GOOD NEWS |
October 20, 2006
Name: SGT Salamander
Posting date: 10/19/2006
Stationed in: Iraq
So we get good news. Minus forty days and a wake up and our time in this is over. Minus a few good soldiers, who were a few good fathers, who were a few good husbands and friends. They left boxed and flagged months back. So this is the time we start taking inventory of what we have. We count the few rounds we didn't use. Frags, smoke, 40mm's. We count blouses and trousers, measure the tread on our third pair of boots. I watch my privates scrub the piss and sweat from their IBAS, the blackened ring that has inched lower and lower from the neckguard that wouldn't stop a water balloon. We take inventory there in my hooch, bags out.
Everything laid out.
And some of these cats are crusty-eyed, off-mission. Missions I fight to pull them from. Missions attached to other platoons or companies, out from under my umbrella of...whatever I have to give them. Other cats pick at pimples. Mumble about the women in their lives, the women to which I promised the return of their boy. All five appendages.
They all sit there and listen to time hacks and dates, block leave windows: "Don't go blow that blood money on a fuckin' car. Blow it on tattoos. I believe in the permanence of tattoos."
They chuckle because they have to, or want to. But nothing is really funny anymore. It's been a long year and we feel we've failed. Samara to Now and we are in a different film. There are new buzzwords. And we are older. JODY made his rounds through a few of their lives. And yes, we've accepted this.
Warsaw to the Wall, Samara to Now and back again, and I, twenty-five years old, believe I've seen it all. But I know I'm wrong about a lot of things. I am lucky. These little bastards are all I have. They do what I say because they want to, not because they have to. They know when to move, when to cover the other guy, the pre-combat checks. They know that at three hundred meters to aim at the gut, not so much center-mass. The alleys and buildings hug the bullet, and harmonics get screwy, ballistics get screwy. So just go for the meat with the first and a few more will follow. Iraqis are fatasses, Sarn. And if he lives, he'll be back out there shooting again in two weeks, so make sure he dies this time. That's maybe, maybe, one less asshole.
All of this is running through my mind. This inventory of physical things, this gear, this ammo. That little M4. That little squirtgun-looking thing that has been so good to me. We take inventory. And my one guy, my Godson Godsend, my little future something, my favorite Joe says, "Sarn, I'm missing some things, little things. But nothing sensitive."
I take inventory.
"Alright, get this shit out of here, go eat, go sleep."
"Roger..Roger...Check, Sarn. Night, Sarn."
All this laid out here, on my poncho. The same poncho that my squad leader and I piled a decimated Iraqi Soldier inside after a big, big bomb rocked our joint patrol. We balled him up and I carried him to his platoon sergeant, who sat with his tea cup and just nodded his head."I need the poncho back, Irif, get your ass up and go find something else."
I take inventory. I have everything I left home with. Plus faint crow's feet and a few gray hairs. A few scars that will make good stories, fodder for bar girls and that's about all. Stories that will become lies in a few years. Plus fifteen pounds of back and chest from all that gear.
I should have called my parents more than just the once. I should have shucked when I jived. Was that, then, that one time, was that necessary? Do I dig too far for meaning? Yes I do.
And I find, having done the inventory, this being the last, a few patrols, a few raids and OP's left, that's all, this being the city it is, I being who I am, and watching things die and tan and bleach out and young boys grow and harden, listening to myself even now; the inventory, those three bags, is our deconstruction.
We went from what we were then, a year ago, to what we are now. Nothing much has changed, we just know the difference. Having shat out a few basic emotions. The only animals on the Ark who built cities and burned them down. Animals nonetheless. And the souls of those guys leaving my room are saved, having survived this believed once in the purpose.
Everything is accounted for, all things sensitive. We may play damaged or violent, but we're okay. We are these things, it will always be with us, we are just ready to see the difference.