Normally, I tend to use the War Journal to tell you about my adventures deployed and in the writing world. Not so today. I work with a lot of interesting characters, people who have their own crazy stories. Not telling you about these folks from time to time is doing you all a disservice.
Take Ed, for example. Ed’s an older gentleman, a grandfather, who’s deployed with me right now. A few years ago he was in Iraq, on a base I can scarcely recall, and was crossing the street to wait for the bus which was scheduled to come in a few short minutes. Before he made it across the street, Ed passed out.
It was a dusty day, which made for a brown fog that covered the landscape and reduced visibility. Ed kind of comes out of his passed out state, enough to hear the sound of a large vehicle and wants to wake up because he doesn’t want to miss the bus. But the vehicle just lingers in the immediate vicinity while two Iraqi men argue. Then Ed feels himself being dragged.
Apparently, the bus ran him over. What he was hearing was the Iraqi bus driver and his companion arguing over what to do with this white guy they had just ran over. Nevermind dust fog and lack of visibility; in their minds running over Americans on an American bases was the fast track to getting fired. No one wants to get fired, especially when you’re paid better than what you can find outside base driving a bus. So they handled the problem by dragging Ed and dumping him into a nearby ditch.
The Iraqis had dumped Ed head down and legs up in the ravine, which is precisely what Ed needed at the time and didn’t know it. A couple of soldiers spotted Ed’s prone body in the ditch, went to see if he was all right. When they went to stand Ed up, he passed out again. He came to, lying with his legs elevated again. They tried to get him up again and he passed out immediately.
By the time he came to again, ambulatory officials had arrived. “Don’t lift me–” was all Ed was able to say before they tried to right him up and he passed out again. This happened one or two more times, until he got to the clinic and subsequently got flown to Germany on a med-evac (medical evacuation from theater).
In Germany he learned what had happened. Ed had a massive blood clot, one that went into his heart as he was crossing the street. The bus, in running him over, had pushed the clot out of his heart, where it hovered over one of his major valves. Since the bus driver and companion had dragged Ed into the ditch and put him downside up, his blood flowed. But whenever he righted himself, the blood clot would flap over that top valve, cut off the blood flow abruptly and out he went.
The folks in Germany patched Ed up good as new, to include the broken bones he got from the bus running him over. He’s alive to this day to tell me about it, where I could in turn tell you. It’s not often that you meet a guy whose life got saved by being run over by a bus.
Speaking of the bus, no one ever found out who it was that ran Ed over. I imagine there’s an Iraqi dude somewhere with guilt in his heart. Maybe this story will get repeated enough times to reach his ears and he’ll know there’s a contractor whose current status of alive and well can maybe ameliorate the guilt in that bus driver’s heart just as his bus alleviated the blood clot in Ed’s.
If you’re hungry for more stories derived from deployment (this time fictional), check out Hollow Man Dances, inspired by Native Americans and Afghanistan’s 180 days of wind! Available now at Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/257367