My mother used to say "There's nothing worst than an itch you can't scratch.". Thank the Lord she never lived to see how wrong she was. It turns out there's nothing worse than an itch you can scratch.

Just after the Korean War, I developed in itch in my left leg, possibly caused by a special kind of bullet that no government will ever admit to its existence. By Christ it itched. I'd scratch it for hours, but still it itched, maybe even more than before I'd start scratching it. After one whole year I had one whole leg less than I started with. I'd scratched it away. I was forced to live with a metal stick for a leg.

Then Vietnam happened and I developed an itch in my right leg that couldn't be tamed. I'll say now what I said then; a man with only one leg shouldn't have gone to war. The same thing happened again, and pretty soon I had nothing but two metal sticks for legs, but at least the itch was gone.

Then one day I heard a song called Purple Rain on the radio. The minute I heard that guitar solo kick in I felt the itch again. In my leg! I didn't even have any legs! The doctors said it was very common. "Phantom limbs" they said. "It's all in your head, mate" they'd say.

To cut a long story short, the itch never went away, and I eventually wore away my arms by scratching my metal legs. Then I got metal arms which wore away the metal legs. All that's left of me is a head on a mattress blinking this story to you in Morse Code. It's no life for any man. I tell you this not to gain sympathy or pity. I ask only so that you may scratch under my chin for me.

Derek, Houston.

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