I am bad luck for bars. If I frequent a bar, chances are it has less than 12 months to live. I prefer the kind of lousy dives whose liquor license hangs perpetually by a thread, so it should come as no shock to me when I find myself looking for a new place to drink.
The bar I used to frequent shut its doors. With nowhere else to go, Roland and I walked into a small neighborhood spot. The place was a few steps up from my usual level of squalor, but it was out of the college bar orbit.
. . . Or so we thought.
We were discussing the pros and cons of the M1A (which I am in lust with) when everything went wrong. A swarm of college kids filed into the bar. One after the other came fresh-faced faggots and too-tan blondes. They squeezed past the fat bouncer and immediately ordered the bar out of pitchers.
“Frag out,” I said.
Roland laughed. I could see him entertaining the thought.
“Fuck these assholes,” he said. “When the Apocalypse comes, these kids are fucked. They have no idea of the world of hurt coming to them.”
“I’d like to see any of ’em do convoy duty . . . ” I said, and motioned for two more beers. “See how they like running over ten year olds with a Humvee.”
There were two girls behind me, checking me out. Roland brought my attention to it, but I didn’t bother turning.
“You know ‘butterfly bombs’, right?”
“Yeah, of course.” I said. He took a swig.
“When I was in Bosnia they’d get dropped near villages. Population centers. Places where kids would be. We’d be driving along the road and a kid would come running up alongside the Humvee, holding something in his hands. We’d have to get the interpreter to ‘shoo’ them away.”
He chuckled as he said it, waving his hands as if he were dismissing a child.
“Kids think they’re toys. They just see something shiny, but those things are fucking unstable. We couldn’t even call the ordnance guys. The kid would go running back out into the field where he found it and we’d be driving along and BANG! Now the kid’s running around without arms . . .
“But you can’t stop, because the second you get out to help you draw sniper fire.”
I caught a look at the girls. Unimpressed, I turned back to my beer.
“I miss it sometimes,” he said. ” I miss the action. I miss the camaraderie. I don’t miss the desert. That sucked.
“Arabs aren’t so bad. Most of them just want to go to work and do their shit and get by, just like anyone else.
“You get shot at and shit, but at least it’s real. There are no lies in combat.”
I ordered a round of shots. We didn’t toast to anything.