Escape from Baghdad!

Escape from Baghdad! by Saad Hossain Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: Escape from Baghdad! by Saad Hossain Read Free Book Online
Authors: Saad Hossain
    â€œThanks, Hoff. You’re the man.”
    â€œListen, Tommy, you come around every night, and I’ll help you fill in that notebook,” Hoffman said. “You were meant for better things, I’m sure.”
    â€œAwesome. Thanks, Hoff,” Tommy exhaled. “Fuck Fowler. He’s a dickhead officer anyway.”
    â€œMy sentiments exactly.”
    â€œHoff, we gonna be riding in this jeep?”
    â€œIt’s got a TV in it,” Tommy said.
    â€œDoes it?”
    â€œCan we requisition an Xbox then?”
    â€œNice one, lackey, put it on the list.”

    Later that night, they were released; Hoffman’s squad, handpicked, the fantastic five of misfits from the Greater Ghazaliya division, unleashed like hounds from the starting gate, tearing through the narrow streets in their steel demon, breathing garuda fumes and the threat of massive fire, roof-mounted automatic cannon rattling in its cage, Hoffman cackling incessantly from the visions of bad mushrooms, his driving erratic and dangerous, the belly of the beast converted into a gaming den, four-player button-jamming NFL action, while Tommy spat random reports into his sat phone on a deliberately open frequency, apprising all interested parties of their progress, as they swept past bemused checkpoints, leaving stolid Iraqi soldiers debating whether to shoot or salute.
    Into North Ghazaliya, past the great mosque, two hundred meters from the checkpoint into Shulla, they ran into a joint forces patrol, led by one Sergeant Tony Perdoso. After some mutual sniffing around, they realized they knew each other and guns were lowered, visors raised, knuckles slapped around in greeting, while the Iraqi army men stood by passively, hoping that so many Americans on a street corner would not invite an impromptu bombing.
    â€œHoffman, you motherfucker,” Sergeant Tony was a barrel-chested Latino with a bar room voice. “I’ve been looking for you.”
    â€œYou ran out already?” Hoffman asked, incredulous.
    â€œNot the suppositories!” Tony snapped. “It’s the two fucking civs you sent my way, maricon.”
    â€œThey made it alright into Shulla?” Hoffman leaned forward in a whisper.
    â€œThey fucking started a firefight,” Tony said. “Right on my doorstep. Three in the morning, two JAM trucks came rolling in, guns blazing. Showing off. They’re here to collect your boys.”
    â€œThey were? Did you stop them?”
    â€œShit, Hoff, I was fast asleep.”
    â€œSafe, Tony,” Hoffman said. “I asked you to get them safely into Shulla. Does letting them get fucked by the JAM sound safe to you?”
    â€œCalm down, pendejo,” Tony said. “Who said anything about getting fucked?”
    â€œYour boy dropped some bodies,” Tony said. “Pop, pop, pop, like a fucking cowboy.”
    â€œThey’re still alive?”
    â€œI hauled a bunch of dead JAM off the street. Ain’t none of them your guys,” Tony said.
    â€œYou’re sure?” Hoffman asked.
    â€œFuck off, Hoffman,” Tony said. “I’m from San Diego. All brown guys don’t look alike to me .”
    â€œWhat was the body count, Tony?”
    â€œFour JAM dead, including Alihassan, not more than a couple hundred feet from my patrol,” Tony said.
    â€œAlihassan? The son of Hassan Salemi?”
    â€œDamn right. I gotta jump through hoops now keeping him happy. But Alihassan had it coming. I told that boy a hundred times, carry on like that in the middle of the night, with the guns and the religious chanting and all that and someone’s liable to put a bullet through you.”
    â€œLucky it wasn’t one of your men then,” Hoffman said.
    â€œHassan Salemi doesn’t care who it was,” Tony said. “He wants blood.”
    â€œSo who shot him?”
    â€œYour boy Kinza shot Alihassan in the

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