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Detonation

The truck exploded only a couple of hours ago. But, already, the wreckage looks ancient, like a ship dredged to the surface after a century on the ocean floor. Everything inside the cab is shredded. The dashboard has been thrown loose, and singed black. The seats are atomized. The odometer sits on the ground, not far from where the drivers door used to be.truck_blast1a.jpgThe orange Mercedes was part of a long line of cement trucks, waiting to deliver their goods to Camp Victory when the base opened for commercial traffic at eight. Then, a pair of the trucks exploded -- a botched attempt, apparently, to detonate suicide bombs inside of the base. Two men are dead. One of the attackers has been captured.Military investigators are still trying to piece together exactly what happened. The bombs might have been thrown into the trucks by a car passing by; the jury-rigged weapons might have already been in hand.I try to pay attention to the conflicting theories, to the line of men waiting to be questioned. But I keep staring at the scraps of freshly-ended lives that are quickly turning into artifacts under the blazing Mesopotamian sun. The driver must have been wearing the black sandals which now lie in front of the truck. Maybe he had some pita with his breakfast; a crust now sits near the shoes. Before he died, he might have read from the crinkled, torn Koran resting a few feet away. Or he could have listened to a cassette; strands of audio tape are strewn all over the wreckage.truck_blast3.jpgBack on the base, I wonder how much of this to put in public, to share with my family and my fiance. I want to record what I see; I dont want to worry the people I love.It?s a dilemma soldiers here cope with every day. They crave their families support; theyre crippled by their concern. Most of the troops Ive spoken to choose the keep their loved ones in the dark. I tell em all that CNN is full of shit and that nothings going on here, one national guardsman says. We dont get shot at. We havent seen anyone whos unfriendly. They think that I have a desk job, that I never go outside the wire Camp Victorys concrete walls.But letting CNN write your letters home can only fuel the worry. Every time a bomb goes off in Baghdad, I get e-mails asking, Are you alright? Are you alright? an officer here sighs.Because the networks arent very good at conveying the subtle shades of danger in a place like this. Either they lead, big, with a new act of carnage or they bury the news from here at the end of the broadcast. That leaves the impression that all of Iraq is in flames, all of the time. Which is just plain wrong.truck_blast5.jpgHere around Camp Victory, for example, the last week has been a relatively quiet one. Iraqi army and police patrols have grown noticeably since Ive been here. Smiles outnumber hard stares 100 to 1. And when there has been violence, it has been relatively small-scale like the single RPG shot fired in my general direction the other night.So Im going to keep writing what I see, for the few days I have left here. Painting events in muted colors, instead of TVs garish brights. And capturing my experience in Iraq, before it becomes twisted fragments on historys road.

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