The infantry gruntsthe ones in the wrinkled desert camouflage uniforms, the ones with worry and fear knotting the tight landscape of their foreheadshad nothing but scorn for soldiers like Gooding. To be a "Fobbit" or "Fobber" or "Fob Dog" was the same as calling someone a dickless, lily-livered desk jockey back in the States. In another war, REMF was the preferred term . . . but now, in this modern asymmetric theater of operations, there was no "rear" echelon elite sitting in their motherfucking safe-from-harm shelter.
But, hey, that was okay by them. The Fobbits told themselves, broken-record style, they Just. Did Not. Give. A Shit.
They were all Fobbits, everyone who worked in this palacewith the exception of a few foolhardy officers gunning for promotion who grabbed every opportunity to ride on patrols to water treatment plants, school renovations, and neighborhood council meetings in the Baghdad suburbs. Those officers didn't really countthey maintained a desk at Task Force Baghdad Headquarters, but you could hardly call them Fobbits. They were ghosts, gone outside the wire more often than not (and making damn sure everyone saw them depart, slurping loud from travel mugs of coffee, uniforms clinking and whickering, a patchwork of 550 cord and carabiners and duct tape).
Everyone else? Solid-to-the-core Fobbits who kept a wary distance from the door-kickers when they came into the chow hall smelling of sweat, road dust, and, occasionally, blood.
Let the door-kickers ride around Baghdad in their armor-skinned Humvees getting pelted with rocks from pissed-off hajjis. Let them dodge the roadside bombs that ripped limbs from sockets and spread guts like fiery paste across the pavement. As for Fobbits? No thanks! They were just fine with their three hots and a cot. The Fobbit life is the life for me, they'd singsong to each other with sly winks.
"Don't wanna be no bullet sponge," said Private First Class Simon Semple.
"Oh, hell, no," agreed Private First Class Allison Andersen. She stuck her forefinger in her mouth and sucked with cheek-collapsing vigor because she was, at the time, eating a Ding Dong cupcake and the broiling Baghdad heat had melted the frosting onto her hand, the corners of her lips, and the tip of her chin. She was back in the cool oasis of the palace now but her skin still throbbed from the 110-degree temperatures outside, which she'd had to endure on the half-mile walk between the dining facility and headquarters. The heat was a bitch and she wondered again why they couldn't just build a tunnel between the two places. For that matter, they should just dig tunnels everywhere, make this whole FOB a network of connected passageways so they could go around like moles and not come up until after the sun went down.
Pfc Semple watched Pfc Andersen suck the Ding Dong off her finger and felt the stirrings of a hard-on. Damn that girl!
Semple and Andersen had twice engaged in against-regulation, punishable by Uniform Code of Military Justice sex: once in a Porta-Potty in a remote corner of the FOB, sloshing the toilet to and fro and mashing their lips together to stifle their orgasms; the second time on guard duty shortly after midnight when the moon was waning and no one could see them thumping around the guard shack at the opening in the coils of concertina wire around the motor pool. That time hadn't really counted, thoughit was coitus interruptus because insurgents picked that particular night to send four mortars raining down on the FOB and the two horny privates quickly disengaged, clapped their Kevlars back on their heads, grabbed their M16s, and sought shelter in a concrete bunker thinking, oh, sweet Jesus this was the fucking end, not just the end of fucking. But then the mortars stopped, the all-clear siren blew, and the privates stood up, brushed themselves off, and, too embarrassed to look each other in the eye, finished their guard duty in silence.
Excerpted from Fobbit by David Abrams. Copyright © 2012 by David Abrams. Excerpted by permission of Grove Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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