Camp Taji, Iraq
Sergeant First Class Reza Iaconelli had seen better days. He closed his eyes, wishing he was anywhere but curled up on the latrine floor in the middle of some dirty, shitty desert. The cold linoleum caressed his cheek, soothing the sensation of a billion spiders creeping over his skin. He had to get up, to get back to his platoon before someone came looking for him. Running patrols through the middle of Sadr City was so much better than being balled up on the bathroom floor, puking his guts out.
He’d sacrificed his dignity at the altar of the porcelain god two days ago when they’d arrived in northern Baghdad. It was going to be a rough deployment; that was for damn sure. Dear Lord, he’d give anything for a drink. Anything to stop the madness of detox. Why the fuck was he doing this to himself? Why did he pick up that godforsaken bottle every single time he made it home from this goddamned war?
The walls of the latrine echoed as someone pounded on the door. It felt like a mallet on the inside of a kettle drum inside his skull. “Sarn’t Ike!”
Reza groaned and pushed up to his hands and knees. He couldn’t let Foster see him like this. Couldn’t let any of his guys see him like this. “You about ready? The patrol is gearing up to roll.”
Holy hell. He dry heaved again, unable to breathe until the sensation of ripping his guts out through his throat passed. After a moment, he pushed himself upright and rinsed out his mouth. He’d definitely seen better days.
He wet his brown-black hair down and tucked the grey Army combat t-shirt into his uniform pants. Satisfied that no one would know he’d just been reduced to a quivering ball of misery a few moments before, he headed out to formation, a five- to seven-hour patrol through the shit hole known as Sadr City in his immediate future.
He was a goddamned sergeant first class and he had troops rolling into combat. They counted on him to do more than show up. They counted on him to lead them. Every single day.
Maybe by the time he reached thirty days in country, he’d stop heaving his guts up every morning. But sick or not, he was going out on patrol with his boys.
The best he could hope for was that he wouldn’t puke in the tank.
Release date – February 4, 2014