We had rolled up on an all-American cookout. A splash of ketchup checkered the grill. Flies swarmed, as though the sizzle of meat called them--but weakness numbed my arms, and I couldn't swat them away.
This stop was supposed to have been routine. No surprises. A couple of Iraqi kids had been playing in the road--shoo them away, get the convoy moving--and now we were moving, and their smoking bodies blackened the dirt road behind us.
A heavy hand clapped my shoulder hard enough to rouse me out of my shock.
"Stay frosty, Steven."
Gripping my rifle, I hopped back into the hummer; the cool steel between my fingers comforted me against the sweltering heat.