DOHA, Qatar—Pvt. 1st Class Jeffry Prokosch is just off the plane.
His uniform doesn't quite fit. His eyes are glazed from a flight that seemed to last all weekend. His body clock is eight or nine time zones off; he's not sure anymore.
"I left on a Saturday," he says. "I showed up here on a Monday morning, which was Sunday back home; I guess that was yesterday."
Prokosch stands in the hot sun on a base in a country that seems to have only one color. Everything, in every direction, is washed in a dull yellow: the buildings, the uniforms, the sand, the horizon.
Soon, he could be fighting in a war against Iraq. "I haven't gotten my special orders," says Prokosch, 25, of Sanford, Fla., a member of the Florida Army National Guard. He is assigned to Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 124th Infantry Division. "I'm not freaked out yet. I haven't seen anything to really rattle me yet."
His eyes tell a different story.
Back home, he restores cars. Back home, he likes to make music. They call him "D.J. Strange."
Here, he speaks in a soft, wavering voice, almost a whisper.
Just off the plane.
Squinting in the bright sunshine. Waiting to get on a bus. Waiting for his orders.
(c) 2003, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.
ILLUSTRATION (from KRT Illustration Bank, 202-383-6064): 20030217 FACES PROKOSCH ILLUS.