Photograph—Abu Ghraib Spring Dance, 2004
Joe Kapitan

Remember how the disco ball caught the spotlight beam and tore it to pieces, spewing fragments around the abandoned hangar crawling like jeweled roaches across camouflaged backs and naked torsos, and the careening looks we wore on our faces because we were young, my god, so young, so young and so drunk from dancing the cliff, patrol after patrol, and when the DJ slowed things down with "Easy" by the Commodores, there on the dance floor was Sgt. Diaz, draped all over his date, the Iraqi with the garden hose still dangling from his anus, the same hose Diaz had flailed the man's back with that very morning, and across the room, the Gatorade punch spiked with vodka and trays of standard-issue crackers smeared with aerosol cheese that Lt. Malloy from Intel crammed into her Iraqi's mouth until he puked, then we all went out back to see the freestyler doing his thing despite the copper wire strung from his genitals to the terminals of a Humvee battery, and as the night wore on couples started to drift off into dark corners and I think that's when I saw it, the camera flash, and I remember being so pissed at first because that was Strictly Prohibited, court-martial-able, but I looked around the room and all I saw were Iraqis worn down to weeks left, and all of us good guys who feasted daily on our own damage, awaiting a trip home bagged or bandaged, and then we all pulled out our phones too, to hell with our commanding officers, because they spent the better parts of us there and we deserve one thing left to remind us how it felt to be young and whole and holding the leash.

Joe Kapitan's first published story appeared here in 2010. Since then he's had work in PANK, elimae, Emprise Review, SmokeLong Quarterly and others.

Read "Sleepless #3" in the archive.

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