“Letter From a South Park Jail” Part Four: “Homeward Bound”

Semi-Subliminal Message for Lance-The-‘Writer’

Interior of a KAF South Park ‘Port-A-Shitter’ in case you have never ‘experienced’ one

This is the continuation of a transcribed letter/email I sent to my Girlfriend (Isn’t she pretty?) while stuck in Kandahar, Afghanistan

***

1423hrs: South Park DFAC

It was a long and winding road which led me back to South Park home base. As I was trudging along, sweating my ass off, I kept reminding myself of the New Yorker’s directions given to someone looking to get to Texas from NYC:

“Head west until you smell shit. That’s Oklahoma. Go south until you step in it. That’s Texas.”

I found my way back to South Park in similar fashion: Followed my nose to the ‘Poo Pond’ and took a left—ran right into South Park. Easy as Poo Pie.

Poo Pond Song

#1 With A Bullet

Street Cred for Shared Vid: JimmyMisawa

Original Artist Credit:  Music and video by Jimmy Moreland

***

Kandahar the Song

Also #1 With A Bullet

(It was a ‘Foto-Finish’)

“Kandahar the song is about life at Kandahar Air Base in Afghanistan.  Everything was filmed, photographed, recorded and edited at Kandahar (KAF) except the stuff that wasn’t.  Yep, Rocket Attacks, the Poo Pond and reflective belts are a way of life at KAF.  Enjoy”

Street Cred for Vid:  HeySargeUSA Spillane

***

As soon as I got back and kicked yet another Gomer off’n my rack (What’s wrong with these people?), I went to Flight Ops to see if I could fly the hell outta here tomorrow. I’ll tell you what they told me:

“We’ll have to get back to you on that.”

1738hrs: Sitting on my Rack

Shoo’d the Gomes off… again. I sent you an email few minutes ago, telling you my show-time is 0100hrs for my flight back to Dwyer. I believe it’s a Helo this time. They are slower, but it’s a short trip. On Saturday, I could have walked here and gotten to the CAC office same day before they closed.

The computers here have been acting stupid today, so I don’t know if you got my recent posts. Only thing left for me to do is update my time sheet at 1900hrs and eat supper.

I stole a sleeping bag from the Billeting laundry box so I wouldn’t freeze my ass off tonight. (The A/C works really good in this tent starting around midnight). Problem is, not getting to sleep much. I must confess something: I like a routine.

I do much better when I have a routine. You probably would never have guessed that about me.  

Mike!! 

Hopefully will not still be there on Dwyer whenever I get home, but I had no email from Shannon, so I suspect he remains. Shannon surely would have told me if he finally did leave. I would hope so anyway.

Ode To An Asshole:

***

1915hrs: Sitting on my rack

Supper was yummy. Roast pork(?) and a chicken breast. South Park’s population seems to have doubled today. Trying to find a spot to sit in the smoking arena is an exercise in futility. Time for me to leave obviously.

I’m gonna miss this place.

SORTA…

I am really exhausted now. Tomorrow will be another Long Day, but at least at the end of it I’ll be back in my own bed and in my own hooch.

My Classy, Comfy, Cozy, Crib

***

I’m sad right now a little bit ‘cause I have not heard from you. Hopefully a bit later before I depart for the flight line and most likely another long wait to get on yet another bird… I hope they fed the hamsters this time: “Helicopter Hamsters.” Sounds like a song: ‘Muskrat Love…’ (Lance, you need sleep Son)

2020hrs: DFAC

Tried to sleep. Failed. Ideas of what to show you and do with you and to you in Dubai race around in my head and look for a place to rest.

31 July Tuesday 0021hrs: DFAC – Strong coffee

Taster’s Choice instant. ‘Twill serve. Just got off the computer a few minutes ago and had several emails from you. Happy Now. Some dude was very vociferous about some folks taking more than their allotted ten minutes (I’m not guilty of that. Not Much). Anyway, I had to go.

Got a couple hours of death-like sleep until a Billeting Gome woke me up (very politely) tapping me on the shoulder, making sure I knew I was scheduled to fly. I assured him that “Yeah Baby! I’m flying outta here.” My alarm was about to go off, but I’m glad he woke me up just in case it didn’t.

They have the Olympics on TV now here in the DFAC. I had forgotten about them and I suppose they are well underway by now. I do hope Texas brings home a lot of gold this time! Gotta go and grab my ‘kit’. See? I can speak Brit. Heading to the rally point.

Rally Ho!

0315hrs: PAX Terminal KAF

Been successfully herded from South Park.

0348hrs: Taxi Runway

Didn’t even have time to finish my coffee.

Gryphon Airlines exhibited uncharacteristic efficiency today. I did manage to wolf down part of an MRE I had rat-fucked on the 28th. Not on a helo—thought I would be. A/C on this bird no better than the last one.

Waiting to take off… Plane is full and we have two stops before Dwyer. Hopefully I’ll be home in time for DFAC breakfast, but not likely. Oh, plane holds about forty-six in case you’re wondering.

0404hrs: Airborne!

Escape Velocity Breached!

“Once more unto the Breach!”

On our way! Yippee Ki Aye! Captain is female, Michelle. I love her already.

Homeward Bound!

0519hrs: FOB Shindand

Sitting here in Beautiful Shindand. Well, just sittin’ on the plane which is sittin’ on the tarmac in Beautiful Shindand. I have never been to Shindand, so I have no emotions one way or another about Shindand, but apparently I like writing the word ‘Shindand.’

FOB Shindand

Breaking dusk, a C-130 takes off from Shindand Air Base.

***

It is just before sunrise here and this time tomorrow I should be back in MY Gym on MY FOB. But for now, next stop FOB Ferah. Shindand Gomes are boarding now…

While they are settling in, I’d like to tell you more about this airplane. As I said, she seats around forty-six. I am semi-comfortably ensconced in a window seat, seated near-the-rear of this DHC-8-300, aka: ‘Dash Eight’ and we just ‘dashed’ from KAF to here at twenty-thousand feet and I must assume at about 250 mph, but I’d have to verify that with Michelle, or her hamsters.

Here is a Dash Eight that ‘Dashed’ to the Scene of the Crash.

For brevity in the local vernacular: a ‘Dash Crash’

This is an Eight-Hamster plane: two hamsters per propeller which is in accordance with FAA, ‘Fuckin Afghan Aviation’ regulations. Our Flight Attendant, Gail, is going through her spiel again (poorly) and has informed us that

“No one would like to hear the smoke alarm going off (ya think?), so please don’t smoke Schmuck.”

I added the “Schmuck” because I am in charge of this letter and it made me happy to do so. Well, the hamsters are warming up their little legs, so I reckon, we’ll be departing presently. And… in fact we ARE!

I love my Life!

Airborne now and I see the sun just peeking over a mountain—very romantic. Why does Shindan get to have mountains and Dwyer does not? Shindand looks like Aspen on a bad day, and Dwyer looks like Lubbock on any day.

0613hrs: FOB Farah

Gotta get off here briefly. The hamsters will be taking on Hamster Fuel, probably corn, or corn nuts, or whatever it is that fuels hamsters.

0629hrs: FOB Farah

I love this FOB! Well, what little I have seen of it anyway. It is tiny and nestled in some really cool-looking mountains. As we were landing I was watching for the asphalt runway to appear. It didn’t. We landed on a dirt strip. How cool is that? Not my first dirt strip landing but it caught me pleasantly off guard.

FOB Farah

When I first got to Afghanistan, I was hoping to be sent to a small remote FOB such as this, alas, I’ve been stuck at Dwyer for a year.

Now that the hamsters have refueled and I’ve had a taste of my ‘Dream FOB’ nothing left to do but head back to Dwyer, which should begin in a minute or two.

0655hrs: Airborne Again

Gail told us we have thirty-five minutes to Dwyer and I believe her. Shouldn’t get over twelve thousand feet altitude, “And once again, this is a non-smoking flight.”

“Thank you Gail. It’s been at least thirty minutes since I heard that.”

0730hrs: Home

This concludes our Special Broadcast and we now return you to your regularly scheduled emails, already in progress.

It’s good  GREAT to be Home

Shannon ‘Duck’ & Lance

My Good Friend Lady Lucy

***

“There’s no place like home”

“There’s no place like home.”

***

***

Previously:

“Letter From a South Park Jail” Part Three: “The Boardwalk”

This is the continuation of a transcribed letter/email I sent to my Girlfriend while stuck in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

“Here’s Your Sign(s)”

***

30 July 0426hrs: Rally Point

Waiting on the bus and the Gomer to take us to the Badging Office. This time of day Afghanistan is pleasant—not hot—cool in fact. I tossed and turned all night and did not sleep well at all. I kept thinking about Dubai, well specifically about us in Dubai.

There was no Rockets’ Red Glare last night. So that cannot be used as excuse today for red eyes and sleepy Lance, not that I will be required to provide any, as no one gives two shits about anyone else here.

***

Waitin’ On The Bus

ZZ Top

“Have Mercy”

***

0452hrs: Briefing

The Briefing was Brief:

“This here’s the van gonna take you. Leaves at zero five hunnert, an’ it’ll leave without ch’all, so doan wander off.”

0523hrs: CAC Badging Office

We’re told to expect to be here all day. Perfect! (At Dwyer last time I had to get a new CAC, I was in and out in thirty minutes max. Shit! But THEY closed that Badging office. Why??)

0630hrs: CAC Badging Office

No sooner than four hours from now…grrrr. Didn’t bring my sunglasses; didn’t bring any snack, “No phone, no pool, no pets; I ain’t got no cigarettes…” This day is gonna suck.

0758hrs: Boardwalk, KAF

Yes, you read that right: 

“BOARDWALK”

I’m sitting at a table drinking a Mocha Frappe purchased from Green Beans Coffee (Think Starbucks) Come to find out, the world famous KAF Boardwalk lies less than one hundred meters from the CAC Badging Office.

Praise The Great White Cat of the River Nile! (Again)

***

Under The Boardwalk

The Drifters

***

The boardwalk embraces a soccer field but and there appears to also be a hockey court of some kind as well. (No Ice. Duh!)

On the Boardwalk itself are myriad food joints: KFC, Fridays (no booze), Pizza, Juice Bar, Kebab Joint, Convenience Store (called Downtime–If they’re sellin’ ‘downtime‘, I’m buyin’), Trinket Shops, ATT Phone Center, Souvenir Joint, Afghan Bank, Nathan’s Frankfurters, and God knows what else.

Amazing!

I’d heard of this place, but didn’t know it was of this magnitude.

Having a lot of time to kill, I think this will be the place to murder it.

Damn! That mocha thingy was good. I now have a brain freeze.

This is only the third time I have ever had a Frappe. Me! The World Traveler! Ha! Now I’m spoiled. ‘Ruint’ as we say in Texas.

To top that off (my discovery of Le Boardwalk), I ran into my old Filipino Electrician from Iraq days on my way over here. File that in ‘it’s a small world after all’ department.

His name is Hernani and he was, without doubt, my best employee and also a very good friend. I have missed him and it was wonderful to see him again after almost three and a half years.

He has been here at KAF for three years now he tells me. Poor guy has been working all over the Middle East for at least twelve years, sending all his money back to the Philippines to support his wife and family.

Now here is an honorable man. I truly admire and respect him.

Hernani aka “Nani”

One of the Most Honorable Men I have ever been privileged to know

Camp Wolf Anbar Province 2007

***

0907hrs: Boardwalk, KAF

I snuck a couple of photos—not sure on KAF about photography—best to be cautious. I suppose I could just ask, but where would be the fun in that?

Since I was starving to death, I purchased a toasted bagel with cream cheese from a joint called YO Time. The ‘O’ is a clock. Clever.

 The bagel was mediocre, the cream cheese probably made from powder, but it hit my spot and I feel much better. The airfield lies in the direction I’m facing and I’ve been observing various aircraft come and go. So far about half a dozen helos, a couple of Predator Drones, couple of cargo planes, and I swear, I think I saw Air France landing.

Bored Walker

There is a large white blimp suspended overhead. We had these in Iraq. They serve as the Eye in the Sky. ‘Gomer, watch yer ass.’

I forgot to mention that the soccer/hockey field has a jogging track circling it. I may have to try it out for a walk-about, but it is already getting hot and I really don’t want to look like I just ran in front of a fire hose… (I tend to perspire…uh, no… Sweat. A lot, when I’m working out. But that’s OK. People who don’t sweat in the desert die of heat stroke) before I get my ID photo taken.

0959hrs: CAC Badging Office

Decided better return here to see how far I’ve moved up the list: Twelve in front of me now. Looks like they have been knocking out about four per hour. “Warp Speed Mister Zulu!”

1025hrs: Boardwalk

Needed more caffeine—wanted another one of those orgasmic frappes, but my self-discipline kicked in—Diet Coke—Ah! Tasty.

Before I left the badging office, I inquired to the Soldierette behind the counter, “If I have ten in front of me do I have at least an hour?”
She laughed. “Yes Sir. At Least.”

*heavy sigh*

The Boardwalk has really come to life in the past hour. Quite a cosmopolitan crowd here: U.S. Mil, civilians of every stripe, NATO forces, Afghani shop keepers, TCN’s and… Lance. (I deserve my own category—I have worked hard to be certifiable.) It’s disappointing that there are no hockey or football (See, I didn’t say ‘soccer’ this time in deference to my audience) matches going on. Probably that sort of activity happens only at night.

In November.

In The Rain.

After Sundown.

When it’s cool.

***

I discovered this gem which was filmed during the same time I was in Afghanistan.

“I Find TGI Fridays In Afghanistan – Kandahar Boardwalk Tour” – Mike Swick

Mega Thanks to You Tuber OfficialSwick for the share 

***

Anyway folks are walkin’ around the B’Walk stopping here, stoppin’ there, buyin’ food, eatin’ same, shootin’ the shit, cokin’ an’ smokin’ and if I didn’t know better, I’d think I was in Atlantic City.

But I know better…

GOD BLESS THE USO AND THEIR SHOWS!

***

We do have lots of beach here, just no water. And they do sell beer. Non-alcoholic beer. Why even bother? Might as well drink camel piss. Probably could get that too (for medicinal purposes) now that I think on it.

1112hrs: CAC Badging Office

Only three in front of me. I can see the light. Read an article in Stars & Stripes about the casualties of contractors during the rebuilding efforts in Iraq. Finally someone is giving credit to those who died doing this work!

Personally, I lost two friends there in 2007. Not best friends, but friends—killed by a roadside bomb. We were in Anbar Province at the time.

The story cited 719 killed, but the number is probably over one thousand: the USG folks estimate… according to the story. I know the number is much higher even than that.

1151hrs: CAC Badging Office: NEXT

Once saw a buxom brunette wearing a T-Shirt which read, “You can’t be the First, but you can be Next.” (Okay. I stole that line from Larry McMurtry… Please don’t tell him.)

Well, I’m next in line for the CAC’ing Experience. Feels like Christmas Eve.

Sorta.

1242hrs: TGI Fridays

Yep. I’m sitting in a Fridays in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Believe this shit?

Iraq was never like this!

This is almost the Real Deal.

Just need a frosty pint of my favorite Irish Stout to make it so much more Real…

*sigh*

Needless to say I am now the proud owner of a brand new Common Access Card, or CAC. This one is good until 31 July 2013. I am sure you are dying to know what I ordered at Fridays.

Chicken Sandwich.

Gawd!

I must be boring. Well, I am, after all, in training and must treat my body as a temple. I was staring around at the décor here and I must have looked like an idiot because a Gomer wait-person came over and asked if I needed any help.

“No thank you,” I said. “Just never been to the Big City before.” He left, probably certain now that I am an idiot.

After I eat, I must try to find my way back to South Park. This should prove interesting.

Part Four:

***

Previously:

“Letter From a South Park Jail” Part Two

South Park: Full-Day The First

For those who may not have read Part One,  

This is the continuation of a transcribed letter/email I sent to my Girlfriend while stuck in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

***

1820hrs: South Park

Checked into South Park and got me a bottom rack—With a Lockable Locker!

My Bottom Rack (with I-Pad)

First time that has ever happened!

Unhappy news is now it is too late to get to the CAC badging office and they are closed on Sundays. Therefore, I waste a day here. But at least I have you now (don’t I?) and can occupy my time with thoughts of us in Dubai in a few short weeks.

And just in case I take a pause from that lovely daydream, I have fetched along Ishmael, Captain Ahab, and Moby Dick to keep me company: just a little light reading.

Sunday 29 July 0830hrs: South Park Smoking Area

Sitting outside in the smoking area surrounded by Bosnians all on one table, Indians on another, Filipinos at yet another, a few Americans strategically placed, and on and on. Oh, and some Brits, also strategically placed.

The Gomers have a ‘work detail’ list. They are dreaming if they broach this subject to me. I am Forced to Be Here; that is all they will receive from me: My illustrious presence and my promise not to kill anyone while here. Every morning at muster, we are compelled to sign in on the Sign in Sheet. Lest we forget, there are signs everywhere to remind us:

“If You Do Not Make Muster and Sign In You Will Not Be Paid. And Furthermore: Not Making Muster Will Result In Disciplinary Action Up To And Including Termination (And An Ass Rendering Administered By Conan Our Resident Barbarian) Thank You for Complying and have a nice day…yada yada yada.”

South Park HQ

Don’t Lose Your Sanity Over The South Park’s Bull-Shit-Enmity

I found DynCorp to be a little too subtle for my taste. I always like to know exactly where I stand with a company I am helping to fleece the Government on the backs of low-paid TCN’s. (OK, I promised I would not ‘dis’ DynCorp. Overmuch.)

0859hrs: South Park DFAC (Dining Facility) Tent

Sitting in the South Park DFAC, such as it is, having some coffee, such as that is. AFN (Armed Forces Network) is on the TV. Yes, there is a television (another first). This is all we ever see over here (was the same in most parts of Iraq, but when I was in Basra, I could watch Al Jazeera—in English–but that probably wasn’t looked upon too kindly) and actually, it ain’t bad.

They pretty much broadcast the same shit one gets back in The States: CNN, Fox, ESPN, lousy movies, Andy Griffith, etc. The only way to know you are watching AFN, in fact, is by the ‘Commercials’:

All PSA’s detailing how U.S. Service Personnel are expected to comport themselves and various other things mil-centric. Some of these “Made in the U.S. DOD commercials” are quite professional and slick as Baby Shit, while others are so bad as to be hysterical. I love watching the bad ones–the ones that look like High School Plays.

1015hrs: DFAC

More coffee. Regarding last night’s rocket attack: (Guess I neglected to mention that) My Dear, this is just routine for KAF. As far as I know, it has been at least two months since the Taliban Assholes have actually hit anything or injured anyone. In other words, they usually can’t hit shit.

Point being, please do not worry about THAT.

(I just caught myself looking for the “Save” button on this steno pad. I must be losing my mind.)

1127hrs: DFAC

DFAC

Just returned from PX Mission: Mission accomplished. No apparent casualties.

1134hrs: Picnic Area

Got kicked out of the DFAC so ‘they’ could clean it before lunch time (1230hrs). Purchased an alarm clock at the PX since I have to get up at 0345hrs tomorrow to go to the CAC badging office and I forgot to bring my Dwyer alarm clock with me. “Hell Lance! It’s only money.” I now have three alarm clocks plus my watch.

“As God as my witness, I’ll never be late again!”

‘Picnic’ Area

Ran into an acquaintance from Dwyer. His name escapes me, but he told me Dwyer was slated for closure in December. Hmmmm…. I may be out of a job soon. Maybe they did cancel Christmas after all.

1255hrs: Sitting on my rack…

…after I came ‘home’ and discovered two Gomers with their butts parked on same.

They removed/relocated their butts as soon as I pointed out that I was not (in this case) a very nice person. In case you missed it, I am never a very nice person while I am stuck in South Park.

But then, I am not alone in this sentiment.

Lunch, or as we call it in The Texas, ‘Dinner’, was eat-able. I had the chicken because the other meat offerings were unrecognizable to me.

 Wasn’t bad actually; the chicken (yard-bird?) was burned to perfection.

OK, NOT My Rack

While I was on my PX Foraging Mission, I was also searching for the Gym someone at Dwyer had assured me was ‘Close to the PX’ – didn’t find it and now it is too bloody hot to go on another reconnaissance expedition.  

If you’re wondering how I am able to move freely about, sans escort, it is because ‘they’ changed the rules once again. This time for the better: A First in all my previous South Park experiences. Now those in possession of a valid CAC card are no longer restricted in their movements, bowel or otherwise.

Praise Be to The Great White Cat of the River Nile.

1313hrs: Sirens Again! Then the BIG VOICE:

*ROCKET ATTACK! ROCKET ATTACK! TAKE COVER! TAKE COVER!*

(Don’t these people ever give up?)

Be right back…

1315hrs: Still sitting on my rack

ALL CLEAR! ALL CLEAR!

Glad I didn’t bother to get up.

Probably a false alarm.

How do they expect me to get distressed when the BIG VOICE is female with a soothing British accent?

1405hrs: Sitting on my rack

Waiting on the Gomers to finish cleaning the DFAC Tent so I can get another coffee. I seem to drink heavily when I am on-board (bored) South Park.

Oh, I forgot to tell you… After I kicked the two Gomes off’n my rack, I asked one of them to take my photo (action shot of me writing to you)

Look for it amongst the attachments. It will be the one whut says, “Bad Mutha-Fuckah.”

“Bad Mo’ Fo'”

1435hrs: DFAC

I suppose it is time to explain why I use the term ‘Gomer’ when referring to TCN’s (and everyone else On Staff, for that matter).

During my Iraq Days, I had a good friend (Rick) who referred to the Iraqis as ‘Gomers’. Not sure how he arrived at that, but it seemed to fit at the time:

Gomer, Gomer Pyle or ‘Get Out of My Emergency Room’

(Really. Google it.)

Anyway, the moniker took hold. Took hold so well that all in our clique began using it to refer to all ‘others’.

And let me further say it actually became, over time, somewhat of a term of endearment.

Gomer 1 and Gomette 2 Amman Jordan ’08

We started calling each other ‘Gomer’.

Since there were several of us, now all Gomers, things could get confusing. To prevent miscommunication, we labeled each other ‘Gomer 1’, ‘Gomer 2’, ‘Gomer 3’, and so on. I was, of course, ‘Gomer 1’ (and I can prove that. I have documentation—and it was a high honor.)

There were never more than four Original Gomers, or ‘Gomes’ for short, but we did have one ‘Alternate Gomer’, just in case one of the Founding Gomers got taken out by an Iraqi Gomer with a lucky mortar shot.

Ten Gomers and One Gommette

Basra, Iraq ca. 2007

Welcome to the Gomer – Zone

Yes. We all lost our minds in Basra, Iraq, ca. 2005-2008

“Gomer-Zone”

Narrator: Lance Marcom

Cinematographer: Michael Perkins

All Rights Reserved

(Discovery Channel Mockumentary in pre-production)

***

2002hrs: My Rack

Was wonderful to discover several emails from you earlier.

Unfortunately it took forever to load Gmail and by the time I had finished reading them I had no time left to respond. It was time for everyone to start entering their hours on the electronic time sheets.

 We must do this every day and Management has no sense of humor if we don’t.

(Up to and including termination…)

Supper tonight was turkey, which tasted suspiciously very much like the chicken I had for lunch.

Available also was some roast beast, but I had to take a pass on that.

(My sense of self-preservation is quite well refined)  

I went on Walk-About for about an hour this afternoon, but of course it wasn’t the same as when I am ‘Home’ on Dwyer since I don’t have my ankle weights with me.

I’m proud of me for making the effort, at least.

2029hrs DFAC

Coffee. Hell, why not coffee? I probably won’t sleep much tonight anyway and I have to get up at 0345hrs anyhow. Ran into the aforementioned buddy again (still cannot recall his name), not that it matters.

Well, he told me exactly where the gym was and it is NOT where some other buddy back at Dwyer had told me. If fact, it is about as far removed from THAT location as is possible. If I am not too whacked out after the CAC Badging office, I will check it out and report my findings to you.

If all goes well, tomorrow will be my last full day here until I come through on my way to Dubai. I had an email from Shannon today, saying that Mike was still hanging on.

Christ! Firing that jerk is proving more involved than impeaching Clinton (or Nixon).

I was hoping he’d be gone when I got back, but now I’m not so sure.

This DFAC tent is actually pretty squared away, now that I am really studying it. It is small yes, but the Gomes keep it clean and tidy. Not really an easy task, given the scores of people who use it at all hours. I never leave a mess when I depart. I am good that way and am famous for cleaning my own hotel rooms before checking out.

Does that make me weird? Don’t worry though; I’m not anal about it.

One thing that strikes me funny about this DFAC tent is that there are three smoke detectors (that I can see from where I am sitting) that are all clumped together in relatively the same area—about six feet apart. Logic would seem to dictate that they be spread out a bit, but what the hell, right?

Makes changing the batteries much more efficient and less time-consuming, I suppose.

***

Part Three Soon

“Letter From a South Park Jail” Part One (Apology to MLK for appropriating a great title)

“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…

“Roads?”

“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.

Airmen worked together to clean up after a flash flood that occurred on Kandahar Airfield Feb. 8. Airmen in South Park awoke in the middle of the night to flood waters reaching approximately knee-deep in height both inside and outside their tents. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nancy Hooks)

***

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?”

“RIGHT??”

***

Saturday 28 July 2012, Camp Dwyer PAX Terminal, Afghanistan 1218hrs

Dear Lady,

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.”

“Wow! Cool!”

1310hrs: PAX Terminal, Dwyer

Ok, for amusement, I took an inventory of the MRE’s stacked on pallets here in the terminal:

15 pallets

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!

Pending Inspection

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.

***

1600hrs: Airborne

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:

BROWN

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.”

(As if we will have a choice)

***

Please look for Part Two tomorrow.

******

Please Don’t Shit in my Showers

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.

Wonderful.

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.” 

Yep.

Not military necessity. Not a request from the coalition of governments already represented here. Not the U.S. Military.

Nope.

Politics.

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 on Dwyer. (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 few of 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 Run From 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 I said.

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 dozen Marines 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 for the ones rendered unserviceable due to fair wear and tear.

Again, “Deal with it.”

I got on the phone and called Shannon over at LSA 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 saw the 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 tents anyway—serious safety violation)

Another safety and health violation concerned 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:

LSA2_tents

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 I had a visit from Labor One. (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 Romanian accent 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 this had not been brought to my attention before now.

“Ya. They make a shit in shower. Sometimes they make 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.”

“Unbelievable!”

“Oh ya. Believe it.”

“OK. OK. I’ll look into this,” I said with a heavy sigh.

His crew was a mite squeamish, so I really needed to fix this little problem.

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 anything relating to shit and toilets, squatting or sitting. I would have to approach this one with tact and diplomacy:

“You Shit Here:

NOT 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. Dwyer had an Afghani LSA which seemed to me more appropriate.

After some enquiry I found out the JAF didn’t terribly much care for Afghans. Why then, since they 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 the Mosque. 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 on Dwyer 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 of Muslims 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:

 Emails From Afghanistan: My Boss, aka: ‘That Guy I Wouldn’t Want Running An Elevator For Me’

Every morning at 0700hrs we conducted a meeting of the Military Billeting side of the Big Billeting 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 Persad was always full of opinion (Note: Please refer to Below) 

A Conversation Over a Plywood Wall In a Tent in Afghanistan

“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 the main gate?”

“Mistah Mike, he gonna be pee oh’d ‘bout dem goat. 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 realize there are goats in your LSA? In front of the JAF tents?”

“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 goats in the LSA.”

“Marcom, you had to have known this. Stop fucking with me. I want you to go over to the Mayor’s Cell and tell the Mayor about these goats.”

“Michael, this is above my pay grade. You know I never bother the Mayor with my little issues,” I lied. (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 knows already. I mean, he must have authorized the goats. I’d even venture that they have Dwyer ID badges. 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 detail that here, as I am using his real name and this story is all truth, and I don’t wanna get sued or something and… and… and.

Suffice to say, Mike was not well-liked by anyone I 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 business today.”

“Okay Mike. Relax. I will sort this out, but that one 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 gonna push 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)

LaShonda

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 them disappear. 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 with tonight’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.”

“Hahaha! Yes Boss. You will have it!”

“Shukran,” I said and left him to it.

****

Closing Arguments:

Poo Poo Song:  “Let’s Poo in the Potty”

Emails From Afghanistan: My Boss, ‘That Guy I Wouldn’t Want Running An Elevator For Me’ (Re-Written/Expanded)

(Ed. Note: I reached way down into the archives and re-worked this one)

LSA TWO OFFICE

“LSA”-“Life Support Area”-or in the local vernacular aka: “Life Sucks Ass.”

Yet another email I dispatched from Camp Dwyer, 2012:

Around 1730hrs a truck pulls up outside my office at LSA Two. I didn’t see who was in the truck, but I figured I was about to have a visitor. (I’m really smart that way)

After the truck had been literally blocking my door for about five minutes, Michael J Smith (My Manager, The ‘BBB’, ‘Billeting BIG BOSS’) walks in holding up a pack of L&M cigarettes. Now remember, I have not seen this guy for the day-and-a-half he had been “Back Onboard” Dwyer.

“Anyone in here smoke these?” were the first words out of his mouth.

I look up from my personal emails and say, “Dunno. Lashonda smokes, but doubtful she smokes those. That’s a ‘White-Boy’ brand.” (She was out of the office, actually smoking at this time)

“Well, I wish whoever is smoking these would stop doing it on the bench.” (There’s a bench just outside my office door and it sits in a ‘No-Smoking’ area.)

“Sorry Mike; not on ‘bench patrol duty’ today. Could’ve been anybody; probably a Marine with a rifle or a Jordanian with a goat. Did you drive all the way across this burning desert to tell me this? Or do you have some business here? Oh and welcome back by the way.” (Saturated sarcasm, I’m afraid.)

“Uh,… You do realize we have a ‘serious situation’ on our hands in Billeting?”

(Well, duh. You’re the schmuck who has been gone, not me). I just gave him my best *You’re fucking kidding me, right? Lance, peering-over-his-glasses look.*

The Lance-Look

He continues, struggling now to maintain his Authority Voice,

“Uh, of course you know everyone is gonna have to ‘get on board’ with all this new responsibility.”

I continue *Lance-looking* him.

“I’m going to want you to run LSA 1 from this office; (LSA 2) are you ready to take ownership of this mission?”

“Sure, no problem,” I said. “But you do realize, Michael, that LSA 1 is over a half-mile from here and I have no vehicle?”

“Uh, I didn’t mean right now. But just as soon as Shannon gets everything settled down. Then we can come up with a plan forward.”

“Sorry Mike, but I’m not in the ‘Plan-Forward coming up with Business’ That’s above my pay grade. But as soon as YOU come up with a Plan, forward or otherwise, I will be happy to follow it.”

*Looks hurt & confused* Mikey does.

“Well, uh” he stammers, “Everyone is gonna have to get on-board with all this.”

You mentioned that. Anything  else? How was your R&R?” I said, hoping to change the subject and also out of mean-spiritedness, because I knew he was going to tell me something stupid. He didn’t disappoint:

“I had the flu for the first week and spent the next week getting over it.”

“Damn rotten luck. Perhaps DynCorp will allow you a ‘do-over.’ Whaddya think?”

*Gears grinding as he searches—in vain—for something to say: painful to witness the mechanics of this*

“Nice chair,” he said finally, plopping his fat ass down in a chair Shannon had liberated from a Marine Corps office in one of the LSAs we were taking over.

“Yeah, Shannon delivered that to us yesterday; nice to finally have a proper office chair in here after twelve months.”

“I have chairs on order for Billeting,” he reminded me.

“Yes, and ever since forever, even before I got here; still no sign of them,” I reminded him.

“Uh, yeah… they’re stuck at the Pakistani border; they’re gonna fly ‘em out.”

“Whatever. By the way, you do know these other two chairs are my personal property, purchased with my personal money, so don’t get any ideas.”

“Yes, yes, I know. I know those belong to you and your office.”

“Of course.”

***

Interior of LSA Tent #24

I won’t bore you with the rest of the conversation; I think you get the drift and the general tenor of it.

I did have one last little bit of wicked fun with Michael before our conversation ended:

“Hey ‘Marvin’, er… ‘Mike’. I got an email from the DynCorp Camp Manager. I believe it was sent to me in error because in the body of text he kept directing his words at you. Come over here and I’ll show you the attachment. Maybe you can figure out its meaning. I’m stumped.”

M.J.S. waddled over to stand behind me. I queued this up and clicked the ‘Play’ button.

I don’t know if he ‘got it’–Michael is somewhat dense–At any rate, he didn’t seem amused.

***

After leaving work for the day I stopped by the Housing Office in the DynCorp LSA Compound (where there’s a tent I call ‘home’), and caught Shannon there, still working. (See? He does deserve to be Billeting Manager.)

Shannon and Lance

“Mister Duckworth!” I saluted.

“Mister Marcom!” he returned.

“What up Duck?”

*gives me his best ‘exasperated’ look*

“Yeah, I know; they cancelled Christmas. What the fuck’s going on with MJS?”

I asked as discreetly as I could; (there were others present) which was none too discreet I fear, but didn’t matter; All Departments despised Monsieur le Mike, aka Michael J. Smith. (Not sure, but I think the ‘J’ stands for ‘Jagoff’)

“Don’t worry; it’s still gonna happen.”

“Christmas?”

“Yeah, an’ New Year’s too,” he said.

“Ok, I’ll cool my jets an’ cancel my de-mobe.” (de-mobilization)

“Lance Bro,” (he sometimes calls me ‘Bro’) “Mike went to HR on me today.”

“Get the fuck out!” I said, honestly shocked. “Some brass balls on this guy.”

“Yeah, he told HR he couldn’t work with me anymore.”

“Pardon me a moment Shannon, while I fall down on this plywood floor and laugh my ass off. It’ll just take a sec.”

“Dude, (he sometimes calls me ‘Dude’) I’m serious! He went to HR on me and HR told me later about it and also told me to sit tight an’ chill; he will be leaving us soon.”

“Before Christmas, let’s hope,” I said.

“Yeah, yeah. Listen, Mike came to see me after he left LSA 2. He asked me, ‘What’s wrong with Lance?’ I tole him, I said, ‘Mike, every time you go to LSA 2 and talk to Lance, you come back and ask me this same stupid shit.’ An’ he says, ‘I don’t think Lance likes me. Why doesn’t he like me?’ This mothafucka is stupid.”

“Yeah Shannon, ya think? We all know this. Hell, tell the sonuvabitch to ask me next time, and you know what? It’s not as if I haven’t told him more than once to his face my issues with him. This guy wears me out.” (And I wonder why I have not been promoted)

“Yeah. You’re right.”

“Listen to me Shannon, take your ass on outta here and go to bed; it’s late.”

“Okay Brother (sometimes he calls me ‘Brother’), I’m heading out now.”

“Good. See you tomorrow. Night.”

“Peace out, My Friend.” (He sometimes even calls me “Friend”)

*********

Afghan-Is-Sand

Two Years in Afghanistan And I never Got To See Anything Like THIS BELOW!

All I ever saw were goats, rugged Marines, Indians, Kenyans, Eastern Europeans, Some Ugly Americans, to Include That One I saw In The Mirror, & Sand, Lots of Sand

Aryana Sayeed

Born 1985 in Kabul, Afghanistan

Never ANYTHING Like This!

And this was while I was There!

Online Release Date: Valentine’s Day 2011

Suppose I should be grateful for not even knowing what I was missing out on…

Well, I’m not!

Damn!

***

Severely Related:

Please Don’t Shit in my Showers