I’ve been working on a second book for quite a while now. I’ve written many pieces that have been discarded along the journey. This one did not make the cut but instead of hitting delete I thought I’d share it. Gives you somewhat of an idea what’s coming next – hopefully in print by 2015….if time permits.
I opened my eyes and the only visible light in the room were the glowing red numbers on the clock beside me – 4:03 a.m. How could that be? I had just lain down. I had flown a reconnaissance mission the previous night and as we began to work our way back to the airfield, just south of Mehtar Lam, we took fire. Bullets passed by the aircraft close enough to break the squelch on our intercom system. The event was morbidly common, nevertheless my heart rate noticeably increased. It was a night mission so I didn’t get to bed until 1:30 a.m. and now I lay awake, wondering why.
I sat up, swung my body around and placed my feet on the Afghan rug I’d haggled over, head in hands. “May as well get up and go for a run,” I thought. As I ran I wondered what my family might be doing at this hour. I had spent three of the past five years deployed to either Iraq or Afghanistan. It was baseball season at home so I tried to think about something else because it hurt too badly inside to visualize a double play and an empty seat in the bleachers. I thought how strange it was that something so unnatural as repetitive combat tours could somehow become a way of life that we considered normal. It was absurd, yet it was true.
I finished my run on the flight line, drenched in sweat. The sky was beginning to lighten up, but it would be a while yet before the sun climbed its way above the mountains to the east. Suddenly, the morning quiet was pierced by a high-pitched tone, “Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar,” the adhan or morning call to prayer emanated from a minerate to the east of the airfield. Within seconds another voice began at a mosque to the west. The pitch and tempo of the Muezzin’s voices varied, giving an otherwise identical call to prayer refreshing uniqueness. As local Muslims unrolled rugs and prepared themselves for prayer I headed to my office to read the daily intelligence summary and check emails, trying to remember what day it was.