WAR PORN

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Some fact, some fiction. This is a semi-true story about my time, Spence, in Iraq. It's a story of suffering, surrender, and revenge. I hope you enjoy. Let me know what you think, good and bad, I welcome all feedback. My dream would be to turn this into a graphic novel. Unfortunately, I can't draw.

Submitted: May 25, 2013

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Submitted: May 25, 2013

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WAR PORN

by Nocomus Columbus

 

 

Fort Leavenworth, Present Day

 

He sits alone.  Waiting for them to come.  I will die today.  A gift of perpetual sleep.  The crime.  Murdering a murderer, and murdering a friend that got in his way.  No tears were shed for the murderer, but he was an important man nonetheless.  He had secrets.  Secrets of high-value.  

 

The isolated man performs a ritual.  A ritual that gives him tranquility, when tranquility is absent.  Rolling up his left sleeve, he looks at the writing on his arm.  Black ink.  REDEMPTION

 

The right arm.  SALVATION

 

Northern Iraq, Spring, 2004

 

 

Spence places the ordinary disc in the DVD player. A morning rite for the twenty-year old Private.  No talks with god.  No asking for favors.  He hears the loud speaker.  The call to prayer.  Far from comforting.  Some men like to clean weapons when starting the day.  Some phone their wives or girlfriends, which makes the absence more difficult.  Vulnerability on both ends of the phone line. A few, hard men, hide in the dark, concealed in shadow, waiting for an opportunity.  

 

Spence watches movies.  His daily sacrament.  You would think that ritual is nonexistent in a place like this.

 

Ritual is all you have.  It’s the only thing that keeps you sane.  The only thing that reminds you you’re still human.  If not human, then what else?  Some fucking shell.  You’re not a killer.  That’s what they try to turn you into.  Unsuccessfully.  Ritual, the umbilical cord connecting you to your former self.  Don’t be fooled. You are something else. Fragmentally human.  If you don’t die, someday, you’ll wish you had. Congratulations, you have PTSD!  

 

Goddamn, this thing takes forever to load.  A girl appears on screen wearing a black Hijab. This is different.  She speaks Arabic. Spence watches. He shakes his head in disapproval.  Is she getting naked or what?  

 

The girl is moves off camera.  A man appears.  Jesus. I know him.  They’ve never met in person.  The high-value target.  The man looks into the camera and speaks “You took from me, two things. Now, I take two from you.”  

 

The screen goes black.  Music plays.  Spence knows the song.  He’s heard it before.  In other videos.  The Martyr’s song.  A white room.  Two hooded figures kneel on the floor.  The high-value target appears on screen again.  He walks over and stands just behind the two kneeling men.  He places a hand on the hood of the first kneeling man.  He places a hand on the second kneeling man’s hood.  He removes the hoods.  

 

“No!” Spence says to himself.  The Private reaches out and touches the DVD player’s screen.  The film takes a sinister turn.

 

 

“What. The. Fuck.”

Spence’s hand trembles.  He rips the power cord from the outlet, located on the wall of the bunker.  The bunker that has become his living quarter.  The DVD continues to play.

 

“Jesus Christ!”

 

He grabs the DVD player and throws it against the wall.  The movie stops.  I’m gonna be sick.  He moves toward the bunker’s exit, grabbing a pack of cigarettes and a lighter on the way out. He’s seen horror.  He’s lived it.  Confusion. What is this? This horror that I have witnessed.

 

I’m fucking losing it.

 

 

“You look like shit.  You okay?”  Sergeant Lew studies him with eyes like a concerned father.

 

“No.”

 

Taking his time, Sergeant Lew pulls a pack of smokes from the camouflaged pocket on his shirt.  An off brand cigarette Spence never heard of until he joined Sergeant Lew’s team.  Cheap, old-man cigarettes. Sergeant Lew says he smokes them because that’s what happens after you get divorced, and you have to give the fat, lazy, bitch half your paycheck.  A thought that amuses Spence.

 

The Private thinks highly of his salt and pepper haired leader. The two have been through a lot.  Spence feels like he is dead. He’s got a pulse, air moves in and out of his body, he eats, he gets an occasional hard-on, but he feels dead.  The loss of redemption wounded Spence.  The loss of salvation finished him off.

 

 

“I’m worried about you man.”  Sergeant Lew says, taking a drag of his cigarette.  “You’re losing weight.”

 

The private says nothing.  A blank stare.

 

“Talk to me Spence.  Listen, I know it’s hard.  It’s killing me too.  I’m telling you though, we’re gonna find them.”

 

Spence takes a drag of his cigarette and shakes his head.

 

“We won’t find them.”

 

“C’mon.  Don’t say that.”

 

“WEEEEE! WIIIILLLLLLLL! NOOOOOOTTTT! FIIINNNNND THEM!”

 

“You can’t say that.”

 

“Yes I can.  We won’t find them because they’re fucking dead.  The bastard killed them.  I WATCHED it.”  

 

 

Northern Iraq, Winter, 2003

 

“Attention!”  An order shouted in a voice that could wake the comatose.  Four men stood like stone in front of a larger formation of stone men.  Men bearing screaming eagle patches on shoulders.  Why do the eagles scream?  In unison, the men drop arms to their sides. A tight mechanistic motion.  Boot heels are brought together. Four men, strangers just a year ago. Brothers now. War does that.

 

A general addressed the formation.  An unnecessarily lengthy speech.  They always are.  The four men in front are awarded medals. Meaningless. Medals for killing the sons of a monster.  History is lost over time.  The evil man’s deeds will be forgotten.  The four awardees will search for him.  He will be found.  

 

Sweat dripped down Spence’s forehead.  At least I’m still hydrated enough to sweat.  Will this fucker ever stop talking?  The private turned his head slightly.  Just enough to get a glimpse his of three companions.  

 

Sergeant Lew.  A short, overweight man. Stubble resided on his cheeks.  Unprofessional in the eyes of the military.  Fuck them.  He was the oldest of the four men, early 40’s. A brilliant man.  He held a master’s degree in history, a subject he could talk about for hours upon end. Spence had learned more about history from that man in six months, than he’d learned in his entire life. Maybe if my high school teachers let me smoke in class, I wouldn’t have skipped so much.  

Sergeant Lew, the complete opposite of your typical NCO, Non-Commissioned Officer.  The establishment frowned on him.  They don’t appreciate those that buck the system.  Sergeant Lew, an underachiever in life. Who isn’t?  He should have been a history professor at some state college.  

 

Before the deployment, Sergeant Lew took his team of four to a small bar.  He said he had one goal.  He didn’t care about medals.  He didn’t care about promotions.  He didn’t care about any of that.  All he wanted to do, was bring his three men home in one piece.

 

 

Standing to Sergeant Lew’s left was Hobbs.  He was the laughter.  The one that kept the atmosphere light.  Living, breathing, redemption for a world gone to hell.  Tall and thin, handsome but not arrogant.  When shit went down he was all business.  Afterwards the smile would appear, followed by jokes.  Bell would shake his head, and call Hobbs a knucklehead.  Hobbs was the only one that could make Bell smile.  Hobbs light didn’t last.  Another casualty of war.  Gradually the light faded, until there was nothing left except a small flicker.  The flicker didn’t last either.  It went away forever. Buried with the evil man’s boy whom he gave the gift of perpetual sleep to.

 

Give and ye shall receive.

 

 

The last man Spence looked upon was the one that meant the most to him.  Sergeant Bell.  Quiet.  Spiritual.  Strong.  When Private Spence first met Bell, he was distrustful of the man for two reasons; he didn’t drink, and he was black.  For the entirety of his young life, Spence lived in fear.  The Army was his attempt to escape that fear.  After joining, Spence felt lost, isolated.  Sergeant Bell reached out to Spence.  He could sense his pain.  After that, Spence no longer lived in fear.  Sergeant Bell was his Salvation.  

 

 

Two months after the ceremony, Hobbs and Bell were gone.  Missing in action.  The group of four became the group of two.  The old man and the scared young man were on their own.

 

 

Northern Iraq, The End of Summer, 2004

 

 

“Spence.  We got the bastard.  That street vendor you bought the DVD from.  He gave him up.”, Sergeant Lew says.  A tired man.

 

“Where is he?”

 

“Here, in the detention center.”

 

“I’m going to see him.”

 

“I don’t think that’s a good idea brother.”

 

“You’re not stopping me.”

 

 

 

The cell is empty except for a table, a chair, and a man.  Spence closes the door. He places a bag on the table.  He looks at the hooded man sitting motionless in a chair.  Hands chained to feet, feet chained to floor.  I can do this.  He lifts the man’s hood.

 

“Did you get my gift?”  The man asks.

 

“I did.”

 

The Private walks over to the table.  He removes an item from the bag.  A video camera.


The chained man looks at the tattoo on his left forearm.  He looks at the tattoo on his right forearm.  The names of his sons.


© Copyright 2019 Nocomus Columbus. All rights reserved.

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