God gone sour
Light bled from the gaps in clouds. The sun set and the remaining day drained from the sky.
I sat under the wooden roof of a bus stop near the office, listening to the patter of the light spring rain. Even in Iraq, that scent was there – the smell from wet asphalt signaling an impending summer shower like in afternoons back home.
1830, mail room time. I met up with some of my people passing by. None for me today. No biggie. I had scored some packages the other day. I walked with them for them, to give some company.
There was our chaplain’s assistant, walking with a limp. Poor bastard. That guy was a walking bad day – always on the ragged edge of despair. Jerks at work, jerks at home, jerks with finance; his world was in a perpetual state of disintegration.
I waited for him to go first. “How’s it going?” he asked.
“Fine. Fantastic. Super great!” note: hyperbole.
“Well, at least that’s one of us.”
Lord Jesus, grand unto this man the will to live beyond these next few minutes.
“Ha ha!” I said suddenly. I thought I’d throw him off.
“You have your government credit card?”
“Nope, they deactivated mine when I left Fort Knox.”
“Well, I’ve been dealing with…” The synopsis: chaplain wants him to order supplies from a web site he can’t access. Add extremes like terse admonitions and times like “five in the morning.” Bring to boil. Fast forward eight minutes.
“Man..,” I said afterwards. I forgot my line. What page were we on?
“You taken your PT test yet?” he asked. Ok, found it.
“Yeah, back in November.”
“They want me to take mine, but what they don’t realize is…” The synopsis: Army wants soldier to maintain physical state of readiness. This requires exercise. People are lazy. People fake injuries to get profiles. Mix thoroughly. Add artificial colors and flavorings to produce misdirected one-sided whining. “…so I don’t see how they can expect me to get it done.”
“Yeah, it’s hard…,” solidarity, my brother. For sheezy. It was hard, but minus a few tubs of ice cream and add an hour every other day at the gym and problem solved.
“You been outside the wire, yet?” he asked.
“Yeah, a few times.”
“I’ve had my times out there. I don’t want to go back.” That actually was the end of that episode. Add long, vacant stare until suitably awkward.
“Well, I better let you go,” he said drearily. “Don’t want to hold you up anymore. I guess I’ll go back to the office to get yelled at some more. I swear I need to file an EO complaint and get out of there.”
“Wow, Jeez! That bad, huh?”
“Yeah…well…have a good night.”
Yikes. The chaplain’s assistants I’ve met in the Army have all been promiscuous, cursing, thieving jerks; save for this guy, who siphons the life out of our days here like a vampire on an invalid.