Max was a private—not first class—he was as low as it gets. He had pulled latrine duty several weeks in a row—the shit-end of the stick, so to speak, and he had it so often, soldiers in our battalion thought it was his job. Max was getting suspicious that the men in our company were tricking him, but he couldn’t figure-out how. He kept pulling latrine duty—the shortest stick.

Max told me his story, and now I’m telling you.

Usually, the shit is mixed with diesel oil and burned.

Max got that detail—and several others. He was a detail man. The officers didn’t do their business in the plywood outhouses. They built one of concrete with porcelain toilets. Much was accomplished there.

We were in the desert, so there was no actual plumbing. Somebody dug a hole with a loader, and when it was full, it got covered-up, just like how a dog does it.

If anybody walked on-top of that spot, there was the possibility of quick-sand—so it got marked off, until it dried.

That didn’t take long, because it was at least 120 degrees in the shade.

This was during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and a good part of that situation was sitting on the toilet. Most soldiers read the newspaper or a dirty magazine—they were really dirty after a month, and then, the next issue—government issue. We loved our commanding officers.

Max was Mexican, so the stereotype fit. I was white, so my privilege was to check-in on his mental status, and the rest of our troops.

“How many times do you play with yourself a day?”

“Three times.”

“Good.”

When somebody was abstaining, I started to worry, unless they belonged to one of the Abrahamic religions.

Give a guy a loaded gun and tell him not to kill the enemy—and it’s going to go off at the wrong time.

Well…everybody knew our officers in charge were full of shit, and most of us worried that we would have to be the one to clean it up.

Max drew the short-end again, so he walked into the bowels of our septic system. It was built just like a swimming pool, except, you didn’t want to fall in.

We dynamited, to cover the hole, but we couldn’t use a traditional fuse—methane gas, you see.

Max told me he placed three evenly-spaced charges and next to the fourth, he spotted an anti-chamber.

He broke through the crusty sand and discovered a stone coffin. He broke into that with his tactical tomahawk and found a mummy. Max wasn’t the brightest, but he thought twice before destroying an archeological find. The mummy wrap, looked just like toilet paper—two ply. His curiosity got the better of him and he unwrapped a couple pieces.

What he found, was nothing. There wasn’t even a body. Not a skeleton, with skin as tight as a drum. It didn’t make sense. What was the mold underneath? Was it similar to paper mâché, where the wrap dries around empty air?

He pocketed a few pieces and went back to the surface, to see what it looked like in the sun. But when he pulled the paper from his pockets, he couldn’t see it or his hands. They looked as if they were amputated at the wrists. Needless to say, I got a hysterical phone call. He was one of those guys, not of an Abrahamic religion—a lapsed Catholic, I think, and he was abstaining, so I was worried.

The last thing I wanted, was a soldier under my psych evaluation—killing half-a-dozen troops on my watch, or masturbating in public.

To be continued…

2 thoughts on “The Shit Detail

  1. The first thing that popped into my head while reading this was the undeniable comedic genius of Mel Brooks. In his movie Robin Hood: Men in Tights, there is a character played by Tracy Ullman. She is a wretched, filthy, wart-covered, potion-making hag who goes by the name “Latrine”. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more perfectly fitting name for a character than that. Absolutely brilliant! If you haven’t seen the move at least a dozen times, I suggest you start ASAP.

    Liked by 1 person

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