Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Iraq 1991

Open the curtain for my Blog Twin:
GUEST POST by: 91Ghost

It was 4:59 a.m. and Campbell and his chums had been sleeping off the alcohol for maybe two hours when Sgt. Cole’s voice wafted up to the third floor of the barracks, coming from somewhere down on the first floor. "FIRST CALL! FIRST CALL! WAKE YOUR ASSES UP, THIS IS AN ALERT! LET’S GO—FORMATION OUTSIDE, NOW!!"

Torrez sat up, angry and annoyed, and called across the room to Campbell’s bunk. "Fuck is this dude? It’s fucking Saturday…we ain’t supposed to be going out to the field for another week dude!" Campbell did not reply, but just sat there taking in Cole’s voice, as it became louder as he made his way onto the second floor.

James took a dreary look at Campbell and Torrez, grabbed the wastebasket next to his bunk, and promptly vomited.

As James was wiping off the remaining spew on his mouth, Sgt. Mitch pounded on the locked door. "OPEN THIS DOOR THE FUCK UP NOW!" he ordered.

"All-fuckin-right man," squawked Torrez, good and pissed.

Sgt.Mitch seemed pre-occupied with something bigger than the three of them. "Get your asses in your BDUs and get outside now, something’s gone down," he said breathlessly.

As they slipped on their wrinkled BDUs which had all been discarded on the floor for the weekend, a sense of dread and doom took hold.

Outside in formation, well over half the battery stood with substantial hang-overs, and the remaining fraction stood with quaking and jittery smiles, eagerly anticipating the news to be had as if they were waiting the results of a little-league baseball tryout.

As Grange stood with his section with his head hung down and his eyes closed trying with all his might to fend off the nausea, Captain Gary delivered the verdict:

"Men, because this battalion has the best shooting record of all artillery units in Europe, we have been placed into 7th Corps. We are going to the Middle East."

The captain droned on, "We will be leaving in about one month...so this is your last weekend off. We have a lot of work to do to get the guns and your-selves combat ready. Do not go anywhere farther than 50 miles this weekend..."

After the formation, the soldiers all hurried back into the barracks and the partial celebration, partial Irish wake, began in earnest. The best bottles of booze were broken out, no matter that it was six in the morning. Hoots and hollers resounded throughout the hallways.

The dreamy look on Smith’s face made Torrez feel murderous.

The most immediate thought Rudesheim had been that he was going to die. People died in wars and his little mantra back in the States when he was home recently on leave for a funeral, came back to him: "I guess if there is a war, we’ll go." Well, they were going so that meant there would probably be a war—that meant he was going to die.

Rudesheim’s next thought was that he was going AWOL.

In his room alone, he unlocked his wall locker, reaching for his civilian bag. He frantically shoved his best civilian clothes in the bag along with his shaving kit. Counting his money he found 24 deutschmarks, mostly in coins and a $20 bill. It was only 6:20 a.m., and the bank wouldn’t open on Saturday for more than three-and-a-half hours. Rudesheim realized he would have to wait until at least then to go, as he figured he needed all his cash to get back to the States. He left his bag on the bed and walked to the end of the hallway, turning down tequila from Fat Arkansas, E&J Brandy from Washington, and gin from Grange.

He knocked loudly on Campbell’s door. Torrez opened it. Campbell lay slumped on his bed, a pillow draped over the back of his head.

"Now what?" Rudesheim exclaimed. Campbell looked from underneath the pillow at his friend and didn’t say anything. "Don’t any of you have anything to say?!" Rudesheim demanded incredulously. Neither Campbell, Grange nor James had anything to say to him. "Well, I’m getting the fuck out of here! I mean out of this fucking Army! I’m going AWOL as soon as the bank opens."

Torrez had something to say to that, "Shut up, Rudesheim. You ain’t going anywhere. You’re ass is staying right here with us until they ship us off to Sawdee."

"Fuck you, Torrez." Rudesheim fired back as he left the room. Campbell figured there was a 50/50 chance Rudesheim would go.

Twenty minutes later, after calling his cheating girlfriend back in New York from a payphone, Rudesheim returned to their room to find the three privates in almost the same exact positions. Campbell still lay with the pillow over his head, defeated and dead-like. The room had a morbid, stifling air to it.

Rudesheim sat at Campbell’s desk—which had become the place where anybody in second platoon who had any serious contemplating to do, went—to Campbell’s makeshift desk.

"I can’t go AWOL."

Campbell did not respond at first. He considered saying "Why not?" but he knew. For the same reasons he couldn’t go AWOL. Neither one of them had the courage to face the people they knew back home if they went AWOL. Even more than that, deep down, neither one could stomach the thought of abandoning the rest of their friends to the fight ahead. So, instead he said, "I guess you’re right."

"Well, what are we gonna do about it, though?"

"Get high," Campbell suggested.

By noon, after a round trip train ride into Frankfurt and back, room 311 of the Bravo Battery Barracks was converted into a full-fledged hash den.

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