I looked at the mirror across the bar and surveyed the damage. The youthful man looking back at me was a mess. My hair was full of dust; from the explosions, from the powdered concrete of ruined buildings, and from the ever-present road dust. You couldn’t escape it. The caked mud on my face was where the dust in the air had mixed with a bloody scrape. a I sipped at the beer in my hands – the first I had found in a week – and sighed, savoring this respite from the chaos.
My companion was a more grizzled man. He looked like he was used to conflict. His hair was cropped shorter than mine, a week of beard went unnoticed by any razor, and a jagged, torn scar snaked along the line of his jaw like a disfiguring rope. “You’re new to this, ain’tcha?”
“It’s my first time ‘in it.’ I took some fantastic shots, but . . . it’s chaos out here. This country is a wreck.”
He smiled, putting an empty glass down, and the bartender refilled it with an amber liquid that smelled like kerosene. “Y’get used to it. Learn to function in chaos, or go home. Got some good shots myself. See that bell tower up there?” He pointed through the window – a church steeple was visible from a few blocks away. The top of it had been destroyed, leaving only a broken wall, and the crumbling stub of a staircase. “Before they secured the city, got some of the best shots of my life up there.” Continue reading “Photographer’s Spirit, Sniper’s Soul”