The Pauses – 4

Out on the endlessly flat, tan, hot, sandy desert next to one of the many beat-to-shit, single lane, supposedly paved roads, a forward operating base (FOB) is being built. I’m going to guess that it’s for the Iraqi Army. They man a roadblock nearby.

We drive this route about once a week. The construction site looks like a strangely bulky, outsized child’s building block set scattered in one discrete plot of an endless sandbox.

Three weeks ago the blocks were suddenly organized: concrete t-walls stood in tight rows with a few random outliers looking like lonely megaliths; concrete cylinders rested side by side in rows on the sand, sorted by size; conical peaked roofs of concrete sat in a row, waiting to top off guard towers; rectangular buildings, each of their four walls holding empty air, stood in rows on one side of the site.

Over the past few weeks, cranes have lifted these items one at a time, swiveling slowly to swing them into specific placements. Two weeks ago the dozen little rectangular buildings were set into two tidy rows. Last week the tall t-walls were lined up around the perimeter of the buildings, and down two sides of the compound perimeter. Today the cylinders are being stacked into tall towers at the four corners of the compound. Conical concrete roofs lie on the ground beside each future tower, ready to be placed.

On the vast desert, a monumental landscape that encourages a contemplation of the puny and superficial efforts of the small animals called humans, the building blocks of this FOB look oddly significant, almost precociously intrusive, yet completely inadequate to the objective of security.

The building blocks of a static war… stock in concrete might be a solid investment.

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