Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Cricket in the Dark

One time in Afghanistan, around Christmas I think it was, we stopped over in FOB Tillman. We were doing some blasting to cut out rock so the construction engineers could build a nice new road to the top of the mountain where the FOB had an observation point (OP). It was a nice easy job, only during daylight hours, and the cooks knew what they were doing at that FOB. They left the chowhall open at all hours, so no matter when you got the munchies you could walk in and grab some chips or those little single serving microwave pizzas or some raw fruit of some kind. Our sleeping arrangements weren't so bad either, apart from the mold-and-gasoline smell that permeated them. They were old brick buildings with I-beams supporting brick roofs, and they had clearly seen some use, but we didn't have to pull guard duty, there were plenty of cots, and some MRE boxes to use as card tables.

On this particular night, we were all packed up to be ready to leave the next morning and we turned the lights off at about nine. I was asleep fairly quickly. I slept about the same as I always sleep, which is to say I woke up every couple of hours to drink some water, and every time I woke up in the middle of the night I heard a cricket chirping away in some pitch black corner of the room. Sometimes I awoke to the sound of swearing or a flashlight being cursorily swung around the corners of the room. No one put it in any serious effort to find the offending insect. Instead they turned off their flashlights, muttered some vulgarity or profanity, and tried to muffle their ears with their pillows.

In the morning the LT was tired and cranky and almost the first thing he said after lights on was (I'll pay fifty bucks to anyone who can find that @#$%#@$%^ cricket and kill it!"

"Aw, come on, Sir," I said in the voice of sweet reason. "He's just trying to find a lady cricket. All he wants is a little love and affection."

"That's all well and good," the LT snapped. "But I think after six %$^#&! hours, I'd give up."

I didn't reply to that because he was in a bad mood, but secretely I was glad no one hunted down that cricket and killed him. He was a persistent little fellow and I was rooting for him. After all, faint heart never won fair lady.

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