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One Night In Bagdad

Tags: war, lost

I’m a few hundred miles from Dogwood.

The fuel gage says there’s a little more than a quarter tank of fuel left.

The sun is setting.

I see a golden glow on the wheat fields along the side of MSR Jackson.

The sergeant took over driving.

I lost my glasses and can’t see well.

Irrationally I feel a thick sense of peace.

God has folded His hands around me.

Soon I’ll be home.

I don’t criticize the sergeant.

We were supposed to recover a broke down truck five clicks away.

That's like two miles or so.

But we drove all day.

I look at a map that tells me nothing.

We pass mosques and fields.

The wrecker with two mechanics is following us.

It's not a gun truck.

It’s dark now.

There's an eighth of a tank of fuel left.

We drive up and down the freeway.

We see small cars full of Arab men.

“Do you know where this place is?” I say.

We turn around again.

We pass a sign that says Bagdad International Airport.

We take an exit further down the road.

There are square clay buildings and palm trees.

We see other soldiers.

The sergeant goes and talks to them.

“They say they have no fuel, that we are in Bagdad, 

"and that they are chasing men with AK47s” he says.

My hope drove away with them

“You should have let me talk to them,

“They would have helped me

“Because I’m a girl.” I say.

We are back on MSR Jackson.

A thirty year old Toyota Corolla buzzes up beside us.

BANG BANG BANG

I fumble with my rifle for more than thirty seconds.

“Was that a backfire, or did they shoot at us?” I say.

“I think it was a backfire.” he says.

A young man smiled broadly at me from the car beside us.

The car sped up and left us behind.

We passed Bagdad International Airport again.

The gage says empty.

“Do you know that the airport is held by us?

“We could get fuel there.” I say.

The sergeant seemed reluctant.

“I know our exit is right here, somewhere.” he says.

On the next pass he took us to BALOD, the airport.

“Oyster.” the guard says.

“We don’t know the countersign

“We’re lost, we need fuel.” he says.

We were let in.

Our truck stopped.

The guys in the wrecker went and got a can of fuel.

It’s way past midnight

The sergeant goes to the command tent and looks at maps.

“I think I know the way now.” he says.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.” we all say.

We three specialist surrounded him and protested.

“Let’s wait until morning.” we say.

“No, we’re going.” he says.

So we set off again.

Into the dangerous night.

We went up and down MSR Jackson.

We made a turn and were stopped at a traffic light.

Dozens of Arab men walked up to us.

My sergeant popped over the curb and got us out of there.

The wrecker was surrounded by them.

“We have a bomb.

“You take the bomb.

“It’s in the car.

“You take that little car and the bomb.” the men say.

The two mechanics in the wrecker pleaded that they couldn’t

They slowly drove forward and the men let them go.

We went back to the airport.

I slept on the warm hood of the truck.

For two hours until morning.

We ate breakfast.

Then we went straight back to Dogwood.

“I can’t believe I couldn’t see the exit.

“It was right there.” he said.

Everyone from my unit surrounded me when I got back.

Relief flooded their eyes.

The other three guys weren’t from my unit.

A truck and I had been lent to the Artillery unit.

I wonder why sometimes.

Other soldiers and equipment were never lent.

I can't believe that the sergeant was really that incompetent.

Did he just want to spend the day sitting next to a woman?

Or was he trying to create an opportunity to be a hero?

Did they create a princess to be rescued?

Or did the men in my unit set it up to scare me?

It must be weird to be a man.

Confusing.

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