Uh-oh, Cleo: Underpants on My Head

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Just a massive explosion, it rocked the Humvee back and forth like this. You know how big Humvees are. It was just fucking chaos. Mark Why are we alive? There must have been angels floating around your vehicle, because we should be picking you guys up with a Dust Buster. So I think it was not even a couple weeks later, our mission was the gate security and like I said MPs work in [three]-man teams and so we would have two MPs at the main gate and the third MP was in what we call an over-watch position, which was about 75 yards back, and sitting in a Humvee with an automatic weapon behind sandbags and stuff and their job was to lay down suppressive fire if the main gate got overrun by the enemy.

If it was a Somali vehicle that was coming on the compound to do work, we had to search it and search the Somalis. So on this day, for some reason, my squad leader decided he wanted to just kind of take a break and he was going to be in the over-watch position which left me and my gunner at the main gate and again, I was the highest ranking, and so then there we are and we see this crowd of Somalis. It was a slab of wood here and a slab of wood here with wooden handles, kind of a flat tires.

He was on this wheelbarrow and he had his knees up to his chest, and he was shaking like this and he was just covered in blood and just screaming. I look down to find the source of the blood and I saw three wounds, his left heel was completely blown off and I mean just gone. The back of both his calves had a gaping hole probably about four inches long and two inches deep and about three inches deep and they were just blown out.

From his heel, it was like muscle and bone and nerves and shit just hanging out, completely blown off. So you know, in a situation like that, you have to assess very quickly to see, to treat the most severe wound. And his eyes were like this, he just froze, he was in complete shock.

I actually had to take his field dressing off his equipment and bandage up the little boy. The Swedes had the hospital there. He shows up in my nightmares. I can handle the blood and the gore. The screaming. He lost his left leg, lost his left leg. We went to the Swedish hospital and visited him. We brought him some candy and some soda from the PX. Why would I block out that memory, versus the memory of the actual trauma of trying to take care of him and the screams and stuff?

Anyway, you know, who knows what the hell happened in Somalia after that. A lot of convoys, a lot of security missions. We were working 18, 20 hour days, in full combat gear in degree weather. Hunting them while they hunt us. So, you know, it was really… Somalia is a horrible, horrible place.

It was considered the most dangerous place on earth at the time that we were there and it still is, to this day. It baffles me to think that I spent four months in the most dangerous place on earth and I got out alive. Devastating, to be honest. I was emotionally wrecked and I was back in the states by then, had been for about five months when that battle took place.

But so shortly after I got back to Ft. Bliss, I was put on a task force and me and my partner, we patrolled residential areas on mountain bikes. And I was losing it. I had all the symptoms, the anger, the irritability, the rage, the flashbacks, the sleeplessness, all kinds of stuff. But what I saw was a severed head and all of the junk hanging out. Another time, there was another basketball goal, one of those small plastic basketball goals for children, there was a red sweatshirt draped over it, but what I saw was a body impaled on a stick.

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Return to Book Page. Friend Reviews. What would I do without you? I had been doing the testing and the training and stuff. When one detonates, its kill zone is 50 meters. Refresh and try again. I was wrecked.

And then the third time, there was a group of soldiers in a back yard and they were sitting around a table and drinking beer, but what I saw was a group of soldiers that were bound and gagged. Look again, you know. So I took a shower and my squad leaders stood outside the latrine while I was taking a shower and they drove me to William Belmont Hospital and I sat down with a full-gird Colonel, psychiatrist, blah blah blah blah blah.

I remember at some point he sat me outside in a chair outside his office and a little while later, I see three of my brother MPs walk in. I go back in my room, flipping off the cameras. He became my best buddy in there. He said something to me that scared me to death and still, even frightens me to this day when I think about this. He did two tours of Vietnam and he was a police officer for twenty years, so you can only imagine what he has seen. That terrified me.

And I was an MP. You have to carry a weapon as an MP. I was a bugler for military funerals. I played Taps. Five days a week, I would play three or four or five, six funerals a day. Bliss, El Paso, is a very big retirement community for veterans because of the weather and the military installation, so a lot of elderly people—veterans—dying off. So they take this combat vet with PTSD and put them in a cemetery, playing the saddest song in the freaking world, you know?

So I get out of the army and I was accepted into police academy in, of all places, Las Cruces, New Mexico, where I was in college, where I wanted to be anyway. So I was out of the army for about three days and started the police academy. I had been doing the testing and the training and stuff. Application process throughout, so I started the police academy, and I was in the academy. I was the only female, and about six months in to being a cop I got fired for mental instability. All I knew was law enforcement, so everything gets really fuzzy at this point. I believe I moved back up to northern New Mexico and piddled around for a while.

At some point I came to Phoenix and was working for a security company, where I met my husband. Working undercover, catching shoplifters, best freaking job ever. My husband worked as a security officer at a casino and, a little over two years in, got fired for mental instability.

So we got to Michigan, very small town, and I got a job as a corrections officer at the county jail, which I loved. Spent a couple of years there, fired for mental instability. Ended up going to the corrections academy for the state, eighteen week academy and became a corrections officer for a state prison. Worked there for six months, I actually quit that job. So I walked away from that job, and so all this time, it had been nine years since I had been home from Somalia.

I thought I was too tough a cop, too tough a soldier, to have any problems. The depression was in full swing. Flashbacks, nightmares. It was a horrible existence. So on 24 June of , woke up, did the coffee and smoked, checked my email, piddled around, I remember playing solitaire almost all day long on my computer. And about , a little after five, I walked into the living room, my husband was asleep on the recliner in just a pair of denim shorts—no shirt, no shoes. I walked quietly over to the corner, I picked up my 22 rifle and my banana magazine.

I walked quietly to the door and opened the door and he woke up. So I get in my vehicle, it was a king-cab Nissan pickup, put the rifle in the king-cab and I drive about fifteen miles to the Pine River. I back my truck up to the bank of the river, drop the tailgate, I get my rifle and the magazine, set it on the tailgate, I sit on the tailgate.

Get the rifle and the magazine sitting to my right.

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Smoke a cigarette. I got my tape player in my truck playing. There was no CDs back then. I was wearing a—my hair was really long there, I had a ponytail—I was wearing a Colorado Rockies baseball cap. Ponytail was through the back. I was wearing my favorite Scooby Doo t-shirt, baby blue denim shorts and flip-flops.

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I had a cigarette. I had one of those charm lollipops, with the bubblegum in the middle? He was like nine years old. I remember it was cherry flavor. So I eat the lollipop, chewing on the gum, smoke another cigarette. I took my headgear off, set it on the left. Took my sunglasses off, set it on the left. Picked up the rifle, put the magazine, locked and loaded a round, took it off safe, put it to my face where I always cut, pulled the trigger.

Just like that. It was And the impact threw me back, and then I came forward and the weapon went flying out of my hands, and there was blood from my eye, my nose, my mouth, my face, my ear. It was a hollow point, by the way. And so I come off the tailgate and I try to walk a little bit and my equilibrium is off, just bleeding profusely. I pulled the trigg—-holy shit. I can still feel and think and hear. I gotta do it again. Do you know how many people die from choking on bubblegum a year?

Uh-oh, Cleo: Underpants on My Head

I know, right? I try to use a little humor in this. Cleo: Right. And I could see the road about 25 meters out in front of me, and ironically enough, I crawled much like a wounded soldier on a battlefield. And my face was out to here, big as a basketball. So I opened the door, I pushed the seat forward, I reached in the king-cab area, I pick up my military rain coat, I ball it up, and I put it to my face.

This is a repellant of liquid, not an absorbent of liquid. So I throw it into the back of the truck. Walk around to the tailgate and I see the rifle in the grass on the bank of the river.

Uh-Oh, Cleo

I pick it up and it just slipped through my hands because of all the blood, I was covered from head to toe. Pick it up again, cradle it in my arms, and I set it in the back of the truck and I close the tailgate. I start the truck, I drive to the dirt road, turn right, drive about a half mile to a stop sign, I stop. I see this woman walking down the road and I thought she was an angel. I thought I was hallucinating. I had been to this river hundreds of times playing my guitar, fishing, writing, smoking, whatever.

Never seen another soul, ever. I stop the vehicle, put it in neutral, put the emergency brake on, take my seatbelt off, turn the tape player off, reach over, unlock the passenger door.

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She got right in the truck and there was blood all over the door panel and the seat and the steering wheel. Now the call came, the came in, at 1 minute to 7pm. We pull in, she jumps out, I open the door. This woman runs over to me, she throws a blanket over me. I saw Mark walk by. My blood pressure was like 80 over nothing. They started an IV. And the noise, again, was still, you know, obnoxious. So they got me in the ambulance and I remember seeing all the bright lights. It was her first trauma call. She was young. Get the fuck away from me.

I was very combative, I was just full of rage.

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So they get me to the emergency room, they cut off my shirt and my bra—my favorite Scooby shirt. So they thought all the bones in my face were shattered and they were going to have to do reconstructive facial surgery so they were going to transport me to Saginaw, Michigan, 40 miles away to a St. Just go home and call my brother in Arizona. So they transport me to St. What would I do without you? And I knew he was off. Harper, Jessica Berkeley, Jon Illustrationen. Jessica Harper is an award-winning actress with numerous film, theatre and television roles to her credit.

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