The Iraq war raged on from 2003 to 2011. During those years there was a lot of blood spilled. 4,424 U.S. soldiers gave their lives during the conflict. Nearly 32,000 were wounded in action. All these years later, the warriors have returned home, and they now have war stories to share with their families over turkey at Thanksgiving. This is not one of those stories.
Gomez, Jefferson, and Christi were young marines – each under 22-years-old. They were enlisted men attached to the 2nd Marine Division’s Bravo Company stationed in Iraq. They each had joined the Marine Corp immediately out of high school. All three were from the New York metropolitan area. Serving in the same platoon, they hit it off and became good buddies, known within the company as “The Three Amigos.”
Being from the New York area, they were especially gung-ho about revenging the September 11th terrorist attacks. At the time it seemed like a splendid idea. Over the years and months of being stationed in the desert, their enthusiasm and confidence in their higher-ups had waned. None the less, they remained loyal marines – prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice if need be. And highly motivated to bring pain to the enemy by any means necessary as they had been well trained to do.
After being in the country for more than 11 straight months, the young men began to become frisky. There had been scuttlebutt going around about a brothel not far from Airport Road, but far outside the Green Zone, which is where their battalion was headquartered. With each passing day, the legend of this bawdy house was growing among the marines in camp. The Three Amigos were determined to pay a visit to the establishment as early as possible. Thus commenced their planning of “Operation Dollhouse.”
The plan was a go when Bravo Company was assigned to a barracks post along Airport Road about a mile from Baghdad International Airport. The ground plan was to slip away from their assigned position during a four-hour watch period, but they would need another Marine to cover for them.
The Amigos decided that Ryder would be an appropriate choice because he wanted to visit the cathouse too, and they were cool with him. The plan was that Gomez, Jefferson, and Christi would go out on this particular night while Ryder was on watch and on a subsequent night they would rotate, and Ryder would go along with two of the Amigos while the third stood watch. It was a simple plan, and it worked, at least on paper.
They all knew that if they got caught, there could be hell to pay, but the Amigos figured that Baghdad was already hell, so they had nothing to lose. When the night came, they executed their plan with military precision, yet Gomez, Jefferson, and Christi managed to get lost somewhere in a neighborhood called Saidiya.
They were looking for a restaurant called Mama Hama. The woman who owned it was supposedly the madam of the brothel, which was located in the rear of her establishment. The Amigos weren’t aware that they had actually passed the target twice, but it was dark, and all of the signs were written in Arabic. The locals were abiding by the established curfew which required that everyone be off the streets before sundown, so the thoroughfare was dark and deserted except for the few homes that had generators.
The three marines were wearing their Kevlar helmets and body armor. Gomez and Jefferson were armed only with their pistols. They didn’t want to intimidate the locals by walking through the neighborhood with their M-16s. Christi, on the other hand, refused to buy into their logic. He did not only carry his rifle, but he also packed several extra magazines of ammunition, just in case.
It was Achmed, the midget pharmacist, who noticed the three rogue marines wandering up and down his street. He could tell that they were lost. So, he called out to them from his brightly illuminated window overlooking the dark street below “Wait for me I’m coming down.” At first, the Amigos thought it was a child, but they quickly realized that Achmed was nearly older than the three of them combined when they met him at his gate. They were doubly surprised to realize that Achmed spoke fluent English with only a slight accent.
“What are you fuckers looking for?” Achmed shouted at them in a squeaky voice, which was normal for him.
Holding back laughter Gomez asked with a straight face “Sir, can you please tell us how to find Mama Hama’s restaurant?
“What do you want to eat there?” asked Achmed.
In reaction to Achmed’s question, all three marines bursted out in laughter, which was not a good thing. They were now drawing the attention of eyes from dark and hidden places up and down the street.
Achmed simply shook his head signifying disappointment. He grabbed Gomez’s index finger as if to hold his hand and said to the three close friends “Follow me.” Achmed escorted the young marines to the brothel, and then he disappeared.
Thanks to the the vigorous efforts of two very lovely and willing dusky mistresses of seduction, the delinquent trio quickly accomplished their mission. If only they didn’t need to travel a mile back to their post through hostile territory “Operation Dollhouse” would have been an enormous success.
About half a mile shy of returning to Ryder and the rest of their platoon up at Airport Road, Christi realized that they were being followed. Someone to the rear had kicked an empty can, clang lang clang.
They turned to see what it was, but by now there was only darkness and very few lights from the windows.
Jefferson calmly said, “Fellahs, I think it’s time for us to swoop back to post.”
“Rodger that!’ Gomez agreed.
Christi took a good look down the street and fired six rounds from his M16 into the darkness.
“Immediately there was a squeaky scream from the dark.”
Jefferson and Christi took off running towards their post and Airport Road. Gomez realizing that it was Achmed doubled back to help him, but the little pharmacist was dead. Gomez took off and caught up with his partners in crime.
Running as fast as they could, Gomez, Jefferson, and Christi were nearly at Airport Road when a Sikorsky Super Stallion helicopter spotted them. In its night vision scope, they were easily misidentified as insurgents. It was Christi’s rifle which gave the commanders back in the Green Zone - whose job it was to evaluate the camera's view - the heebie-jeebies.
Insurgents had a history of planting IEDs along Airport Road, and during these early hours was when they were most active. It was a no-brainer.
“Requesting permission to fire on target.” said the pilot of the Super Stallion to his base commander.
“Permission granted!” Was the response in a casual voice.
“Sayonara fuckers.” The pilot called out as he squeezed the trigger to let loose his cannon on the three “insurgents” below, and within an instant, there was a fantastic fiery explosion, kaboom.
Just like that, the three amigos joined the long list of fallen heroes who died while fighting for their country.
Favoritism is a bad practice when raising one’s children, but guilt sometimes makes it necessary. When Daria and Evelina were little girls, they were carried away from their mother country, Russia, by their loving parents. The hope was to leave the cold of Novosibirsk for the opportunities of the United States.
Their father, Mark, was an auto mechanic. Their mother, Kira, was a biomedical research scientist at the Novosibirsk Research Institute. It was not her idea to leave Russia, but her husband insisted. Mark had a cousin who had emigrated to the U.S. and settled in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. The cousin had become the very successful owner of a taxi company. It was that cousin who invited the family to come and live in New York City.
When they arrived in New York Daria was seven, and her younger sister, Evelina, was only four. The first four years in their new country went well, but Kira was becoming increasingly unhappy. The able scientist was now a housewife spending her days raising the couples two daughters while her husband, Mark, found himself not only repairing his cousin's taxis, but he also began driving them to make ends meet. Thus, he was never at home.
Eventually, Kira had enough. She planned a trip back to Russia to visit her ailing mother, and she never returned. Mark was humiliated and dejected. So much so that he began drinking vodka as though it were water. It was the only thing that relieved the pain of his broken heart. There were many nights where the alcohol and the devil made Mark say and do things outside of his gentle character. Including somethings so horrible that he could never forgive himself. But he was determined to keep his American dream alive, and he did.
That was ten years ago. Today the girls, Daria and Evelina, are all grown up. Daria is now 21 and Evelina 18 years old. Mark never remarried, but he did hire a series of babysitters to watch his girls while he continued to work very hard to give them a comfortable life. Ultimately, he began his own taxi garage and did very nicely for himself especially since he didn’t need to employ a mechanic to repair his cars.
Most importantly the single father put away the bottle and replaced it with the fountain of hope, which he found in the local Russian Orthodox Church. The girls grew up under the guidance of the church. Something which likely would not have happened had their mother, Kira, remained in the picture. A woman of science, Kira was also a staunch atheist.
The two sisters born three years apart were entirely different in many ways. Daria, the older one was a beautiful 5’ 10” blond-headed extrovert although she barely graduated high school. Daria’s only goal in life was to break into New York’s glamorous modeling industry.
The younger sister, Evelina, is a shorter homelier version of Daria. Although she too is a natural blond, she is not nearly as attractive as her big sister. However, like her mother, Evelina is exceptionally bright. She graduated early and was accepted on a full academic scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania in the coming year. What she lacks in beauty she more than makes up for with brains.
The two sisters have envied one another to the point of hatred for many years. To compound the situation their father, Mark, favors the pretty wholesome one, Daria, and has done so forever according to Evelina. He gives her whatever she asks for, and only she knows why.
What’s worse is that Daria regularly beats her smaller, younger, and less attractive sister mercilessly. She has always enjoyed slapping, kicking, jumping on, and throwing solid objects at her scrawny sibling. Daria is as vicious as she is beautiful. Today is no different.
“Daria please help me straighten up the living room.” Evelina requested of her older sister,” I have company coming.”
“You have a visitor – who’s that?” says Daria with an air of disbelief.
“It’s a boy.”
“You have a boy coming into our father’s house when he’s not at home. Are you nuts?”
“You’re such a hypocrite Daria. You think I don’t know the parade of guys you’ve had in here. Everyone in the neighborhood knows that you’re a nymphomaniac slut. I just hope papa doesn’t find out.”
That was enough to initiate yet another beat down by the “blond beauty” on the “nerdy little professor.” But today Evelina was saved by the sound of the doorbell, ding-dong.
Evelina picked herself up from the carpet and ran to answer the door. In walked Artem, Evelina’s guest. Artem greeted Evelina with a warm hug, as though they were intimately familiar. At which Daria thought to herself “What is this about?” Artem was a handsome young man. He looked like a Greek god. In Daria’s opinion, he was way too cute to be with her nerdy, unattractive sister whom she had mutual contempt for.
“Artem this is my sister Daria. She was just leaving.”
Daria extended her hand to welcome Artem, but she made sure to do it suggestively and seductively. The young Greek-American man with wavy black hair looked into the blond Russian-American woman’s beautiful face and just grinned back at her with a naughty grin as he imagined what she was suggesting.
Seeing their interaction, Evelina began shouting and screaming at Artem “That’s it. I want you to leave now Artem.”
“What did I do?” Artem asked as Evelina began shoving him toward the door until finally, he was out on the street.
Evelina then turned to face her sister and shouted at her “You no good bitch.”
Daria laughed and unleashed a barrage of blows on Evelina’s oversized head which seemed to have connected with significant effect. Evelina fled into her bedroom and locked the door. Daria stood outside screaming at her in Russian to open the door so that she could continue with her beating.
The front door was not locked when Mark turned the doorknob to enter the house. Returning home earlier than expected, he heard the commotion and said out loud “These girls will kill each other one day.”
On seeing her father walk into the house, Daria taunted her sister in a way meant to really get under her skin. “ You may be smart but you know I’m daddy’s favorite.” With those words, Mark shook his head and whispered: “Don’t talk like that to your sister.”
Mark was just about to say something to his youngest daughter when she swung open her bedroom door expecting to encounter her sister’s flawless face. As if possessed by an evil spirit Evelina shouted at the top of her lungs with pure rage “This is for you. You father fucking whore.” As she hurled the contents of a glass jar filled with disfiguring concentrated sulfuric acid unintentionally into her father's face. Mark screamed in agonizing pain as his face melted into his skull, but he knew he had earned this pain for ruining his oldest daughter when she was just 13.
Hi, I'm Lester Patterson,