An Introduction to Sergeant ‘X’
Posted on July 25, 2014
His story. As shared with a fellow pilgrim. Through many a long, sleepless night.
I am drunk. But I have only started.
I know it’s going to be a long night. I know my head will hurt. Later.
I know I will desperately try to fall sleep – and fail. Later.
But for now, I will smear the sharp outline of reality. I will blur and dull the edge of the unrelenting knife.
I shall drink.
Because I hurt. I hurt intensely.
I hurt as a young man of twenty five years old should not have to hurt.
I carry a strange, remorseless, pitiless burden inside. I can’t get rid of it. And I can’t get it out. It suffocates me.
But I am a soldier. I never give up. Do I believe that? Through the cigarette smoke and the blurred vision, I stare at my own photo on the wall. Me. In the uniform of a Reconnaissance Soldier. I am at my peak. I am confident of my abilities, and utterly convinced of the righteousness of my mission. I am devoted to my country and my family. I am…
Pure? Unspoiled? Untarnished? Un-embittered?
And now. I stub out the cigarette, coldly, cruelly. With shaking hands, I pour myself another Scotch.
I close my eyes. The demons are back. I hear them shouting. Jeering. Laughing hysterically. I shudder. Here we go again. Relentless. The caroussel. The floods of memories. The second guessing. The self doubts. The absurdity. The craziness of Man.
Everything that has defined me, today. Everything that has made me, what I am.
Confused. Bewildered. Angry.
I shall work this one out, or it will kill me.
It will. Kill me.
I stare at the dull black semi-automatic on the table. I pick it up. I fondle it. It is clean, and polished, and well balanced. I drop the magazine. Crisply, it falls into my hand. I study the fullness of the magazine, the shiny bullets crammed in on top of each other. Twelve rounds. Forty-five hollow points. Just one would be enough. Aimed up through my lower jaw, pointing up through my brain. Just one.
And it will all be over.
A long pause. I am thinking.
I reach a conclusion.
Not… fucking… likely.
No way, Jose. It’s not going to happen that way. We are going to work through this. Step by remorseless step. Through the bloodied mountain steps of Eastern Afghanistan, and though the haze shrouded deserts of Iraq, I am going to bleed this monster to death. I am going to look him in the eye, and never back up. For I am a soldier of the Cavalry.
I pop the topmost bullet out of the magazine with my thumb. It falls noisily on the wooden table. And rolls around until I grab it, and place it upright, like a little missile, ready to launch to the moon.
Then the next one. Clonk! I grab it, and place it beside the first one. Two little missiles ready to blast me to the moon. Or somewhere.
Clonk! Three little missiles.
I continue. Four. Five. Six…
Twelve. The magazine is empty. Death, neatly arranged in military line up, dress right dress, stares at me, now impotent. Unloaded.
I laugh, grimly. Twelve little wannabe soldiers of Death.
Twelve memories? No, hundreds.
Bring it on, motherfuckers. I lean back, and gaze at the ceiling, hands behind my head. I make myself comfortable. It’s going to be a long night.
Out loud, I address the swirling shadows:
“Alright. Give it your best shot. Right on the chin. See if you’ve got what it takes. I’m standing. And I ain’t backing up. For nobody.
Bring it on.
Chapter 1 – The first bullet
The demons advance.
Ah. The woman in the field. I remember her. I feel a stab. Guilt. What did we do to her? I shudder. I shall never know.
I know I will always remember her. In my nightmares, I shall see her.
Covered in her black burkha. Head to toe. Just that slit. She is kneeling down, harvesting, working, pulling up vegetables. It is hot, but she works on. It must be boiling inside that crazy portable black coffin. She works like a slave.
And the man, presumably her husband. Perhaps her brother. The woman-keeper. Tall erect, proud. Bearded. Standing behind her, barking orders. Too good for menial work, too pure, too noble, too exalted. Leaning on his heavy walking stick, a thick, gnarly, knotted, stout piece of shaped wood.
We, young American men, we troop past, single file, rifles ready, wary. We try not to stare. But we cannot help but see. The proud man. The servile woman, doing Shariah woman’s work. In the hot midday sun. Flies buzzing around her. Clad, head to toe, in a black shroud.
Our greeting, nervously delivered, is not answered. He does not even look at us. He does not acknowledge us at all.
It seems so odd. The man, proud, erect. The woman, even in her shapeless Burkha, somehow, feminine, and seemingly slim. The delicate, artistic, feeling hands of a young woman. Working like a slave. Groveling in the dirt.
Yes. The moment. The moment when she made her mistake. She paused in her grueling labors, just for a moment, her head turning slightly, to stare at all these foreign young men. Marching along. Single file. Trying themselves.
Not to stare.
She is sprawling on the ground. He, the proud man, the noble one, he who is far too good for menial work, has hit her, as hard as he possibly could, with his brute ugly walking stick. On the side of her head, as hard as he can. She is, even now, sprawled in the dirt, whimpering, shaking. But her owner, her Shariah keeper, even now is raising the ugly stick high above his head. Preparing to strike the defenseless woman on the ground yet again.
The howl of outrage was…
The howl from twelve furiously angry American throats. The proud husband-keeper had maybe three seconds warning of the rapid approach. Very rapid. His expression, previously haughty and proud, changed through astonishment, to fear. Eyes wide, staring, mouth open, soundless. Maybe he was even a little bit sorry…
And he disappeared, in his own, exalted, personal cloud of Afghan dust, under a flurry of vicious fists and boots, and rifle butts, and fluent American curses and invitations to go and visit hell. He cried, and wept, and defecated, and the pungent smell of fresh urine assailed flared and furious fighting nostrils.
He cried. Pitifully. Like a child. Cowering. His hands covering his head.
Disgusted, the young Americans backed off.
Salaam Aleikum… you piece of camel shit.
* * * * *
I twirl my Whiskey glass in my hand.
I understand what we did. I understand why we did it.
And I know who paid the price for what we did. Later.
Her. The one in the Black Shroud.
Probably beaten to a bloody pulp by that spineless monster.
I think of her, and my heart, somehow, bleeds for her.
And all those like her, caught, trapped, ensnared in a medieval, Man Made Religion, for which I have only the deepest contempt…
As recounted to A.F.P.
to be continued
Last edited by Francis Meyrick on August 6, 2014, 7:40 pm