- In the Lead Humvee on MSR Tampa, and: Night Ambush, and: Redeployment Counseling, and: Hurry Up and Wait, and: Stolen Valor, and: First Kill, and: When I Was Ten I Was My Father
In the Lead Humvee on MSR Tampa
There is nothing like blazing through sunburnt desert,
scanning blistered earth for signs of the thing that willpeel the skin off your
bones. Nothing like the hot silence of four sweating men,
high on caffeine; quiet so deep you can hear the bomb
whisper your name like a call to prayer. There is nothing like
knowing there is nothing you can do. It's a little like your first love,
the way you know how things will end before the dust settles,
before she sloops towards you in her smoldering black gown. [End Page 173]
We are still, and I am nodding offunder the weight of my helmet.We swallow Sudafed to stay awake.In the sky I see Orion,his bow drawn tight.Through my night visionthe earth is a green moon.On the roof, a woman smokes.No one speaks. No one moves.But we are gasping for air.I haven't had clean socks in weeks.Bedbugs infest my sleeping roll.We brush our teeth with peroxidefrom Doc's stash. I don't rememberwhat it's like to make love.To mow my lawn. To sleep.Men in cotton robes leave the house.Our grips tighten in the heat.The moon is 238,900 miles away.The center star in Orion's belt blinks twice.
after Doug Anderson [End Page 174]
First week back they put usin a great big room—white tile,fluorescent lights like a sick bay.Showed us videos and slides:
Don't drink and drive.Don't beat your wife.Don't do drugs.Don't take your life.
Later that week, we unpackthe shipping container wherewe hid a hand grenadein Trivette's duffel.
In an empty desert lot off Braggwe pull the pin, throw it farand hard, don't even shield our ears,just watch the black smoke
curl on itself in the hot airbefore vanishing forever. [End Page 175]
Hurry Up and Wait
We had a guy coming to pick up his brother. His brother was dead because we killed him. He'd tried to kill us first so it was one of the okay times. Sergeant Almonte said go pull the bodies out. Thing was someone had forgotten to gas up the generator. This was bad because the generator kept the AC going and the AC kept the morgues cold. We had two morgues: one for us and one for them but the one for us was empty at the moment which was a good thing. I say morgues but really they were just small shipping containers in the desert near Samarra. It was July in Iraq so it was hot out. It smelled real bad when we opened the doors on account of no AC for the bodies. Smiley pulled his shirt over his nose. This was before he was killed. He said this smells so fuckin bad. Foret didn't say anything because he was being sick in the dirt. We laughed and called him a pussy and while Eden was laughing he puked too. Sergeant Ford came out and smeared Vicks VapoRub on his upper lip. He said it helps. I put some on my lip. We went to pull the bodies out. Sergeant Ford left because he wasn't a Private. We had about sixteen body bags with bodies in them so the stack was pretty high. Foret wanted a picture of him in front of the stack because we had just watched a haj copy of that Spartan movie and in the movie there was a wall of dead bodies. Eden took the picture and Foret threw up again. We didn't get it on camera and were a little disappointed about that. The body bags were pretty soupy inside with guts and blood and whatever. I always seemed to be carrying the top end which...