an entry from The Perfect Revolution
by Oscar Deadwood

D I S C U S S I O N  F O R U M  |  S I L V E R T H O U G H T




March 11, 2013
Iraq/Iran border


        I want to be a writer. I've always wanted to be a writer. I've sucked at everything else I've attempted in life.

        So go ahead and be a writer, you might say. Go ahead and write something.

        But that's kind of hard to do when you're shoved into a uniform and given a gun and told to go fight and by the way, if you hear gunshots, duck.

        But a journal, I can do this, this I can do, and I might as well. I might as well put this shit down. We've been sitting here for at least a week now, coiled like snakes, waiting for something—anything—to happen.

        And it feels good, writing—the only bit of normalcy in a very, very fucked up world.

        But if you're reading this, then you know it's fucked up.

        And right now, it's real fucked up. I don't even know where we are.

        I would guess we're near the al-Fakka border crossing, behind the mounds of dirt the Iraqis piled up around their borders during the 1980s. I can see Iranian soldiers massing just to the east. Sometimes they come so close to us I can see the bones stretching the dark skin of their long and narrow and bearded faces.

        We came to Baghdad a few months ago, leaving Fort Stewart for the fifth time in five years for what we thought was just another tour in Iraq, going on patrols, doing the things we weren't trained for and babysitting a bunch of fat reservists. We're Raiders, the 1st Brigade of the 3D Infantry Division, and we're supposed to be the ones that strike first.

        We're all tense as we sit here in this city of tents and generators, stuck on twelve-hour shifts of sentry duty, guarding the mess and supply tents from ourselves. We all know or think we know that we're here to attack Iran, or at least to give that impression, and some guys are ready to fight. It's what they're trained to do, and their hearts are pumping in an adrenaline-induced bloodlust. I liken it to high school football; you practice every day, running till you puke, pounding tackling dummies and learning plays until Friday night when the coach grabs you by the helmet and throws you into the game and you get to hit somebody for real. In the Army, you train and train and do drills, go to the range, and then they throw you into Iraq and you get to shoot and kill for real.

        And there's another thing that's let us know some big shit is about to go down—the treatment of the journalists, the people from the newspapers and TV. They got locked up as soon as we set up camp. The commander ordered the MPs to confiscate all cameras and laptops and recording devices from any member of the press that traveled with us. There were, of course, protests from the reporters, so the MPs had to do their confiscating by gunpoint, putting the journalists into the makeshift jail consisting of a small row of tents on the periphery of our camp.

        I had never seen anything like that before. The sight of cameras and reporters was a common one in Iraq, and they pretty much had free reign; they could travel anywhere they liked, though they were all but forbidden to talk to the common soldier.

        Anyway, a lot of us are former college students who were forced to drop out, as our families could no longer afford to send us to school. This life in the desert is a far cry from my days at Wayne State University in downtown Detroit. I miss the quiet study of the campus library; I dearly miss my literature and political science classes and drinking coffee with my friends.

        I enlisted in the Army shortly after dropping out. I couldn't find a job anywhere.

        The unemployment rate in Michigan back in 2009 was something like fifteen percent, and my dad was an engineer working for GM. He was forced out with no severance package at all, with a mortgage and a wife and a son in college and a daughter in high school.

        The last time I saw a newspaper, the unemployment rate in Michigan was something approaching thirty percent, a little bit higher than the rest of the country.

        There was going to be a draft, but that of course became unnecessary as some of the big corporations, companies like General Motors, began falling down like dominoes and scores of people suddenly became unemployed. The military had a huge pool of desperate people available to sign up and put to work for Uncle Sam.

        So, I write this. I write this even though we're not allowed to write letters right now, and our email privileges have been suspended, as our location and mission is secret. I just need to write, I guess. It's kind of therapeutic, a way I can sort this madness that's growing inside me, a madness born from sitting in the desert for a week now with nothing to do except clean my weapon and go through chemical warfare drills.

        I have to be careful when and what I write, I think—my XO, a fresh-faced, pimply second lieutenant, just gave me a dirty look. He asked me what I was writing, and I said a journal, which is true. He stuck out his hand to take it from me, but our CO called him away. He told me not to write about Army business and walked away.

        I'll have to hide my journal somewhere in the miles of rock and sand that never leaves my sight.



Copyright © 2006 Oscar Deadwood

A B O U T   T H E   A U T H O R:

Oscar Deadwood lives in Royal Oak, Michigan with his wife and two sons. He has written two novels, The Trinity and The Perfect Revolution, both available from Silverthought Press in 2006.

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