Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Do The Same continued....
Go to earlier posts for beginning

He felt like his spit-shined boots were melting around his feet. Sergeant Major Conti was in rare form that day. The squadron had fallen into formation ten minutes earlier in their pressed utilities and Friday inspection boots. The commanding officer, Lt. Colonel Whipstock was slightly late getting out to pick which platoon he was going to inspect that morning, so the Sgt Maj wanted to make sure that none of his Marines became restless standing at ease in formation. So he did the first thing that came to mind. Four count pushups.

In Sgt Maj Conti's mind, Marines could never do enough pushups. And you'd better be sounding off loudly with the count, otherwise he'd tell the squadron that he lost count and would start from the beginning again. That July morning with the North Carolina sun, already scorching even though it was just over the pine trees lining the Marine Corps Air Station, had seen the Sgt Maj lose count seven times before he allowed the formation back to an upright position. He was just about to get his jarheads doing some mountain climbers when the Colonel stepped in front of him and asked for the report.

"All present and accounted for, sir!", bellowed Conti. Jake was never more glad to see the CO than that moment.

Jake had nearly missed formation that morning. He knew he was pressing his luck and would one day soon miss a formation if he didn't chill out a bit. He had been busted once before when he was stationed in Okinawa. Even though he was married then, his wife was back home in the States as he was on a one year unaccompanied tour. He could have brought her over for much of that year, but the costs of the paperwork, flight and immunizations was so much that they decided she should stay home. So, being somewhat lonely, he slowly fell into a routine of partying heavily out in Kinville, or Sinville as the Marines stationed at Camp Hansen called it. After one night of getting rip-roaring drunk, Jake missed the cattle car to the Major Generals Honor Guard ceremony of which Jake was to be one of the Honor Guards. He lost some pay and was restricted to base for thirty day for that goof and had to listen to a speech from his platoon commander on how what Jake was doing was immoral. Jake had really done nothing that he felt was immoral. Well, there was that cruise to the Philippines , but it would be hard for a saint to not fall under the charms of some of those Filipinas in Olongapo City. After being away from Dana for 4 months by then, it was like seating a starving man at a table covered in plates of sizzling steaks and expecting him not to eat. And that had been six month's after the point he had started having doubts about his marriage...mostly the fidelity of his wife.

Jake didn't want a repeat of that whole deal, especially since he had worked so hard to overcome that mistake, even to the point that he had been promoted meritoriously to the rank of Sergeant not quite a year before. Even with that honor guard ceremony deal, he had still made E-5 in 3 1/2 years....much quicker than 99% of the people who didn't have a single blemish on their record. But much had changed since his promotion. He and his wife had split after she had a jealous fit for no reason. His platoon commander and non-commissioned officer in charge had insisted he take the responsibility of being the Platoon Sergeant 8 months ago. No instead of working in the shop, paperwork, discipline of the platoon and more paperwork filled his workday. He hated it deeply.

Jake heard the CO tell Sgt Maj Conti that he would inspect the Motor transport Maintenance Platoon that day. Jake groaned inwardly. So much for a quick inspection of the platoon conducted by himself with Corporal Ferry taking notes. He quickly checked the toes of his boot to make sure they hadn't been scuffed too badly by the Sgt Maj's little physical training session. He also glanced down at his camouflage utilities. He had ironed them last night when he got home from work, but he was in too much of a hurry to get out on the motorcycle to take a ride to do a very good job. After that he had stopped over at Katie's because he had promised her he would. He hadn't planned on staying long. Somehow he had found himself at the bar with her. They drank until 11 pm, then he took her home. She wouldn't take the getting up early for work and threw herself at him when he tried to leave. Well, what's a guy to do. Although she showed some of her red-headed temper, he did leave her place by 1 am. He rode home thinking he could still get 5 hours of sleep if he went right to bed when he got home and didn't leave for the base until 0630. Formation was at 0700 and with a 5 minute ride to the base, he could be there with time to spare. Unfortunately, Shelly was there waiting for him. Cursing himself for letting her see where he stashed his hide-away key one night when he had left his keys at home and let her drive. She wanted his attentions also. And she was very persuasive about it. When Jake finally looked at the clock as he laid his head down to go to sleep, the blood red digital display stared back at him with the numbers of 3:57am. Not a good day for Chief Warrant Officer, "Gunner" Johns to blow off formation....at least not for Jake anyway. He usually looked good in uniform with his lean, 6'2" frame, but that day he looked - unkempt.

Lt. Colonel Whipstock, followed by the Sgt Maj, stopped in front of the platoon as Jake snapped to attention. Jake called his platoon to attention and snapped a crisp salute as the Colonel executed a left face with pop of his heels. "Motor Transport Maintenance Platoon ready for inspections, sir!" Just raising his voice for that report started a rattling in Jake's right temple that he though he had beaten by taking a couple of Goody powders on his way to the base. Colonel Whipstock looked Jake up and down and said,"Very well. Post!". Jake took his place on Sgt Maj Conti's left as the Colonel stepped to the beginning of the first squad. He felt the first trickle of sweat beginning to make it's way down from between his shoulder blades. He also hoped that he wouldn't start stinking of the large quantity of alcohol he had consumed last night.

"Platoon! DisssMissed!" Jake performed an obligatory about face and started making his way in the shop to get a cold drink when Sgt Maj Conti walked up to him. "You look like a shitbird there, Silver" Conti said, not at all trying to hide any of the disdain in his eyes. "I'm sorry, Sgt Maj" offered Jake, wondering just when this torture was going to finish. His headache had gone from a tapping in his temple to a thudding across his entire scalp. "Sorry my ass. You'd better square your self away, Marine. I helped you get those stripes, I can help take them away just as easily! Next time, that moustache better be trimmed to regulation and put a damn blade in your razor before using it! You missed spots all over your neck!" With that, Conti turned on his heel and walked toward the Admin building leaving Jake to curse vehemently under his breath, "Damn it, I gotta knock this shit off". But something he didn't want to admit inside him was enjoying the fact that he was seeing two women at the same time and also having an occasional night of fun with other women he met in bars. He hadn't had this much attention from females before in his life.

He dated a couple girls in school, in fact, he married one of them. He had dates to the school dances, but was never one of the guys that many of the girls in his class passed noted about. But after putting on a good bit of muscle in basic training and buying the Harley (and buying into the biker attitude as well), he now found himself propositioned regularly by very attractive women. Single, engaged, even married women had went for rides with Jake. And rode Jake afterwards, for that matter. He knew deep down he was looking for Her, but until she showed up, he was enjoying himself immensely.

To be continued....

© 2006 RMG All rights reserved

Do The Same

"What is a life?"

This was the question that slid out of Shane's mouth while they were staring into one of the 6 televisions soundlessly casting flickering scenes of various sports into the bar.

Intending to ignoring another of Shane's questions from left field, Jake lifted his beer bottle almost to his lips before he stopped and set the brew back down.
Realizing he may have caught Jake's attention, Shane continued.

"Is it all of the things you've done in your life....good or bad? Or is it what you set out to do with yourself back in the day before shit got so deep?" He followed the last word with something like a snort as he always did whenever he cursed. He was like an elementary school kid trying to be cool and funny by swearing, unable to control his giggle afterwards.

Lifting his beer again, Jake said, "Well, I guess it's what you've done, mostly, that everybody figures is your life". As an afterthought, Jake added, "Or who you've done, maybe". Swallowing the last, nearly warm swallow of beer from his bottle, Jake thought that his answer sounded not quite.....right.

Jake slid his empty bottle to the edge of the bar and reached in his pocket for his wallet. Sliding another twenty out, he motioned for Michelle as she stood by the waitress opening in the bar. "Can I get another couple cold ones here, sweetie?"

Jake Silver was a decent looking guy, nowhere near movie star good looking, but he had always been able to attract attention from the female persuasion with his easygoing way and a grin that hinted greatly of a young man's mischievousness. He had been married twice. Once when he was just out of high school and was far from home in the Marine Corps. It seemed like the thing to do at the time. The second time was 11 years after the first marriage failed, which in itself was amazing. Not that he married again, but that it took so long for it to happen. It wasn't that it took him that long to meet a women that wanted him to marry her, he had been engaged (well, never officially, just the fanciful planning of a few women) 3 times in that decade before he met his second wife. What made it amazing is that Jake had a problem with saying "No" to women that he cared about. And the term cared about was truly what it was......he never completely fell for any woman until his second wife.

Shane Waters, on the other hand, was one of those guys that had the type of looks that drew women to him from across the room, street, or bar. If they didn't know him. Shane hadn't had that affect on women when he was in high school, or before then. This began when his complexion cleared, his braces were removed and he was talked into getting contact lenses by his older sister. But there was still a problem. Shane still thought of himself as that kid that the popular girls didn't even know existed, much less take the time to look at him. When a women wasn't put off by his extreme social idiosyncrasies and thought his shyness was cute, she would be eventually chased off by Shane's pathological need for reassurance in the relationship. He could and did have beautiful women throw themselves at him regularly, but he still imagined that they were just playing a big practical joke with him as the fall guy, no matter how much any of them or his friends tried to convince him otherwise.

Michelle placed a cold beer in front of each Jake and Shane. As she started away, Jake was debating with himself about ordering a shot of bourbon, but by the time he finished the debate, Michelle had moved off to another couple of male customers who, like Jake and Shane were spending that sunny Saturday afternoon in a dimly lit bar. Jake reckoned that was probably for the better that he didn't start now with the shots.

He was still trying to get things straight in his head after being so nonchalantly dumped by that girl he had been dating. The strange part of it was, he hadn't really even cared that much about her. She had been more of a distraction, which is what he wanted....no, needed at that point. He had made the mistake (although, for the life of him, he still wondered if it was truly a mistake) of falling for Mandy, a friend from work. A married friend. And after the way his second divorce went down, getting involved with a married women was the last thing he could bring himself to do, even though Mandy had unwittingly taken over most of his deepest heart thoughts. Jake hadn't crossed that line with Mandy. Talking, joking around, having a couple drinks after work with or without her husband ahd been the extent of it to that point. But in many ways, Jake wanted it to go much farther and at the same time, knew it had to stop. He had felt that elusive click with Mandy. They just got each other. He could make her laugh until she was gasping for air by being his normally hidden goofy self and she could bring that out in him in a seconds time. He just felt open with her. Except for the way he truly felt about her. About that, he wouldn't let himself open up about to her because he didn't want to be "That Guy".

Although, he had been more than willing to be "That Guy" a time or two in the past.

To be continued.....

© 2006 RMG All rights reserved.


Saturday, August 19, 2006

The group pic I neglected to get....

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