Chapter 20 - Tent City
6:45 AM | Author: Jeff
Part 2

“Dear Mum and Dad,” was written at the top of a piece of standard issue letter writing paper, James Schmitt had written the words over thirty minutes ago. He lay on his stomach, on his cot, staring a hole through the paper that lay on his pillow. He had decided to write home and let his mother and his father know that everything was fine, but after writing the first line he realized, he wasn’t sure what the hell everything was, things seemed fine in a bizarre way, but then again he was lying on his cot in a tent surrounded by thousands of other tents, in a place called tent city, in a country called Saudi Arabia. He knew that at anytime his company could receive it’s orders to move into Kuwait and take down the Armies of Iraq, an army he had been told was the forth largest in the world, but more than just the sheer size of his foe, the army Hussein commanded was battle hard, from years of war with Iran, Schmitt and his fellow marines were only packing thirteen weeks of training. Like everyone there, Schmitt had the hard task of winning over his fears and doubts, facing it all in solitude, for night time is a lonely time for a soldier.
Schmitt’s thoughts drifted to his wife Louise, and their four year old daughter Kelly, thinking of their faces, smiling at him, his wife’s eyes full of pride in her man for defending her against the evils of the world, was the only way to block out the reality of this place, block out the heat, block out the impending doom that hung in the air, but most importantly block out the boredom that was killing the will of every marine here. There was no doubt that America would prevail, but what did Schmitt really know of war.
Each day consisted of drills, patrols, hydration and more drills. Every marine was a little strung out, the only thing worst than the threat of nerve agents, which Saddam was so fond of using, was the waiting around on constant alert; it could start any time, any time.
Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait on August second, at that time Schmitt had been stationed on the island of Okinawa, Japan, at Camp Foster.
He and his young family had only just gotten things in order when his orders came, three days later he was on his way to Saudi Arabia.
The night before he shipped out, Schmitt took his wife and daughter out for a lobster dinner, a rare and expensive treat in Japan, the service and preparation had been a step above anything they had experienced before, after they ate, they had ice-cream. Schmitt had held his daughter in his arms the entire time as they walked the small brightly lit streets, neither of them wanting to return to the reality of the base and the day ahead.
They had eventually returned to the base, Schmitt’s mom and dad called to wish him well and to tell him to take care, his father, a war veteran himself, passed on his small bits of advice.
“Keep your head and ass to the dirt son, and keep an eye on the man next to you, because when things get bad, he’ll be the only support you’ll have. Do that and you’ll be fine son.” The words hung in the air, swirling around.
After Schmitt hung up the phone, he put his daughter in her bed, and watched her until she fell asleep. That night he and Louise made love like never before.
Sitting in his cot in the desert, he realized how much he loved Louise, he knew she was the woman for him on the night of their first date, though she had needed some convincing. She had said she wasn’t into marines, her father was a squid and was never around for her, but Schmitt had persisted and persisted and after eight months he had finally put a ring on her finger. The memory brought a smile to the weary soldiers face.
Schmitt looked at his watch, it was getting late, he had to be up for another long day of shoveling sand, navigating imaginary mine fields, gas mask drills and hydration in another six hours, Schmitt forced himself to focus on the letter in front of him.
“All is well; nothing much is happening right now, everybody is waiting for our orders to come through. It’s hot, dry and there is nothing but sand, we are all ready to get in there and kick some Iraqi ass, which we will do. I promise.
I love you both and miss you. I know this will all be over soon, guys are saying we may be home as soon as a few weeks from now.
Love always
James”

Schmitt folded the letter and put it away in his foot locker turned off the light and tried for some sleep, and as sleep took him he thought about Louise and his innocent little Kelly, wishing he was with them, now more than ever before.
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I'm supposed to be doing all sorts of things--writing cards, laundry, decorating and what happens? You put up another Chapter! So much for my schedule. Ooh, it's a good one, though that's for sure. What a cliffhanger. Can't wait to see what Sabian has to say. Really good tense stuff, but with just the right poignancy."...
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