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Growing up my heroes were martial. Flying aces, squadron commanders, generals, fighter pilots. Sergeant York, General Patton, Ulysses S. Grant, Hannibal of Carthage, Sun Tzu. The ones I dreamed about most flew planes, steely-eyed men wedded to sleek flying machines dealing death from the air. I had a profusion of inner effigies, models of me at war, reflected back by the pictures in books about dog-fights and bombing runs.

I was in the woods when we declared war on Iraq.

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They killed the dogs last night. Gunshots and panicked yelps then—for the first time in two months—silence. Now I’m walking two blocks toward the river on the way to the barbershop and there are corpses piled in heaps on the curb awaiting removal.

Calo is unconcerned. He is singing the praises of the neighborhood barber. My hair is thick and shaggy, while Calo’s is buzzed tight; his dense Dominican curls smooth against his head.

“He will make you…zzzt,” he runs his fingers across his scalp, “so good, so cool.”

Dog tongues loll out of dog mouths. The flies, used to the meager pickings on discarded mango pits, are feasting.

“Que…” I search for the right question, “Que es esto?” “What is this?” As if some thing has been here, some single beast, slouching toward the river to die.

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