Marcel lay face up in his Army issued cot, studying the honeyed light pouring in through the cracks of the Quonset hut. Though he was awake, ready to go, he waited until he heard “Star Spangled Banner” blaring from the base’s speakers followed by “America the Beautiful”, followed a heart beat later by the sound of the French jets in full afterburner roaring down the runway. The perfectly calibrated half a second was the bare minimum of courtesy required to officially not violate international rules of common decency, but close enough to piss off the Americans. As an American, cursed with a French name, Marcel suffered through endless rounds of abuse. He reasoned it wasn’t nearly as bad as losing a leg or an eye or having to slaughter an enemy in a rice paddy as his Dad had in Vietnam. The hourly ribbing was a bit too persistent to be seen as character building. Marcel could take his lumps with the best of them. Maybe. Despite the relative ease of his assignment in Djibouti, Marcel put in for a transfer to the far more active base in Kuwait, where his name and his French background would be the subject of discussion for a good thirty seconds to a minute— max.