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Unexploded Ordnance

by Timothy W. Puetz

327 days, 2 hours, and 13 minutes. The civilian world is still driving me fucking crazy.

“Sir, can I go burn one?”

“Joe, I told you don’t need to ask me every time you need to take a smoke break.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“I told you. Call me, Bob.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Oh. And Joe, you know those things will kill you.”

Yep. Driving me fucking crazing. 327 days, 2 hours, and…

“14 minutes until I’m done wearing this uniform. No more beans. No more bullets. No more headaches.”

“You are going to miss it, Joe.  The Army is in your blood.  It’s not so easily…”

“…forgot my lighter can I borrow yours.”


“I said that I forgot my lighter. Can I borrow yours?”

“Oh, right. Uh, sure.”

“You’re new around here aren’t you? The name is Ted. I work in accounting up on the sixth floor.”

“Nice to meet you. I’m Joe…”

“…Turner. I’ll be leading the mission. We will be moving in support of an infantry mission north of Baraki-Rajan. We will be setting flash TCPs at the intersections of RTE Georgia and RTE Utah and two miles east of the mouth of the Tangi Valley just north of the hardball. Follow on assignment will likely be a screening mission along RTE Texas as the ground pounders exfil back to FOB Shank across the Baraki Barak triangle. These roads haven’t seen route clearance in six days. Expect them to be hot. We are looking at 6 vics, , 28 pax, and 2 terps. We will be attached to…

“…human resources on the third floor.  I’ve only been here less than a year.”

327 days, 2 hours, 21 minutes to be exact.  Yep. Definitely 327 days, 2 hours, 21 minutes too long.

“Welcome to the company. You know we have a softball team.  You look like an athlete.  You look like you could really kill…”

“…anyone that shows threat of doing you or your unit harm. The lawyers say we only need 51% percent certainty to pull that trigger. Don’t be afraid to do it.  Just make sure you have PID.  You have to know how to…”

“…spot the winners out there.  You know upper level management says I have an eye for talent. And I do too!!  You could be just what this team is looking for.”

For fuck sake. Who is this joker and why the fuck hasn’t he given me my lighter back?  I just wish he’d shut his…

“…fucking cock garage, Private. Get your fucking dick beaters off my radio and get the commo sergeant over here now.  These damn radios were supposed to be filled an hour ago.”

“Sorry, Sergeant. I just…”

 “I don’t want fucking excuses.  I want these radios filled. I want PCCs and PCIs complete.  I want to hit our goddamn SP time so we don’t leave two platoons of infantry flapping in the fucking wind. Don’t you understand that communications will make or…”

“…break a company.  Yep, just last quarter my team identified some major oversights in the communication division’s budget.  Once again accounting comes to the rescue.  I can’t help but point out that I identified the clerical error that saved the company millions.”

“You don’t say. You finished with that lighter?”

“Oh my gosh, I forgot I still had it. Can’t get one past you can I?”

Deep breath. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4…317 days, 2 hours and 25 minutes. Fucking civilians.

“Are you married?”


“You know you should meet my wife’s sister.  She loves the big, brooding type. It runs in the family. Heck, how do you think this guy nabbed his old lady. Don’t let this tiny frame fool you.  I’m a real tiger.”

“I can see that.  Can I have my lighter back?”

“You know what I’m going to do?  I’m going to play matchmaker.  I have a real eye you know. I’m going to invite you over for dinner. I am going to have my wife have her sister come…”

“dumpster.  She is nothing but a cum dumpster.”

“Watch your mouth!! I love her.”

“Turner, she has been cheating on you the entire deployment.”

“I love her. “

“Apparently, so has half of Fort Drum.  Just make sure you tip her sideways and drain her after we get home. Goodness knows you wouldn’t want some other guy’s…”

“…to impose on you and your wife.  It is quite kind, but my evenings are very busy. Seems like my mind is always working.”

“Joe, are you planning something big? Are you doing a little moonlighting to gain some extra capital? I can tell you are a go-getter.  I have quite the eye.  Can’t get one passed me.”

“I sure can’t, Ted.”

“I’m always looking for new ventures.  I’m not afraid to pick up and go.  I’m all about taking risks.  I’ll figure I can just pick up my 401k and it will rollover…”



“OH, SHIT!!!”


“OH, GOD!!!”

“…it is vitally important to handle your funds correctly. You need to find the right interest rate and lock…”

“…and load your weapons boys. They hit the goddamn 2 truck. We need to push a security perimeter and sweep the tree line.  Mind your 5s and 25s. Remember security first. Doc, move with me we are going to start setting up the CCP. It’s going to be a fucking…”

“bloodbath. Anyone investing in international technologies is going to take a serious…”

“…hit, Sergeant.  He’s lost a lot of blood. There is not much left of his leg.  The other two are dead. Sergeant, are you listening. What should I do…”

“…with all this dead weight.  I just wish management would see my skills sets and promote me. This accounting department is a real…”

“PAIN!!! OH, GOD!!! IT BURNS!!!”

“Doc, we need more morphine.”


“Doc, get over here!!! I need 3…”

327 days, 2 hours and 29…

“minutes until we can get a MEDEVAC.”

“That’s bullshit. He’s going bleed out before then.”

“I’m sorry, Sergeant. It is the best that…”

“…this company can produce in a given year.  I know. You would think that a company of this caliber would be able to save a…”

“…he’s gone, Sergeant.”

“I’ll let you know when his fucking gone.  Stick with me kid.”

“Sergeant, he’s dead.”

“Where’s my fucking MEDEVAC. I need my…”

“…fucking lighter, asshole.  Where’s my fucking lighter?”

“Whoa!!! Let go of me, Joe!!! Calm down!! Here’s your lighter!!”

“Jesus. I’m sorry, Ted.  I just need another cigarette.”

“You know those things will be the death of you.”

“Let’s hope so Ted.  Let’s hope so.”

Timothy W. Puetz separated from the United States Army in March 2010 after serving seven years as an Infantry and Medical Service Corps officer. His writing includes short stories and poetry revolving around his deployments to Afghanistan and the challenges of transitioning back into the civilian world. He is currently a federal employee working in the area of biomedical research. 

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