Tuesday, March 06, 2007

One Step Away

[posted by Callimachus]

Read this one. A finely crafted series of vignettes about what it's like for some of us who are doing the hard job over there:

Your fingers will ache from absently squeezing the grip of your M16A4 during endless nighttime convoys, transporting detainees from Fallouja to Abu Ghraib or Camp Cropper. The only illumination in the back of the truck will come from the red-lens flashlight you pan across the entas to make sure none of them have wormed loose from their flex cuffs and hatched a plot to kill you.

Your truck will stop one night outside Abu Ghraib. You will wait for explosive ordnance techs to clear a suspicious burlap bag. Because there are so many bombs, you never know how long you'll sit exposed on the road. During the second hour, CF-4562 will ask you in perfect English if he can pee. You will escort him to the edge of the road. When he thinks you aren't looking, 4562 will slink away from you and your rifle. You will immediately see through such a feeble escape attempt, and here, outside the site of America's shame, this enta will be one sandal step away from giving you an absolutely justifiable reason to finally click your weapon's selector off of "safe."

You will raise the muzzle slowly with muscles that ache from humping 60 pounds of body armor and ammo and water and Quick-Clot coagulant, but before your thumb moves over the safety, you will automatically say "kiff," Arabic for "stop," because it's been drilled into you as part of the rules of engagement. You will want to shoot, and 4562 will hear that in your voice. He will stop. He will manage a feeble stream of urine before you shoo him back aboard the truck.