Its been 10 years since the post-9/11 wars began. Both Iraq and Afghanistan are miserable failuresover there and at home.
When Halliburtons reps hired me as a security contractor in Baghdad, I dont think they knew I was a closeted hippie liberal. To ensure they never found out, I practiced my yoga in the privacy of my room, in the Baghdad Sheraton. It stayed a secret until my boss Jeff barged in one day while I was standing on my head in my underwear.
Joes the latest out of Aberdeens bio-transformation division-A Variable-platform Airborne Multi-exsanguination Prototype.
III. Pattons Day Pattons death march to the shooting chamber was interrupted when Dolan happened to look over and see us standing by the incinerator. He had no desire to speak to usthat much was clear. After debating it internally, he detoured in our direction with heavy steps, as if unwillingly snared in our tractor beam.
IV. Blood and Guts Dolan had cracked under the pressure of Green Beret schoolthat was the general diagnosis. We referred to him as the psycho and the fucker. The Army did its best to keep a lid on the situation, but the Fayetteville papers ran a few stories tracking Dolans E and E, his Escape and Evasion.
I was in a good mood until I stepped outside into the arrivals area, where I was greeted by the impregnable downpour of the Iraqi rainy season and suddenly remembered, with massive, cheek-reddening embarrassment, that I was wearing sneakers.
A week after the mass slaughter, Bertrand and I were standing on the gravel driveway in front of the HQ. The rain, a steady drizzle and mist, had settled in like white noise; we barely noticed it anymore. Bertrand held his scalding Nescafe like a hot potato, passing the Styrofoam cup from one hand to the other while discussing a job hed worked up north, near Irbil, Kurdish territory.
Everyone on the roof of the HQ stopped talking to watch Dolan and me, two old friends, reunite. The Iraqis and the Americans reacted nearly identically, lending a warm smile to our reunion and watching unabashedly, drawing energy from it and solace and maybe a recollection of meeting their own long last pal, somewhere unexpected, far from home.
I was at my desk reading the news online. My mood was a mix of high and low. Low, because I felt I had nothing to live for; and high, because Id hit the bottom, and Id convinced myself the only direction I could go is up.