of my eye!” I asked Artie if he could possibly paint another apple on the plaque and he readily agreed to do it. The results were very great indeed! It is still a part of our décor.

What Artie mostly liked to talk about was his time in the Marine Corps, his artistry, and he also liked to discuss the Bible. In fact, he was very well read in the scriptures. He convinced my wife and I that he had gone to Iraq for the skirmish known as the Iraq War. He even gave me a deck of cards with Saddam Hussein’s likeness known as the ‘most wanted’ of Iraq at that time in history. I was invited to Artie’s home to discuss scripture with him and his wife several times. He even gave a Marine Corps fatigue hat to my grandson when he found out he liked military items. He said it was used in the Fallujah campaign.

After Artie was let go from his position at the complex, for dubious reasons, I lost touch with him as he and his wife seemed to just fade out of the area and his phone was suddenly disconnected. I did not have any more personal contact with him and would not have known what happened to him had I not googled his name one time later on.

We found out that Artie was a flim-flam man all along and had never even served his time in the Marine Corps. He had graduated from boot camp but had deserted soon afterward staying gone for 10 years until he was caught up on charges for scamming money from, of all people, children’s charities! He told around that he had been a sergeant in the Corps and had been in the Iraqi campaign. It is amazing how Artie could tell us all his war stories with a straight face and convincing tones. Nonetheless, as soon as he was caught up on his flim-flamming, he was returned to the Marines and was given a dishonorable discharge. We never know who we are associated with until the truth comes out! The false stories Artie led us all to believe is called “Stolen Valor”! What he left behind was a host of angry marines and quite a few others that were disappointed in his pointless life. I cannot even imagine how his parents and family felt when they heard the news!

What makes a talented man, such as Artie certainly was, decide to turn bad? He could have made a living in several venues, including, art, the working trades, or even become a teacher of the Bible. But instead, he chose what he thought, was the easy way to make money! I trusted him implicitly as he came to my home many times and did needed repairs. I never missed anything at the time. Does this happen to a person all of a sudden, or is it something that person has contemplated all their lives? Needless to say, I was deeply saddened by the news of Artie’s demise.

There is a portion of scripture in the Bible that tells of a man named Judas Iscariot who was a money-grabber and betrayer. As far as I can see, Artie was that same type of person. I am told that Artie came to the same end as Judas as he took his own life out of remorse for what he did choosing once again the easy way out!