Monday, July 14, 2003

Remembering London and Confessions of a Sergeant Major

14 July, 2003

Another day, another dollar – or so they say. It’s one of those nights, lonely. I tried the phone tonight, and it doesn’t work, but I’ll try again. This morning I got up and listened to BBC. Heard about an attack on a police station here in Baghdad. Well, I went into work and found out it was one of our police stations, Alpha Company’s actually. It was a landmine. I guess a taxi drove over it and blew it up. One man killed, the driver is sitting in our jail right now, pretty banged up. He’s Palestinian, so he’s suspect as well. I wonder how much of this war was for Israel’s security? How much do they pay the U.S. for our help? Nothing, I’m sure.
Last night, I read some pages of my book to Foley. He really enjoyed it. Almost everyone does. I’ve got a hunch that I could get it published. We’ll see. Well, today I watered my watermelons and wrote dad and mom. I relaxed a bit, then studied German for two hours. Nicols came by to see me. He told me they are stretched pretty thin in the north of Baghdad. He started talking about our trip to London back in August (I think it was August). We were laughing so hard! All the new guys and LT Orr were standing around listening to us talk of the “old” days of S3, when we had a pretty competent staff.
“Remember that guy singing in the traffic cone?” he said.
‘Or that guy telling us his life story!’ I said
“Yeah, me ma’s from Derry, like, and she lives down there with a real prick of a husband!” the streetman said. “You fancy some coke, yeah?”
“Fuck no! What the hell?” yelled Lambert.
“Hey! To hell with you! Fuckin’ bloody nite assholes!” the streetman yelled. It was hardly out of place Leicester Square at 3 in the morn.
“Or the time we got lost for 3 hours trying to find Kensington?!” Nicols said, talking about when we walked back from the club that night. Royalty was all “I KNOW THE WAY!” and at one point stepped on a pile of someone else’s puke. We were all a bit drunk – it was one pound Vodka shot night at the Hippodrome.
When we got back to Hotel St. Simeon in Chelsea, the guys heard someone in the bathroom adjacent to our room. So they snuck to the door and started giggling and holding back what would have been massive laughs. We listened, and it was soon clear a man and a woman were in the bathroom. Well, it was a prostitute and a man! We were like, “What?! What the hell?”
“Are ya’s gonna come or ain’t ya? I think yer drank too much!” came faintly through the door. We laughed out loud uncontrollably. All you could hear was a half-awake man babbling back to her. We were dumbfounded. Worst of all, our room had a window shared with the neighboring room. I went into the room of ours shaking my head. The guys were laughing with tears in their eyes. In our room, you could still hear the pair trying to do their thing, and the prostitute’s frustration and coaching of the drunk. “You’ve had too much to drink, can yer get it up? Neh, ain’t workin!” said she.
We couldn’t believe it. I was still shaking my head. We were on the floor rolling. They had to of heard us laughing. Then Lambert tried to look in the bathroom window, and slipped and fell onto some trash below, and immediately bolted back into our room.
“Oh my God! That is so nasty!” Lambert said. Then the pair left, and you could hear them talking as they went past our room door. Royalty had gone upstairs earlier to use the other bathroom, and accidentally intercepted the pair in the stairwell.
“Guys, I saw him, and her. You should have seen him! He’s drunk for sure! Looks sick. The girl looks like 80 years old! AHHH NASTY!” Royalty said with an air of disbelief.
Nicols and I sat there laughing today, something I needed badly, to say the least. I looked across at him and thought, ‘What’s happened to the Army? He’s a good friend, or was before he moved to another company. It’s time to get out, but I’m glad to of had friends like him at work, it made it better.’
We didn’t all hang out too much, except for our S3 lunches at the Irish Pub in Bornheim for fish and chips. When we did hang out, it was pretty good. It was a good group of guys, and there was never a perverted conversation and they never acted morally wrong. I could trust them to do the right thing, and I know I would never be in a position contrary to my morals. That’s a good friendship, even if it was small. Everyone had girlfriends, Royalty was just married, and they were pretty mature, and no one was looking for or at girls. I liked that! So it was just us guys hanging out, just enjoying our own company in London.
I missed Nora though, that goes without saying. I just kept thinking, ‘It would be more fun with Nora! I want to bring her here!’ There was always that desire when I’m away. ‘I wish she was here!’ The guys and I had a good time in London, and I was even happier it was morally good. I need that reassurance and it’s refreshing to enjoy life without guys being all SEX, SEX, SEX! I don’t know what sex is, just love with Nora, and for that I feel so blessed!
Well, Nicols is leaving in September. He’s lucky, but I’ll be leaving here soon too. Another memory! It seems like eternity before I’ll come home, it truly is the most difficult thing I have ever, or will ever have to deal with. I know it’s that way for you too Nora. There is so much I want to do with this time I have like an unwelcome present. Read and write! Poems too! I just need to focus, and that is a bit tough here. It will come around though.
God Spatzi, we were talking over the past few days, not as happy as usual because I get upset when I call and you are out. It’s just that I want all to be quiet and still when we talk. I can’t talk when there’s a party or something. There is no party here in Baghdad, and it’s hard for me to share in the happiness and joy when life here is very serious. I don’t want to control you though! It’s tough, but I know you understand. That makes it all OK. I LOVE YOU! I miss you so much tonight! Every night actually, I feel imprisoned. It is a very strenuous ordeal. Sometimes I can’t imagine me here for 1 year, I really can’t. I pray it won’t be that long! I pray the Rosary so much Spatzi, it has always seen me through. The longing for you is so enormous. I live for you Nora, I really do. I love you!
Well, Fleischmann is gone now, off to kiss ass elsewhere. Before he left though, a few days ago he said something that made me think:
“Thompson is powerful. When Thompson talks, people listen.” He actually said this to everyone who was in our office. It was weird, but he meant it. He had also said last week, “Thompson, you are a radical, a left-wing, communist, socialist, environmentalist, a radical!” I always thought that was funny some people thought this! I don’t know why people think this.
‘Sergeant Major, I’m not left or right-wing. I’m Catholic!’ I said. His jaw dropped and said,
“OH! We’re going to have to talk about this one!” obviously amused. I wasn’t disappointed with his response. He tried to discuss my beliefs, like a father to a son, and soon his conversation turned into a confused monologue and he backed out of our conversation. Then he said, “Well Thompson, I don’t consider myself a military man.” That confused me. I just finished telling him that the Army requires useful brutality, of which I have none, not out of protest, but rather, a natural reaction to maturing. For me anyways. For this he had no answer, and then told me what I quoted above.
He’s gone now, off to 3-62 AR in the north. They were attacked in a mortar attack a few weeks ago. 18 injured. I hope he fares well, despite his ego that hangs like a sour stench around our office. I won’t miss all the speeches or lectures. He sized me up all along, but in the end, I still had my dignity, and maybe even his respect. I just lost respect for him more and more as time passed. Well, he’s gone now – end of story.
Well, it’s time to retire for the night. I dream of you and yell out to the sky for justice, for me to come home soon. Yes, this is an important time in history, but then again, what period hasn’t been? Our history, you and me, is the one that will matter most. We’ve been given this time and space to live together in, as other couples have in the past – through war, through turmoil, but also through happiness. We’re going to make it, and I want to live this lifetime with you. You are extraordinary, I feel so lucky to have you by my side, now more than ever. I love you! A million times so!


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