“There I was… No shit.” Excellent words to start a retelling of a war story and a “shitty” situation is the funny part of this true story worth remembering.

We were operating on a rigorous schedule in southern Baghdad in 2004. Twenty hours on route security patrols and four hours to refit and rest. The city had rolling blackouts, so the night time was sometimes crazy dark. It was around 2 am, we just came back, and we were dog ass tired from missions, but it was prime time to call stateside because of the time difference.

From our barracks to the phones, it was less than a kilometer walk inside the camp perimeter. Along the way there were a couple of small motor pools and with them came the Port-A-Pottys for soldiers to use during vehicle maintenance. Our camp had been mortared several times in the last few days, so we stayed in full battle dress to move around inside the walls. Almost forty pounds of ceramic lined body armor and a helmet made movement effing uncomfortable. Especially when I just wanted to get the phone call out of the way and get an hour or two of sleep.

By the time I got to the phone trailer, the line was super long. I waited several minutes, but I felt some discomfort in my stomach. I hadn’t taken a dump in the last twenty hours either and it was catching up with me. The more I waited, the worse the stomach pain was. Then it hit me… I needed to hit the can or this was gonna end badly.

As I left my spot in line, the first mortar hit on the other side of the phone trailer. We all quickly dispersed, heading back to our respective unit areas. I had to put some serious hustle on it. Not only was I worried about more mortars, but I wasn’t too hyped about the possibility of shitting my pants along the way. I sprinted to get to the safety of our barracks area, but it was a long way when I was trying to flex the ol’ buttcheeks.

As I passed the row of Port-A-Pottys, I had to make the decision to free this freight train that was barrelling down on my back side or I was going to be wearing it and I didn’t want that. What if they could only get just the one round off? No use shitting myself for one round.

I flung open the door to the molded plastic shithouse. Remember, its wicked dark. I couldn’t see and I can’t get the gear off in time. There was no way to turn around inside because of the body armor, so I backed in, unsnapped the button, leaned back to hover over the opening of the bowl area, hung on to the door frame for dear life and let ‘er rip.

KA-BOOM!! The flash of a mortar was blinding through the molded plastic walls of the outhouse and the concussion of the round let me know it was close. I finished enough to stop the pain in my gut and couldn’t even think about wiping. God damn, could you imagine if I were hit with my pants part way down in a portable toilet in a mortar attack? No thanks. The smell hit me. The awful smell as though I had crapped on myself or the floor of this plastic death trap. I swear I was lined up on the bowl. Why did it smell so bad?? Who cares, let’s go! As I exited the john, I took a quick glance back inside. The smell was brutal.

KA-BOOM! Another mortar. This time the flash illuminated the inside of the Port-A-Potty. I saw the reason for the smell and started laughing a little inside. The seat lid was down. DOWN! And my mess covered the entire top of it. I was pulling up and snapping my pants as I ran to get the hell out of there and thought about that poor bastard that was gonna have to clean that giant pile up after sunrise. But at least I made it. And what an epic story! I could have died on a shitter! I almost had something in common with Elvis…

Rory Andes
for Lgbtqprisonsupport.com