The Baser Beasts: Part II

The Baser Beasts: Part I

“No other woman in the world would put up with this shit!”

“Go, then. All you ever talk about is leaving.”

She left.

At ten in the morning, whiskey is sweet like maple syrup.

When I met my second wife she was young and beautiful. I was just back from the war, riding a magic carpet of yellow ribbons and a scholarship to grad school. Everybody wanted to know my name. She is still young and beautiful. I’m an angry, middle-aged man with diminishing prospects.

I had a dream that a gunny I served with in Iraq was trying to kill me. He put a knife to my throat. I got away and shot him with a nine mil at point blank, emptying the clip into his chest. I watched each bullet sail towards him, but they moved with the speed of soap bubbles floating in air. Each one hit his chest and fell off.

I seldom have dreams, at least not that I remember. When I do, they’re all the same. Someone is trying to kill me and I’m trying to fight back, but I can’t.

Most of the time I’m throwing punches, but my fists move in slow motion and I can’t hit anything. I watch my arm as I drive it towards my attacker and scream because it’s moving too slowly. I try again but it’s always the same and I can never land a hit, or if I do it just bounces off. I never run away from the bad things in my dreams. I always fight, but I never win.

The gunny was the senior enlisted Marine in my unit. I was excited to have him along when we were first assembled in ’03. He had been in Recon forever. He had a bunch of skull tattoos everywhere and drove a piece of shit 1970′s mustang in primer grey with no exhaust.

He was the kind of man who didn’t give a shit about the politics of war, and that’s exactly who you want on your side when you have to scrap the battle plan and improvise.

I trusted him. What a fucking mistake.

There were three teams like mine deployed during the fight. When we launched our last big offensive, Romeo team was placed in a blocking position south of the main thrust of the grunts’ attack.

They set up Claymores and 240′s in what was determined to be the most likely avenue of retreat and waited in the dark for the inevitable flood of combatants to be funneled down from the main assault, but the retreat never came.

When the grunts hit from the north, the insurgents dug in and fought back. To call that rare would be an understatement. By and large, every Arab I ever met was a coward. There were exceptions, but as a rule you could expect the enemy to retreat at first contact, so building that into your battle plan was fairly common.

As luck would have it, the only people who fled the area were women and kids.

When the guys on Romeo heard the vehicles coming, they should have been safe in assuming it was the enemy. They detonated the Claymores and shredded a convoy of buses fleeing in the dark without headlights on, cutting down any survivors with the 240′s.

The carnage was total.

When the smoke cleared, the mistake was immediately apparent. The Marines filled their own Humvees with armless, legless kids and drove through an active combat zone to try to get them to an Iraqi hospital on the other side of town.

I doubt any of them lived.

It can be said a thousand times, but people don’t actually understand that War is Hell.

Had that been the end, it would have been just one more in an endless line of tragedies.

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