6/16/2004

Is it OK to Kill a child?

Last week, patrolling a little town, a boy jumped out of the bushes holding a gun. I shot him, and he started wailing loudly. He cried like children cry. I was not sure what to do, and since his gun had fallen far away, I walked up to him.

My bullet seems to have hit him somewhere in the stomach. The boy would die, I knew. There were no hospitals in the area, and I was not going to take him in my jeep to the nearest one (30km on). If it was not a child, I would have left him there.

But he was wailing and shouting out loud, so I dragged him out of the road (so no car would smash him up, that always looks nasty). I pulled the tiger grass to cover him, walked out to the middle of the road so I no longer saw him, and shot into the grasses. He stopped wailing, but I didn't go to look.

The congo is a disgusting place. Equitorial Guinea is also not a nice place. The coastal waters of Sao Tome are rough and brown. It is hot, humid and sticky. The grass is long and green, my uniform is heavy and stinky. The men are uneducated, uninformed and thieving. The houses we stay in are dirty, and there are cockroaches everywhere. Outside the houses, it smells of shit. There are clumps of shit in the bathroom. There are only two brands of cigarettes one can buy out here, and the ones that are menthol are disgusting.
As are the prostitutes, fat women with flopping breasts, or thin women with dripping diseases. They are loud and cheery, laughing with their friends, and shooing of the children that hang around them. Those whorehouse children, they do not know who their fathers are, and some may not be sure which of the women their mothers are. They are usually under ten, yet they steal like grown men, they shoot like hunters, and they curse worse than sailors.

There are three mulatto boys in our local whorehouse, and they swagger about like they own the area. They tell tales about their fathers, tales they cannot know, tales about rich men and miners. Their soft curly hair grows wild, their mothers do not let them cut it, because that hair is their status symbol. They are called the white boys, and they dance down the streets together.

The local alcoholic drink burns. The alcohol content is high, and it varies in quantity. One always has to touch it with the tongue before gulping it down, lest you roast your stomach and throat. Or vomit and lose your meal, a worse fate.

The meals here are monotonous. It is the same rice with beans from the same sweaty, old and fat woman. She is dirty, her wooden spoon is dirty, her bowls are encrusted with the meals of yesterday. She is constantly screaming obscenities towards the prositutes, always in some fight with the one woman or the other.

Bullets are getting hard to find, and I am getting constantly ripped off. Nobody wants to sell bullets to us, because we are the foreigners.

We are not going to be here for much longer, the government is coming in. We have burnt the roads, but it will not hold out the troops for long. We have mapped our route through the forests already, and the batteries they have here can hardly pwoer my gps device. I have bought 30 AA batteries, and they will only last about 3 hours. I keep needing to switch my device on and off. The batteries are chinese.

In a few days, we will be at the coast, and I will jump into the atlantic and get this dirt out my body, out of my clothes, and maybe out of my soul.

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