Intro

This is a short story about US Marines in the aftermath of the Second Battle of Fallujah, and about the Palo religion.

I’m very happy to get this story off my bones already. I hope you enjoy it thoroughly.

I don’t want to monetize it through any third parties. I’d rather accept peer-to-peer donations, without intermediation. I can only do that through cryptocurrencies, so below I shall leave addresses for my two favorite cryptos. Every satoshi and every micronero will be donated. (Intermediation is so annoying, and I kinda don’t believe in it. Decentralize all the things!)

Also, the…


To all who shall see these presents, yo digo nsala malekun Kongo, malekun va kuenda nsala. Abrikuto warindinga, ‘cucha cuento que yo emboa.

It was during the Second Battle of Fallujah in November of ’04, when we first got introduced to the Palo religion by Corporal of Marines Pancho Abreu, a Black Cuban kid from Miami. Palo means stick, like a section of a tree branch. Pancho’s family had been in the religion since the dawn of the Andilanga, which is the tiempo colonia in Cuba. Most of his forebears were Congo, the rest Carabalí. The first ever tata in…


To snatch an nfumbe from the Just Beyond and stickum in a cauldron, you need something deeply personal to them, like bones. The very marrow of their poor souls. You also need trauma, so that the nfumbe will be confused and without closure and full of doubt and ready to give hisself over to a human master and live among its own dusty remains, in an iron cauldron, as long as he can remain here, in Ntoto!

As our Kismet would have it, Fallujah was a trauma factory, and we were religiously industrious. Having made our compromiso with the skull…


When the Second Battle of Fallujah was over the civilians trickled back in from the desert country and found their homes like beehives from the bullet holes. Our unit went back to the Rear, which is a base the Marine Corps built in the desert like 40 mikes from the city with showers and an epic chow hall and even email. Our squad stayed at the Forward, because the city needed an American presence there. After many weeks of fighting the falafel vendors and the hookah bars and tea shops finally started opening back up in the city, and the…


Around early February of ’05 we started seeing the first private military patrols. Outfits like Triple Canopy and Blackwater had guys driving around Downtown Fallujah in up-armored Benzes and Cadillacs with tinted windows and air conditioning, and the guys had long hair and beards and fancy hi-speed gear and always ate ice cream for some reason. They looked like a swanky Las Vegas version of the Marine Corps.

Our first interaction with them was at the entrance to the Forward, while me and Billy Flack were on duty at that post. We saw them pull up in a candy apple…


After our shift ended the sun went down and the muezzin started calling Allah hu-akbar, all the chants overlapping and syncopating with each other from the loudspeakers on the minarets. We ran back into the compound with our hyper new puppies nipping at our combat boots. We went straight to the cauldron cave where the rest of the squad was smoking cigars and drinking otí while playing dominoes. They immediately fell in love with the puppies. We all have a soft spot for pets that rivals Tony Soprano’s.

Billy and I told them how we got the puppies and all…


The next three months were maybe the happiest of our lives. The insurgency was still inactive in the city after we crushed them in the Battle, tho reports were beginning to come in of alibaba activity in other places like Ramadi. They were definitely getting their shit together, but we saw this as such an inevitability, we’d stopped giving a fuck.

We read and played games constantly. It was during this time that Jones taught us and the pobs to play backgammon with the doubling cube. BG came from the Middle East, probably. But in the 1920’s in NYC, Grand…


Changó oba nikosó

The day after we saw the river I had the morning shift at the entrance to the compound, where me and Flaco had met the mercenaries when we first got the puppies. I had Changó with me. I’d stayed up all night gaming so I was dead. Since I had grown complacent from months of peace and quiet and because it was a hot-ass morning, I sat outside my bunker with my flak jacket open. …


In the cueva nganga we had to do a ton of religious work. We also had to do a bunch of annoying red tape shit like calling the brass in the Rear on the comm, writing up reports, and helping Fat Bob write his own report in English. Colonel Müller sent the cobra helicopters into the city and they leveled the building where the sniper had been. (There was still a bunch of other buildings around the Forward, tho. We couldn’t have all of them leveled because of international law and Geneva and all that junk.) A convoy came from…


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…

Mikel Yunta

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