Why We Are in Iraq

G. K. Wuori

i am saved by being worth no trouble
This is what I know, then, my name being Franklin McCormick, a man of uncertain status in that old man’s life except that I lived in a shed on his farm and gave him such labors as I could. It was an exchange, a salvation for my benefit. The instinct to reform never dies in any of us. Like some virtuous corrosion it eats away at a lifetime of fucking up.
    Anyway, even in these modern times a citizenry can run you out of town (which they did to me) and tell you that if you come back they will chop you down to something that could fit in a Baggie and be sold as a smokeable pleasure. The old man, though, took the measure of me and the measure of his civic kin and said, “He’s hardly worth your trouble. I will take him in and see to such improvement as is still possible.”
    I kept the old man’s ancient Farmall running, kept the plows, cultivator, and discs tight where they needed to be that. I oiled, lubed, removed rust, added paint. I enjoyed fencing in three acres for some horses that never came, my skills with board, hammer, saw, and level like a secret I’d kept from myself for many, many years. During haying he brought in some Mexican migrants while I planted myself in the loft of the barn and stacked hundreds, maybe thousands of bales in tight patterns. My sweat drained by the gallon, making room, I hoped, for my shrunken soul to expand back into a useable form. I fetched his eggs and chopped the heads off his chickens when the town ladies came by for fresh. When he decided he no longer wanted to offer those commodities, I conveyed that to those fine ladies. They rewarded my courtesies with bad manners and a derision I could only assume I’d earned. To be brief, I was a mess. I was a hamster running on a broken wheel. My morals, you see, I’d left them out on a highway somewhere years before.

reform is a kiss from a blind whore, and i smooched her good
At night, though, I had my bottle and I had my shed and I had the magazines the old man got for me at garage sales. At around six o’clock I’d go to the back door of the house, and he’d give me a plate of food (he could cook; it was all right) that I might eat on the steps or under a tree or back at my shed if it was cold or bad weather. Usually, I didn’t eat at any other time during the day because I needed some drinks in me to tolerate the food. As might seem obvious, I try to be a scheduled man.
    Here is how my reform came about, though I must issue a warning as to nastiness and general human depravity. Reform is a kiss from a blind whore, and I smooched her good, but the result came out as ugly as a dead chicken. Maybe I’m just being cautious here because so often we think that success has to be beautiful.
    Just about any time I’d convince myself the old man was a true farmer—my work, thus, true, maybe good—the boys showed up. They did that. Not real frequent, the two brothers, but enough so that I knew I was only a game in progress, that farm like a stage set that has nothing to do with the play going on.
    Corky stood in at about my height—not quite as tall as the antique musket my pop fired at me one time, but about as hard as a side of beef; one tough Bohemian, you see. His brother, though, Baker his name, he’s got tar for a heart and a septic tank for a mouth, a boy I might say with no regard to accuracy, about ten feet tall with hands the size of tires on one of those small imported cars. Usually, when they came by, they’d have a girl with them, one of those heavy girls with a sweet face and too much makeup, one of those girls who look for meanness the way a fly looks for shit, then wail and whine when they find it. I believe she found enjoyment in treating me like an empty Coke can. I didn’t mind. I’d had my attention years before and hadn’t much cared for it. One thing, too, though, it wasn’t ever clear if she was Corky’s girl or Baker’s girl. Boys like that, you know, they fuck anything handy, with possession about as important as whose socks you pull out of the dryer to put on.

i rarely bleed, and i always heal
The old man’s name was Harrison Whitehead, and you might think I’d have left after the first time he beat me or put it to me in the dark place, but we’re ten miles from town, first of all, and, second of all, I can’t go to town (as I already said). That was one of those informal things where they said to me that if I stayed out of that precise geographic circumlocution, they’d see to it that nobody put me in a hole or a fire pit or one of those leaf choppers, so I agreed to that.
    But the old man had this decency streak to him, too, with a troubling little burp to it so you could see he had to do some things that made him sad—nasty things, sure, only sometimes he had it in his eyes that if certain things were different, they’d by God be better. Which is a roundabout way of saying that I rarely bleed, and I always heal, and if it made him feel better to do to me what he couldn’t do to Corky and Baker, well, he fed me and gave me a place to stay and saw to it that I had work we both hoped might make me a better person.
    They say Mr. Whitehead had kids, but I never saw them. Maybe he wasn’t a good father. Maybe he beat his kids until they grew up and could move away and feel happy about never sending Christmas cards and all of that, or visiting. More than once, however, I saw him look on Corky or Baker or their loopy slut with real affection, whatever their business, like maybe he wished they had something more than just business to do, something besides pulling their van up to that Wal-Mart-Always-Low-Prices shed out where the old outhouse used to be. I never knew whether they put things in there or took them out, but I knew what it all was because in that early time when Mr. Whitehead thought there was more to me than there was, he said maybe I could be like his foreman, so he gave me the keys to everything. Anyway, he never took those keys back.
    I, however, learned to be careful.
    One night I happened to wander a little too close to the place, and Baker asked me if I wanted to see my nose coming out of my belly button, and I said, no, sir, I don’t believe so, even though Mr. Whitehead was right there and said to Baker, “Ease off, son. He’s just my drunk. Half the time he doesn’t know his dick from his shoelaces.”
    There was truth to that, even though neither my dick nor my shoelaces had ever failed me. Nor had my eyes, and I knew ammonium nitrate when I saw it. I knew all the combinations, too, as to how you could construct explosive statements with it, sentence completions of points made in terrible ways. Those boys, though, they must not be mistaken for the kinds of Terrorists-in-Our-Time that haunt the nightly news you can trust. They were small merchants (“little people,” as they say; “salt of the earth”), purveyors of resolved grievances like something put under someone’s car or set into the tank of his toilet or-this does happen; you need to believe it-slipped into his kid’s lunchbox when that sentence needs to be completed in a most terrible and unforgivable way. Quite honestly, I don’t think your average person out there with credit cards and regularly scheduled colonoscopies understands how much commitment to vengeance there is resting just below the surface of their Dancing Pebbles condo development. Of course, being fair (as my old professors used to say was always how we must behave), I can’t say as how I truly knew the disposition of those incendiary commodities in the Wal-Mart-Always-Low-Prices shed. I mean, Mr. Harrison Whitehead might have been sending fertilizer to the poor folks in some of them African countries while I sat in my shack and drank Corby’s and read old Family Circle magazines.
    I think fairness is all right if you’ve got raffia for brains.

you might say a naked man has reason to be secretive
About my redemption, though, the reform that took me out of a life of weakness and excuses and into a situation of fulfilled purposes, that happened quickly, beginning one night and ending the next.
    The beginning I hold in sharp recall—a hot night, terribly so even at ten o’clock when I took my clothes off and went for a walk out in the bean field (soybeans, thirty-six acres right near the old feedlot from Mr. Whitehead’s beefing days). Beans are not tall so I thought I had a chance to catch a breeze maybe, and of course there wasn’t anyone to see me even if they could in the dark, like soldiers with them green goggles that can show hearts beating inside certain repugnant people. Generally, I make my public appearances in a fully clothed state, but, as I said, I needed cooling.
    Whereby enters luck then, my luck, which I have had precious little of these recent years. I mean I knew the van as it came in, the boys Corky and Baker for sure, along with that girl who, I like to believe, felt that at the right time she could pull morality and right behavior out of at least one of those boys, enough so for a life with an address and bills to pay and neighbors to condemn or praise as the need arose. I never doubted her complete awareness of the shady dealings of those boys, but I’d also seen her clean out that van on occasion, or tell Baker to tuck his shirt in. One time she took a brush out of her purse and brushed Corky’s hair. I decided she had an impulse toward waking up at dawn instead of going to bed then, and that she was the type who would find a job waitressing to be a step in some right direction.
    With not a whole lot going on in a bean field at ten o’clock at night, I went behind the machine shed, where I could see the back of the house and whatever activity might transpire. I had not forgotten Baker’s threats, though, so I stuck to the heavy shadows. You might say a naked man has reason to be secretive.
    Mr. Whitehead stood on his back steps, his hands on his hips. I heard no words of welcome, but I could see the girl standing there and could see Corky hand Mr. Whitehead the pistol gun, which he took. Words floated around that I could not make out, but Mr. Whitehead suddenly threw the pistol gun to the ground and said real loud, “This is not necessary.”
    “It has been made necessary, sir,” the boy Corky said.
    Words came out of the girl then, and she raised her arms up in the air like she had a point to make and they’d all better damn well hear it. She poked a finger onto Corky’s chest, waved her other hand in front of Baker’s face, then looked as though she were about to walk off.
    Baker, though, would tolerate no defections from whatever drove their agenda.
    Quickly, he had that girl on the ground. He pulled and ripped and tugged at her until she was naked, and I knew it had nothing to do with her being sticky hot in all that humidity, though she probably was. I’m sure we all were. He put his foot then on her chest, and I could see her struggle against that; futile, as they say, with Baker like some bridge pillar holding her down.
    I sensed depravity in the making because I’d seen it before. Usually, it doesn’t happen on stage or on camera, or in the great places where the world might add to its useful lessons. Often, the worst things happen in small places.
    I saw a woman raped on a playground swing one time, and myself beat a man senseless as he stood in one of those old telephone booths with a roof and a door. Children sometimes have their most terrible defeats sitting in the back seat of a car, an addled parent turning a minor desire into ribbons of trash. A good friend of mine once died in a dirty gas station bathroom because he misjudged how high he needed to be. The emergency boys came for him but got delayed waiting at a sixtrack railroad crossing for two trains to pass. I think that was in Texas. Yes, it was.

possibly artwork in its grittiest format
Corky picked that pistol gun up off the ground and shot the girl right in the head. I saw him do it. He shifted that pistol gun from his left hand to his right, jacked a shell into the chamber, and took out one eye and all of her memories.
    This deed surprised me since I have always thought of Baker as the mean one, as the maker of heinous perdition. Of course he aided this deed; he did that. His foot made escape and any other hopeful thoughts impossible for that girl, whose sins I could not possibly know. Still, I thought this Corky worth watching (avoiding) with about the same diligence as I’d previously regarded Baker.
    Mr. Whitehead’s sins I might have taken a guess at, though I would not have guessed them worthy of Corky’s grabbing Mr. Whitehead by his hair, jamming the pistol gun so hard into his mouth he knocked two teeth out, and pulling the trigger.
    Should I have seen a purpose in all this? A plan? A statement of goals and objectives?
    That girl now had herself stretched out on the ground with Mr. Whitehead sprawled on the steps above her. The word tableau came to mind (I have done theater work in the past, along with pageants and festivals, so I understand display), but since I had no idea what the overall story was, I could only view the scene as that: a scene, possibly artwork in its grittiest format. Something from the Spanish Civil War occurred to me, but my mind often stops short in fleshing out its revelations.
    Maybe they wanted to make Mr. Whitehead look like he and that poor girl had done about all they could do with most of it not having the kind of consequences you brag about over Thanksgiving dinner (for which Mr. Whitehead made me sausage and fried potatoes last year) since I heard the word pregnant shouted out by one of the boys. A young girl knocked up by an old man always plays well on the streets and in the bars and diners in town, so that might have been the song they wanted to play—it happens around here, some people saying it’s the weather or too many of those old farmers with their wives dying off too soon, so Mr. Whitehead got involved, as we used to say, included himself into a terrible corner to where he could only kill her and kill himself.
    No one in the world had to think anything different.

the imagination gives no quarter during a perilous time
Except for me, far more sober than I usually was at that time of night. I saw it all and saw no suicide in what I saw. What I thought pretty quick, though, was that those boys knew all about Mr. Whitehead’s drinking man, and they knew where I lived and knew all about my harmful habits, which led me to think I could run back and jump into my cot and look so passed out, I would have missed the true end of the world and thus represented no threat of witness to anyone, although they might kill me anyway, because you just never knew what a sleeping drunk might have seen. Once you’ve arranged for two dead bodies, as they say, there can’t be much stopping you from arranging a third.
    Or they could have called the sheriff.
    “Look what we have found,” the boy Corky might say. “This drunk here has done in poor Mr. Whitehead and his young companion.”
    “Yes, yes,” the sheriff might say. “We know this boy and his ways. We have dealt with him before and should have seen this coming.”
    “As you have dealt with us,” Corky might add, “and while it is not of our nature generally to give assistance to the personnel of law enforcement, we are not supporters of murder or its foul comrades—maiming and torture.”
    The imagination, as you can see, gives no quarter during a perilous time.
    Or I could take off, which would get me out of harm’s way during those initial moments, but a naked man attracts attention, so it wouldn’t be long before those boys would know I had seen all and was now on the run from them, a key to a future they had no wish to wish upon themselves.
    Frankly, I have to confess a moment’s delight as I realized how coolly my mind did its research, how alternatives rose and fell like bullets on a businessman’s PowerPoint speech. Something stirred within, and I did not think it all bad.
    Nevertheless, I was scared. I was naked. I ran.
    I ran right into Corky and Baker.

I have made my allusions, of course, hints as to a time when I was substantially more than I am now, when twenty thousand bottles of beer had yet to take their toll and I had not become pharmaceutically degraded like some street urchin selling looks at her toes for a buck a wiggle.
    That is, something woke up in me, the tough guy no longer at rest. It was not a sanguine reacquaintance, because this had turned into a squeamish night.
    Our unfortunate meeting took place inside the machine shed, where I went because I knew Mr. Whitehead had some overalls in there along with some boots and even some old hats. I also had a good idea that, once those boys had recovered from the early moments of life taking, they would head for my shack. That seemed something you could bet your 401(k) on.
    My mistake. Just as I walked into the back door of the machine shed, they came in the front-searching for sharp tools, one small overhead light snapped on with no worries about confronting anything other than the proper implements for burying old men and young girls. They wanted disappearance, to make of that backdoor scene nothing more than an entrance to a house now strangely empty.
    “Oh, shit,” Corky said. “The drunk is naked.”
    I might have imagined a better greeting, but I could not rebut the accuracy of what he said. Instead, I glanced upon an old scythe ready to hand, a tool that had belonged to Mr. Whitehead’s grandfather. I picked up that tool and no longer felt quite so naked. I also thought that boy lacking in certain basic courtesies.
    “You got the gun?” Corky said to Baker.
    “I thought you had the gun,” Baker said.
    “I left it on the ground near the van,” Corky said.
“Don’t need a gun for this little shit,” Baker said. He laughed then, but I did not think this was an evening appropriate to humor.
    Baker picked up a piece of steel pipe and came at me—eight, ten steps. The shed was not big. Along about step six or nine, he picked up a length of truck chain. Surprisingly, I took that as an encouraging sign in that he was thinking of me as something more than a tick to squeeze until the blood sack popped.
    Laughing again, he swung that chain through the air, making a whooshwhoosh sound—pretty scary, maybe like a swarm of bats about to give your face a perky new glow like you see on some of those cosmetic commercials. I did not like that laughter. For as much as I have forgotten my family, sold out my education, done little good for this world and my time in it, I required before my death at least the small honor they give the condemned, whereby they can eat what they like or watch television past lights out. I did not deserve mockery. Do any of us?

i am fully washable
With Baker’s arm in the air twirling that chain, I drew upon a great deal of strength and some old instincts and upswung that grandfather’s scythe and cut off Baker’s shoulder.
    There was a loud “Jesus!” from Corky as the momentum of Baker’s chain sent it back to Corky and caught him across his chest. Just a blow, neither fatal nor injurious. As Baker turned and fell to the floor, the blood spurting from his upper torso caught me full on my nudity.
    I thought then, Well, at least I am fully washable.
    I also did not forget Corky, something I was trained to do at one time, in that you never absent yourself from all angles of a crisis simply because one of those angles was now buffed smooth.
    Baker, of course, was studying death on the floor by then and no doubt not liking the lesson. He no longer threatened me, and I could see that, but Corky, nothing in his hands at all, came slowly toward me, his arms and legs in one of those goofy fighting postures you see in the Chinese movies.
    “If you’ll wait just a few minutes,” I felt like saying, “I’ll be pretty worthless and pretty easy.”
    I did not say that, but my legs by then had turned soft, and a shaking started in my belly that I knew would be in my arms and legs and head before long—the boozer’s firestorm. Truth is, that performance with Baker had come from naught that I could trace, like learning suddenly that you can play the piano and everybody knew it but had never told you. My history might belie that, but it had been the present I’d just sliced into the ground, not the past.
    Corky released one of them screams I think they teach you how to do, and all I recall seeing in that moment were the bottoms of his boots coming at my head. I think I could read the name of his boot company on his soles, but many companies make shoes, so I don’t remember the name.
    Bloody and naked and rather stupidly wondering if Mr. Whitehead had picked up any new magazines lately, I swung that scythe without even knowing whether I was putting the blade or the handle toward Corky. My fighting didn’t approach what I used to be able to do in my solid years. Still, I was awfully dangerous—panic using instinct as a tool.
    As Corky flew toward me like some human missile born not of woman but of engineering design, I whirled and ducked with both bladder and bowel wide open—a disgusting wimp, I thought, a wuss in full flower. Unfortunately for Corky, that scythe had no conscience, only function, nor did it ever feel embarrassment. It cleaved him lengthwise from his crotch to the crown of his head.

you’ve killed us both!
“You’ve killed us both!” Baker shouted from his wounded posture on the ground, his blood congealing into a mound of oats spilled from a nearby sack.
    “I was scared,” I said, “near decrepit with terrible fears. You needed to kill me because of what I saw.”
    “Yes, we did,” Baker said. “We would not, however, have chopped and sliced you like a pound of lunch meat on sale at a convenience store.”
    “Death wants only endings,” I said. “It doesn’t have much preference for methodologies.”
    “I think you’re not as stupid as Harry always said.”
    “Thank you.”
    “But I believe things are looking bad for you now,” Baker went on. “Four dead and one alive never speaks well for the living one.”
    “Except that he’s not one of the four,” I said.
    “You will need a story,” said Baker.
    I thought this talk with Baker quite strange. I stood before him covered in his own blood, and he could see that. He could see as well his arm and a good part of his shoulder lying across his belly. That he could talk through all that pain made me realize his toughness had been no myth.
    “I believe I will consult the truth,” I said.
    “As will others,” said Baker.
    “I know that.”
    “No one will come looking for us,” Baker said. “Nor the girl. She has no name and her only address is from a driver’s license she stole. I would bury us, that’s what I would do, then take the van and leave it somewheres. Mr. Harry, you’ll say, took his own life. That’s the scene we left him in, by the way. He is prepared for your story.”
    Tears, as I recall, ran down Baker’s face as he said these things. I supposed he didn’t want to die, and the prospect saddened him.
    His analysis, though, spun from his agony, I could not disagree with that. If in fact I got rid of these bodies quickly, I might be able to conjoin the truth with all manner of fancy and go back to being only a half or a quarter of a person. I was (or would be) the only witness—the historian’s worst-case authority.

it is hard to choose between competing shames
The van gave me no trouble. Early the next morning I stepped around Mr. Whitehead and went into his house and got myself washed up and got some clothes on, then I drove the van up to the Chrysler plant about twenty miles away and parked it with several hundred employee cars. I stole a car in that parking lot and drove it back to the edge of town, where I left it, hitched a ride to within about a mile of the farm with a teenage girl as bold as she was stupid, and found myself back at the farm with some morning still to go.
    Sounds like a lot of things went my way, but nothing in all that was actually very hard to pull off, except getting the ride out of town. I don’t suppose I will raise more ire than I’ve already raised, however, if I say that it has never been hard to find bold and stupid teenage girls.
    I had work to do, naturally. I went over to the old silo next to the barn and dug a hole. Next to the hole lay a pile of old silage I’d gradually been shoveling into the silo. Mr. Whitehead had told me to put the front-end loader on the Farmall and get the job done quickly, but he said he didn’t mind my judgments when necessary. Mostly, these later years have found me pretty scared of machines.
    So I dug, the work hard and hot with that day no cooler than the one before. By evening, though, I had a hole that fit those kids, a hole I could later pile the silage on for prevention of detection. I got the wheelbarrow then and loaded the young girl onto it and put her in the hole, her dead (yes) weight testing my muscles but not blinding me to that sweet face or the unstable back of her head, slightly wobbly with destruction. I said words for her, too, not being a callous man. I knew nothing about her, but I did recommend her for a fair judgment. Even the worst among us deserve that, and she might well have been far better than the worst. No one’s daughter should go to her rest without a gentle word or two on her behalf.
    Corky, as you might expect, I’d have liked to avoid, but I couldn’t do that. Along with his two big parts, I had to remove most of his innards from the floor of the machine shed, a nauseating job. All of it, all these hours I found distasteful, but I had committed myself to do the best I could to boil everything down to the suicide of a lonely old man. If Mr. Whitehead had to die under despicable circumstances, it seemed better to me to have the world think he’d done unto himself than that he’d undergone a terrible murder. It is hard to choose between competing shames, though.
    After putting some dirt on top of the girl, I laid Corky down in that hole. I said words for him, too, mostly a suggestion that someone so completely bad no doubt had a few good deeds hidden away somewhere, enough at least to earn him a cool glass of water once in awhile in the hot place. That seemed fair.
    Baker, however, surprised me.
    Although I’d been able to get him into the wheelbarrow and move him easily enough, he groaned as I put him into the hole, then opened his eyes.
    “Might you wait a bit?” he said.
    “Crap Jesus!” I said. I might have shouted.
    “Only me,” said Baker.
    “Why haven’t you died yet?” I said.
    “I think your clean cut both severed and sealed me. I can feel my blood pump against all these wounds but it seems not to be draining away real quick.”
    “You hurting?” I said.
    “I must have slept in school when they gave out all the words for pain. It’s a pisser. That’s the best I can do.”
    “I’d have hoped you out of that by now,” I said.
    “You got that old man all set?” Baker said.
    I dropped a shovel full of dirt down into the hole near Baker’s shoes. A good four feet of hole was between him and the top. I had dug deep so that those three might rest easy with only biology for companionship. Still, there seemed reason to hurry. I had much to do in the machine shed especially, and nearly as much by the old man and the back steps.
    Another shovel full went in.
    “You’ve had some education, I believe,” Baker said.
    “I got my college degree before my troubles took me away from what I knew,” I said.
    “Me and Corky, you know, we went to community college,” Baker said.
    “So we are all just troubled then,” I said, “and not stupid.”
    “You’re a hard-working man,” Baker said. Pointing up at the dirt piling on around him, he added, “But you’ve put a heaviness on me. It’s getting hard to breathe.”
    Indeed, I had that hole level with dirt from about his waist on down to his feet. Scatterings of dirt speckled his chest and his face, and I felt bad about that. We were both in a bad way, and I had always tried to be mannerly to people. I got on my knees then and used my hankie to dust some of that dirt from his face.
    “I thank you for that,” he said.
    I went into the barn then and got a piece of plywood that was about the width of the hole. I pushed it in there to make something of a barrier between Baker’s head and the rest of the dirt. Feeling disposed to wait as long as decency allowed, I began piling the smelly silage on the part of the hole I’d already filled in.
    “Are you still alive?” I asked once.
    “I believe I have pissed myself,” Baker said. “That’s an embarrassment, though I don’t suppose it matters—in the long run.”
    “Baker,” I began, “you are nothing but long run now and free of all worries over such things as job loss, heartbreak, cancer, and keeping yourself out of jail. I’ll be back.”

foreman in charge of a foul construction
Sunset had the rear of the house in shadow, but I could still see what needed doing. Mr. Whitehead, I thought, was already in a convincing posture for a man who’d done himself. Using a stick, I slid the pistol gun over closer to his right hand and noticed as well that his wound dressed out consistent with how a gun to the mouth might have things. Those broken teeth, too, suggested he’d brought that gun up to his mouth just quick and let it go. A small spatter of blood on the back porch and the door looked about the way they ought to look for such a sad event. Without much trouble I moved a small pile of gravel soiled by the girl’s wound, and then touched up the scene in a general way.
    I had to laugh then. I honestly did. It all seemed so goofy to be acting out like someone on a canceled television show—foul deeds and their concealment, you know—the hero judicious in fuzzing up the evidence of murders he has not committed. Still, I did it. I arranged, I washed, I organized, and I made things look more farmlike than any farm actually looks. You have to realize, too, that a good country cop has no time to look beneath things that are obvious on the surface, especially, in my case, when the chief detective in the sheriff’s office has all the intelligence of a knuckle.
    So I laughed at myself, a drunk and weakling who, only the day before and many days before that, had let an old man beat me and bugger me and give me cheap booze and meals and used magazines and a buggy shack, and all I had to do was make his farm look like a farm so that he could conduct business with the likes of Corky and Baker. A happy arrangement for a time, yet there I stood, foreman at last in charge of a foul construction.
    By midnight I had only the grave to finish up and enough light from a full moon to do it by.
    I removed the plywood board near Baker then and picked up the shovel and began shoveling dirt into that unfortunate trio’s final rest.
    “Oh no,” Baker groaned as the dirt began to fall.
    I could wait no longer.

G. K. Wuouri  is the author of sixty stories published throughout the world. A Pushcart Prize winner and recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship, he has had work appear in the Missouri Review, Shenandoah, and many other fine literary publications. His story collection, Nude in Tub, was a New Voices Award nominee by the Quality Paperback Book Club, and his novel, An American Outrage, was Foreward Magazine’s Book of the Year in fiction. He currently lives in Sycamore, Illinois, where he writes a monthly column called Cold Iron at www.gkwuori.com. The title of this story owes a shameless debt to Norman Mailer.

“Why We Are in Iraq” appears in our Winter 2006 issue.