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In the darker recesses of the world, private contractors go where the Pentagon would prefer not to be seen, carrying out military exercises for the American government, far from Washington’s view. In the last few years, they have sent their employees to Bosnia, Nigeria, Macedonia, Colombia and other global hot spots…Motivated as much by profits as politics, these companies–about 35 all told in the United States–need the government’s permission to be in business. A few are somewhat familiar names, like Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of the Halliburton Company that operates for the government in Cuba and Central Asia. Others have more cryptic names, like DynCorp; Vinnell, a subsidiary of TRW; SAIC; ICI of Oregon; and Logicon, a unit of Northrop Grumman. One of the best known, MPRI, boasts of having “more generals per square foot than in the Pentagon.”
–NYT, October 13, 2002
Sing Goddess of the Anger of Achilles…
Yeah, yeah, yadda yadda and all that ‘David Copperfield kinda crap.’. Cut to the chase: When those Bush Flaks came down to Hades and tried to sucker me into fighting the War on Terror. The only weapon against terror I know of is wine; sometimes opium. But of I don’t speak for free. I needed blood. They knew the rules: no blood, no banter.
I’ll be damned if that pin-striped pencil-neck and his boys didn’t roll out a cold keg of the finest Panamanian, circa 1989, I ever tasted. Most of the generals, dictators, politicos what have you, ply me with regional blood, Greek, Turkish, Armenian, but these boys knew their stuff; someone at the NSA did his homework and got me exotic.
“My name’s Chad. And I represent the President of the United States of America,” said the Suit with that ridiculous amalgam of arrogance and innocence those young ‘official’ Americans have. A kid, maybe twenty-three, twenty-four. Pencil-neck. Ectomorph. Punk.
“‘The President of the United States of America,'” I mimicked. “Big Deal.”
Chad and his ‘colleagues’ (thugs; probably CIA) played it cool, but their pale faces turned red as a slave-boy’s rectum.
Chad continued, “Oh it is a big deal. A very big deal. Help us take Baghdad and the world is yours.”
“What do I want with the world? I’m dead,” I said. “And I’d rather be a slave among the dead than the lowliest corporate chieftain in America.”
Again, the petty posse blushed en masse.
“You’re not supposed to say that. That’s not what-”
“-what the poets wrote. Poets lie. You ought to know that. Aren’t you a poet?”
“Well. Not exactly. Though I did once publish a clever Sestina in the Yale Review when I was at school. I’m actually an Official Executive PR Intern and Apprentice Speechwriter. For the White House!” he said proudly.
“A speechwriter. And I’m supposed to take you seriously?”
“Well, not me, per se, but the man I represent. The-”
“Yeah, yeah. The ‘President of the United States.’ Then you are a poet, perhaps the greatest who ever lived, if you can persuade anyone to take that guy seriously. Think I don’t watch CNN?”
“You watch CNN?”
“What the hell else am I gonna do? It’s the only channel in Hades besides Fox.”
“Well then, you’re familiar with our situation. We need a hero. Not just any hero. Cops, Firemen, martyred office workers. Boh-ring. They’ve grown stale. What’s more, since we publicly proclaimed them ‘heroes,’ they’ve been asking for more better benefits, higher pay. We need a genuine military hero to don genuine GI gear for a special high profile mission.”
“And what might this be?”
“Terminate- uh, that is, ‘take out’ Saddam.”
“That’s it? You came all this way to persuade me to kill one man?”
“Not an easy task. This man is cunning, ruthless, secretive. Evil incarnate.”
“Sounds like a job for Odysseus rather than me.”
The Bush men looked at each other uncomfortably. Chad the Suit spoke thus: “We’d already hired him for another job: Ossama Bin Laden. Odysseus took ten kegs of vintage Sioux, our oldest finest stock, in advance, then double-crossed us. Must be a double-agent for Terror. Not only didn’t kill Bin Laden, he helped him escape. Some ‘hero.'”
“Well what’d you expect?”
“Better than we got. He fit the profile perfectly: family man, entrepreneur, property owner, showed initiative with that ‘Trojan Horse’ thing…”
“Alright, so you got burned,” I said. “Why come to me?”
“Well, because you’re -”
“Loyal. You’re a fighter. The best. Real action hero. Dedicated to his girl, Kryseis, and his best-pal, Patrokles. Put you in U.S. Marine gear, have you do the job right, and Bingo. Media coverage–you’ll see yourself glorified on CNN. Best-selling books. Definitely a movie in this. Maybe Spielberg.”
“Man, are you people gullible. Not even gullible, stupid. Worse than stupid. Goofy. That’s the only word for it. Goofy. Didn’t Homer teach you anything?”
“Well, actually, I was quite busy in college,” murmured Chad. “I only read the Cliff’s Notes.”
“Kryseis wasn’t my girl. She was my booty. A slave, a kidnap-victim, in your parlance, who I raped at my leisure.”
“Please. Keep it down. We have women in our armed forces,” Chad peered into the mist and darkness, nervously.
“Women in the army?”
“Worse: queers.” Spat Chad.
“You know,” he whispered. “Guys who ‘do it’ with -yuck-other guys.”
I laughed heartily at this. Who could believe such a people run an Empire? They won’t last long. Believe me.
“What do you think Patrokles was? My tennis partner?” I barked. “I did it better and more often with Patrokles than the likes of your President Bush ever did with his stony wife.”
“Good god. Achilles! You’re a hero for gods sake.”
“As is Odysseus. As were all your rapists, murderers, slave-drivers, executives, presidents, kings…the meanest, most cunning, ruthless bastards the poets celebrate as heroes. Where did you Americans find such a childish definition of a hero? Your celebrated ‘Hollywood?’ In my day, a hero, so called, raped, pillaged, murdered, and generally brought ruination upon the anti-hero–that is, everyone else”
“Well it’s different for us,” sniffed Chad. “A hero sacrifices, a hero looks out for others, a hero -”
“-is a sucker. Here today, gone tomorrow. No immortality in sacrifice.”
“A hero is brave!” whined Chad. I feared he was about to cry.
“You call dropping bombs from five miles in the sky ‘brave?’ It’s boring. Boring, boring, boring. That’s the problem with all your wars. No real fun and excitement.”
“A war isn’t about fun and excitement. It’s about business,” said Chad with pompous deference, as if he knew the answers.
“Then why you need ‘heroes’ so called?” I asked.
“For the public. To persuade them to sacrifice, to be brave, to -”
“Be suckers and die for your ‘business.'”
“Enough, Sir! You blaspheme!”
“Honestly, you Americans never cease to amuse me. Even your ‘players’ are like children. Like that damn Prescott Bush always whining about how he should be in heaven at the feet of Jesus singing Kum-bah-yah, instead of down here ‘among the heathen’ just because he made money off the Nazis during WWII. ‘It was just business, is all,’ he cries, day in day out. Well, that’s my problem with the whole Bush clan. It’s all just business. Monopolies. Embezzlement. Fraud. Trading with the enemy. In my day, we would have made short work of such a scoundrel and let the dogs pick what they could off his scrawny carcass. No wonder they don’t know how to run a war. Too uptight. Don’t know how to have fun. Puny whelps, those Bushes. No real muscle…”
Well, that was enough for Chad and Company to cut off the tap.
“Let’s go fellas,” Chad said to his boys. “We’re wasting our time with this, this degenerate homo!”
I still had enough blood in my gullet to scream, “Tell Dubya, ‘the Heroes’ of Hades send our regards! We’ll be expecting him…”
ADAM ENGEL writes and lives in NYC. His most recent and engaging project was providing editorial consultation for the book, She Comes First: A Grammar of Oral Sex, by Ian Kerner. He supports a war on terror because fear is a bad thing and should be eliminated, so long as nobody get’s hurt in the process. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.