HERE IN BAGHDAD |
October 11, 2006
HERE IN BAGHDAD
Name: SGT Salamander
Posting date: 10/11/06
Stationed in: Iraq
I had been pulled for an OP here in Baghdad. So I grab a private, my favorite private, and tell him to throw on his gear and leave those books behind.
College was a terror. I went from Protestant and a believer to well-read and subversive. Let's break the mold, son, let's enlist and have things to write about.
So here I am, educated and enlisted, an infantry sergeant enamored with the violence. And to promote, among other things, the development of a good private, I suggest reading lists. I steer these buggers away from pulp and pop and more towards explorations of the dark night of the soul, hoping, somehow, to get these dudes to realize the enormity of their present baptism in world affairs. So this private, the one throwing on his gear and leaving behind the books, is my little project. A social service product, a kid with no home, a kid who tags along on leave; this is the kid I pick for everything. I hammer his genitals into the wall. I want to make him my son and I his father. I want him to trust me.
So we go out, we infil, we lay there on the gun, we whisper and conduct our hourly radio checks. And this kid, this little bugger once soft and pink and now twenty years older than he was last year, this kid who read my list of books, gobbled my list of books, this kid says, "Sarn, we have to personify something, don't we?"
"Kid, we are human beings, we have the luxury of BEING the metaphor."
He thinks a second, shoots an azimuth at a cluster of people there in the haze, adjusts a few million pounds of gear, he says, "Nah, Sarn, I used to have the luxury."
God Bless You, Mr. Palahniuk.
And this kid, this little hero, is about one month from returning home to a country that will fear him, to girls who will desire him. He'll get his miniature round of applause at Atlanta airport, the USO will give him a razor and can of shaving cream and will thank him, impersonally, for being present in another debacle. And sooner or later, this kid, hopefully will thank God for his involvement in the deterioration of Baghdad, the crumbling of American foreign policy, seeing bodies turned to burger, watching a tracer round from his weapon burn a hole through a man's neck, the reading of books, the performance of thousands of pushups, the lack of sleep, the dust in his lungs; hopefully he'll thank God for this devastation.
I know I do. It has brought us away from the luxury of the metaphor. And this rarely happens in my world. And yours. He is exponentially disconnected from nuclear America. And now, a dog of war, now, having read the books and pulled the trigger, having bowed down to the violence, away from celebrity magazines and bad music, away from social formulae; this kid is as fatalistic as he needs to be, being what we in uniform have become.