The Chapter on IEDs

Filkins includes many descriptions of kids running around the rubble of whatever burned-out city he is reporting from. Sometimes the kids are scouts (to signal the insurgents that Americans are approaching). Regardless, at least in Filkins’s descriptions, the soldiers always have a soccer ball or basketball handy to throw to them.

Some kids will make a slashing motion across their throats at the sight of the Americans. Otherwise will start screeching — a distraction. A few feet onward might be an IED, so the kids don’t want the Americans to notice.

At the end of Chapter 18, Filkins is in Ramadi, riding in a Humvee driven by Lance Corporal Sean Patton.

“Football! Football!” a couple of kids squeal out.

The Americans toss a ball from the turret. The Humvee makes a right turn and heads “toward an intersection with a kebab stand and a pharmacy.” Suddenly the Iraqis on the street start “moving. Walking away. The intersection” is suddenly empty.

The driver stops the Humvee. “They’re going to hit us!” he screams.

A Marine stands up through the turret, “his hands on the MK-19 grenade launcher . . . He’d left a copy of Surfing magazine on his seat.” Filkins picks up the magazine. There’s “an article about the waves in Nicaragua.”

Eventually, the Humvee moves on. But instead of leaving the scene, the driver circles. Every time he enters the intersection, the Iraqis on the street leave. Every time the Humvee makes to leave the intersection, the Iraqis return.

Corporal Patton says, for the nth time, “We’re going to get hit.” He says it every time they re-enter the intersection, his hands “gripping the steering wheel.”

The hit never comes.

This is crazy.

Stay tuned.

Language!

In honor of Dexter Filkins’s The Forever War, Chapter 18 (“Fuck Us”), self has written a section of her new apocalyptic dystopian story, “Causes” (a sequel to “First Life” on Juked.com)

  • Big starts walking towards me. His voice drops. “Now, now, now, now. Is this payback? For what I did to Her? Her was a stray. Made me look like a clump. You another. Know what I do to strays? You stupid, fucking Fog Brain! I’ll rip you in half!”

That is all.

Stay tuned.

 

Quotes of the Day: THE FOREVER WAR

“I am talking directly to the kidnappers.” (Ahmad, Shiite, Baghdad freelancer. “For eating, Sir!” was his answer when Filkins asked him why he kept a flock of twenty-five sheep on the roof of his home)

“The best sources are often people of marginal repute.” (Filkins) Ahmad’s fee: $250/day

“Sir, it is very complicated.” (Ahmad)

“Not good man.” (Waleed, Filkins’s driver, referring to Ahmad)

“Jill is at the racetrack.” (Ahmad, referring to American reporter Jill Carroll, kidnapped in the middle of the day, in the middle of the street; her translator, who was with her, had been killed)

“a brunette with a streak of pink dye in her hair” (Filkins, describing Jill Carroll)

“She wasn’t there.” (CIA section chief, two nights after Filkins gave him a tip that Carroll was being held at the racetrack.)

“I was afraid now, afraid of everything I didn’t know.” (Dexter Filkins)

“My dealings with Ahmad . . . had sunk to the level of farce.” (Filkins, after he and a fellow reporter end up pooling $6,000 of their own money to pay Ahmad for information on the whereabouts of kidnapped reporter Jill Carroll)

“Your buddy is just playing you.” (CIA section chief, to Filkins)

Self promises she will finish this book sometime today, then start on Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich.

Stay tuned.

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