Yes. I’ve done some incredibly stupid shit in my time.
Below is an actual-for-real email I sent to a soon-to-be former boss (an attractive lady-boss, of course.) and is sadly very close to the top of the Misfit Hit Paradeof lame-ass-actions I have perpetratedon innocents.
I have swerved into the solution for Drunken Emails.
Who could’ve known it would be this simple?
Street Cred for Vid: Big Play Films
From: Moron<email@example.com>cc bcc:
Yes, I am getting a tattoo (for my ‘mousing’ musing hand).
It will read simply, succinctly, in Big Bold Letters:
“No! Don’t Go There Lance!”
Brevity? Yes. (‘That soul of wit.’)
“Words have meaning Son,” my father often told me.
And short words, I have discovered, oft hold the most meaningful meaning.
It has been ‘awkward’ (to say the very least) to face you of late.
After my ‘email shot-gunning’ you, off-the-chain escapade of recent shameful regret, but… I did it and today found the courage to read all of what I did send and happily discovered, most were not of the obnoxious caliber of my historical wont.
Thank God and Baby Hey Zeus!
Alas, I wish I had an excuse.
Yet, in searching, there is one to be discovered, but so probably painfully evident that it requires no verbalization:
Two times per year, I get to ‘explore’ my darker side.
Two times per year, I choose a ‘lucky’ recipient to ‘share’ in my darkness.
Two times per year someone gets to be ‘it’.
You’re the New ‘IT’ Girl!
You’re in Good Company.
Clara Bow: The Original It Girl, 1927
The thing about writers (and those so-called writers who call themselves ‘writers’) is that they are so full of themselves, and vain by nature (it is requisite-with the breed), and every writer and so-called writer I have ever met, are… assholes. All.
Vain, pompous, drinks-too-much, full of sound and fury, and desperate.
“A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
I am not (not really) stupid.
I know you cannot ‘comment’ nor even acknowledge, via email, all the posts I posted ‘at you.’
I dare say you would be wise to ignore me and my ramblings, given our professional relationship.
Yet, if you did read even one of the posts on my blog, (actually I think you read the first one I begged you to read—not the ‘best’ one, but one which apparently was on my mind–at the time)
It is a very simple thing to comment, ‘in disguise’ as
Or simply, “A Fan.” (tongue in cheek)
Do that once and I will be sated.
Do it twice and you get a Mickey Mouse Pencil Sharpener,
An Autographed8X10 Hollywood-Type-Glossy Photograph of Jesus Christ.
Sermon-on-the-mount, highly recommended, and our best-seller
But you cannot have both; there is a limited supply.
Do it thrice: You should seek counsel.
“Writers are assholes.”
“Lance is a ‘writer’”
“Ergo, Lance is an asshole.”
There is a point to this post, but most assuredly, I have forgotten my initial inclination in that regard.
***‘Jeopardy musical theme plays***
Now I’ve got it!
This is my convoluted apology to you.
I am, and shall always remain, an Honorable Military Man.
I am cognizant of the duty (and the mission)
And, admitting I was wrong is something which seems to be easier (and more difficult—same time) to do lately.
My first wife once accused me of aspiring to be “King of the Idiots.”
(She was an idiot savant…well, you’d have to know her to get my meaning, yet, I think–know, that I have posted about her…ON-MY-BLOG)
Back to my point:
I am beginning to grow bored with my job.
You are the best supervisor/boss I have had in recent memory. All, and I do mean ALL respect you.
This should be enough for me (and for the foreseeable future it shall be)
I don’t like to shit where I eat, BUT (and this is a curse), I have a opinions and I need to get that tattoo—post haste—and with all due prejudice.
I like you Suki.
I respect you.
I am trying to help you professionally (in my way).
I am not trying to ‘do’ anything other than ‘talk’ to you and ‘work’ for you.
To quote Nixon:
“Let me make one thing perfectly clear…”
I am a whore, but only when it comes to my writing.
Nothing else these days (aside from my computer addiction) means anything to me.
I am not as bad as I may, at first glance, seem.
(Truth: I am worse, but I do not bring that to WORK)
(Yes: you may quote me. I’d be flattered…. Hahahahaaa)
“Here, hold this!” said the Texan to his credulous girlfriend as he handed her his half-empty half-pint of Jim Beam, stomped the shit out of the accelerator on his pickup truck and flew headlong into oblivion…
“I don’t need no stinkin’ roads. I’m going to Afghanistan!”
I need to be ‘institutionalized’ somewhere far far away.
In a place where life is tenuous at worst and exciting at best and the pay is good and booze is scarce and the women are… well, usually not to be found, except on the Internet.
That is how Lance stays out of trouble…
It works well-enough in theory anyway.
The following is Part One of a transcribed letter I wrote to a Significant Other while cooling my heels in Helmand Province and Kandahar, Afghanistan trying to get my CAC renewed (Common Access Card: An ID card for Civilians working with the U.S. Military).
‘South Park’ is, for lack of a better term, A Holding Facility ‘soullessly owned and operated’ by DynCorp International for transients, itinerants, illiterates, sycophants, miscreants, and other sad and lonely temporarily homeless people just trying to travel through, hoping to land somewhere else, anywhere else, and the sooner the better…
South Park is understaffed, under-financed, under-achieving, under-esteeming, underwhelming, and sometimes underwater.
It is also overpopulated, misconceiving, deceiving and just plain infuriating.
Southpark will depress you, repress you, digress you, digest you, and shit you out if you allow it.
Writing saved me from insanity there.
“I’ve gotta go to South Park?”
“You’re shitting me, right?”
Saturday 28 July 2012, Camp Dwyer PAX Terminal, Afghanistan 1218hrs
I’m sitting in the PAX terminal. We boarded the plane, (Sixties-Era, prop job) a couple of hours ago, but they were just kidding.
After sitting on the tarmac for about forty five minutes they brought us back here. Seems someone forgot to feed the hamsters which are actually responsible for propelling the plane and hence, they died.
We were told not to worry; they are flying in some fresh, well-fed hamsters from KAF (Kandahar Air Field) and once they get those settled into the plane’s power plant, we will be good to go: wheels up around 1430hrs.
So here I sit, thinking of you, Dubai, and Hamster Avionics.
This PAX terminal isn’t too bad, as these places go. (I have seen worse—and better). Like every other facility on Dwyer, it is a tent, but it is a rather enormous tent and they have provided the weary travelers with bottled water and MRE’s. So I am sated, as far as it goes. You see, I really am low maintenance.
Not being inclined to ignore any opportunity to ‘talk’ to you, I am using the tools (pen and paper) I thoughtfully provided myself in the event such opportunity did manifest itself. So here I sit, happily communicating to you using Nineteenth Century Technology. I do hope you are properly impressed.
Page From Original Document
“And what lovely penmanship!” She exclaimed.
“Thank you,” he said.
Looking about the terminal, I have pronounced us a motley crew: About a dozen or so Indians & Sri Lankans, some Filipinos, a smattering of American Expats, couple of Brits, and a few bored Marines scattered about and some behind the counter, whose job it is to search the TCN’s.
The counter has a sign which reads:
“TCN Search Area.”
TCN: ‘Third Country National.’ in case you didn’t know.
“What did you do in The War, Daddy?”
“Son, I put my hands all over aromatic TCN’s.”
“What’s a TCN Daddy?’
“Uh…That’s a very sophisticated weapons system Son.”
1310hrs: PAX Terminal, Dwyer
Ok, for amusement, I took an inventory of the MRE’s stacked on pallets here in the terminal:
56 cases of MRE’s per pallet
12 MRE’s per case
Total MRE’s: 10,080 (assuming my arithmetic is correct, a rather liberal assumption)
Posted on each pallet are four signs which read:
DO NOT EAT!
MRE stands for “Meal, Ready to Eat,” in case you didn’t know, or in this case, “Meal, Not Ready to Eat.”
(“We done been eatin’ ‘em anyways. Hope we don’t die of ptomaine before the hamsters do, causing our Turbo Prop to morph into a glider…”)
1441hrs: Still in PAX terminal
Announcement: “Listen up! We couldn’t get the hamsters here, but we’ve drafted a couple of gerbils and they’re fit for duty.”
(‘Now there’s some happy news,’ I mused.)
He continued, “For all those going to KAF, this means now you’re flying non-stop…”
(Guess gerbils aren’t certified for multi-destination air duty.)
“…and your luggage is already back on the plane. As soon as we warm up the gerbils, you fly. Those of you who are going to FOB Shindan, you will follow me now.”
Someone pipes up, “Are we walking?”
There’s one in every crowd…
Having a few minutes to kill while the gerbils are doing their warm up exercises, I return to the MRE pile and rat-fuck a couple of the boxes.
Then I saw another sign which had previously gone unnoticed by me:
‘Rat-Fuck’ is a technical term which simply means, “To open several bags of MRE’s and take only the premium items, leaving the not premium items for the next schmuck attempting to do same.”
An example of this would be taking all the Reece’s Pieces and chocolate chip cookies, leaving only the cardboard crackers and synthetic peanut butter.
Wheels up and airborne and the gerbils gerbilling their little asses off. Time to destination: thirty minutes.
1613hrs: Flying High (I wish)
I am seated in a window seat. Normally I would take the aisle, but I wanted to describe the spectacular view and with all the beautiful details of this rarified vista below:
Perusing the in-flight movie list (from the one inside my head), I select Lawrence of Arabia (with subtitles in Pashtun). I estimate getting about half-way through the opening credits before we touch down. I listen to the wonderful Academy Award winning musical score.
The scenes of the burning desert are so real inside my head that I actually break a sweat. This Special Effect is helped along quite nicely by the fact that the air-conditioning on this aircraft in non-functional. I suppose one of the collateral duties of the deceased hamsters was operating the A/C unit.
1638hrs: Wheels Down
“Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Beautiful Kandahar.”
(I do not doubt his sincerity, but I did detect a bit of sarcasm in his voice.)
“For safety, you are required”, he continued, “to wear your full body armor with your helmet when exiting the aircraft. There really is no danger, but we want you to sweat just that much more. Thank you for flying Gryphon Airlines today and once again, we apologize for the teeny tiny delay we had in leaving Camp Dwyer and we do hope you will… uh, be flying with us again soon.”
Alternate Title: “Fairy-Tales can come true; it can happen to you if you’re young at heart… and stupid and credulous and careless and think you’re bulletproof.”
But be forewarned: They are fleeting, ephemeral, transitory.
“You can laugh when your dreams fall apart at the seams, if you’re young at heart.”
I’m callin’ ‘Bullshit’ on that statement.
Frank Sinatra – Young At Heart – 1953
Video Credit: kopbyt123
Or, if you prefer: “Big-Boned Rescue Gal”
(Or All of The Above: Virtual Ink is Cheap Enough)
Nothing to do now but drive away and discover what happens next. No point in trying to flee at a high rate of speed. Most Harleys (when they are not broken down) will outrun a heavy-ass Toranado. Which brings to mind a t-shirt one of MY biker friends often wore.
Yes, I had some biker friends. They were also sailors, but I don’t think that disqualifies them.
The T-shirt read: “I’d rather push my Harley than ride your Honda.”
So off I drove into the predawn. Never having what could be remotely considered decent navigation skills, I just headed in the general direction of what I thought to be south, hoping to hit I-Five, which would lead me to 32nd Street Naval Base and my ship. And of course I kept frequently glancing in my rear-view.
Billy, or whomever, did in fact follow me, yet at a respectful distance. At one point I contemplated stopping and asking him for directions, but in the end thought better of that.
Eventually, either he got bored, lost his nerve, or ran out of gas. Anyway, he disappeared from my radar. I made it back to the USS Callaghan with just enough time to change into my dungarees and make morning muster.
When the 1MC announced “Knock off Ship’s Work” at 1600hrs, I quickly changed into my civvies and ‘hit the beach’.
I grabbed a pay phone on the pier and called Shonnie up at work.
“You were expecting maybe… Madonna?”
Ignoring her classic wit, I said “Are you okay?”
“Yes of course, why wouldn’t I be?”
Uh oh. Her tone did not bode well. “Perhaps you caught amnesia. Did Billy come calling?”
“Uh, yeah. He did.”
“Come on Shonnie, what happened?”
“He begged me to open the door, so finally I let him in.”
She didn’t seem to want to talk about this, but damn it! I was in ‘need-to-know’ status. ‘Hey! I’m needin’ to know here!’ (Sorry Dustin)
“Well? Do I have to drag this out of you?”
“Listen Lance, he broke down and cried All Right! He promised to be a better husband and father. He begged me to take him back. He is the Father of my Son, Goddamn it! What-the-fuck-do-you-expect-me-to-do?”
(Kids always trump lovers. I suppose this is as it should be, but… this asshole was abusive. At least that was her early story.)
“So, you’re getting back together then?” I felt as if I had been kicked in the solar plexus.
Hard and more than once.
It was becoming difficult to breathe.
“You sure about this?”
“Yes. I am.”
“Goddamn it Shonnie! You can’t do this to ME! To US!”
“It has to be this way Lance.”
“Well, I guess that’s it then.”
I quickly scoured my brain for something else to add but could not continue the conversation.
“Yeah. I guess it is. Goodbye Lance.” She hung up.
“That’s IT??!!” I screamed into the dead receiver.
All clawing at my mind, tearing apart my heart, climbing over each other in their effort to get to the top of my emotional hit parade.
I never saw this coming!
I slammed the receiver into the phone and watched it bounce out and fall toward the ground, stopped short by the silver metal tether. I stood there vacantly staring at it for a moment as it aimlessly swayed back and forth, pendulum-like.
Suppose at some point I walked toward my car, because that is where I ended up. As soon as I sat down in the driver’s seat I realized I was crying.
There seemed to be a pattern developing here:
Talk to Shonnie. Then grown men cry.
Note to self: ‘research this.’
Fuck! This Hurts! Hurts Real Bad.
I sat there and watched my heart breaking.
Bits and pieces of it fell to the floorboard.
Linda Ronstadt – Heart Like A Wheel (1976) Offenbach, Germany
A couple of weeks later I was kidnapped by some buddies from my ship.
“Marcom, you done been moping around for too long. We’re goin’ out tonight to a great joint. No arguments. Just grab yer shit and come on.”
I had to acquiesce.
Mark and Tommy mounted their Harleys. Frank, Lenny, and I climbed into Lenny’s ’68 orange Chevelle, which he referred to as his “She-Vail” Accent on the ‘Vail.’
Of ‘course’ it was ‘hot-rodded’ up, racing stripes, loud pipes, loud stereo, the whole bit. He loved that damn car. Talked about it more than booze or women.
“Where we goin’?” I asked after about five minutes of ear-splitting Guns N’ Roses (Lenny waxed and waned between ‘Pure Country’ and ‘Heavy Metal’ depending on his mood and blood alcohol level.)
“Goin’ to IB,” he shouted over Welcome to the Jungle. (‘Imperial Beach’ for those who may not have had the opportunity to visit some of the classier environs south of San Diego.) One can actually ‘smell’ Tijuana from IB, not an entirely unpleasant smell if the wind is right and it ain’t summertime.
Welcome to Imperial Beach
HAZMAT Gear On Tap for Rental at Cook’s Corner Boutique & Bar
(Subject to Availability)
We were just a couple of car lengths behind Mark and Tommy straddling their Harleys, puking blue smoke, and producing one hundred decibels above what OSHA would consider workplace violence.
They had effortlessly and instantly metamorphosed from ‘A-Jay-Squared-Away Sailors’ into ‘So-Cal Bikers’…
Replete with all the garb: leather jackets, black jack-boots, Brando Hats, ‘too dark to see through’ sunglasses.
The whole bit.
We passed through National City, (‘Nasty City’) then Chula Vista, (Chew, Ya-Wanna?’).
I couldn’t help but think of Shonnie and how much she would have loved this ‘adventure.’ And I with her, experiencing it together. Damn! Damn her! I missed her still!
“Almost there!” Lenny shouted as we pulled off of I-5 and tacked somewhat west toward the Pacific.
“Almost where?!” I shouted back, but Lenny said nothing. After navigating through some of Imperial Beach’s “Nicer Hoods” our little caravanserai pulled into a gravel parking lot, which presumably belonged to the ramshackle ‘Joint’ I now found me staring at. Lots of Harleys in the lot. I cannot recall the name of the establishment, but it was something along the lines of “The Salty Frog.” or “IB Bar N’ Grill” or “Busted Spoke.”
Oh wait! Now I remember!
No matter, I was only interested in drink, not ambience. Mark and Tommy dismounted as Frank, Lenny, and I ‘de-She-Vailed’ and headed into the ‘Dew Drop Inn’ or, what-you-will.
Inside, the joint wasn’t too bad. Good A/C, low lighting, a couple of pool tables and lots of… Yep: bikers. Well, why not? I was sick to death of the memory of the squeaky-clean C/W Joint where I had first met Shonnie and this place was as far removed from that type of joint as I could ever hope to get.
We found a table against a back wall and proceeded headlong into the arms of intoxication. As I was not expected to drive (this was sort of a ‘coming back out of the shadow of death’ party for me after all), I planned to “Drink that woman offa my mind.”
“Drinkin’ My Baby (Off My Mind)”–Eddie Rabbitt
The drinks flowed and the bullshit rolled (mostly downhill into my lap, as it was well known that I was in ‘lost love recovery’ mode.) I won’t go into detail about how piercingly eloquent we all became during the course of the evening. Mainly because I cannot remember all the pearls of wisdom which were cast back and forth amongst us swine.
What I do recall was my exit:
Roughly fifteen minutes after Last Call, and as all the patrons began to shuffle (or in my case, stagger) toward the exit, I ran headlong into an immovable object: probably because I was trying to guide my feet one step at a time with my eyes cast downward and not really paying attention to the ‘bigger picture’ part of navigation.
‘Situational Awareness’ is overrated and for cowards anyway.
Looking up I realized I had run into a woman. A very tall, very large woman. Not a fat woman, mind you, but a tall and large Jumbotron of a woman. I mean a ‘Big-Boned Gal.’ A fuckin’-beautiful-brunette-dark-eyed Big Bone Woman, who, praise Neptune, did not appear angered by my clumsiness.
I found my voice and said, “Hi… Uh… I’m Lance. Will you take me home? With you?”
BBG smiled down at me, “Yes. I sure will,” she said as she took me by the hand.
I wanted to tell her that I was a refugee from a disconcerted affair, mourning over the one that got away, but even thinking about Tom Waits, let alone quoting him, would have hurled me into an emotional tailspin and probably also into a drunken crying jag for added melodramatic value.
I dared not risk it, so I shut up and silently allowed her to lead me to her vehicle.
Well I’ve lost my equilibrium and my car keys and my pride, The tattoo parlor’s warm, and so I hustle there inside And the grinding of the buzz-saw, “What you want that thing to say?” I says,
“Just don’t misspell her name buddy, she’s the one that got away”
But as they say (Always ‘They’. Who ARE ‘They?’ The ‘They’ who always say?)
“Nothing gets you over the last one like the next one.”
My recovery was officially underway.
Thank You Big-Boned Gal!
Street Cred for Vid: barefootkd’s channel
This Concludes Our ‘All Things Shonnie’ Broad Cast (no pun). We now return you to our regularly scheduled insanity.
Hope you enjoyed reading as much as I was ‘enjoined’ to write it.
However, BOLO for some ‘Final Thoughts Part Duh’ coming real soon.
I’d provide them today, but they are gonna be Real ‘Heavy,’ Real ‘Philosophical,’ Real ‘Tedious,’ and Real ‘Sad.’
And I am not up to the task of laying them down just yet.
Peace and Beer to all Y’all!
Oh! I almost forgot.
“Coming Soon: More Big Boned Gal“
If you are new here, or a long-lost returning Pilgrim, you may want to begin your Shonnie Journey Below
And then simply “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” i.e., The Lancelot Links:
Comments from the original version of this post may be discovered below.
Please read from the bottom up for continuity.
18 THOUGHTS ON “SHONNIE THE BIKER’S WIFE: DENOUEMENT”
LAMarcom July 22, 2014 at 19:42 Edit
Youth is a magic healing bullet.
Thank you very much for reading this long series. Your time spent here is greatly appreciated. I know how busy all of us are and there are TONs of blogs out there to read.
I am very grateful you took the time to read mine.
Tony Single July 22, 2014 at 19:09 Edit
Fantastic read. Truth be told, I was actually a little gutted at the end. I’m not sure I could go through a break up like that.
LAMarcom July 18, 2014 at 18:19 Edit
So glad you are enjoying the tale.
Yeah, lost loves can be painful, especially when one is young and doesn’t yet possess the thick skin for protection.
Thanks very much for reading and commenting.
Teela Hart July 18, 2014 at 11:13 Edit
Great story Lance.
I enjoyed every minute.
I know how it is with lost loves.
I’m not sure I could write about mine, but I have to say once again that you have skills dude.
Can’t wait for the next adventure.
LAMarcom July 17, 2014 at 20:22 Edit
Thanks my good friend.
Truth be told, I’m glad that one is done. I’m rather emotionally exhausted.
Time to move on to other Tales O’ Texas (and other places)
Have a wonderful eve,
markbialczak July 17, 2014 at 20:19 Edit
You got, you gave. Good story, Lance. A little better than good. Great, possibly. Told well, sir, told well.
lauramacky July 17, 2014 at 12:29 Edit
LAMarcom July 17, 2014 at 11:38 Edit
Hahaha! Well, ya know… I was just a simple sailor.
David Scott Moyer July 17, 2014 at 09:37 Edit
I enjoyed it. Seems like you did too, for the most part.
lauramacky July 17, 2014 at 09:28 Edit
Well that didn’t take long. Out with the old, in with the new I guess! LOL. Another lol was one of Imperial Beaches “Nicer Hoods”…reminds me of Oakland hahaha
LAMarcom July 17, 2014 at 08:19 Edit
Worse woman tango! Hahaha! Love it!
happierheathen July 17, 2014 at 01:43 Edit
The only cure for the bad woman blues is the worse woman tango. 😀
Thanks for filling in the blanks, hombre. (That’s pronounced as Daffy Duck pronounces it: Homber.)
LAMarcom July 16, 2014 at 22:09 Edit
In truth, Sadie, I am happy to put Shonnie to bed.
And also in truth, I would like to ‘bed’ her just one-more-time.
For old time’s sake.
~ Sadie ~ July 16, 2014 at 22:04 Edit
I hope it was as cathartic for you to write it as it was enjoyable for me to read it 🙂 There’s some good memories there . . .
Peace out, Lance ☮
LAMarcom July 16, 2014 at 21:13 Edit
Time for me to move on, and truthfully, aside from a couple of ‘relapses’, that was the end of me and Shonnie.
You’re just going to have to trust me on this one.
And thanks so much for reading the series; means much to me.
Always love your comments.
David Scott Moyer July 16, 2014 at 21:09 Edit
I’ll believe it’s over when I believe it’s over.
LAMarcom July 16, 2014 at 21:05 Edit
Thanks for readin’ Annie.
Mad Annie, Bronwyn, Ann July 16, 2014 at 21:04 Edit
Dispatches From Afghanistan: Mouses, Goats, and Snakes, Oh My!
The Jordanians are coming!
The Jordanians are coming!
Specifically the JAF. (Jordanian Armed Forces)
They will be living here in my LSA 2.
Each of my tents have a capacity of 120 U.S. Marines. They ain’t ‘comphy’, but they cozy and U.S. Marines do not complain. They are Marines.
The JAF contingent will top off at one hundred.They have been promised three of my tents. The math doesn’t work for me. I need every tent I have (twenty-four) to serve the Marines who transit through Dwyer on their way to the war.
After some lobbying (and dire predictions of pissed off Marines who won’t have a tent to sleep in), I got the JAF allocation down to two tents.
Why after all these years the Jordanian government had decided to send troops to southern Afghanistan, I am not sure. But I have a theory: “U.S. Department of State.”
Not military necessity. Not a request from the coalition of governments already represented here. Not the U.S. Military.
I have nothing against Jordan or the Jordanian people. In fact, I love them. I lived and worked in Amman Jordan for six months back in ‘07 while working to close-out the paperwork on the USAID Rural Water Project we had completed in Iraq. (Bechtel, the prime contractor, had decided there was no point to continually put our lives at risk in Iraq doing paperwork we could just as easily finish in their Amman offices).
I had a meeting with the Mayor’s Cell here onDwyer. (The ‘Mayor’s Cell’ is the term used for the administrative branch of the Marines who actually own Camp Dwyer.) All decisions of the Mayor are final. Except, I found out, when it comes to the JAF and their accommodations.
Apprehensive over the impending arrival of the Jordanians, I asked the Mayor, “Does the Mayor’s Cell have any special directive for treatment of the JAF?”
“Not at all Son. Treat ‘em like Marines.”
“Yessir!” (This was the response I had been hoping for)
With the help of the Labor Department and a fewof my staff, I readied the two tents for the Jordanians.
We were told to expect roughly one hundred men, so we set up fifty-five military cots in each tent. These tents in LSA 2 are best described as ‘Spartan.’
There are four ‘doors’ which are simply canvas flaps about four feet wide. When the wind is up the flaps flap open allowing Afghanistan to blow inside.
You Can RunFrom The Sand, But You Cannot Hide
The occupants are not allowed to tie the flaps shut, as this creates a safety hazard in the event of a fire—no quick egress.
Each of the tents has two HVAC units. They are inadequate for the weather extremes here. The tents are in disrepair. They leak, they sag, they have mold. I cannot get approval from the Mayor’s Cell through DynCorp to provide anything more than patchy maintenance.
“A lick and a promise.” That’s all. They tell me, “No more funding is available for LSA 2. Deal with it.”
I made a prediction to Shannon (my immediate supervisor and good friend): “Duck, I said, “There ain’t no way those Jordanians are gonna sleep on cots.”
“Why not?” he says, “They Soldiers, ain’t they?”
“Hide and watch what happens when they get here and have a look inside their tents,” was all Isaid.
Two days later they arrived. I got them checked in, inspected the tents with their liaison officer, and had him sign for the cots. (Over his protestations)
Next day I observed about a dozenMarines off-loading brand new bed frames and brand new, thick mattresses (still wrapped in clear plastic!) from two flatbed trucks.
And I have trouble getting replacement cots forthe ones rendered unserviceable due to fair wear and tear.
Again, “Deal with it.”
I got on the phone and called Shannon over atLSA 3, “Hey Duck, get over here to LSA 2. You ain’t gonna believe the shit I’m lookin’ at.”
I couldn’t wait to hear his comments once he sawthe Marines struggling to assemble the bed racks and unwrapping the new mattresses.
“Well, I’ll be damned. You called this one Bro. Hey! Those are brand new fuckin’ mattresses. The red ones. The best ones! Mayor’s Cell been telling me they got no replacement mattresses for my LSA Three. Shit-Mother-Fuck!”
(LSA 3 was for permanent residents: CHUs—Containerized Housing Units–instead of tents and beds instead of cots, but money for that LSA’s maintenance was also drying up.)
LSA 3 CHUs
Over the next week there was a flurry of construction inside the two JAF tents. The Jordanian officers wanted separate rooms inside the tents.
No problem. Approved. Then built.
These flaps won’t do; we need doors.
No problem. Approved. Then built.
We want our own smoking area with table and benches.
No problem. Approved. Then built.
(They continued to smoke inside their tentsanyway—serious safety violation)
Another safety and health violationconcerned food. We forbid any and all food in the tents. The only consumable allowed in the tents was water.
The Jordanian officers had their junior enlisted personnel deliver plates of food to them from the DFAC. (Dining Facility)
I observed some Jordanians washing pots and pans in one of the Ablution Units Yes, ‘ablution’
(For some strange reason this is what the U.S. Military called the trailers which had the showers and shitters. Smacked of religious ritual to me.)
So I knew they were also cooking inside their tents. Of course I confronted their officers over this MAJOR safety hazard, only to be lied to:
LSA 2 Tents
“No. No cooking. Just making coffee and tea.”
“Doesn’t matter. It must stop immediately. You are putting the entire LSA at risk from fire.”
Few days later I was visited in my little office by the JAF liaison officer, (a man I had actually become good friends with)
“Salaam,” I said.
“Howdy” he said back. He had been trying to teach me Arabic and I was trying to teach him Texican.
“What can I do for you my friend?”
“We have mouses.”
I had to laugh. “Mouses, eh? You know why you have ‘mouses’, don’t you?”
“No,” he replied softly, studying his boots.
“You have mouses because your folks are bringing food into the tents.”
“Oh no, No food. Just cookies and things like that.”
“Uh huh,” was all I could muster.
“We need traps and poison.”
“I can get you those, but until your men stop eating in the tents, you’re gonna have mice. And guess what comes next?”
Looking up he said, “Don’t know. What?”
“Snakes” I said.
“I don’t like snakes,” he said, now looking horrified.
“Well, the food brings the mice and the mice bring the snakes: simple Darwin progression.”
“Who is this ‘Darwin’? He the one with the traps and poison?”
“Never mind. Look, you have to try to stop your men from keeping food in the tents. That’s the only way to get rid of the mice. Or if you don’t want to do that, you may soon discover a snake in your bed.”
“I don’t like snakes,” he said again.
“Listen my friend,” I said as sincerely as I could. “Personally I don’t care if your guys eat in their tent and I am sorry you have mice and soon you will have snakes. This doesn’t bother me at all.”
“But, what if,” I continued, “one of the snakes gets bad info from another snake as to where the mice can be found? Perhaps that snake gets lost and wanders into the wrong tent, a tent with hot and dusty and tired and hacked-off U.S. Marines.”
“Now suppose one of these Marines don’t like snakes any more than you do. Suppose this Marine freaks the fuck out and empties a clip in the general direction of the snake. You see where I’m goin’ with this? Then the Marine finds out the snake was just trying to find your tents. Now you have bigger issues than ‘mouses’, me, and snakes. You have one severely pissed off Marine.”
“I am beginning to understand,”He said.
“Good. I will get you the traps and I’ll have the Vector Control lady put out more poison. Anything else I can do for you?”
“No. Thanks,” he said as he turned toward the door, then looked back and said, “Adyoose.”
I laughed and said, “Mas Salaami.”
Some days later Ihad a visit from LaborOne. (See the Wheeless Wheelbarrow post) The Labor guys were responsible for the twice-daily cleaning of the Ablution Units,Among myriad other responsibilities.
“Labor One! What brings you to my humble LSA Office?” I greeted him.
“I have problem,” he announced. (His Romanianaccent is music)
“Well, I am here to help. If I can. What is the nature of your problem?”
“The Jordanians are making a shit in showers again,” he said.
“What do you mean ‘Again’? This is the first I’ve heard of this,” I said, somewhat pissed that thishad not been brought to my attention before now.
“Ya. They make a shit in shower. Sometimes theymake a shit in the back of toilet.”
“The ‘back’ of the toilet?”
“Ya. You know, the part that has the water.”
Still somewhat confused, I asked, “You mean the reservoir with the flushing mechanics in it?”
“Ya, They take lid off, stand on toilet seat and make a shit in dere.”
“Oh ya. Believe it.”
“OK. OK. I’ll look into this,” I said with a heavy sigh.
The problem of course is that all the ablution units had western style toilets. Middle East folks do not like to sit on a toilet. They prefer to squat. They also do NOT like to discuss anythingrelating to shit and toilets, squatting or sitting. I would have to approach this one with tact and diplomacy:
“You Shit Here:
I had fielded complaints from a few Marines about Jordanians washing their feet in the sinks as well. No ‘small feat’ (pun maybe intended), my aging body could even attempt, the limberness and elasticity having long since gone.
At this point I should explain why the Jordanians were billeted in LSA 2 in the first place. Dwyerhad an Afghani LSA which seemed to me more appropriate.
After some enquiry I found out the JAF didn’tterribly much care for Afghans. Why then, sincethey are not transients, but actually doing Six-Month tours of duty here, are they not billeted in one of the LSA’s for long term residents?
The reason: They wanted to live close to theMosque. LSA 2 has the only Mosque on Dwyer. It is a tent just like the other tents, but it had somehow been ‘Mosque-a-fied’.
I confess ignorance of the ways of Islam, so I cannot tell you what that means precisely. But apparently it means a lot. At any rate, I had the care and feeding of the Jordanians for the foreseeable future.
When Ramadan came around, all five DFACs onDwyer changed their operating hours to accommodate the one hundred or so Jordanians of the JAF.
Basically this meant the evening meal hour was pushed back until after sundown, seriously pissing off any Marine you cared to ask.
This had not been done for past Ramadans even though Camp Dwyer must have had hundreds ofMuslims already living and working onboard.
My morning commute took me past the Mosque and the JAF tents on my way to my office on the opposite end of LSA 2.
The day before the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Eid al-Fitr or Feast of Breaking the Fast, I was greeted by the bleats of two very shaggy goats which were tied up to a stack of wooden pallets.
Between bleats they were munching on a pile of orange peels, apples, and some other items I didn’t recognize.
As far as I knew, the only animals authorized on board Dwyer were the military dogs owned and operated by the Marines.
“Mike’s gonna go ‘bullshit’ when he sees this” I thought as I walked past the goats toward my office. “And I’m gonna love it.” (Note: Mike was the Billeting Manager, and not one of my favorite people. For more on his story please refer to my recent post:
Every morning at 0700hrs we conducted a meeting of the Military Billeting side of the BigBilleting Department House. This meeting was always held in my office. As folks were filing in that day all had some commentary about the goats.
Persad probably had the most to say, as Persadwas always full of opinion (Note: Please refer to Below)
“Hey Mar-cone,” he began. “Did ya see dem goats over to the Jordanians?”
“Yeah Persad. Kinda hard to miss ‘em.”
“What dem Jordanian need wid dem goat?”
“Buddy, I really don’t wanna think on that before I get some coffee in me.”
“Well…I tink they don’t need dem goat here.”
“Persad, guess what I ‘tink’? I think I don’t give a shit. We’ll kick it up to Mayor’s Cell. The Mayor must have authorized the goats. I mean, how do you suppose they got past security at themain gate?”
“Mistah Mike, he gonna be pee oh’d ‘bout demgoat. Ya know, he doan like nuthin’ outta ordinary.”
“You let me worry ‘bout Mike.”
“Okay Boss, but dem goat…”
Mike showed up a few hours later and upon entering my office said, “Marcom, do you realizethere are goats in your LSA? In front of the JAFtents?”
“Goats? Mike, you know pets aren’t authorized. I ain’t seen no goats. You sure ‘bout this?”
Mike opened my office door and said, “Look down there. Goats!”
I got up from my desk and slowly walked to the door. Looking out, I said. “Mike. There are goatsin the LSA.”
“Marcom, you had to have known this. Stopfucking with me. I want you to go over to the Mayor’s Cell and tell the Mayor about thesegoats.”
“Michael, this is above my pay grade. You know I never bother the Mayor with my little issues,” Ilied. (The Mayor and I were on a ‘first-name basis’ and we were friends).
“Why don’t you, as Billeting Manager, manage on over there and talk to him? Your words will carry more weight. But I figure the Mayor knowsalready. I mean, he must have authorized the goats. I’d even venture that they have Dwyer IDbadges. Did you check to see if they had badges?”
Why he didn’t fire me, I can only speculate. I played a major role in his getting shit-canned months later, but I probably should not detailthat here, as I am using his real name and this story is all truth, and I don’t wanna get sued orsomething and… and… and.
Suffice to say, Mike was not well-liked by anyoneI have ever met. I will leave it at that.
Mike kept on fuming, “This LSA is your responsibility. You better get to the bottom of this goat business before close of businesstoday.”
“Okay Mike. Relax. I will sort this out, but thatone goat, the one with the baby-shit-brown eyes, she kinda cute.”
He turned on his heel and left my office, slamming the door.
Lashonda remarked, “Lance, one day you gonnapush that man too far.”
“Naw. We friends an’ shit Lashonda. It’s all good.”
Lashonda rolled her eyes, then said, “Lance, I love you, you crazy white-boy sonuvabitch.”
(She had been treated badly by Mike in the past and did not favor him at all)
I walked down to the JAF tents looking for my Jordanian friend (the liaison one). Found him and asked about the goats.
“They are for our Eid al-Fitr,’ he informed me.
“Friend, you cannot have goats here. How did you get them past security?”
“They said it was okay.”
“Really? Did the Mayor sign off on this?”
“Not exactly. I told the security men that this was OK with the Marines.”
“So, the Mayor’s Cell knows nothing of this?”
“No My Friend, they don’t,” he said, once again,studying his boots as he did so.
“You do realize I must tell the Mayor, don’t you?”
“Yes,” he sighed, looking up at me. “But if you will give me a few hours, I will make themdisappear. Eid is very important to us and we need to have our feast.”
“Okay My Friend, but if you slaughter these goats and cook them in my LSA, I am not gonna be happy. Not even one drop of goat blood better hit the ground of my LSA. Understood?”
“Don’t worry. I will take them out of Camp withtonight’s patrol and we will cook them there and bring them back in the morning.”
“Good enough. But I want a plate of roasted goat delivered to me for lunch tomorrow.”