The LNOs: Chapter 2 Stuck in Sarajevo

We see Otsego climbing the stairs of the conex box dwellings. He is carrying a bag from the PX. A German officer with a French name is standing at the top of the stairs.

SACHSE-HEUTELIER: Sir, zee Francais exam is upstair, I hear you are to have been taking zee exam. <<Hot>>.

OTSEGO: Did you just say Hot?

SACHS-HEUTELIER: OK! So I say it! You are HOT! HOT! HOT! Aaah zee smell of it! Whoooooooooooo!

Otsego turns around and walks into a pine-board paneled classroom filled with soldiers of various nationalities.

INSTRUCTOR (in sing-song voice): Bon-jo-ur la classe de français!

OTSEGO: Bonjour Madame Professeur. Je souhaite que vous êtes en train de passiez une bonne journée!

INSTRUCTOR: (Adjusting voice to a high-pitched feminine tone) Je m’appelle <<Madame>> Le Corbussier. Vous êtes, vous êtes, mon dieu: <<HOT>>!

OTSEGO (To Self): What the hell is this?

INSTRUCTOR: En français-ais!

OTSEGO: Qu’est-ce que c’est en l’enfer?

INSTRUCTOR: Stylos tout le monde! Commencez! (looking at Otsego and licking her lips while looking down his uniform provocatively).

Otsego begins the French exam. Talking to himself.

OTSEGO: “Shit, I can get a 3/3 that’s an extra $125.00 a month fer chrissakes.” He looks up and realizes that the teacher is actually a man in full drag.

Otsego peruses the first question, then the wooden building shakes violently on it’s wooden stilts, the windows turn to water. He looks up and sees that everyone has run from the classroom except him.

He scans the room and watches impassionately as light fixtures crash to the floor. ‘Earthquake!’ He stares at the broken fixture on the floor and his mind drifts back.

zvornik-italians

FLASHBACK MARCH 13th, 2001 City Hospital, Bayside Queens.

It is night. We see down a long deserted hallway of the hospital. The city outside is dark. We see Otsego lying on a bench holding his stomach as if writhing in pain. Another man, his brother, sits cross-legged on the floor across from him.

MEERSCHAUM: “I’m so sorry. Sometimes people just die and we don’t know the reason. I wish it didn’t have to be that way.”

OTSEGO: “I just wish he could have lived. He looked perfect. Why did he have to die? I prayed. I read the 31st Psalm. God wasn’t listening to me. I will never listen to him again.”

MEERSCHAUM: “You can’t stop believing.”

OTSEGO: “I still believe, I just no longer believe him to be all-powerful. The world is an evil place: murders rapes, robberies, war, violence, hatred. If he could have stopped it he would have, but he doesn’t. That leaves two possibilities: either he doesn’t want to stop it-he is not benevolent or he can’t stop it-he is not all-powerful. All I know is now I have to bury the only child I will ever have and there is nothing on heaven or earth that anyone can do about it.”

MEERSCHAUM: “I’m sorry, I wish the baby could have lived too.”

Otsego sits in the wrecked building and continues to take the French exam. When he is done he signs the test and puts amid the wreckage on the instructor’s desk and walks out of the building back down the rickety stairs.

We follow him from above as he walks among the wooden structuresback to his room. He packs up his bags and he drags them down the stairs one by one. In the parking lot is a German Officer. He is loading heavy computer equipment onto a vehicle.

OTSEGO: “Kann ich dich hölfen?”

LEVINE: “Ach Ja! Mein Geehrter Herr.”

OTSEGO: “Wow this crap is heavy.”

LEVINE: “Ja, it is totally heavy.”

OTSEGO: “Where are you headed?” Lifting a large box into the back of the truck.

LEVINE: “Mostar Base. Are you going zat way?”

OTSEGO: “Yes, if I could bum a ride. I can pay you in Bailey’s”

LEVINE: “Ganz Gut.”

OTSEGO: “My name’s Otsego.” Proffering his hand to the German.

LEVINE: “Ich heisse Eugen Levine.”

OTSEGO: Eugen like the Bavarian…”

LEVINE: “Ja, he vas mein gross-grandvater. But as you know he was SHOT!”

OTSEGO: “So how do you end up being an officer…”

LEVINE: “In the German Budeswehr? So was mein great grandvater in the German Army. But he was a total Bolsziewicz. I am not.”

OTSEGO: “I’m not related to anyone famous, except for some Indian.” Climbs into the passenger seat of the truck.

LEVINE: “You drive I will drink the Bailey’s. So your ancestor was from India?”

OTSEGO: “No, a North American Indian, an Iroquois I think. Have to go back about 200 years ago. All I kept was the name, I’m like 1/64th Indian.”

LEVINE: “To zer gate my friend, need three ID to get, in three to get out.”

The truck exits the gate. A Serb gestures to him from the front yard of a bombed out house, he is roasting a pig.

SERB: “You betrayed us America! You supposed to be our friend! We die for you in World War Two! Bastard!”

LEVINE: “I don’t think he likes you.”

The two head out onto a highway that runs along the base of a mountain. They pass blown up buildings and mosques. Soon they are in the countryside.

OTSEGO: “Am I going the right way?”

LEVINE: “We are passing Mt. Igman. The is Route Pac-Man. What is zis Pac-Man I do not understand this Pac-man. You Americans, every American is a sexy heee-ro und every American ist ein sexy Kow-boy!”

OTSEGO: “It’s gonna be a long ride Hans.”

LEVINE: “Do you have any Musik?”

OTSEGO: “As a matter of fact I have some Kraftwerk.”

LEVINE “Ganz Gut!”

The truck winds its way down mountains and through valleys of deserted destroyed farms and villages. The music on the CD Player is “Trans-Europa Express”.

LEVINE: “Dis is where three Serb willages were wiped out. Now land mines. Nobody goes back.”

OTSEGO: “It looks like the Valley of the Shadow of Death.”

LEVINE: “Ja…Ja.”

Levine takes another swig on the Bailey’s and hands it to Otsego. Otsego takes a huge gulp and continues down the road. A montage of scenery goes past as they drive through Konjic, Jablanica, towns, markets and now a bright green river on the right and a huge mountain on the left. Soon they arrive on the outskirts of Mostar. Otsego peers out at the town half-destroyed, half-rebuilt. They arrive at the gates of Multinational Brigade Southeast. Otsego goes into the guardshack and fills out a form for an ID. The truck traverses the base. Otsego helps Levine unload the truck then Levine drops Otsego and his bags in front of an odd one-story pre-fab building. Otsego tries the door it is locked. He hears a voice behind him and he turns around.

MAURICE: “How do sir, you must be the new LNO. You were lucky I was here.”

OTSEGO: “Major Otsego, pleased to meet you.”

MAURICE: “Maurice Morris of RBK, jack of all trades. Take this card from me. No matter where you are or what happens you call me and I’ll be there.”

OTSEGO: (Peering at the card) I will do that-here take this: (Otsego hands him a large bottle of Bailey’s and a 35th Infantry Division Coin.)

MAURICE: “Sir, thanks you so much. You know I didn’t know you would be here today, but a little bird told me you had been in Sarajevo, but I couldn’t find you there. I even sent a contact to look for you.”

OTSEGO: “Come again?”

MAURICE: “The transvestite professor, he’s part of “The Group”. We all work for the “The Group”. The ambassador told me to watch out for you.”

OTSEGO: “Jeez I forgot about that guy. He gave me a list of ten things to do.”

MAURICE: “Let me know when you are ready to get started.”

OTSEGO: “Where the hell is the other LNO?”

MAURICE: “It’s a long story I’ll explain later.” (Helping Otsego bring his bags into the building)

OTSEGO: “Thanks, man, I’ll see you around.”

Otsego turns on a light. He looks around the room. Most of the rooms are abandoned and piled with junk. The building is dirty. Fixtures are broken, the computer room is trashed, the computers are disconnected. There is a television room with a broken television. There are broken laundry machines. The kitchen is filthy. The shower room is equally foul. There is a magnificent but dusty exercise room. The building seems abandoned. Then he hears a noise. He cautiously walks down the hall and he peers into a room lit only with a blacklight. In the middle of the floor in a Lotus position is a Canadian officer wearing only a Canadian Army T-shirt and green underwear.

DEBLOIS: “I hate dat bastard. I hate dat bastard.”

OTSEGO: “Hello?”

DEBLOIS: “Your counterpart. Dis Malefique, he is a bastard and I hate him. But soon I will go too and you will live wis my counterpart. I hope you haff better luck dan I haff avec dis Malefique. He is a bastard.”

OTSEGO: (Backing slowly out of the room) OK, I see.

cross-mines2

——-

Flashback to Ft. Knox Kentucky 1980. The trainees are standing outdoors. The paymaster is standing on a raised platform. He is flanked by MPs who are amanning fully-loaded M-60 machine guns.

OTSEGO: Payday. I’ve been working for $2.40 an hour. They are going to hand me $364.00 in cash? Unreal-just unreal.

JEANNIE: It’s crazy. I can’t wait to get my hands on the money. Dinah and I are going to rent a boat and hang out on the river, what are you going to do?

OTSEGO: I have no idea. I’ve never had this much money before.

DINAH: Don’t do anything wicked with it.

OTSEGO: Too bad I’m not in the women’s platoon.

DINAH: You pervert.

JEANNIE: Pig. You would love it.

OTSEGO: Yeah.

Otsego takes his cash and he walks down Eisenhower Boulevard. He stops in the PX. There is an older blonde -haired woman with a thick German accent.

OTSEGO: Gruss-Gött!

HELGA: (Smiling broadly) Gruss Gött! Du sprechst Deutsch!

OTSEGO: Ja lese ich oft Deutsch, Brecht, Kasier, Mann…

HELGA: Unglaublich! Haff you ever lived in Deutschland?

OTSEGO: No, I studied German in school for several years and I studied art so I had to learn German to read all of the Art books Kunst-Buchen.

HELGA: We must haff a Kaffe tonight you and I-I long to speak the Deutsch again. Will you join me later? I am off shift in four hours? I haff a Kar.

OTSEGO: I will meet you back here then at 2PM-I see your name tag Du heisst Helga. You can call me Otto.

HELGA: Ganz Gut! Zwei Uhr!

OTSEGO: I’ll be here.

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