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I like to think that I was doing my part for the war in Iraq. I wasn’t enlisted, and I wasn’t involved in the rehabilitation services for the troops when they came home. Instead, I was prehabilitating our fighters by keeping their homes happy. While they were away with their heads in the sand, I was here in the Land of Lincoln, banging their wives. It was a thankless job. I’d have to leave immediately afterward. No cuddle. No shower.

Until I met Camille. She was sweet. Made cookies, let me hang out in my underwear and sleep till noon-thirty. Her man was the baddest of the bad. She had a picture of him standing over some bad guy in Fallujah. He had his boot on the guy’s head, like a hunter with a deer in Rockford. It kind of makes sense that she would blow me while I played Call of Duty on his X-Box.

We wanted to do something on Valentine’s Day, so we chose a dinner and movie at the Hollywood Palms in Naperville because there’d be less chance of being seen. We had martinis and dinner with Final Destination 3. We held hands and relaxed.

Nothing wakes you from dreamy bliss like the words, “I’m gonna cut your little balls off, bitch.” It makes you stop breathing. Then comes the sweat.

He was so close behind me I could feel his whiskers on my ear. I could smell Bud Light and Marlboro Reds. I’m sure he smelled fear. I was out-of-body scared. I walked out when he said to. I put my jacket on when he said to. I couldn’t say a word. When we got to my car, he told me to take my nuts out. I trembled and asked him for a smoke, and he gave me one.

Camille held my hand when they stitched up my ball sack. She said they saved my testicles—they didn’t actually fall out, but if she didn’t have a Maxi Pad in her purse to hold it all together, we might be having a different conversation. Camille drove us back to the city. It started snowing when we got to the Eisenhower. She slowed down, then reached for the radio, but didn’t actually turn it on. She put her hand back on the wheel and said, “That wasn’t my husband, or anything.”

“So who the fuck was it?”

“That was Davila. He’s with me when you’re at work.”

“Well, god fucking bless America.”