|Government Issue (standard:action, 3379 words)|
|Author: Tom Soukup||Added: Feb 18 2003||Views/Reads: 2259/1324||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|A gung ho Marine, frustrated by his lack of combat experience, completes the last part of Special Forces training on a solo desert excercise. He is confronted with very unusual circumstances that take his career in a very different direction.|
GOVERNMENT ISSUE By Tom Soukup Sixty watts was plenty of light to put on the final touches. That was a good thing since nothing more was available anyway. And to top it off, it was unlikely that a change . . . particularly a change in that direction . . . would occur any time soon. It sure hadn't in the past nine years, and eyes eventually become accustomed to such things. The bare bulb hung singularly from only a wire, and the gentle breeze that sneaked through the barracks door swung the glowing pendulum in a rhythmic arc over his head. He rubbed the black of the boot to an ever increasing shine, the way he was taught years ago, and the moving light caught the curve of the toe to reflect back into the steely blue of his handsome eyes, tracing zigzag paths across their stare. Almost done, he thought, but he never minded such tasks. It was a part of the Corps, his choice for life. Satisfied that there was no further benefit to be gotten from his labor, he laced the heavy boots in place, tucking the cuffs of his pants into the tops just before drawing up the last of the leather strips. He stood in place, stamped his feet firmly on the wooden floor with a one-two drum sound, and bent rigidly over to position the blouse of his trousers above the boot-tops. The formless patches of browns and beige covered the uniform in a pattern distinctively that of desert camouflage. It was clearly military dress, designed for function. He studied the pressed creases of his attire as he fastened the rectangular name plate, black background and etched white letters, that said "Sgt. B. Winston" . . . with U.S.M.C. proudly displayed below. Sergeant Bart Winston had decided long ago that the United States Marine Corps was the life he wanted. Bart was really Bartholomew, an ancient, almost biblical name that belonged more rightfully to the grandfather who passed it along than to this young man, and he blackened more than one eye defending it as a child. But the shortened version of "Bart" was acceptable enough, and now few knew where it came from anyway. Bart had grown in the perfect image of the military. The care taken today in the simple dress of combat was a ritual he piously performed despite the occasion or lack of one. The blue and red of Marine dress was his favorite, and he'd gladly rise in the early hours to ensure that it was nothing less than perfect, the completeness of government issue . . . GI. But his fatigues were no less cared for, and today's battledress of dusty camouflage gave him the added opportunity to fantasize over wars he never fought. Born as the world licked its wounds after Viet Nam, he grew up in a relatively peaceful time. Still wet behind the ears at the start of Desert Storm, he had one foot on the transport plane with a ticket for Kuwait in his hand when the whole thing folded in, and Iraq tucked tail to run. He was so close to action then that he could smell the camel sweat. But his dream went unfulfilled. Now he was presented with this new opportunity. The training over these last months had been hard . . . harder than the rigors of "basic" years ago. But it was almost over now and he knew it would be worth it. "Special Forces." It had a good ring to it, and if it could get him nearer to the combat that he desired, it would be time well spent. He placed the cocky beret on his head, his nearly shaved scalp having just enough hair to hold the hat at a slight forward angle, and he walked out into the morning sun of Camp Lejeune. * * * "Sergeant Winston reporting for orders, Sir." Bart stood at statue-like attention before the great mahogany desk of Colonel Anthony Guano, commanding officer of the Special Forces Training Program, and referred to quietly as "Bull" Guano behind his back. Bart's arm was unquivering in salute, waiting with the patience taught only in the Corps, until Bull motioned a quick return. "At ease, Winston," he said without looking up. His bushy eyebrows hid his eyes from view. Bart stepped one foot slightly to the left and rested his hands one in the other behind his back. He released his tensed muscles almost imperceptibly, and fixed his gaze into the wall beyond the old man's Click here to read the rest of this story (273 more lines)
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