The Warden Of Fallujah
Marine Captain Mike Carson, back from Iraq, is now a creative writing student at the University of Central Florida. Here is the last section of 12 which he wrote about his 7 months in Fallujah, running its jail. His creative writing made it into the LA Times opinion page. Mike Carson can write, as in exceedingly well, and you will want to read his other 11 sections.
You will return to civilian life.
You will be jumpy and vaguely unsatisfied, disconnected from the civilians around you who care only about text messages and gas prices and catty e-mails. Navy doctors will find Iraqi sand trapped in the innermost pathways of your ear canals. Your wife now snores, and all her unfamiliar noises combine to drive you from your bed.
On one such night, you will turn on the television news and see that Anna Nicole Smith's death has trumped the coverage of America's 3,118th fatality, 31-year-old Petty Officer 1st Class Gilbert Minjares Jr. You will note that, at 39, Smith was younger than most of the helicopters flying in Iraq. You will turn off the TV and sit in the dark and feel your eyes water as you think about how you took 55 Marines and sailors into a combat zone and brought all 55 back home, and that no one in America besides you and those 55 really cares or understands what you went through.
You processed 1,230 detainees, without a single incident of abuse, while America sat on the couch and watched girls go wild. As far as you know, you killed no one. This used to bother you, because killing is what Marines are trained to do. But now, after viewing documentaries and reports that paint American forces as Redcoat invaders, you take some comfort in the fact that you never pulled the trigger.
Those numbers — 55, 1,230 and 0 — will allow you to sleep tonight, and the next night, and the next. But each night you will insert a mouth guard made of silicone before you go to sleep, because your dentist informs you that you are always, always, always unconsciously grinding your teeth.