So here's an Army story… no shit, this really happened…
It was a dark and stormy night in the little village in Afghanistan. There was no moon, and the overcast prevented the stars from peeking through. We sat in the very dark on the roof of the district center where we were encamped, watching.
When we sit in the very dark and watch, we stay quiet. The sounds of the Afghan night; dogs, the occasional vehicle, dogs, the low hum of the generator, dogs, and the occasional plaintive call of the ANP night guards are the only sounds. Usually, that is.
On this night, the unmistakable voice of SSG Smokey Jackalacker, our new SECFOR section sergeant, rang out.
"Oh, my God, it's HUGE!! What IS that?! Is that a dog or a HYENA?!! Can I SHOOT it?!!"
I knew at once what had happened, and I walked calmly across the metal roof to where the good Staff Sergeant was still going on about the monstrosity with which he was confronted. He called out to one of his men.
"Skippy! What IS that thing?! God, it's HUGE!! I think I should shoot it!" he called loudly across the roof to CPL Mynah.
"Sergeant Jackalacker," I interjected.
"You've just seen your first jackal."
"But it was HUGE! It had a square head with like this really pointy face. It looked like a really big dog!" (Jackals are about the size of a healthy fox.)
"Sergeant Jackalacker, unless it's a Taliban, I don't want you shouting about it."
"But it was inside the compound! I thought it might be a danger to humans."
"Okay. If it's not a Taliban. Isn't there ANYTHING else that you should know about?"
"A Taliban or a bear. Nothing else. If it's not a Taliban or a bear, don't yell about it. If it's a Taliban or a bear, you can yell your head off and you can shoot at it, too."
"A Taliban or a bear. Roger, sergeant."
"Good. Now, let's keep it quiet, shall we? The rest of us are listening for Taliban or bears."
"Roger, sergeant. Won't happen again."
I laughed quietly to myself all the way back to my corner of the roof.