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thursday, july 24, 2014 7:21 am zst

carving reality at the joints

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Storm Troopers

"Scott Thomas Gleeson" is a pseudonym for a typical American soldier currently serving at His Majesty's pleasure in Iraq. To corroborate the facts, we sent it to crackerjack reporters at The New Republic, and asked them how it smelled. "Mmmmm," they said, adding, "Like freeze-dried chives."

It was a dark and stormy Baghdad night. There is a section of this city we wise-cracking infantrymen refer to as "Fruitcake Heights," because of all the human entrails constantly falling from rooftops. At least they think they're human. They don't taste like chicken, I'll tell you what.

My tactical battalion group had just finished dog-slicing detail in the outpost perimeter, when one of the guys, who had a reputation as something of a crank-yanker, took off his ACU pants, revealing his tan underwear. We thought it was only mildly amusing, until he told us to look closer, to reveal that his underwear was not made of cloth, but hundreds of Iraqi heart valves, stitched together. It was nice needlework, even had a Y-front fly.

"When did you find the time to make that?" I asked, giggling like a man waking from a nightmare on Christmas Eve, or like a crazy person.

We all laughed, even though it was not funny, under that scorching foreign sun, because, even though nobody would admit it in so many words, our very souls had been violently ripped from our very lives, like empty MRE's, when we volunteered to kill people. Kill people. Kill people, I kept repeating, silently.

Or I thought it was silently. "What's that? Kill people? Ha!" said somebody. "Man, you're crazy! Although, typical of American soldiers!"

On Fridays, the locals -- or "inferior foreign heathens," as we joshingly call them -- attend their prayer services. That's when the pranksters in my platoon like to sneak into the mosque and climb to the top of the minaret, and shoot Patriot missiles at goats. We hit this one goat, must have been eight miles away, right square between the horns, splitting it in half, like a cross-section diagram at the butcher shop, with the various cuts and shanks labeled for the purchaser.

"An apt metaphor indeed, for are we not all here to render the butcher's bill?" said somebody. I wondered how would he know I was thinking of the butcher diagram thing. I decided I must have spoken that thought out loud.

"Either that, or nobody said anything!" he said. We all laughed and laughed, in a grim humorless way, until the tears of joylessness streamed down our cheeks, our tender cheeks. None of us like Dick Cheney, not one little bit.

It was stormy the next day, too, only this time it was a sandstorm. We call them "sand storms" because they're like storms, but instead of water, it's sand falling. And we laugh and laugh.

Our sergeant had put us on "upskirt patrol," going into the market and lifting the dresses of female civilians, and give them Bibles. The blowing sand made it difficult to see under the skirts, so instead we just shot everybody with our M-60 Glocks. Sometimes I wonder whether they'll ever make another sequel to The Matrix. That would be cool. Do you like walnuts?

That bruise on my eye went away. Oh no, wait it's still there, I was looking at the wrong eye. If I could be in Lord of the Rings, I would be an Orc. What time is it? Is this 600 words yet? "Not yet! Crazy!" We laughed harder than ever, and then we ate chow and then went to get some rackspace, to prepare for another typical day.

Posted by guest author: Scott Thomas Gleeson on Jul 26, 2007 7:00 pm

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