“So, what do you think?” Chief Burns and I are sitting in his office in the deserted building, staring at one another. The question that he is asking me is loaded, and I know that with greater certainty than I have ever known anything before.

“It isn’t a question of if, it’s a question of when.” This is the voice of cold equations, probability, and the reality weighing us all down.

“You really think that?” As if the seeds of doubt might be sown just by merely acknowledging another potential result, as if the elephant in the corner could be denied at this point. “I mean, really.”

“I do. If we do what we are supposed to, then yes.”

I see.”

”No shit Chief. If we stick with their plan, if we go where they are talking about sending us, we’ll lose at least one crew.”

”You say that like it’s already happened.” Chief says, leaning back in his chair and folding his arms across his chest.

”Fuck it Chief, look at it like this. They want us riding shotgun, fine, whatever. Now if I was an insurgent with half a brain, I would shoot at the fucking truck with the fifty goddamned antennas poking out of it. I mean, shit. They’re some smart fuckers over there, and we’re el numero uno on the shit list at the moment. It’s their turf, their game, and their ball. Furthermore, we’re squids goddamnit. We got no fucking business hanging out in the sand. Trucks typically don’t sink Chief, usually they get blown the fuck up by assholes with RPG-7’s.”

”AT1, anyone ever told you that you might need to work on your diplomacy skills?” He says, smiling slightly. “Actually, you’re kind of a pessimist, aren’t you.”

”Chief, let me ask you a question. You know what the fucking difference is between an optimist and a pessimist?”

"This ought to be good."

”The optimist thinks that the rapist will get bored and go away if they just lie there real quiet-like.”

I hate having the friends that I do sometimes. I hate the fact that I am connected in some weird way to other people in such a manner that they feel the need to talk to me about things.

About everything.

About the darkness on the horizon, about the coming of a conflict that we could barely comprehend.

There was so much rhetoric then, CNN on one hand telling us to watch Brad play with a nice little puppy and Fox raving about sex, religion, rock and roll, and war on the other.

Currently our attention is focused on that most American of past times. It has now eclipsed baseball as the last bastion of decency in a world gone completely nuts. We are drinking beer and burning meat on a grill. My friends, I speak to you today of: The Barbeque.

”So like, check this out.” James says as he reaches out and gives the grill an expert tap with a size 14 hiking boot. His boots are something else. For one thing, they’re treading widely on the ludicrous size of large. 200 grams of Thinsulate, 1 cm Kevlar shank through the sole, 2 mm leather all the way around, and as an added bonus they make the big reverb sound on every surface upon which he treads. If that was not enough, they carry coloring similar to a hornet and bear the scars of his weekend job bartending. These are, for lack of a better word, boots with a sole purpose: Ass Kicking. This is sort of strange because James is something of a pacifist.

They do not make them like this anymore, (James and his boots that is,) now They want the tool without the extra helping of iconoclast. “This is some funny shit.”

”What, your giant fucking foot or something else?”

”Nah, my old man see? He’s doing this sheetrock job for these contractors in Alexandria.”


“Well apparently, this dude.” Pausing, James takes a long pause to pull on his beer and ogle a passing airliner. He is obsessed with all things aviation. “This dude is like some sort of high-priest intel weenie.”


“So he’s on the phone, while my old man is in the basement winding up some electrical cords. Dude is talking, like hella loud.” The beer draws out his southern California drawl and the slang that dates in the way that only dated youth can. “On the phone, but my dad isn’t like listening or nothing, right?”

“Right.” Nope, we are not winning any awards for our conversational style today folks.

“So he says, and Cheney says that’s not the information that we have.”

“What the fuck was he talking about?”

“I’m getting to that, shut up a second.” Smiling, James reaches into a cooler next to the pair of lawn chairs in which we are sitting and retrieves another two ice-slick bottles. Both are methodically opened, one is handed to me and I find myself trying to do two things at once. “Drink up, you’re behind. Anyway, he says that he says to Cheney may I ask where you got your information. And Cheney says, no you may not.”


“So, I’m telling you dude. Them Iraqi’s couldn’t shit in a bag and throw it at someone right now. I’m like, serious. It isn’t for lack of wanting, you know, it’s they don’t have the bags to shit into.”

We are quiet for several minutes, during which time he and I watch cars pass on the road several hundred feet from his house. Half a world away, the concept of a barbeque is completely foreign.

Dropping aliens into the middle of Baghdad complete with flying saucer and freeze-rays would kick up less of a stir than if we were to suddenly appear.

This would of course include us appearing with chairs, freshly mowed grass, a cooler full of beer, three pounds of steak, and a smoking Weber barbeque grill. James chooses to speak first, “just great. Ain’t it? The fact that them fuckers are making this up as the go along?”

“The first part isn’t going to be bad. It’s what’ll happen afterwards that is going to suck.” I reply quietly after several seconds pass. “We won’t lose anyone in the initial conflict, it’s securing the country that is going to kill us.”

“Right.” James manages to acknowledge the observation with all the intensity of a man confronting the electric chair.

“We’re wading into a hell of our own making. And they know it.”

Today I am dead.

Today James is dead.

Today Chief Burns is dead.

Today you are dead.

Today accountability is dead.

Today 2000 people are dead.

And it shall continue this way. Forever.

I’ve said this before, but again, for those of you in the back that weren’t paying attention the first time:

You dumb shits. You're pissing it all away and the Founding Fucking Fathers are rolling in their graves.