I was at the PX today when I heard an explosion, one that was quite obviously a mortar. After it impacted, some automated voice over speakers announced, "Incoming. Incoming." No shit. People scrambled and looked for the concrete bunkers that are few and far between. Meanwhile, I sat almost motionless, completely expressionless, on the bench waiting for the bus. People spazzing out in that self-preservation mode. Apparently they haven't learned this little bit of wisdom (and don't lecture me, I'm using the term loosely and with more than a hint of irony): If you hear the explosion, odds are you're just fine. If you feel it too, might want to think about relocating. The thing about explosions is there IS no before, during, and after. You go straight from ordinary boring what-the-hell-ever STRAIGHT to aftermath. There is no DURING.

And just so you don't get the idea that I'm some unshakable battle-tested war hero, while an explosion won't mean much to me, a powerline that suddenly bursts into sparks in the intersection in front of me will send me into Condition Red, check your pants later. The feeling of a bucket of icewater being splashed in your face, guts squirming, blood shooting through veins like mercury, all over nothing. Sounds pretty assbackwards if you ask me.

The moon outside is an ugly fucker. Scowling. He looks particularly displeased with the denizens of Iraq and that damn CCR song wedges its way into my thought process. I shrug it off though, we'll be done eventually.

A VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) Post sends me care packages now and then. In this one, I got a small handmade card with no name on it, just a drawing of flowers and a colorful sky, the colored pencil politely announcing the elementary school work.

Dear Soldier,
Thank you for protecting our country!
Hopefully I'll be able to do that to!
I'm am very proud of you!
Keep up the good work!

Go to college, kid.

Random assumed images of some classroom with kids' art taped along the walls and a sea of ten year olds with construction paper and scissors with colored plastic handles pop into this weird head of mine. The image people have back home is so different from what it really is here.

It's not like this is Vietnam. Watching Platoon or Black Hawk Down isn't going to give you an inkling of what it's like here. It's indescribable, but I'm going to nail it one of these days. When I'm fully awake and alert and motivated, when my muse grabs me by the balls and throws me facefirst into my keyboard. Remind me sometime.

My books are starting to trickle through the mail system, and perfect timing. This evening alone I've torn three quarters of the way through Hunter S Thompson's Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream.

(Audible THUMP outside) Hmm...incoming or outgoing? By the time you hear it, its over anyway.

We've taken care of business in the area we've been operating in most of this time. Grabbed it by the throat and wrestled it to the ground, spit in its face and rubbed it in the dirt, crushing it into submission. The normal locals, the decent, GOOD people seem to feel quite all right about the state of the area. Hell, apparently our scouts even got the sniper that killed our friend.

That's right, this is the REALITY of things. Forget the romantic idea of how things should have gone down. How I, vowing revenge, should have by stroke of idiot luck been clearing houses routinely, and upon walking up a set of stairs, caught sight of some asshole looking out a window with a Draganov rifle. How that alone should have been all the justification necessary to raise the ol' M4 and put a bullet in each kidney and then go to work on him with a KA-BAR and a Leatherman. And an assortment of wires that can be found in any Iraqi household could double as tourniquet material. Yeah, that would be the Hollywood way to go, wouldn't it? All that rage and all that hate, going nowhere with it, and the scouts brought the guy in. Hell, there probably won't even be enough evidence to prosecute the guy. Or maybe there will be. Where's he going to go, Abu Ghraib? With like-minded people? Probably won't even be sodomized.

Fucked up, I know.

All there is to do is the same song and dance I'm preaching with every post: to just do my job and do what little I can do, and let the days become the weeks and the months. I had an appointment with the combat stress people, when was it, today? Or yesterday? Either way, I didn't bother going. There isn't really much that they can do that I'm not doing anyway, except try to give me drugs.

The way out is through.


  1. Jenni said...
    "The way out is through."

    So simple, yet a lot of people don't realize it. I'm proud of you doughboy :)

    Love you...
    infantillery - the transvestite of battle said...
    Mortars, what a joke. We had one hit the generator to our crappy tents in Kirkuk once. No generator, no AC, not that it mattered much when all the AC did was get the heat down to about a bearable 95 degrees. Still better than 120 outside though. The Islamo mortar flingers scored a good morale kill that day. We had the same attitude you do, you hear the thump, then the big giant voice in the sky tells you to take shelter. We would lethargically get up and walk to the bunker or not, depending on the day.
    Jessie said...
    I have nothing to add, except that I need to stop reading KA-BAR as rebar. Because that made some weird associations. I'm just saying.

    Want some lemonade? Or are you making your own there?

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