The bodies are stacking up around here like trash. I think we are averaging almost 6-8 a day. It’s disturbing now, because the Police are afraid to collect them, for fear of being shot at. There doesn’t seem to be any particular pattern to the murders. Shia or Sunni, man or woman, they all just seem to be targets of violence now.
I went on patrol the other evening, and was thinking just how far we have or have not come. The streets are filthy, even worse now than before. Trash is everywhere, and when the wind picks up the trash blows in the air like confetti during a parade. Some days, it becomes hard to see through it all. The smoke from fires is constant, either from burning trash or burning cars. During our night movements, the streets are empty. Even the dogs and cats that roam the city and outlying areas during the day seem to sense the danger of being out at night, and stay away from everything. As we walk through the empty marketplace, the only movement comes from the rats that seem to take over the area. You can see them as we move, with their glistening eyes and gnashing teeth while they dig through trash and rotting animal remains. At night, they own the streets
I was thinking as we moved through, how ironic it is that, as parents, we grow up and suffer things so that our children do not have to do the same. Yet, especially now, we find ourselves sharing the same stories with our parents and grandparents. During my vacation, I got to talk to my grandfather, and he spoke a little about his experience during WWII. He talked about the smells, the bodies, and mostly, the chaos and what people do to survive. When I first joined the service, I know he shared these stories and I thought, well, it’s a different world now; we don’t have to do those kinds of things. Now, as I recall his stories, I know exactly what he was talking about. I know the smells, the chaos. I think sometimes, as far as we have come, we have not come far at all.
I know that I hope to never have to share these stories with my children, and have them understand exactly what I was feeling.
As I was thinking this, we turned a corner and the sick/sweet smell of rotting flesh. At first, I think, it smells like an animal carcass. We move slowly, the Iraqi soldiers moving quietly in the darkness. They creep up to a man, sitting against a wall. In the heat of the evening, the smell gets stronger as we get closer. The look over him closely, and return. Shot in the chest 3 times, they say. Maybe yesterday, or early today. The rats have visited here…