Day 92, Chapter 92
Today is a Pete Gordon flashback chapter – I was kind of looking forward to this, a break from the monotony of half-assed crime solving, child murder, and girl-on-girl action. Sadly, it is just as fucked up and pathetic as the previous 91 chapters. (That’s right, I’m dropping roadside f-bombs today.)
Pete was riding in the lead car in a military caravan in Iraq when a roadside bomb destroyed the car behind him. His car got totally rocked by the explosion and he staggered out to assess the situation. This is where it gets really effed up.
He saw three of his men: Corporal Ike Lennar was lying on the ground, twitching. Private Oren Hancock was holding his guts as they spilled into the dust. The other marine was Kenny Marshall, from Pete’s hometown, his legs blown off above the knees.
He’d dropped beside his dear friend, ripped off Kenny’s helmet, and cradled his bare head. The picture of Jesus inside Kenny’s helmet appeared to shake its head as the helmet rolled on its rim. Pete had murmured empty words of comfort to Kenny, the boy who’d said he’d be ready whenever the Lord called him. Kenny had looked up at Pete – surprise in his eyes – and then the life had fled from him.
“No, no, no,” said Jesus. “Yes, yes, yes,” said JPatt. Seth lies on the ground twitching as the life fled from him.
Pete went apeshit at this point – he felt “emptied of life” when little Kenny died. “He tore off his shirt and covered Kenny’s face” (lucky Kenny) then he took the rest of his men and went after the people riding in the car that was following his caravan. He seems to think that they set off the IED. Hey, another ridiculous leap in logic!
There were two cowards in the front seat, and a woman and a child screamed in the back. Pete dragged the woman out of the car, her arms wrapped around the baby. He didn’t understand what she said, and he didn’t care.
Yeah, that’s right – who cares? Cowards! He gets the “insurgents” on the ground and threatens them, waving his gun in the face of the “black sack of woman and baby at his feet.” No really, that’s the description – I think she’s wearing a burqa, but I’m not sure. He screams at the two coward insurgents, asking if they love the woman and baby.
He aimed his gun at the bitch, and she turned to look at him, her hands coming out from her shroud of a garment, palms up to stop the bullets. He fired his automatic, watching her jerk and flutter, and as she died he shot her squealing kiddo.
“Jerk” and “flutter?” Can you have it both ways? “Kiddo?” Really?
Nothing was ever said about the incident. But in his mind Gordon still lived on the dusty road outside Haditha. It was the last time he’d had a tender feeling.
I have some questions: Am I supposed to feel bad for Pete Gordon? Or should I feel indifferent to his fate, chalking it up to casualties of war? Am I sad that the woman and her baby got killed? Or happy because they were clearly insurgents and deserved to die? Am I supposed to have a clearer picture of Pete after this scene? If anything, his situation makes even less sense than it did before. How is killing a woman and child – especially if you believe you were getting revenge for your dead friend – the catalyst for a murderous rampage back home? Why would killing more women and children be a cathartic act for you if you had gone through an experience like this? Where was the “tender feeling,” exactly? Once again, nothing in this book makes any sense.
Go to Day 93