To find the sniper we decided to grease the mini-economy of Downtown Fallujah. All those merchants and haji civilians were harboring him, or they knew who was harboring him. We had to get someone to go full-blown Judas. We had Pancho’s dad send most of the $80k he was holding for us. Fat Bob would basically use it to buy intel from the neighborhood. We of course would have to trust Bob. He could technically dip with most of the money back to Baghdad. But it was a risk/reward spot for us. We had to gamble. Plus we didn’t think Bob was a favorite to dip with the luka. We know when a man goes beyond the desire for riches or any of that shit and just wanna get some payback. And with a lot of desert people payback is a family tradition.

The money arrived in three increments, all in hundreds to make it less bulky. Pancho’s dad had to bust a mission to change all the bills and send the money fast and discreetly. He sent it in huge care packages hidden among all kinds of other goodies. We were lucky none of the money got intersected (once the money made it in-country we were good because our contacts at the mail tent in the Rear knew not to check our shit).

With the first increment came a letter from Tata Pancho Sr. with a pep talk. Corporal Pancho read it to us while standing under the cammie netting on a rooftop.

Mi hijo,

Nsala melekun, malekun va kuenda nsala. Nsala melekun las cuatro nsila. Kuandioma Kongo. Sala sara mayimbe, mayimbe ntoto quita nkuame. Hasta que nfuri ndoki malembe yaya. Pa que sola sola nkisi malongo, muluemba la talankere munanso Kongo. Pa una yimbule nkisi malongo sakara mayimbe. * Pa que simbo kuenda nkuto, y cabo ronda no ronde. Pa que espina mala no inque. Pa que nfumbe malembe no wize. Pa que ngomo no kuende en pico loma. * Con licencia de todos los tata que nfuri lemba saluda la nfinda la monte. Remolino cuatro viento lumbo solo va matar moyambe. Mi hijo Panchito bueno y querido, gran cristiano, gran palero, gran santero, gran abakuá, gran cimarrón del monte, pa que tú y tus hermanos guerreros siempre estén cheche bacheche arriba nkuto arriba Ntoto. . .

And on and on like that for a whole page in our awesome Stick patois which I will love and study until the Revelation. We were in a complete trance as Pancho read it to us with a flawless Andilanga accent. The letter ended in Spanish, Tata Pancho Sr. cooling our tilt about having to liquidate our humble little bankroll. He wrote a common spanish saying which is basically like our American “no use crying over spilled milk”: Más se perdió en la guerra. The intended joke/irony being that in this particular case we really were at war! (Sorry to be a nerd about it.)

After that we didn’t give a fuck about the money and felt an intense and sharp motivation, as though our collective IQ had spiked.

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