**************setting, a full chapter and some comic relief********************
“I never knew whether I was drawn to eccentric people or if they were drawn to me.” ~ Dean Koontz, author.
Like most of this book, the story of Jesus in Somalia isn’t widely known. A secret weapon of the US Army, Jesus was in fact a sergeant in my company while we were in Somalia. Unlike the majority of us who held the Military Occupation Specialty (MOS) 11B (infantryman), Jesus had the MOS of 11C. I know what you’re thinking, but no, the “C” doesn’t stand for Christ; it stands for indirect fire infantryman, eg, mortars. Meaning he could cause the enemy to explode from a few miles away, just like one might expect of the messiah. And the mortar section of an infantry unit really can be a savior of sorts when needed. Why Jesus only held the rank of sergeant, only God knows. And while the ways of the Lord are known to be mysterious, so too were the ways of Jesus of Merca. Perhaps even more so. I won’t be using his real name, and for all you know, I’ve told you nothing else about him that can identify him. It has nothing to do with legal protection for myself, but more out of respect for Jesus that I do this. In fact, I hope that at this point in his life, he can read this story and laugh.
If you grew up or were an adult in the 80’s you might remember the anti-drug commercials where the guy says “This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs.” as he holds up an egg and then drops it into a frying pan. Well, that’s kinda what happened to Jesus’ brain. Except the only drug in his system was the anti-malarial medication we took weekly, which is known to have side effects that include psychosis and the frying pan was his skull being constantly baked to oblivion by the insanely hot Somali sun. Add in the stress of a combat environment, which in itself can drive people over the edge, and you have one very exciting messianic figure! Who happens to be armed to the teeth!
My walk with Jesus, such as it was, began in the coastal town of Barawa, Somalia, sometime toward the end of February (I think). Unlike born again Christians who can tell you the exact moment their walk with Jesus began, it’s hard for me to pinpoint the exact date in my mind. Don’t get me wrong, it was a life changing experience for sure. Since I remember the location and that I was there late February/early March, I have something to go on as far as timeline.
SPC Evans was probably the first to tell me that something wasn’t right with Jesus. He was in the same platoon and told me that Jesus had been doing weird shit, and saying even weirder shit. And that just like Jesus of Nazareth had twelve disciples, Jesus of Merca was recruiting twelve disciples. And Evans wasn’t telling me just to share a laugh. Not only was Evans one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, the lord had sent him to recruit me!
“Yeah, I’ll fucking jump right on that shit, thanks Evans!” I said, thinking he was joking.
“Slane, I’m serious. He sent me to ask you. He expects an answer, and I hope it’s yes because I have no idea what he’ll do if you say no.” Evans explained.
“So why don’t you go fucking tell someone, man? Instead of coming after me to recruit me into this shit?” I replied.
“Everyone knows already. I don’t know why no one’s done anything about it. I don’t think they believe anyone about him saying he’s Jesus.” He further explained. “Just go along with it for fun. It’s actually kind of entertaining and I think he’s harmless. Except for when he charged his weapon and pointed it at Babbit.”
“He did what?!?!?! And no one has done anything?” I asked excitedly.
While in the middle of explaining how Jesus had pointed his weapon at PFC Babbit, I sensed someone walking up behind me as I noticed Evans give a nod as he began to smile and suddenly switched topics. That’s right, Jesus was right behind me.
“Slane, you are my right hand man. You are the beloved John. Will you follow me?” Jesus said, sounding a little like Barry White crossed with Morgan Freeman and then crossed with a Pakistani cab driver (which is how he always sounded).
“Uh, sure….” I said, shocked as fuck at what I had just heard.
“We’re going down to the beach. Grab your weapon and come along.” He said.
“Ok….” I replied hesitantly.
Almost right after I had changed into my PT (Physical Training) shorts, I turned around and he was there. Nothing creepy about that, I know.
“Are you ready to go?” Jesus asked.
“Yes….Sergeant….” I said, not knowing if I was to now address him as lord or by his rank.
“Bring your M60” he added and then hesitating for a second before saying “But conceal it.”
“Do WHAT?” I said, kind of laughingly. “How the FUCK would YOU suggest I conceal the fact that I am carrying a nearly 4 foot machine gun?” I added, standing there in nothing but some pretty small PT shorts and flip flops. “I think I missed that training.”
“What training?” he replied, ignoring the most relevant part of what I had just said.
“The training where you walk around practically naked while fucking concealing a nearly 4 fucking foot machine gun?” I said, growing annoyed.
“Oh. Right. Bring your 9MM. And conceal it.” He retorted.
“Yeah, ok on the whole brining the 9mm thing. But again, if I conceal it, I think my appearance is going to be highly fucking offensive to the locals. Like, why is this huge guy walking around nearly naked with a giant fucking hard on? Or if I hide it on the other side, why is this guy walking around with a huge fucking crap in his pants?” I asked in my now very smart a$$ tone.
Expecting some sort of response, I was a little bit surprised when he just started walking as though I had said nothing. Evans was smiling at me, as was Grish, Mangold and Franklin.
“Well, come on, Slane! Let’s walk to the beach with Jesus!” Grish said excitedly.
I smirked and we started off to the beach, walking just behind the lord. When we got to the beach, it was time for Jesus to give a sermon. At this point, I really wished he could produce massive quantities of fish and bread since I had been eating MRE’s for nearly four months. But no, instead he began giving us his famed “Sermon on the Beach”, recorded and found only in the gospel of nowhere.
“And now there are twelve. Someday, we will return to this land and rule it. Together. Of course, I will be in charge, but, together we will rule this land.” Jesus explained.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Slane, the time will come when I shall call upon you to kill for me. And….you’ll do it.” He said.
“Roger that…. But WTF are we even talking about here?” I asked, with a big fucking smile on my face.
“We will return home to the US and when the time comes, I will call us together and we will return to this land as mercenaries. As warlords. And we will rule this entire continent, starting with here.” He explained. “The CIA are everywhere here. Have you noticed? The Brown and Root contractors are all CIA. There is more to this picture than meets the eye.” He continued.
“Uh huh.” I said and then hesitated. “So…. you think the 13 of your…chosen…guys or whatever, are going to take on the entire continent of Africa? And win? How would that work?”
“Slane. You have a large body that moves quickly. You’ll be my right hand man. You shall carry a minigun as your primary weapon, with a rifle strapped across your front and back, a shotgun strapped to each leg and a pistol on each side.” Jesus proposed.
For those who don’t know, an M134 minigun is an 85 pound, six barrel machine gun that fires up to six thousand rounds per minute. And is a vehicle or aircraft mounted weapon. What Jesus was describing to us was right out of the movie “Predator” and I was Jesse Fucking Ventura’s character “Blain”(“I ain’t got time to bleed!”) Realizing now that he was completely out of his mind, I decided to just have a little fun with it. What else could I do?
“Dude……that all sounds swell, but who the fuck is going to carry all the ammo for me? With all of those guns and ammo I’d only be able to walk a few meters at time and then we’d have to take like a ten-minute break!” I exclaimed.
SGT Jesus completely ignored my rational question. Of course he did. He’s out of his fucking mind. He doesn’t deal with anything remotely close to rational. I mean, just half an hour ago he was telling me to conceal a nearly four-foot machine gun in my ass. Because that’s fucking logical.
Jesus then stood on the beach right where the tide washed across his feet and extended his arms toward the sea. To everyone’s surprise, tears were now streaming down his face as he said “This is where my mother the earth meets my father the sea……” It was a real Hallmark moment we were all having now. But it didn’t end there.
First he told us his secret, saying “I can blend in here, disappear without a trace. No one would ever find me.” Then, without further warning, Jesus dropped “trow” and took off down the beach butt-ass naked, junk flapping to and fro.
Now, maybe it’s just me, but I always thought Muslims were a little conservative over things like full nudity? The looks that man got as he sprinted past the locals down the beach was priceless. Now leaderless and our savior out of sight, we all looked at each other briefly, exchanged some nods of “Yep, that really happened.” and then began to disperse like disappointed fans at a rained out baseball game.
Beem, Grish and I found a nice little cove in which to go for a swim. God (no, not him, the real one), the water felt amazing. And I was beyond filthy. After swimming around for a little bit, I went back to shore for a smoke where I noticed something I wished I had seen before I went into the water. The shoreline was littered with quite a few jawbones. Shark jawbones to be specific. I then looked back at the cove, surveying its natural design. I realized we were swimming in the one place sharks likely love to come. No more swimming for me, thanks.
But Earl had an idea. How about some seafood? Earl paid a pair of Shark Baits to go get some lobsters. Only one returned of course, but he had lobster. Just kidding about that first part. If only Jesus had stuck around for some lobster. He could have turned our canteen water to wine and made us a few more lobsters and some bread. Throw in some fucking butter while you’re at it, Sarge.
Back in Merca Jesus approached me as I stood unaware. In other words, he snuck the fuck up on me. In the dark.
“Slane……eh….how do you feel about….torture?” he inquired.
“Um. Giving or receiving?” I asked.
“Both.” He replied.
“Both?” I asked again.
“Well, start with receiving then. How much do you think you can take?” He asked me.
“Uh. Why? Am I about to find out? Because I’m good right up until they drive the nail through the scrotum.” I said, starting to feel slightly awkward.
Luckily, someone walked up and tried to join the conversation, at which point Jesus became agitated and wondered back off into the night. Thank God. No pun intended.
The last time I saw SGT Jesus even attempt to go on a mission, he showed up for a pre-mission inspection in what could only be best described as “combat casual”. He was wearing his desert camouflaged boonie hat, a t-shirt, a reflective belt, PT shorts and flip flops with his rifle slung across his back, all while holding out two canteen cups as though he was expecting some coffee. For the rest of our time in country, Jesus patrolled the interior of whatever base we occupied. To everyone’s great relief, his rifle contained no bolt. But he looked sharp. Always in combat casual and never without a canteen cup.
As it turned out, I started to think that nut was right about the CIA. Especially after the events of 19 March. Also, over the years, I’ve learned there may have been some truth behind many of his theories, like the reasons the US was interested in Somalia. Not really a topic for now, and maybe not for this book.
For twenty + years now I have waited in vain for SGT Jesus to “call on me to kill for him”. I think he’ll call on me when I least expect it. Like maybe while I’m taking a leak and his face pops out of the toilet unannounced.
“Slane……the time has come!”
Any war story would be incomplete without a little blasphemy, as war by definition is the ultimate blasphemy.
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Copyright© Bravo Charles & Behind the Gun 2016