“Untitled” by Ryan Sharlow

Chewing a piece of Wrigley’s Spearmint gum 50 miles north of Las Vegas Boulevard I helped kill two people. Military aged males, MAMs we called them. These MAMs went about their everyday life in the northern region of the Kandahar Province while I watched from over 7,000 miles away. Watched these men on a delay while the video transferred from the sensor on the MQ-1 Predator to a satellite in low-earth orbit to a fenced-in structure in a fenced-off desolate area of southern Nevada, while they left their homes that for weeks we watched doing patterns of life scans knowing each move they would make. Watched as these men mounted a motorcycle while I talked to a Joint Terminal Attack Controller who was in a compound a few miles away watching the delayed Predator feed as the Pilot followed the motorcycle down what Afghans would call a road, past what Red Cross would call a hospital, past what the Karzai administration would call a school, past what intelligence would label a mosque, past all remaining safe havens from the 100lb missile that was armed upon their abrupt stop on the side of that road. Watched as these men used a spade to dig one foot into the earth and laid wiring down between the holes, a common tactic designed to daisy-chain explosives creating a devastating effect on any vehicle that may drive near the holes. Watched as my voice confirmed the all-clear as the pilot sent the missile from the rail of the aircraft. Watched as the missile hit the target and the secondary explosion from the explosives carried in a bag guaranteed two more holes would be dug later that afternoon, only they would be deeper and I would need a new piece of gum.