Over the phone downstairs, "Hey dude! Yeah, I think they are cranking it up, you want to watch this shit?"
Television. Beer. We support our troops.
There is an intersection in downtown Baghdad. Every channel carries it, the same three concrete arches in the gray dawn light. What we want to see is a double pair of precision-guided 2000 pound GBU-24 Paveway III's punching through the ceiling of that command bunker, that target of opportunity. What we get is three concrete arches and a traffic light the Iraqis take as a suggestion. We want to see it because it its exciting. Because it’s our tax dollars at work. Because it’s being done in our name. Because I know the greatest show on earth when I see it. Because nothing signals the death of affect like the televised image of traffic light and three concrete arches that will end up costing us a trillion dollars.
I don’t want to see any of this. Never did. We should be dropping porn, self-heating cheeseburgers, hundred dollar bills. Ice cream. I hear the Iraqis are positively queer for it. The oil rich middle class of the Tigris-Euphrates river valley, queer for ice cream.
I saw a picture today in the paper of a kid from the 101st Airborne. He was belly-down in the sand in a low crawl. I liked his haircut. I thought, "Maybe I’ll clip this out and take it to the shop next time I get my hair cut." This kid might get gassed, but I like his haircut. It’s on the wall of my air-conditioned cubicle.
All day long at the office, it’s the War Party:
"Do we get to go home early on account of the war?"
"Does this mean gas will be cheaper soon?"
"Happy War Day!"
The television stays on. Here are some experts. Here is a map of Iraq. Here is a live feed of Baghdad, featuring a traffic light and three concrete arches.
"The best case?" says one desiccated Pentagon wag, "That would be drive time from Kuwait City to downtown Baghdad."
My GPS program says that it is 430 miles ground track from Kuwait City to Baghdad.
I look for something comparable. Los Angeles to Reno is about right. Straight up the 5.
Tonight, I will liberate Reno. I will blast out in my big V-8 into the high desert. Up into the big San Joaquin, the central valley. I will roll past oil wells burning outside Bakersfield. I will drive through fields of lettuce. I'll pass canals under the full moon that shines on everyone in Iraq at this very moment.
I will drive into Reno and the people will welcome me. They will welcome me with open arms. There will be no snipers shooting from the casino rooftops.
During the liberation of Reno, I will be bombed with pamphlets that ask me to get in touch with a call girl with huge tits, or find Jesus, or change my oil every 3,000 miles.
I will pretend that this act means something. Like the way those three concrete arches are supposed to mean something: Baghdad, waiting, the exotic middle east, victory, payback, war.
When I get to Reno, I’ll have my haircut like the boy in the sand.
And then I’ll find a bar, in a basement. Outside it will have three concrete arches and a traffic light.
And I will drink until I find a darkness like the plume of a burning oil well. A darkness that no night vision gear, or thermal imaging sight, or television camera can penetrate.