A fictionalized account of this all too non-fiction photo

War Prompts… Shame

I think it was Monday or Tuesday. I don’t fucking know. Anyway we were sweeping the houses, pretty typical scene. I started out by knocking first, always knocking but it just didn’t feel right. It was too surreal to inject this normalcy, this politeness into the patrols. Like, can I get you a cup of tea before I tear your home apart? No, like ripping off a band-aid I decided after the first few weeks, I’m just gonna go through, protect my boys and organize the Hajis.

So we were going through the homes. Slamming through the door, screaming in English for weapons, insurgents. Then screaming for all the men to get down on the ground. While one of my buddies stands over the men, boys, the rest of us push our way through the women, clothes, books, tables. Usually a gun is enough for me to decide to take the men in, sometimes, fuck, sometimes I just gotta round them up. So I decide when the boys end and the men begin — 13? 14? 15 years old?

Once we ran through the home and found nothing but a few Hajis, I knelt by the only man in the house, grabbed his arms and cuffed them. Then I took the hood and tied it over his head.

There’s so much screaming but there’s always screaming and I really don’t hear it anymore.

The other patrols have swept several other houses and there’s a pile of hooded Hajis outside. I’m pulling mine toward them and drop him on the ground. And then I hear it. This fucking little boy is screaming in Arabic, crying. He’s at my feet. His mom is running over, sounding like Apu in the Simpsons — begging me in broken English not to take the kid’s dad.

Shit, the kid’s face is in such excruciating pain, that I wish someone would shoot him — or me. I look over and see the dad trying to call over to his boy, his voice soothing, probably saying he’ll be okay. Maybe saying he’ll be home soon, which he won’t. I take the kid, my hand pushing his shoulder forward, to his dad. I cut the dad’s cuffs. The boy melts to the ground, his hand immediately in his dad’s. His screams stop.

I walk down a few homes and start loading Hajis into the trucks — all destined for some prison. I start driving away before one of my buddies takes that boy from his dad.

I’m a fucking coward.


February 11, 2008 Posted by | Fiction | Leave a comment

Father and Son

This photograph was taken in 2003 by AP photographer Jean-Marc Bouju. It depicts a hooded Iraqi prisoner holding his 4-year-old son at a U.S. detention camp. Bouju said that the boy was panicking and crying so an American soldier cut the plastic handcuffs off, according to the AP. (Source: CNN.com, World Press Photo 2003 awards unveiled, 02/14/04)

February 10, 2008 Posted by | Non-Fiction | Leave a comment