I take my benedryl sometime in the later afternoon, early evening and lay down. This is supposed to help with the whole sleep thing, and as a result, curb my anxiety.

We're out there yet again, and this time, Iraq doesn't bear any semblence to home. We're on foot, and everything has an orange tint to it, hot, moist sand and trash fires. From underneath a bridge, a crowd of people dissipates as we approach. One of them bends down and lights a cloth hanging out of a bottle of Jack Daniels.

In the back of my mind, I wonder if JD can even burn.

"Molotov cocktail!"

He throws it as we scatter and it smashes next to a rusted out car and explodes in alcohol flames. Everyone rushes to put any small fires on themselves out. The Thrower turns tail and runs under the bridge.

"Where the fuck is my M4?!"

This time, all of us don't have our weapons. Atleast we've got our gear. I see my M4 laying on the ground and I snatch it up. The center is on fire and I blow on it like an idiot, until I'm light headed and I slap the remaining embers off.

And then I run under the bridge. The Boss calls back, "Wait for First Sergeant before we do actions on the objective!"

Really, do fuck off. That would be great.

I see The Thrower and a friend with body armor sneaking along a ledge with chain link fence on it, like a downward ramp leading into a warehouse or parking garage. And I think to myself, "This is it. We've got positive identification for once, there's no jerking our dicks about this one."

So I put my little red dot on the center of The Thrower's face and squeeze the trigger. The round impacts in the side of his temple and behind his ski mask, his eyes go dark, and his body goes limp. His friend clutches him with one arm and hangs on to the fence with the other.

I put the dot on his fat curly-haired head and squeeze.


No hand wakes me up. It's just me, in bed at 11:00 at night, through a haze of benedryl. And now I'm up for the night. These dreams aren't even terrifying, they're just haunting in a strange sense. And then they're gone, leaving me to count down the hours, or the months.

And that neighbor of mine fucks with his plastic drawers again, and the sounds echo in the quiet of the tent and that hungover sensitivity drives me halfway insane and for a second, I offhandedly consider picking up those plastic drawers and throwing them outside, like they're the one little thing precluding me from getting some really great sleep.

But he's done and I forgive his drawers now that they've shut the hell up and now there's nothing but the sound of helicopters somewhere, and that's ambient noise as far as I'm concerned. It's the outgoing artillery that constitutes as "severe disruption".

Now, however, it's time to stop mashing the keyboard, waste some time on Al Gore's Horrible Invention and then try to sleep again. I figure it's 50/50, I either dream about Iraq or about weed. Explain THAT one to your pharmacist.


One post away from 300 between the old site and the new one. Figured the machine would have ground me up by now. In any case, here's a little something to sum up the general feel of a certain group of us.

[wtf mate? i cant clik it lolz. http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/5283/1455/1600/SF-FTAbw.jpg That's where I stole it.]

American Short-Timer hasn't written in a long time. Guess this one's for you pal. We've got it covered now.


I pressed the PUBLISH POST button and sat back, pleased with myself and filled with anticipation for the mixed reactions my last post would get. And I breathe a sigh of relief, because until then, I'd felt like I had written myself into a corner, and because of who reads this, I have to watch what I talk about. Like a cornered animal, I lashed out with the best I had, pushed the envelop that was pushing me. This would be interesting, I knew, and I went to bed.

My hometown has merged with Iraq. The two have been melded and usurped and twisted and raped together into a dispicable mess.

Our outpost, more of a safehouse than anything else, has been moved. It's no longer across the street from the bombed out, looted, dilapidated Blockbuster. This isn't even the same building that IS across from that sad Blockbuster. It's an Iraqi house, empty and barren like they always are.

I'm at this former safehouse with some girl, God knows who, and two of my younger brothers. Iraqis mill about in the streets. Some, in the house. We bullshit in broken languages, and then one comes in and warns us that some al Qaeda dicks caught wind that we were here, and were on the way.

I don't have body armor or any gear in this one either. And this time, I don't even have a weapon. I yell at this unknown female to grab one of the brothers and get him out and I grab the other one by the back of the neck and practically throw him through the door. He doesn't appreciate this, but I really don't care at this point. She gets both of them out of dodge, who knows where. I walk casually down the street a few blocks to the new safehouse.

This one is also Iraqi, yellow-beige in color, dead bushes growing around it, but instead of a courtyard wall it's primarily an iron fence with shit growing against the gate. Trash and mud everywhere. The color is the same monochromatic lifeless, bleak sandy hue of the most forsaken place I can ever fathom. I shoot the shit with the guy on gate guard.

"You know man, you should probably come inside or something before someone picks you off." Some of my friends are actually quite bright.

I walk inside, and this place is huge, but it's packed with soldiers. Females even. It's like someone crammed the entire FOB into this one large building. The ones I don't know, the ones in the clean uniforms, they ask me to smuggle them some DVDs next time I go out. Most of my friends are working, pulling guard. One of them decides to be an amiable wise-ass and ask when the hell I'm going to pull guard.

I leave. I don't know why I leave. The sense that I really don't belong there, that my presence itself, though appreciated by them, is obscenely pretentious.

And now it's dark out and I'm on the rooftop of that old safehouse again, with nothing but an ACU patterned GoreTex jacket. No weapon. I lay as flat as I can, there are no walls on this roof. Just rubble, and rocks. Instead of the sand color, this roof is concrete, gravelly. For once my uniform is actual camouflage.

I watch from atop while men with their faces covered come out of the woodwork and the locals bend to their will, rather than being shot on the spot. They all tote AK-47s and wear the checkered cloth headresses wrapped on their heads and over their faces. And they go to work, preparing to screw with the collective I belong to. And of course, I'm unarmed.

Except a pen. I pull out my pen and start writing on pieces of rock. I just keep writing everything I see. I observe and gather all the intel I can, and I keep on writing, to pass these on to the guys if I ever get the chance.

Someone shakes me awake. I go to work, with the people who give me shit about being "paranoid", the ones who tell me to stop cluttering the fucking net, while they proceed to talk about bullshit and make idiotic remarks. This is a privelege that I for some reason, do not have.

Each time the radio beeps I become that much more livid. The medic tolerates my bitching because he's a good-natured guy. I fume and cuss and scream a little, shake my head a lot. And then I key my mic.

"Hey, [Stryker behind my truck], when you pass this blue truck here, watch the driver. He's straight up observing our trucks like he's doing an inventory or something."

The radio beeps.

".....Ok..." comes the smartass reply.

So I'm the idiot. Everyone's complacent, because fuck it, it can't happen to THEM. And you know what, odds are, it probably won't, God willing. So why can't I get with the program, say "Fuck it" and join the discussion about college football? Why the hell won't I stop giving a shit about my job, and about learning about this place?

Because you're an idiot and an embarassment to Joes, army-wide. Your job is to pull security and be stupid and ignorant. You don't need to know anything, 'cept when they expect you to know the name is this route or that route, despite the exasperated sighs and Fuck Yous you get when you ask a question.

Nobody along the road waves, they mean-mug us as we drive by. I stare at each and every vehicle pulled over on the side of the road, and I picture what it would look like if one of them was packed with explosives. Would look like a whole lot of nothing to me, that's what it would look like.

At the large FOB we're stopped at, this supposedly GREAT PX for electronics and whatnot turns out to be another bland understocked joke. The books and magazines are all the throwbacks that anyone even pseudo-intellectual would mentally associate with cellophane-wrapped logs of dogshit.

"Stay stupid America, stay docile and stupid..." I say to no one in particular. This PX is civilized and unfulfilling at the same time. The same small generic PX everywhere you go, stocked with crap. NO-XPLODE and MESOTECH and a billion bodybuilding supplements, hemmerhoid cream, an abundancy of "nasal decongestents" (these are also stimulants. Pseudoephedrine is one of the three key ingredients to methamphetamine) though there's no conspiracy here, I'm just pissy.

"Where the fuck are the pills and supplements that keep you from fucking choking somebody?"

I settle on a bottle of B12 vitamins. Says it promotes healthy blood cells or some shit. That's got to be good for you. Better than nothing.

It isn't even that crowded and I still want to flip the fuck out. I don't want any of these assholes around me, never you mind the fact that they're pissed off homesick servicemembers just like me. My pulse quickens and blood boils and I grab Stephen King's "Danse Macabre" (I don't see a tab to underline books) and something else.

Yes, by the grace of God an idea strikes me and my epiphany affords me an opportunity for innocent vengeance that will not only blow off a little steam and make me laugh, but SHOULDN'T land me in much, if ANY trouble.

And if it does, so be it. I've said before that I'll either leave this place medicated or as a Private.

With that, it's time to prepare my dumbass stunt and whittle away the hours until it's time for more Iraqmares and another day of horseshit.



This same fucking bed. Same cramped little cubicle I've built for myself. My head rests against the shelf "cubby" of my neighbor. He has one of those plastic sets of drawers as well, right next to my head. And he's always opening and closing it. All the fucking time. You know how when you're hung over, you're really sensitive to sound? Maybe I'm dehydrated.

Either way, I'm going to kill that motherfucker.

These shitty floors bend and balk under footsteps. So when people walk past my pitiful little area of operations, my neighbor's shitty wooden shelf "cubby" wobbles and hits the back of my head. I'm going to kill those motherfuckers too.

Mission's cancelled, and you'd think you'd be excited about that. But that wears off as soon as you look around and find that you don't have a fucking thing to do. Nothing but time. Time lets you think too much. Time lets your buddies' wives forsake their moral fortitude. It shoves ugly little bastard thoughts in your head, like what you COULD be doing instead of this, were you only in a civilized location, and not the "Cradle of Civilization."


The kids chase the Strykers down, they're coming in droves. We made the mistake of handing a couple out. Word travels faster than bullets in this fucking place. It was like Dawn of the Dead, with the superfast sprinting zombies, except instead, they were little bastards. Loud, obnoxious, demanding little fucks, always holding their hands up as you pass by and demanding shit. Always wanting handouts.

My friend takes an A&W root beer (he hates them) and shakes it violently.

"Why you doing that?" I ask him.

"I'm saving it. For that ONE little fucker, the ONE kid that just REALLY pisses me off someday. He's gonna be like 'Mista! FOOTBALL!', and he'll be more of a little dick than the rest, and I'm just going to rear back and chuck this fucking soda at him and its going to explode. In fact, I hope it soaks his little dickface friends, too," he explains, having carefully thought this out.

We're out there again, and three dogs are feasting on one dead dog. The Boss grabs a paintball gun, and in the rear left air guard hatch, I grab the other one. We let loose a barrage. And this is the most fun I'll have until my friend gets a giant summer sausage in the mail. It's labeled "Big N Meaty".

Big N Meaty comes with me for a little walk to another friend's little section of the tent. He's playing Xbox 360 with headphones on, and he's not hurting anything. Completely innocent. So in the spirit of the way this world works, I choose him. I bounce Big N Meaty off of his forehead like I'm endowed with a cellophane-sealed donkey dick. I then flop it on the table, making a loud thud. And when the cock jokes begin to get old, I punt it across the tent and it smacks the far wall. You can take our freedom and our sanity and our spare time and ability to function with normal human beings, but dick jokes are something we'll always have.

So I ask myself, "If this is Purgatory, what am I paying for today?"

[EDIT: I'm trying to get into Heaven, thanks.]


Shameless Plugs

I still haven't been smart enough to try to get myself revenue by letting people advertise on this bitchfest of a website, but there's a couple of things I'd like to promote, nay, recommend.

I just found out that one of my reader's son is in my company, and also blogs. And I was pretty shocked when he came back from leave and asked exactly when my dogtags fell in the toilet. So without further babble, please check out ToySoldier's False Motivation, conveniently found in my links. He's good people. And he also spent Christmas day vomiting more violently than most do on their 21st birthday. So in terms of feeling sorry for oneself, that punkass has me beat.

Next up, Doonesbury's "The Sandbox" (excellent collaborative milblog website) has just published the first volume of "The Sandbox" in print. David was cool enough to send me a copy, and there's a lot of good reading in there. I'm HTML retarded, so you may have to employ your google skills, but this one should be very easy to find until I manage to put actual links up.

And hey, while we're on the subject of fucking incredible books about Iraq, there's a shamefully undermarketed book written by Staff Sergeant David Bellavia called "House To House: An Epic Memoir Of War". This is all the description that should be necessary to let you know that you need to read this. You ready?

The book is about his experiences in Fallujah. You know, when Fallujah was the epicenter of chaos, insanity, and gunpowder? The only warning I can give you is that you NEED a lot of spare time with this one, because you aren't putting it down. And you'll finish it within two days, even if you're in Iraq "fighting turrism". I cannot stress enough how badly this book needs to be read. The first chapter chokeslams anything I've ever written, and the rest of the book goes on to firmly ensure that "Black Hawk Down" is left looking like a squirt gun fight.

That aside, play Call Of Duty 4, watch "Weeds", and do me a favor and recon In-N-Out burger because I hear that place is fucking phenomenal.

That's all I got, homies. Peace.

[EDIT: House To House be David Bellavia

The Sandbox!



Happy Hollowdays

...I walk into the next room, squeezing my eyes shut for a second, trying to clear my vision. I'm not even sweating that badly. But I keep losing my balance.

I take another step and my shoulder slides against the wall and it's like I'm moving through quicksand. Have I been drugged?

I step on a weak spot and the floorboards give in (floor boards? Where am I?). I crash through the floor and land hard on an emergency escape ladder. And here I am in an inner-city mix, part American, part Iraqi. There's trash everywhere but there's air conditioners in the windows and brick buildings but all the interiors are like wooden shanties.

I can't stand back up. I'm not even hurt, but I can't even stand up. Everything is moving in super slow motion, everything is a smeared visual blur.

"Get the fuck up, man, Christ..."

So this pal of mine grabs my wrist and yanks me up. I fall back through a doorway and knock some woman's TV stand over. I'm on the ground again, and just outside the door I fell into, shit hits the fan, RIGHT OUT THERE but it's sounds washed out, a million miles away. It's like everything is underwater, without the water.

The chaos outside intensifies as my debilitation continues to creep over me. I roll onto my side and drag my rifle to the ready, and it weighs a hundred pounds.

And the charging handle is missing.

"Suspect? Time to get up! Merry Christmas! Santa came!"

My friend dives on me. Up to that point I was able to hide my waking state. Then the skinny fucker impacts on me and his knee comes dangerously close to smashing my balls.

"Gotta be ready in a half hour," he says.

Fuck it.

I rub my eyes and stare blankly at my walled off little cubicle of a living space. Don the uniform, throw on the battle gear, walk to the truck. Routine. Just another day, right?

The truck blows down the road and the wind whips our faces, those of us standing out of the hatches. I rest a hand on the 240Bravo while I watch the cars skim by. I briefly wonder what each person is thinking. I make sure no one comes too close to the end of our convoy. I take a picture.

We return from our initial stop and stand by. Christmas is to be held at our outpost. Sitting in the truck, pissing away the minutes, I listen to the radio traffic.

Bad shit, possible bad shit, and violence against civilians. Merry Christmas.

We pull into the outpost and everyone is there, and everyone is in great spirits. They're throwing footballs around and we drop off a feast and everyone digs in. I didn't bother.

Everyone is making the best of it and being positive, and I wander aimlessly around the sea of gravel wishing I didn't have to be part of it. I have no interest in making the best of it. I want to miss it and not even realize it was there. That whole plan, about not acknowledging the holidays this year? It doesn't work when it's shoved into your face.

So I bullshit with a few people, impatiently wander, trying to kill the time. I'm not even feeling sorry for myself. This isn't a pity party. It's just a sleight against a family tradition that I kept for 21 years.

No, I'm not going to eat your food.
No, I'm not going to gather in the festivities.

Don't get me wrong, they did a good job making do. It just wasn't for me.

I climbed into my truck and zoned out, thought about the people I SHOULD be with. I wasn't angry, I wasn't depressed. I was just there, and I was just waiting the festivity out. Because these guys definitely deserve it. I just chose to participate as less as possible. I'll celebrate MINE when I get home.

There's egg nog in my glass and I've probably drank a quart of it already, but who gives a shit? We're devouring turkey and everyone's talking, the TV is on for the kids in the living room, the house is completely packed with family and friends. The card games come next. It all goes on late into the night and some come and some go and finally the night ends and I stay up, and my little brother kicks my ass at Madden. Defeated, I too go to bed.

The younger ones wake everyone up at some ungodly hour ready to tear presents open. Everyone throws on sweatpants and the nearest shirt or a robe, anything, and they slowly coalesce into the living room. Our eyes are all puffy and half closed and our vocal cords still haven't stretched out enough to talk in anything more than guttural mumbles but the kids are alive and clawing through paper and spazzing out and the parents are smiling through their morning haze. Cameras flash and the carpet becomes covered with wrapping paper.

They watch me open mine, and they seem a little unsure since I never ask for anything, they never know what to get. But I open it up for the cameras and I'm completely satisfied each time.

They could wrap up empty boxes and I'd still be happy as a pig in shit because I'm at home.


The Purgatorium

A routine trip to the motor pool, only supposed to last an hour or so ("Should be a quick fix, no biggie.") becomes an all day event when you find out that this truck you're driving is scheduled for full servicing.

Why not? Gotta do it sometime.

Or maybe it wasn't the truck. Maybe it was the patrol, or the police call, or the tower guard, or it was any number of menial tasks and numb moments, whatever it was, maybe you found yourself in a situation like this:

You light that cigarette, you know, the one you're going to give up when you go home, but for now there's no reason to. Take a drag, and you look at nothing. You can even turn around to do this. Drop your hand to your side and exhale. Your eyes scan your surroundings. It's all tan and barren and you've seen it a million times before. And there are the same people you see every day.

One is pissed off, likely about some task they have to do. A couple more are smoking and joking. But everyone's doing the same thing: ignoring the magnitude, the realization of exactly where we are and what we're doing.

That's right. That's you standing on a sea of gravel (keeps that moon dust down, y'know) looking at barriers and baskets filled with dirt. CONEX sheds and MILVAN containers, villages of CHUs (those little trailers MOST soldiers in Iraq live in....not your tent). A humvee rolls by and it doesn't mean anything.

That guy's bringing back a to-go plate from the chow hall. This guy's going to the gym. The phones. The internet cafe. This one's going to watch a movie. They're all going to ignore the open panorama that whispers thunderously loud "iiiiirrrraaaaaaaaq".

You choose not to see the palm trees on the side of the broken road as you roll out the gate. The kids jump up and down and demand soccer balls. The women make bread. The men stand in their gates and talk to each other. Groups congregate in front of shops. They all slide past you. You in your air guard hatch, in your multimilliondollar Stryker.

You in your $17,000 worth of equipment on you. You in your burned-out-tastebuds ether-and-xanax stupor of indifference brought on by endless repetition. You who has no idea where the world is going. You who probably never thinks about it anyway.

You who woke up for another nameless day, kneel down and jerk your bootlaces to tie them. One of them comes out right in your hand.

You who look at it with a vague feeling almost resembling confusion.

You who tucks the remaining lace in your boot anyway.

You who never uses the phones because you hate how you can never find anything worthwhile to say and neither can they. We who ALL know that the phone can never compare to being with this person. The phone that can almost never prompt the random and hilarious conversations that spring up on fishing trips. At red lights. Over the third beer and second game of pool.

You who wishes you had a better way to comfort the people you miss, other than hoping that your own absence becomes routine. You who miss graduations and 18th birthdays and anniversaries and the birth of children (possibly even your own), your kid's first step or first word or first fistfight.

You who doesn't know how The Sopranos finally ended. You who doesn't know if the Buffalo Bills even call themselves a team anymore. You who with a grudge, hopes they don't. You who will also never forgive the Dallas Cowboys.

That bored Iraq winter sun starts to set and splatters pink and orange across the clouds and everyone is milling back and forth from the chow hall. Everyone is getting through another day. Most people aren't counting. Everyone's in limbo. Everyone seems fine. Maybe everyone is a little bit numb. Maybe everyone's a LOT of bit tired.

Maybe everyone only vaguely remembers what it's like to drive a normal car. To STOP at a red light. To think that careening over the median to get through traffic is an unspeakable act. To think less of that guy dumping your french fries in a box. To smell the sweet decaying funk of commercialism in a shopping mall.

So what is it that you're doing out here? It can't technically be called "shutting down". You aren't giving up, aren't even feeling sorry for yourself most of the time. You're still keeping your eyes open and watching your corner.

Maybe you're just hibernating for a bit. And maybe you're wondering how you're going to make the transition back from Suspect to Ryan. Or what it'll be like to never tell anyone about this place.

The sun is all the way down and here and there are the fireflies of cherry tip cigarette embers doing slow arcs upward, glowing bright, fading slightly, and dropping back down again. Gravel crunches under foot and tire. For most, the day is pretty much over and it's time to embrace that sweet nothingness for as many hours as your schedule and your mind will allow you. Because tomorrow, it all happens again.

And for the most part, this isn't bad. Life in the Purgatorium is usually devoid of strong emotion. Life in the Purgatorium is a sentence of time, a test of luck and personal fortitude. It's counting down days or cigarettes or bottles of gatorade. It's wading through the echoes of a media frenzied war. It's little surprises here and there, not always good, but usually things you get accustomed to.

Life in the Purgatorium is not thinking too much. That's why the bootleg DVD sales are so high. That's why the gym is so full. That's why the MWR is always in use. Life in the Purgatorium is distracting yourself so that you can continue your dream-state trek through things that make no sense.

life in the Purgatorium is only partially asking yourself what you got yourself into, and never trying to answer that question for yourself. Life in the Purgatorium is looking forward to the things you left behind, the simple little things. It's continuing to breathe and getting yourself through the lifeless day after lifeless day.

It's doing your time.

And everyone closes their eyes and everyone lingers in that stage just before sleep, and just before they nod off, all things considered, everyone is doing just fine.

And all the while, The Purgatorium patiently and methodically feeds all of these anemic pseudo-emotions. It's only time.


The New State Of The Suspect Address

I go to the shoddy movie theater to see some MP girl play her guitar and sing. And she's good, really good. But they plugged in a Christmas tree, off to the side of the stage, and it's a complete distraction.

I shift in my seat and furrow my eyebrows in slight confusion. What's the sense in this? Poor excuse for concert lights, and besides, WHAT is a Christmas Tree doing here anyway? Oh wait, it's December? Well GOLLLL-LLLLY!!! Who'da thunk it? I mean, ya coulda fooled me, bub, what with the absence of snow on the ground, with everything looking exactly the same as it always does, except not with the thermostat set to "Kenya". You shittin me, Powers That Be? You telling me that it's that Holiday Season again?

Nah, I don't buy it. There's people running around out there with suicide vests hiding weapons and planting bombs and shaking our hands and terrorizing their neighbors and threatening everyone all to create their ideal of what the country should be, and there's no snow. No one's wearing those hideous sweaters or wrapping expensive shit to give to each other.

Can't be, cuz here I am, at [X location] conducting [X mission] just last [X date] and I'm being called a Bleeding Heart for treating the locals with respect, because you see, this was the situation:

[Entry deleted, as per what may fall under OPSEC restrictions. When in doubt, cut that shit out, right?]

So yeah, it is kind of strange, I know, but the truth is that I'm actually a pretty compassionate person and I treat people the way I'd want to be treated. I just like to see a semblance of humanity now and then, and when you can cross a cultural barrier and connect with people even briefly, it's quite cool, and who knows, MAYBE these little things help us out, even if only a little. So yeah, I'll be the bleeding heart. For the common people? Yeah. I'll act the way I was raised.

But hold on, Powers That Be, you didn't completely sidetrack me here, I still wanna know: What gives? This is the month of all things Holy as well as Commercial? I'm standing out of the hatch as we drive by, and I'm waving to these kids, but they don't look like THEY'RE getting ready for Christmas.

Sorry bud, I don't buy it. I didn't acknowledge that last birthday, why would I acknowledge this poor attempt at celebrating a holiday that's all about being with your family? Sorry, but your fake plastic tree isn't going to make us feel like we're not in a war torn country a million miles away. For those who still want to acknowledge their holidays, I say go for it. But me personally? Just another day.

"What'd you do for your birthday?"


"What did you do on Thanksgiving?"

"Tower guard."

"Did you get bombed on New Years?"

"Bombed as in drunk or bombed as in shit exploded?"

Ok ok, you get it now. I'm not going to acknowledge the army's attempt at making the holidays seem....EXISTENT. So you ask yourself, "Damn man, you all right?"

The answer is a resounding yes. I'm still in this limbo and I've got my health. I've accepted everything that's happened so far and I accept that this is not the war I thought I signed up for. I've come to an understanding with The Force that's orchestrating these chicken-clusterfuck. Just slide on. You keep things simple for me, I keep things simple too, keep on trucking all Happy Go Lucky-like. Not too much to ask for.

They say violence is down XX% thanks to the Troop Surge. That's us, we're The Surge. We boarded planes and poured into all orifices of this country and impregnated it with a little more "order" and the Bad Guys don't have as much room to breathe and the "ball" is in their "court" and I'm still in limbo.

Keep it simple, and I will too: Take a knee, pull security, drink water, drive on. Scan the road, scan the rooftops, scan the windows, scan the alleys, scan it all. Bustling Third World life. And after all, why not? It's just time.

The absolute TRUTH, if you must know it, is that we're preparing for a secret operation, large scale. Our whole brigade, in fact. Very hush hush. Y'see, in a handful of months, a rather BIG handful of months, we're going to get all of our shit together, and stealthily board planes. We're invading the United States. Taking Fort Lewis first.

I've outlined a plan with my hand-picked squad. Our first objective is to secure a patrol base in the new barracks, simple. Immediately afterwards, we leave a security element in place and we mount up and drive to our next objective. Dismount at the Class 6 liquor store for a supply run. A MAJOR one.

We'll then return to said patrol base and secure it with loud music to frighten away lesser enemies, and we'll consume copious amounts of liquor to fortify our own courage, should anyone attack us. It shall be a triumphant and intoxicated last stand before we're expected to function in this strange new world.

Possible reconnassaince locations include Fox's Gentlemen's Club, depending on morale. More to follow.


The Monetary Disparity

I deliver unto you exhibit D in the case of Suspect, The Deeply Disturbed And Highly Twisted Mislead Youth.

I was walking back from our GLORIOUS chow hall with a friend, you may recall him as being the one who was showered with cinderblocks in the Exploding Roof Debacle. He said that he should've gotten a job with KBR instead of the army. This opened the conversation window to our pay versus everyone else's.

Oh yes, we mentioned the journalists, the construction workers, the awesome lady at our movie theater. And then I brought up entertainers.

Y'know the type. Actors, performance artists *cough, bile dribble*, professional athletes. All paid to do things they loved and to be worshipped, and paid but GOOD. So I figure, if we aren't going to be paid as lavishly as these dicks, then perhaps things should be a little more interesting.

Channel surfing

"...catches the ball at the 20, makes his way to the 30, the 40, BOOM!!! IED and that's a fumble ladies and gentlemen!"


"Jethro driving the Brawny Paper Towel car, number 57, takes the lead, this could be a great finish--BOOOOOOM! VBIED!"

Or not.


The Sick Twisted Truth

I was standing in one of the air guard hatches when we got a call that there was some trouble not too far away. The driver punched the gas, followed a few twists and turns of roads, when my view down a sidestreet opens up.

Two males with AK-47s are firing on the Iraqi Army. The taller of the males takes three rounds to the chest while advancing, and still manages to stagger forward, both of them out of few.

The truck pulls forward, giving me a look down the entire street. It's crowded and these two gun nuts have their backs to me. The vehicle isn't even stopped, but for once, I've got a fucking shot and a legitimate reason to shoot.

So I start firing, not even the well aimed shots we're trained to take. Put the red dot on the guy, and squeeze squeeze squeeze, death-dealing lead ejaculations courtesy of NATO. Firing like a madman, missing half the time, shooting a little too close to civilians.

Hey, this is what we came here for right?

Wrong. It was at this point that I woke up. In my bed. Not fighting the guys we're supposed to fight.

Of course not, it isn't that kind of war anymore. You missed the boat, kid. This is the slow simmering aftermath, the dying kicks of roadkill.

On the way here to post this and check email and whatnot, thinking about all of this, I decided to be a little more honest with myself. A conversation with one of my superiors just a few minutes ago went like this:

"Morning Sir. I had a dream that we lit some people up last night."

"Lit up as in...Holiday Cheer type (I'm paraphrasing and brutally distorting what he said, but my memory and attention span is shot thanks to television)?"

"No, I mean I got to shoot the enemy for once. Y'see, it's kind of a conundrum I guess, I'm a decent, moral person, but I want to commit what you could probably call 'Legal Murder'."

"Suspect...Do you need to see combat stress?"

"No, sir, it's not like that. It's just...y'know, wanna kill the baaaaad guys, 'stead of us just getting the brunt of this, FIGHT a war a little, I don't mean like wanton slaugh--"

"You'd probably make a great case for someone [I have annihilated another paraphrase, but his sense of humor is difficult to portray through text alone]."

At this point, he went about his business, knowing better than wasting the time listening to a near-endless Suspect Tirade about the moral yin yang of loving puppies and brutally and violently destroying and annihilating our sworn invisible enemies.

But hey, I guess if I talked to the right people, I could get some crazy meds right?

Or just...never get a civilian job?

It's very simple though. Those who sign up to GO to WAR go because they WANT to kill the enemy. This is safe and socially acceptable. I've never had homicidal thoughts about normal people, not even some of these celebrities I keep hearing about. But the objective of war, in all its fucked up UNglory, is to kill each other, usually for causes and reasons that have little to do with you.

Our enemy thinks that we're completely evil etc etc etc and we....well we think that they're psychotic overzealous assholes. And well, if I'm going to be in a warzone and lose friends out here, I really don't think it's too much to ask to just kill a few of these guys. Fair is fair, right? Not like they've never tried to kill me personally.

I can even say its for my country, that's the BEAUTY of it. It's morally and socially justifiable. This type of killing is A-OK, and worthy of a slice of good ol' American Pie.

Come on, I don't bash the war, I don't bash the President, I don't bash my chain of command, I just float on with whatever I have to do. But are we really just here to be a presence? Thought in "war", you were s'posed to kill the enemy. Not shake his hand.

In other news, when I watched "Death Proof" (from the double feature "Grindhouse") I was disappointed when Rose McGowan's character was killed, because she was really sweet, witty, and cute. There's the balance.



The repeating cycle of day and day and indistinguishable day has resumed. We could have been here for days or for decades and we still wouldn't really be sure. Just doing our time, floating like a leaf down the sewage tributary that broke off of the River of Life. Think about this: if you were knee deep in shit long enough, would you get used to it, accept it as commonplace?

"Suspect, HORN!"

I yank the chain on the air horn to get the attention of the woman that stepped into the street as we fly towards her at 40 miles an hour. The day before, that chain was broken and I had to rig up a new one. Good thing, too. Otherwise we would probably be picking pieces of that woman out of the BirdCage. Disaster averted, and the odds of me being prescribed crazy drugs upon return are reduced a little.

"Hey, I think [lead vehicle] just hit a--"

"Yeah, we hit it too."

"Hit what?"



That's right, I'm driving again, aren't I? Simple enough, really. Keep one eye on the truck in front of you, listen for instructions, scan the road, windows and rooftops, drift this way, that way, slow down, speed up, hit the horn. Drop ramp. I'm on autopilot again.