It's been only one month and already I am restless. Trudging the dusty gravel sidewalks, the furnace blast eastern Afghanistan summer air. 84 hour workweeks. The same schedule every day. Wake up, work, lunch, work, PT, dinner, work, then read a bit and sleep. The days go by, nameless. I forget what month it is, even the year. I am stuck in a timeless vacuum of existence with no landmarks to help guide me.
Then one day as I signed my weapon in at the CP before heading to the gym, the Puerto Rican lady at the office saw me, and with her singsong accent poured honey in my ears, saying "Ju got a package toda-ay".
My heart rolled. I had had my fill of the rind of the melon, the gristle of the chop, and now I was set for something substantive and nourishing.
I hurriedly scribbled my initials on the form and walked calmly to my room. I wasn't about to open my treasure chest in front of people at the company. Hungry eyes and high ranks bode poorly for a lower enlisted boy.
Home, I flicked the blade from my knife and hungrily sliced the tape from the box. I savored the moment before discovery, and then dove in.
Candied pecans and cashews from Trader Joe's, real tortilla chips and garlic lime salsa, bruschetta (is this real or a dream?). Pencils, good pens, journal notebooks, the Christopher Hitchens memoirs wrapped up in time for my upcoming birthday.
And a small bag. Could it be? My heart quickened. I opened it, and in doing, released a leathery rich aroma into my small room. Cigars. My God, good cigars. I have been smoking dried twigs compared to these miracles. There was even a humidor packet in the bag. Also enclosed was the familiar business card from my favorite shop back on Alvarado Street.
I am a Raja. A Xerxes. A Caesar returned in glory from some obscenely successful campaign. My wagons are loaded with treasure. My horses strain and sweat at the colossal weight of it all. I am overcome with riches.