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Freeman's Front Porch Musings

My website to showcase my creative writings-such as they are.

A Walk in Darkness…the rewrite continues…unedited/incomplete….

Do you like camping? I did prior to my time in the military. Upon arrival in Kuwait, we stood on the tarmac and waited to board the buses that would carry us to our destination. “Load up,” a senior NCO barked, and we moved forward and began to load the bus from the rear. I ended up in a seat next to a curtained window. As we drove into the blackest night I’d ever seen, I peeked out to see what surrounded us. There was nothing but sand and blackness. The inkiness of night seemed suffocating. I looked toward the front and stared out the windshield. Lights broke through the night, and a sign welcomed us to our new home. Giant tan tents stood in rows. Each tent had a central air and heat unit at the back, our bags were stacked outside of the tents on pallets. Once the bus stopped, our bus commander stood and snapped, “Troop Alpha has the first tent, Bravo second,” he continued listing our accommodations, and we stood to disembark. He held up a hand and said, “Grab a cot, drop your gear, and meet up on the side of the tents for formation. Move!”

We rushed into our tent, dropped out three-day pack, and rushed back out. Pertinent information got passed out during our formation, and our senior leadership welcomed us to Kuwait. “You’re here to learn to acclimate to the extreme weather and further train up for what awaits you in Iraq.” I wasn’t too worried about Iraq. I had to pee something fierce, and no one had pointed out the nearest facilities. “Port-a-johns are on the other side of the row. Dining facilities are open at midnight. It’s a mile south of the tents.”

After relieving ourselves, a gaggle of us strode out boldly toward the dining facility. Our first night into the deployment went smoothly enough. This ain’t too bad, I thought as I laid on the cot. Things could always get worse. 

I didn’t need to fret. Things would get worse, and sooner than I expected. 

We completed two weeks of training, and we heard stories of units already over in the sandbox. The term ‘sandbox’ is what we called Iraq. Upon completion of training and the outfitting of some of our vehicles with armor plating, we reported to a place called Nav. A group of senior leaders met us and directed us to our vehicles. “Take your ‘A’ bag and three-day pack and get started on your maintenance checks,” they ordered. I shrugged my duffel strap over my right shoulder and headed out for my vehicle. The sun had reached its apex, and the blasted heat scored my back through my shirt and blouse. When I finished my checks, I filled out the form and handed it back to my first line supervisor. 

“You got moved to another vehicle. Um, it’s got an explosive payload, and we needed our best driver to handle it.” I stared at him for a moment, all my unsaid thoughts were written on my face. He shrugged and said, “You’re in this vehicle, and it’s at the back of the convoy. Good luck.”

Have you ever noticed how no one ever calls you the best at something until there’s a job they don’t want to do? The at-a-boy speech wasn’t lost on me. I knew for a fact that no one thought I was the best driver, or even the more competent person in my squad. One of the ‘favorites’ had a higher chance of having a bad day, and his friends didn’t like it. So, I was swapped in, just in case something bad might happen. 

I shrugged and accepted the keys to my new ride. Then, I walked back to my truck and took my bags and went off in search of my new vehicle. 

It was a piece of crap. That’s not saying much given that most military equipment is just that. Years after I returned from the war and retired from service, my dad and I got a kick from television shows that proclaimed they used ‘military grade parts’ on some of their more outlandish builds. Dad would laugh and say, “They don’t realize military grade crap is built by the cheapest bidder.” Well, my truck was all that and then some. 

I began my precursory checks and soon realized that I had multiple oil leaks, one headlight worked if it was kept on bright, none worked if the lights got dimmed. It had no armor, and I had to dig around the sandbags in the floorboard so I could use the accelerator. Well, I had armor if you counted the .5-inch sheet metal that hung from the doors. I heard a noise and looked through my mirror. My supervisor was back. 

“Everything alright over here, Freeman?”

“Roger, sergeant. We’re good to go.”

“Is the truck in good shape?”

“No, but then you guys knew that when you sent me over here.”

“Ah,” he started but I wasn’t finished. If I was going to my death, I was going to let him know how I felt about it. 

“You know, I worked tirelessly on my truck. I got it above par in every aspect, and I made sure that everything was in proper working order so I wouldn’t have any issues on the drive in. Y’all knew that. Just like you knew that the rest let their vehicles languish in the deadline line without trying to correct their deficiencies. But now it’s time to go into Indian country, and you want my vehicle.” 

“Look man, this wasn’t my call…”

“It doesn’t matter. If I die, I’m haunting all you idiots.”

Nothing else was said, and I shut my door. The sun was going down, and soon we’d strike out for Baghdad.

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About Me

I’m a retired soldier. Writer and full – time coffee addict. I was born and raised in Mississippi, and I joined the Army at 28 for a life of adventure and travel. Interests include: Reading, walking my two pups, Casanova and Chunk, spending time with my wife Chassidy, and trying to pen the next great American novel. I am on Instagram under Freeman’s Front Porch Musings. I sometimes do Twitter under LarryF7371.


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