0130 in the morning and I was out, asleep on my Navy mattress. Through the glass of my window, bugs feasted loudly on the Cuban night. Chiggers. Or cicadas.
Suddenly my roommate stood above me, shaking me, yelling my name. “We got to go, something’s happening down at the Camp. . .”
I shrugged into my uniform. Not blousing my pants with my blousing strap, not lacing my tired boots. We dashed over to the dusty duty van. Through the trees, sirens sprinted at us and then ran away, down the road. My roommate pulled the mini-van out. I started to tie my boots, but stopped to click my seatbelt in.
Spraying tirefulls of dirt, we peeled onto the road, joining the sirens. We doubled the speed limit. I buttoned up my DCU top and pulled my Velcro nametape off. We wound through the curvy roads, our tires squealing. I flattened my collar and examined my uniform. One side of my uniform read US NAVY and a bare strip of fuzzy Velcro, bare from the absence of my nametape, ran across the other. “Sanitizing your uniform,” it was called.
My roommate did not slow at the gate. He half-saluted the guard and pulled into the empty parking lot. Our doors sprung open before the van even stopped. We started out in a dead sprint. My roommate had fifty bad pounds on me, but I struggled to keep up. Gagging, I dry heaved, seconds away from barfing.
Three minutes ago, I was asleep. Two weeks prior, I had been manning a desk at Fort Meade. My only source of Gitmo knowledge then had been intense movies. “I want the truth,” Ensign Cruise said. “You can’t handle the truth!” Colonel Jack Nicholson roared. Or had Cruise been a Lieutenant?
At the sallyport, a Private First Class I recognized shook his head. “It is not good, Sir,” he said.
We pushed through and a cluster of my guys, linguists, stood at the door to our long mobile office. “Three suicides,” one of the Iraqis told me.
Three? It was going to be a long night. Welcome to Guantanamo. . .