Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Veterans Workshop at Fordham

So here's a link to sign up for the Fordham Veteran's Workshop. Check it out!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Iraq War novel released!

Video Game Crusader is now live on the Kindle store! If you want an early look, its serialized on this very blog! Come check it out!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Video Game Crusader- Chapter 21

So, someone was complaining about the length of my posts, so instead heres a link to Chapter 21 of my book. Doesnt bother me to link instead of posting full text.
I intend to keep this up until my novel is finished, which I'm halfway through now.
This chapter is about life aboard a Navy ship, trash dumping, and lesbians.
I wanted to do a new prompt, it's been a while....using one word: Disdain. It can be used as a noun or an adjective. These are the definitions:

1) to look on with scorn
2) to treat as beneath ones notice or dignity
3) a feeling of contempt for someone or something regarded as unworthy or inferior

I know I have felt people looking at me with disdain and having feelings of disdain for me for many different reasons. Whether it be how I live my life, how I don't conform, and of course, for being a veteran with PTSD. How I dress, speak, walk,breathe.....

Think about any experiences you might have had with this word, feeling, description and WRITE about it or rant about it or simply discuss!!!

I’ve been a member of Warrior Writers for a long time now and may not always be posting but would like to know that this is a space to showcase a variety of authors and writings. We have always tried to keep our posts down to one-two per week and also try to keep them to one page or less. This allows everyone the opportunity to share and give feedback. However, it is a great space to drop a link to more posts and longer posts if anyone wishes to do so.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Video Game Crusader- Chapter 20

"I'm pissed."
"What time is it? Its one AM."
"They fucked over Ra."
"The Egyptian sun god?'
"Raul Lopez."
"He's not getting the Medal of Honor."
"What? Really?"
"Obama fucked him over. Or that faggot Gates."
"Why not."
"So, they had this investigation, right? And they determined that Lopez got shot in the head before he dived on the grenade. That he was going to die anyway."
"So, why should that change anything?"
"Because that Secretary of cocksucking, Robert Gates, said that he was brain-damaged before he fell on the grenade. That was what he said. Fell, not dived. His words."
"Thats bullshit."
"I know. I know and you know. We were both there. Physically present. He did the boot camp thing and should have gotten that shit."
"So he doesnt get anything?"
"Their giving him the Navy Cross."
"But the citation they used, for the Navy Cross, makes it out quite clearly that he dived on the grenade to sacrifice himself."
"Are you even fucking listening to me?"
"I'm sorry, dude. Its really early."
"When my phone rang I thought it was my alarm clock."
"Did I wake up your wife?"
"No. I was sleeping on the couch."
"Hunh. She's pissed off?"
"Kind of. And I was playing video games."
"Which ones?"
"The new Call of Duty."
"Thats cool. I dont have a system."
"Or a TV."
"So, back to Lopez, the tried to get his mom to accept the Navy Cross."
"And she was like, fuck you. Just like that. And they had a Congressman there, saying how the Secretary of Defense was wrong, Corporal Lopez deserved the Medal of Honor."
"Lopez wasnt a Corporal."
"Right. But they promoted him posthumously, or whatever."
"Lopez was never going to be a Corporal. He got non-rec'd twice. He almost got busted down."
"Its crazy."
"Look, Ryan, you want to talk about Ra? The guy was against any kind of authority. When he stood at attention he extended the middle finger, so he was flipping the bird. Remember that time Kurre caught him doing that? An ass chewing and barracks duty on a libo weekend."
"I mean, its not like they knew him."
"No. Its all bullshit. On one side they want to say he wasnt good enough for this award. On the other side he was. But at the end of the day, its a certificate and a piece of tin. It doesnt mean anything."
"Your fucking wrong."
"How am I? Elaborate."
"Who else talks about Fallujah?"
"We do."
"Thats right. We talk about Fallujah and Korengal. Iraq and Afghanistan. Where we went. Being there. But no one else cares. It didnt happen here, in the US, so whose to say it happened at all? I mean, really, cant you just pretend you were in the Air Force, and got deployed to North Dakota, or whatever?"
"But it was real. Lopez proves it. It really happened, and he really died. Giving him that medal is something they cant look away from. Letting your guts explode, so you and I can live. Knowing its going to kill you. They cant look at Lopez and say, fuck you, your illegal, fuck you, your Mexican, fuck you, your young. They have to look at Lopez and say: your a hero. Your a hero, and I'm a big fat pussy, because I never did what you did, I never went where you will, and when I die, it will be from my big fat heart giving way after too many double quarter-pounders with cheese, or else from an accident when the tires on my shitty SUV hybrid give way, or else when I'm just too old and feeble to move out of bed in my nursery home and choke on the smell of my own diaper. And when it happens, it will mean exactly nil."

Video Game Crusader- Chapter 19

There was always weapons maintenance.
It was not a fact that most Marines, if any, thought of before enlisting, but modern firearms got dirty. The kind employed by the US Military did not function well, when coated with the carbon and gunpowder that was a result of their use. And they needed to be cleaned.
The Marine Corps weapons maintenance kit consisted of the following items:
1. A small green toothbrush
2. A long metal rod that could be broken down into three sections
3. Two wire bristle brushes to attach to said rod.
4. A small bottle like the kind used for eye drops, of gun oil labeled CLP, the acronym standing for Cleaning Lubricant Preservative.
These items were the only such items authorized for weapons maintenance. They were almost wholly inadiquate for the task at hand. CLP was an acceptable lubricant, and a questionable "preservative". But for cleaning it was wholly unsatisfactory. Especially in the small size bottles handed out by the armory. Which was why, to clean his M249 SAW, Conner had the following:
1. A black brush with wire bristles
2. A large, spray bottle of gun oil
3. A can of shaving cream
4. A shower stall.
Out of all of it, nothing worked as well as the shaving cream.
The most effective method for cleaning a SAW after time in the field, and heavy use, was as follows. You take the weapon to a shower stall and break it up into its individual components. Cover everything in shaving cream, especially anywhere where carbon has built. Let it sit for a minute or two, then run the water. Most of the carbon will come right off. To disguise the smell of Gillete, spray down entire weapon with the CLP. Rub in in good. The shaving cream will also work on rust. The M249, M16, and M4 all possess a singular desire to turn to rust as fast as possible. But the wire brush can prevent it. It is said that the AK-47 can fire after being buried for a week in the mud. Our weapons will not fire, if simply used too much. This is the price for a manufacturer defect, much time is spent scrubbing away mindlessly on a weapon. When you think your done, you can present it to the squad leader for inspection. He will rub his pinkie in the chamber, flick of the black, and tell you to keep working. No, the best thing for it is to simply continue your scrubbing, kill time until the platoon is dismissed, or something more important comes along.
After the meeting with Major Fight, Sgt. Lazirko's head felt like it was going to spin around. So much had changed on this, the other side of Phantom Fury, that it seemed like another unit.
Staff Sgt. Kurre had fractured a vertebrea in his back just before the actual building assault in the second objective in Fallujah. He creaked around the Company office conex without body armor or helmet, per doctors orders, and would most likely leave for surgery back in the states ahead of the company. Lazirko could see him becoming a pogue, and living out comfortably from this point on. Kurre was a good Marine, and Lazirko knew it would hurt him.
The doctors in Germany had been forced to amputate Lt. Easter's arm, just below the shoulder. He was done. After watching him get shot in the house, Lazirko was suprised that the officer was still alive. But he would make a full recovery soon enough. Lazirko wondered how Easter's wife would take the news that she was now married to a cripple. She looked to be the sort of woman that married for status, above all else. And a crippled Marine was only good for status in newspaper interviews and tribute ceremonies, and was truly wretched in everything else. Easter would be getting divorced, soon enough.
Sgt. White was dead. This news shocked Lazirko, who had been somewhat indifferent to the braggert back in the states, or here in the field, but no one expected him to die. He had been shot in the leg, after all. But the Navy Corpsman had failed to notice that White's femoral artery had been torn, and he had bled out in the back of the humvee, evacuating him from the assault. All the man's blood, being pumped out on the floor, with his heart working against him. A traitor.
Lance Cpl. Lopez was dead, and Fight was going to recommend him for the Medal of Honor. This didnt suprise Lazirko that much at all. In boot camp when citations were read Lance Cpl.'s and PFC's were always getting the Medal of Honor for jumping on a grenade and saving their platoon. Which was exactly what Lopez had done. It wasnt something Lazirko had ever thought to see in real life, but he realized he would have taken that flak if not for Lopez. He felt sorry for giving the kid crap for the little commie flag of his, that red star on a black field.
Lazirko was being put in for a Silver Star. "But it will probably be a Bronze Star." Fight said ruefully. "Thats just politics- the way things are."
"What about the rest of the platoon?" Lazirko asked.
"Give me the names of every one that was on that assault." Fight said.
"For the Combat Action Ribbon?"
"No- for a NAM. That's going to be easy to do."
Lazirko thought about it and said, "You should give Kurre something as well. He trained everyone, after all."
"Dont you worry about the Staff Sgt." Fight told him. "He's taken care of. Just get me those names."
So for the tribute formation, Lazirko found himself in the Platoon Leaders position. They stood at attention when ordered, and at parade rest when ordered. There was a row of tribute stands, twenty-six of them, for the fallen. A rifle and helmet, with a pair of dog tags, and tan desert boots. Lazirko could spot the details. It was the old model helmet, a defunct M16A2 rifle. The only things that were authentic were the boots and the dog tags. There had been working parties for either, to scour the dead's things and retrieve those items.
For most the items of the KIA; they were placed in plastic bags, and then in white boxes. To be shipped home to the US. There was a warehouse for it, in Camp Fallujah, which was most likely identical to every such warehouse in FOB's across Iraq.
Lazirko's mind wandered back to the objective, as he stood at parade rest, and listened to the Colonel speak. Everything had gone wrong. Or rather, they had started out doing everything wrong. You were never supposed to assault from the main entrance. You were never supposed to go into a room without a grenade, first, or stacking at the entrance, or having a tank or explosive make a breach for you. Finally, there was a certain way you were supposed to clear a room. It was like a dance- first the corners, to the center, and the ceiling. But none of that had happened. Easter shot, Lopez on the hand grenade, and then he had Conner had simply aimed their weapons upward. A revelation on his mind, had they even cleared the rest of the building, after shooting the haaji's in the roof? No. No they had not. They could have all died, victims of their own errors, but they had not and were now getting medals.
The colonel spoke. The chaplain spoke. General Mattis even spoke, although briefly. So much of being a Marine was attending these sorts of things, standing and listening to people talk that you didnt really know, and standing in a less comfortable position, when they told you to do so.
After the ceremony Sawyer and Conner made their way into something that they had never known existed. There was a recreation area in Camp Fallujah, and it had video games.
The Xbox 360 was old, first generation, and susceptable to the red ring of death. The red ring of death was a glitch that caused the Xbox to lose power, and possibly never turn on again. There was another, fatal, glitch to the video game system. The Xbox 360 was designed to be put either upright or on its side. But putting if you happened to tip the system over, while it was standing upright, a grinding screech would issue from the system. When you ejected the game disc there would be a circular scratch embedded on its outer edge, which would in all likelyhood prevent the game's function. No one quite knew why the Xbox had been shipped with such serious errors, the best speculation was to get it to markey before Playstation or Nintendo.
Sawyer, Conner, and Fonseca are all engaged in a four person Halo deathmatch, along with some other guy from second platoon no ones quite familiar with. The rules of a Team Deathmatch are clear cut; you and your teammate kill the other guy. Unlike Fallujah, you will respawn after you die. Sawyer likes Halo, even though the hero carries the Navy rank of Master Chief Petty Officer. There are Marines in the game, after all. There have been Marines in every game he can remember. He would have liked a set of power armor. Ra could have used one. Then the grenade would only have taken down his shield, and he could be here today, lecturing on his left wing bullshit or listening to Rage Against the Machine for the upteenth millionth time. Unless you were playing on the hardest difficulty setting. But in real life, you were always playing on the hardest difficulty setting. With no exception.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Video Game Crusader- Chapter 18

James Conner looked out the window of the fifth floor of the Michael E. Debakey Veterans center. It was raining outside. The rain made his wrists ache under the bandages. He shuffled around in his medically issued pajamas, and wondered what else would happen today.
There were two halves of the mental health wing in the Veterans Center, the open ward and the closed ward.
The closed ward was esentially a hallway, with a locked door on each end. There was one TV room, and many other residential rooms besides. There was a nurses station, where a bored looking orderly stood and read the newspaper. On the desks was a sign
Effective July 15,
All VA facilities will be
NON-Smoking only!
This was a big deal to the long-term residents. The smoke break was a sort of sanctuary for them. Conner imagined that all other hospitals, including mental-health hospitals, had been non-smoking long before this. But that was apparently one of the benefits of being crazy and also a Veteran, you could find solace in nicotine, while others couldnt.
The shambler bumped into the sign and knocked it down. The orderly sighed and straightened it back up. The shambler walked a circuit all day every day. A short circuit, like the one in his head, to one end of the hall, and then the other. He wore the little non-skid socks that were fashionable in hospitals, and the crazy persons bathrobe. He was gaunt and his hair was stark grey, and the shamblers expression was totally vacant. Whatever was wrong with him, he wasnt faking it. An announcement came over the intercom, "Group therapy in the closed ward, in the tv room. Group therapy in the tv room."
Having nothing better to do, Conner went into the tv room. There was a somewhat attractive woman there in semi-business attire tapping at a notebook computer. She wore a identification badge, which meant that she wasnt crazy, and thin glasses. Based on her age Conner guessed that she was either a student, or just out of grad school. On her face was the sort of oblivious expression of someone trying to care, but not sure just what is going on.
"Good morning!" She said.
"Revielle!" Mr. Sanders replied.
From the three group therapy sessions Conner had attended thus far, no one spoke besides Mr. Sanders. Sanders was a portly black man, with salt and pepper sideburns in the style of the X-Man Wolverine over a combination of razor bumps and acne. He had his own jaunty style additions to the ward's uniform of bathrobe and pajamas. Sanders wore no shoes or socks, displaying yellowed, corn-chipped toenails, and on his head he wore a Navy dress cap, like a sailor in formation, or Donald Duck.
"Can anyone tell me what day it is?" She asked.
"Tuesday!" Mr. Sanders replied.
"Close!" She smiled. "Its actually monday."
"Tuesday!" Mr. Sanders insisted.
"So." The young woman continued. "Can anyone tell me where we are, right now?"
"The ship!" Mr. Sanders said.
"Well, no." The girl-woman frowned. "Thats not quite correct, Sanders.."
"Thats MISTER Sanders."
"Mr. Sanders..."
"On board the USS Shreveport."
"The ship goes up, and the bodies come down."
"The ship goes up.." Sanders curls over, and unleashes a bracking sob, "And the bodies..dey come right...back...down."
At this point in time the shambler comes into the doorway of the television room and unleashed a tirade of what may be either profanity or gibberish. The orderly comes up to take the shambler by the hand, and ends up restraining him and trying to cajole him into taking his medication. The young grad student dismisses the group, who shuffle around, or go nowhere, or, in the case of Mr. Sanders, noisely start to fart. Conner wonders, is Sanders faking it? Was there a USS Shreveport, that suffered some sort of calamity, some sort of mind ending calamity? He takes a minute to think on the events that brought him here.
He had been drinking. He had been drinking and fighting with Jo, and he hit her, and he took the entirety of his pills, all three bottles. After that he went and dug the Gerber knife into his wrist, not just across his wrist but down, good, severing cuts, that make a mess and bled everywhere. Jo had called Dr. Robinson instead of nine-one-one, but it didnt matter, because Dr. Robinson had gone ahead and called an ambulance anyway. He had done a good job on his wrists, and spent a few hours on the first floor of the VA center getting bandaged up. They gave him meds to conteract the meds he had tried to overdose on, which wouldnt kill him, but did make him shudder and grind his teeth.
All throughout it, the face of Caleb ran in his mind. His one year old baby. What was wrong with him that he would do this? Which was a rhetorical question, anyway. When you had a diagnosis you knew exactly what was wrong with you. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder with Depression and Psychotic Episodes. He didnt function well with other people, or by himself.
At least work was taken care of. Dr. Robinson had called them and told them that Conner had had a allergic reaction to his medication and would need to spend the week in the hospital. It was not very close to the truth, but it didnt matter. The Lt. had swallowed it and he was on sick leave for the time being.
On the smoke breaks the big bald-headed black orderly in purple scrubs handed out cigarettes to everyone that didnt have a pack themselves. The smoke area was a sort of patio, with iron bars to prevent anyone from jumping over the edge. You could stare down at the parking lot if you wanted, or look around at the rest of Houston. Houston was a spread-out city. There was a downtown area with high-rises, of course, but not that many of them. Still, it looked better than Browning. He would have lived here, instead of Browning, given half a chance, not in this psych ward, of course, but in the city, one of the surrounding suburbs. The mood here was much more lively than the group therapy abortion. The veterans chatted to each other. Many of them spoke to the big orderly, who was clearly the favorite. They talked about their life and their condition. Relatives. Branches of service. Conner found a young soldier to chat with.
"Whats your diagnosis?"
"Thats what I got."
"What branch were you in?"
"Im in the Army."
"When did you get out?"
"No, I'm in the Army right now. fifth mountain."
"And they sent you here."
"For PTSD. Damn! That bitch is fine."
"I wouldnt mind taking her out."
"I'm going to show her some of this dick."
The were standing next to the full length glass of the door at the end of the closed ward, and the soldier took out his pecker and started to masturbate. This troubled Conner, who could see a parallel between it and the detainees at the prison, who would frequently jack off in front of an attractive female staff member, or even the occasional gorilla. There was a report that had to be filled out, whenever the incident happened. The detainee was charged with engaging in a sexual act. There was some talk of a push going on with the union to have these masturbators charged with sexual assault, and placing them under the stigma of sex offenders. But what usually happened is the detainee lost his telephone and commissary privileges, and continued his period of indefinite confinement, unless he was put on the bus ride back to Mexico.
No one seemed to notice the soldier. Conner got a look at the nurse. She was attractive, one of those off-white girls that might be black, or black-and-white, or Latino, Dominican, Cuban, unknown. She was different than Jo. He felt numb even thinking about it, what was Jo even doing, right now? Would she be there when he got out? The two instances he had called her cell she had not responded.
Lunch was served and the veterans ate in the tv room. The conversation was not forthcoming. Outside rain pattered down the window-panes, and Conner thought what might happen if he were to somehow break the window, and jump, and if the picture of his body would make it to the internet or the five o' clock news. But the glass was thick and he was tired of the closed ward already. He went back to his room and sat on his bed, quite bored, and wondered what in his life was going to happen next.