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Galactic Guardian: Twenty-First Century Schizoid Man

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

As MAP crossed the Square of the Dancing Cell, close to the building where he was completing his junior internship as a medico, he happened to glance up at one of the cameras. In the early days of the ‘watchers-in-the-streets campaign there’d been that mingling of fear and loathing on the faces of people brought up in the shadow of the prophecy of ‘Big Brother’, but MAP’s look was rather one of affectionate tolerance than hatred. As a deterrent the ‘eyes-in-the-sky’ had worked perfectly; street criminals couldn’t operate beneath them and, after a while, noone even bothered to monitor what they recorded. Consequently, when the Bureau of Pschology wanted to study crowd dynamics, permission was secretly granted for them to view the tapes.

The idea had been around for a long time, but careful analysis had proved that there were certain individuals which society – behaving much in the same way as a living organism defending itself against cancer – persecuted. MAP had been given the task of identifying, locating, and interviewing these pariahs. He smiled as he remembered how one of his first subjects had turned out to be the chief of a sub-department within the Bureau itself; the Music Therapy section. His smile widened as he recalled how, ‘phones tuned in to the newest music-satellite, Leslie Rusher had been totally oblivious of the hostile reactions he’d been getting from the shoppers in what was now, thanks to the success of their work, Micheal Jackson Prospect.

Deus Ex Machina

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

‘It appears, MAP was saying, ‘that the craft are of extraterrestrial origin.’

Adamson had heard the rumours but – like everyone else involved with the excavation – he didn’t believe that such a thing could be possible.The consensus was that it was all a hoax. His bark of laughter was, however, greeted with a blank stare.

‘I hope,’ MAP spat each word with bullet-like accuracy, ‘the Professor can continue to see the funny side.’

Adamson revolved upon his swivel chair to locate the implied audience of more than one. When he’d entered, MAP’d been alone at his desk; now there were two other figures seated at the back of the room – a man and a woman.

Love Bugs

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

‘How can I tell the created from the uncreated,’ MAP asked.

He wasn’t quite sure if the question had any validity or not. Analysts at the bio-labs insisted that there was a new breed of Subverter indistinguishable from human kind and with a ‘hidden purpose’. It was his job to discover what that might be. But first he had to learn as much about this secret enemy as he could:

‘Any quirks, quarks, habits or imperfections?’

Cool Guy’s Lounge

Thursday, January 1st, 2004

It was a big van that drove you to the airport. When you got to the airport you were pretty much on your own, unless there was someone going to the same place you were. You left early in the morning at about 5:3. I couldn't sleep that night. I damn near cried when my Dad dropped me off at the Holiday Inn and told me he was proud of me. I didn't know how long it would be before I saw him again.

I got to Atlanta and a woman picked us up at the airport. I met a guy named David Rainey. We were immediately friends. We were both at the airport to get picked up by someone we didn't know to go someplace we'd never been and go to boot camp which we knew almost nothing about. So we sat at a large clock tower and waited for more people to show up and decided to have our last beer for the next three months. Cheers. I had a Guinness.

I rode on a charter bus and the whole time I was on the bus I was sitting there worried. I didn't know what it was going to be like. I don't know if I was afraid of the physical strain or getting yelled at or what. I knew by that time I had made a mistake but I also knew that there was nothing I could do to stop it at this time. I should just sit back and chill 'cause this was going to happen to me no matter what.

We finally got off the bus and arrived to get yelled at. They called out our names and we got in line to go through and receive our orders to be at reception. We threw away our contraband, which was a ridiculously large variety of things. I was forced to throw a ticket chick's calendar away. I had gotten it from ticket stock that year and it was signed 'To Eric, Your hair looks gay.'

They finally herded us up to a large room with like 4 bunk beds in it. These guys handed out linens and we were told to go to sleep until someone came and got us the next morning.

We were woke up at like 4:3 in the morning and stood in line for a pretty good breakfast. Then we went and got shots, our teeth examined and finally hair cuts. After that was lunch. During all this time there wasn't much talking because nobody wants to get into trouble. Then they issue us clothes and a card that they use to front you $25 out of your first paycheck. Clothing is issued and finally after that they feed you dinner. I was asleep at like 6:3 because I pretty much got no sleep the first night and was fuckin' tired. But the next morning we took a P.T. test and I had finally started to meet people and I was super competitive and wanted to out run everyone. It was a good feeling at this time because we started to get more free time. We started to get to know each other. There were a lot of these guys who were in military colleges like Norwich and The Citadel. It was really cool to talk to them because they were pretty much fearless. They lived in this kind of environment when they first got to college. Good people. There were a few guys I particularly liked. Warden I think. A tall skinny kid who had the same 18x-ray contract that I did. We would sit up and talk during guard shifts about what life was like before and whether or not we thought we would make it and who out of the other guys we thought would make it. I thought Figi and Jesse Archer would definitely make it.

Darryl Haslacker became a close friend of mine at this time because he was a hard drinking red neck who liked to fight and I was a hard drinking college student who liked to fight. He told me some great stories about being in jail. He got into a fight with this guy for staring at his girlfriend. This guy was big and fat, way bigger than Haslacker. So he got on top of Haslacker and was kicking his ass. Well Slacker got onto him and bit his cheek. The guy let go and the cops showed up right then and of course took Slack to jail. Slack almost went awol every fucking day, see we were supposed to go right to Boot camp after like three days but we didn't. Once you're done processing there's nothing for you to do so you just sit there. Wake up go to breakfast, go to sleep, go to lunch, go to sleep go to dinner, bullshit and go to bed at lights out. Every time you go to a meal you stand in line for like at least an hour.

I had to talk Slack out of going awol every four hours or so. 'Think about your daughter and how proud your wife will be when you get outta hear.' 'That's whats killin' me Jones. I think my wife's gonna cheat on me or somethin'. I'm just so worried about it. In jail I'd get panic attacks and freak out and need to be restrained until my wife showed up or I at least got to talk to her.'

I was close to Slack I was easily his best friend there. We would always talk about gettin' wasted at a bar when we got out. Getting into fights. 'My friends would like you Jones. You remind me of my buddies back home.' I was lucky because everyone liked me.

Jesse, Rainey, and this Jewish guy used to sit around and play spades while me, Haslacker, and Dicky Osterberg would sit around and bullshit. Haslacker made a calendar and we would mark off a day every evening before we went to sleep. Slack would write letters all day and I'd walk with him to go stick them in the mail box. Jesse read the bible a lot. Any time we were hanging out in our bay that's pretty much what he was doing. Jesse was about 6'4'. A former college basketball player and really laid back guy. I would always go over to Jesse's and Rainey's bunk and say 'You guys mind if I hang out at the cool guys lounge.' I sang songs pretty regularly when I was hanging out over there. Everybody would be sitting around and I would walk over singing 'Holy Diver' by Ronnie James Dio. I would sing in my best impression and everyone would laugh their ass off. So we would sit around and sing a few classic rock songs and Jesse would always say in a very thick mainer accent 'You know what Jones, this place reminds me of Schmitt's Gay. Dadlee da da ta ta Bdoo Bdoo' humming the theme from Van Halen's 'Beautiful Girls'.

They would let us use the phones on the weekends. But there was such a huge line to use them that it almost wasn't worth it. At reception there was like 1 guys. It was really Eric's birthday party (There was one thousand sausages at Eric's 22nd birth day party.) at reception. So in many ways reception was like prison and if you asked Slack it was worse. We were at reception for two weeks and they finally told us 'Your all going down range.' Well we got our shit together and put our duffels down stairs which had to be guarded at all times. But the next morning we were told to get our shit and put it back upstairs. So we weren't going anywhere. It sucked because your time didn't start until you got to basic. Which meant that you were going to be at fucking bullshit reception for however long and then you had 1 days of basic. So you wanted the fuck out of there as soon as possible and you were miserable and the days just dragged on.

Finally for real we left and Slacker said 'Jones if your not in the same platoon as me I'm going awol.' 'Slack you got too much to lose. Not only that, but once we get to basic we'll get some time to use the phone and shit. Once you talk to your wife and daughter you'll be golden.'

We got called out by platoons. The warlords were first platoon. Rainey was in first platoon and as I was standing there I was like fuck. Second platoon was Hellraisers which was the platoon I wanted to be in because they had the coolest name and seemed to have the coolest drill sergeants. They called me for third platoon which was Maddogs and I was pretty intimidated because one of their drill sergeants was Staff Sergeant Stoen who was a pretty big guy with an enormous jowls and a huge scar down the side of his face. On top of that he had pretty much every patch you could have in the Army, Halo, Jumpmaster, Pathfinder, Air assault, a Combat infantry badge, and a Ranger Tab. So this motherfucker looked hard core. They didn't call Slack until fourth platoon Marauders.

We grabbed our bags and went upstairs to our bay, another room with about 3 bunk beds in it. Jesse, Figi, and Ryan Jones were all in my platoon. I was at reception with all those guys. A.J. Arango was a guy who was so ridiculously cocky that you either hated him or he was your best friend. My first experience with A.J. was at reception. There was this real cocky asshole giving a lecture on martial arts to some of the people in his group. 'What kind of conceited bastard tries to teach martial arts at reception.' A.J. Arango apparently. A.J. was Jesse's battle buddy. When Jesse first met A.J. he didn't like him much either.

The first time we were getting smoked this guy right next to me was hurting. After we were done the Drill Sergeant went back into his office. Patrick Wayne Grubbs freaked out. 'We're supposed to be a team and I can't take this anymore I'm leaving.' Grubbs starts walking out. I looked right at his battle buddy and said 'You better go get him.' We got him calmed down. Figi stepped right up and really took on the role of Leader. So that was good because already we pretty much knew as a group who was going to be our student leadership. Figs was about 32 years old. Dark hair and skin from Colorado. He was an excellent athlete and honestly the greatest person you've ever met. Figi had a fairly tale life beautiful wife and he never swore or even was mean to anyone. That's the picture he painted and he was so upbeat and positive that he really broadcast this idea. Figs was married and his wife was expecting. He found that out right after he left reception and we had all wished him well.

We had fire guard every night two at a time and it went according to your roster number and I either had it with Grubbs or my battle buddy Ryan Jones. Grubbs sucked. He couldn't shut up. 'I can't wait to get back home. and go to all the parties and I'll get laid all the time by all these fine chicks. I might even have some three somes with my girlfriend.' 'Yeah whatever Grubbs.' 'You want to see a picture of my bitch.' Grubbs whipped out a picture of a girl in black makeup with a pale complexion and a dog collar around her neck. She was thinner than I imagined. Grubbs was a fat piece of shit. He wore glasses and was awkwardly mannered. He fit right into the personality he looked, only he was a lot more confident. So every other night I spent one hour with Grubbs. One night I was getting ready to wake up and go do fire guard I looked down and saw Grubbs. His sheets were moving frantically near his midsection. I looked down and was wondering what he was doing. Then I realized this fucker was masturbating. I was disgusted. 'Grubbs you disgusting piece of shit. Take your faggot ass into the latrine.' 'I'm not doing anything wrong.' Grubbs responded but stopped what he was doing. I scowled at Grubbs and moved quickly over to my wall locker. I got dressed and sat asleep at the other end of the room for the remaining hour. I didn't say a single word to him the entire time.

We spent the first week in the Class room. UCMJ, Equal Opportunity, we were introduced to our First Sergeant who was this little old black man with a peculiar walk and a slow distinctive talk. His drawl was not southern and not urban but peculiarly sounded like an old black man. Our XO introduced himself and spoke in place of the CO. The drill sergeants threatened to smoke us all the time and eventually it kind of lost its motivating factor. One day we were standing at attention in the bay. Chris scratched his balls just then Drill Sergeant Vaden walked in. 'What the fuck are you doin' private?' Drill Sergeant said in a thick Virginian accent. 'I am air out my balls drill sergeant.' Allen answered him in an equally southerny North Carolinian accent. Staying awake in the class room was super hard. I used to think about pornography to stay awake. Eventually I'd be sitting there with a hard on. But I was awake which means I didn't have to go to the back and do push-ups or flutter kicks or front back gos.

We finally got some free time after polishing our boots after dinner. I always took a shower first thing. We joked around a lot and bullshitted a lot both in line for the shower and then when we were actually in the shower. You got used to seeing guys naked and really paid no attention to it after the first few days. 'Flaugh quit looking at my balls. If your wondering how they taste, my exes say Maple Syrup so try to keep your eyes above the waist.' Flaugh was this skinny guy from Colorado. He had a high nasaly voice and he looked like Joe Dirt with glasses in some of his old photos of himself and his family. 'Jones, I don't even have my glasses on.' 'Don't worry Jones he'll have them on next time.' A.J. said. By this time A.J. and I were tight. I used to go over to A.J. and Jesse's bunk in the evenings and on weekends when there wasn't anything going on but cleaning by a few scared privates who wanted to stay busy so they weren't smoked. We were friends instantly because I told a lot of stories about back home binge drinking which ended in a fight or me leaving with an unattractive young lady. Fat or ugly it didn't matter cause it was funny either way. A.J. was a college graduate and actually had two degrees and a great job before joining the army. He came in on the same shitty contract I had. 5 years 18x-ray. A.J. was also a blue belt in Jiu-Jitsu. 'A.J. when I first met you I thought who is this conceited asshole. But then I figured out it would probably be a lot easier to be your friend than to hate ya' and get my ass kicked when I finally decided to pick a fight with ya'.' We laughed little bit and A.J. showed me a picture of his girlfriend. 'Jones, is this chick hot or what.' 'She's fuckin' fine, you mind if I take this picture into the stall with me.' 'I'm writing a letter to my girlfriend and I wanted to tell her that the guys here are jealous of me because she's back in Cali waitin for me. Where's your Girl at Jones.' 'Dude, I'm pretty much totally single.' 'That's weird you seem like the relationship type.'

Every time I went over to hang out at Jesse's and A.J.'s bunk I would say 'You guys mind if I hang out at the Cool Guy's Lounge for awhile.' I was always welcome at Cool Guy's Lounge and after a while they would actually come and look for me just to see if I wanted to hang out there. Cool Guys lounge was Jesse and A.J. who shared a bunk and Allen. There was Daner (also an 18x-ray) or the Great Dane as I often called him, Coulstring, and Flaugh, who pretty much had probationary status throughout basic.

I met Scott Dubose in the latrine in line for the showers 'Is it true that you had a contract to go to OCS and be a pilot in the Navy?' Scott was prior service and had worked along side of the pilots as an aviation mechanic. 'Yeah.' 'Should I slap the shit out of you now or later.' Scott told me about how cool all those guys were. He also told me that it would be possible to get from the army to the navy and back in to OCS. I know that he got me through some tough times just by talking about that.

We waited in a shit load of lines. A.J. and I often talked about being enlisted college grads. 'Jones, do you know what Gomes said to me the other day. Arango you don't belong here bra.' A.J. said mockingly. 'And do you know what I said. You're right why am I not at OCS.' A.J. and I laughed about that kind of thing all the time. I always just said 'FUCK' and threw my arms into the air with a smile on my face. We became real snobs about being college grads but every time we felt high and mighty. We would sit around and talk to the great Dane and he could speak much more intelligently than I could about any number of books or history or biology. So we were always grounded by the great Dane and he had no college but a shit load of life experience. As a former fisherman in the Bering Straits Josh did some interesting things.

The second week of basic we moved right into basic rifle marksmanship with the M-16. It was pretty exciting because during this time you were too busy for the Drill Sergeants to fuck with you. We would P.T. in the morning and after that we were cleaning weapons and going to a range to shoot. I was a terrible shot. I sucked dick. I had stoppages on my weapon and I missed the targets I did shoot at. I was pissed. Everyone else was hitting targets and naming their weapons. I would come off the firing line. 'How many did you hit Jones.' 'I don't want to brag but, I hit 6 out of 44.' 'You'll get there.' 'Yeah fuck you.' I was getting real upset. Everyone was knocking down more targets than me. My manhood was being insulted.

I went through two weeks of not qualifying at a single range. I was put in a special group for people who weren't good shots and thus I was separated from all my friends. So I would get all cranky because they put me in a group of guys that I thought were almost retarded. There was Ellis who could barely do 4 push ups. A fat kid from east Texas, who could get really annoying to you and in turn would become cranky. Harkleroad who was a devout catholic, wore thick glasses but had almost no commonsense, what he was commonly teased about though was his slow speech. Poor kid just talked slow and some people gave him a hard time. Stanley who was a black guy who wore some thick ass coke bottle glasses, Slack always called him preacher because he seemed to be real religious. Ferguson was another guy who Chris Allen fucking hated. He had an 18x-ray contract and had a recruiter lie about his P.T. scores to get him the contract. Ferguson must have weighed about 35 pounds at one time but lost all the weight. So his body had all this extra skin, it looked like scrotum skin cause he was all hairy and the skin was wrinkly and full of stretch marks. I nicknamed him human ball sack.

So I hated being apart of this group and I didn't think I was going to hit 23 out of 4 targets. They told us that if we weren't first time gos, meaning we didn't hit 23 of 4 first time on the firing line we wouldn't go on pass that weekend. So I put a shit load of importance on qualifying. And days before they put me on the line and put me back on the line and I was still hitting like 21 targets at best. So I was freaking out. I was getting pissed. 'I am a fucking failure. I'm not going to make it. Fuck You. The only thing the army has taught me is how to fail. Fuck the army.'

So the day comes and everyone says don't worry. Gomez was this Puerto Rican guy who spoke terrible English he says to me. 'Jones, es no to worry Jezuz weel help you to qualify. And de Virgin Mary will guide your bullets.' So Ferguson while adjusting his glasses by making a face says with a lisp. 'What about me Gomesh?' Gomez points to the sky and says 'Ferguson, ju are de lord's cruelest joke. He will have de mercy on ju.'

We got up to the firing line and I had gotten my rifle rezeroed. I felt pretty confident.

'Hey, hey Jones what's up? How'd you do?' 'I fucking made it. 28.' 'Fuckin 'A' way to go, hell yeah. Jones made it.' A dog pile ensued and everyone was amped because if we performed well as a company we got a streamer. If we got streamers we got rewards like a radio or a post pass when everyone else was getting a sandhill pass. 'See here Maria did it for me I knew she would. Say Jones what'd you wind up naming your rifle.' 'Stupid bitch.' 'Nice name, the way you were carrying on yesterday it fits.'

Before we went on pass they let us use the phone for the first time since we had gotten to our company. I called my mom and went up stairs. I knew we were going on pass that following day so I had no real urgency to call anyone else. So I go upstairs. While everyone else was down there using the phones, Grubbs started freaking out. He had already quit so the Drill Sergeants had placed him on bitch details. 'Drill Sergeant told me I was going to get to use the phone so fuck you.' Figi responded in a very un-Figi way. 'Grubbs, I haven't spoken to my wife in three weeks and she's pregnant with my first child. You're not going to kick me off this phone. You're not training and they are going to send you home soon enough.' Grubbs began to cry. 'Fuck you, Fuck all you guys. I don't know what I'm going to do but if I don't get out of here right now I don't think you'll have to worry about me leaving.' The Drill Sergeants took it as a suicide threat. They moved his bunk down stairs in front of the CQ desk for 24 hours supervision. But Grubbs was gone within 24 hours. I never had to do CQ with him again.

So we were on our first pass that weekend. Slacker hit 37 of 4 and went on a post pass. I was just happy to use the phone. I talked to my parents for like 2 hours. Then I went and found Jesse and Chris and A.J. watching 'Old School.' After I was done talking on the phone I would sit and watch 'Old School' over and over. I hated it when people tried to throw a different movie on. That movie just reminded me of how great life could be. I started thinking about the great parties we would have and the beer we'd drink and the chicks we'd flirt with and it was awesome. I wanted to use the internet one time. The internet would have a pretty long wait. But I had a friend who would go right for the internet and not get off four a couple of hours. 'Old man what's up.' 'Nothing. Just IMing my girlfriend.' 'I hope you got protection cause you know you don't want to get her pregnant or catch something.' 'Let me guess Jones you want to use the internet.' 'It'd be awesome but only if it's no inconvenience.' So Old Man Merwin would let me on. We called him Old Man or I called him Old Man because he ran and did P.T. like an old man. He wasn't that old and I became good friends with him. I'd say 'Hey Old Man come with me for a minute.' Old Man would follow me and just listen to me complain and worry about not becoming an officer in the Navy. Old Man was an awesome friend.

The following week was our first road march. At first it was alright. I was a road guard so I was pretty much setting the pace and didn't have to worry about my intervals. I was fucking cruising and a little too fast for the guys behind me. A.J. was a road guard too. 'Jones, slow it up. Fat Shit Mohler back here can't keep up.' 'Fuck you A.J.' A.J. looked at him laughed and mockingly quoted Mohler. 'If you serve, you get more food. I love serving the soldiers.'

On the road march back at the end of the day I was fucking tired. I had some pretty intense blisters on my feet and it was wet as fuck. So when I got back I just went right to sleep.

The following weekend we were introduced to combat boxing. 'Two men enter one man leaves.' I chanted quietly to Jesse. Our platoon had it easy but looking over at 4th platoon. You felt sorry for them. It was no other than our good friend 'Preacher' Stanley. Beating up one guy and then getting two thrown in the ring against him. He got blindsided a few times and punched while on the ground. Finally after it was obvious he was going to get hurt the DS called the two off. Next in the ring was Slack. He killed a reasonably sized guy and the rule was that if you beat your opponent you faced two. Slack fared less well the second time but had to be pulled off from sucker punching one of the two after the fight was called.

I snuck over to talk to Slack during platoon on platoon. 'Hey man how's it going?' 'You didn't hear did ya' Jones.' 'Naw, what's up?' 'My old lady, yeah, she been cheatin' on me. Got word from my sister last week. Saw her with another guy. When she went over to pick up my daughter which my ex is filing sole custody for. Jones, I ain't gonna make it.' 'Holy shit Slack. They gotta let you out if your life's that fucked up.' 'Already went and talked to Vaden. Piece of shit doesn't care, says there's nothing I could do if I was there anyway.' 'Well, you know that's wrong.' 'For right now I'm going to get my sister to handle it. But I don't know what I'm going to do.' Slack was taking it out on everyone. He picked fights in his platoon everyday and fourth had it worst of all the platoons because they had this prick of a Drill Sergeant named Vaden. He lived in a barracks on post and he loved to wake his platoon up in the middle of the night, smoke them and go back to bed. Slack wasn't doing to well.

Cory Bellino was a stud, no question about it and he was representing our platoon nicely in the platoon vs. platoon boxing. He had boxed as a police officer in Corpus Christi, TX and weighing in at about 21 of solid muscle didn't hurt either. His opponent hit the deck and Bellino following the rules for 4th platoon combat boxing continued to beat the shit out of his opponent. The Drill Sergeants pulled him off and argued with each other for a minute about what set of rules they were following. 'My boy's just following the rules in your platoon boxing.' 'Well that wasn't what we were doing here.' They let it go and we were ushered back to our bay.

There were rumors that we were going to go on a sandhill pass this weekend. So Sunday comes around and we were to wake up at 6:3 go eat breakfast and receive our little safety briefing. So we eat and everyone's concerned that we actually aren't going to get a pass. Everyone's talking about it in line for breakfast. We come back and stand in formation waiting to get released. Well drill sergeant Bryant asks who's going to sick call. Well no one admits to having signed up for sick call. 'Well Delta company if you don't have any integrity then no one is going on pass.' Everyone is pissed and so Figi raises his hand 'drill sergeant some of the guys need to go out to get supplies for hygiene and the upcoming bivouac.' Everyone is pissed at Ferguson because he's been on profile pretty much since getting into the army. He's been going to sick call regularly when he doesn't want to train and we all felt it was his fault that we weren't going on pass.

Figi comes over to me and says 'Jones, I kind of feel bad because my name was on the list for sick call. But with my wife being pregnant and all, there is no way that I was going to miss an opportunity to speak with her.' Figi spent all 6 to 8 hours of the previous weeks passes on the phone and he received mail damn near every other day from his wife.

But no one blamed Figi for not getting pass. It was later revealed to us an hour or so later that we never actually had a pass and that it was a mind game to prepare us for what lay ahead at our units. I chilled out all day and listened to the radio that we got for winning a streamer. After lunch Slack came up to talk to me. I hadn't spoke to Slack in a few weeks. 'Jones what's up. This is bullshit. These motherfuckers can't be doing shit like this to us. Vaden's over in our bay putting us on details, fucking smoking us. Asshole lives a hundred meters away.' That was the last time I would ever speak to Haslacker. I prayed for him and when people talked about catching awols and punishing them, I knew they'd never get Haslacker. I hoped everything worked out for him and I really regret not getting to have that beer with him.

Individual movement training began in the hottest part of the year in Georgia. It was unseasonably cold however and especially rainy. Individual movement training is pretty stupid. You're not realistically going to run and get down on the ground every 3-5 seconds. You're going to run when it's 'safe' and your going to stay behind cover while the enemy is firing. That's just the real world.

So they would give us blanks and put us in lanes. Clearly defined dirt trails complete with little hills (burms) we could hide behind and bound to every 3-5 seconds down the lane. It was raining most of the day so we were extremely muddy. It was our first bivouac and we were all miserable. 'Jones, I think I thought of the word of the day.' Jesse and I were soaked and actually cold for July. 'Yeah me too. Nasty.' 'I was thinking stupid. But that sounds more like the word of the cycle. Yeah we better save stupid.' About 9 hours later Jesse was proved correct about how stupid this place was. 'All right tonight is live fire. Everyone is drawing two magazines and your going to find out how to use night optical scopes.' 'Do we have to hit any targets Drill Sergeant?' 'No, this is for familiarization only.' So we didn't. The DS's were so eager for us to hurry up and finish that you couldn't even adjust the scope to actually see anything you were just told to fire, and quickly. If you took more than a minute to fire all your rounds the drill sergeant grabbed your weapon placed it on burst and fired all your rounds for you.

After familiarization for night fire we got into our shelter halves. It was so comfortable and warm. I never wanted to leave. 6 am came and I laid there quietly. Everyone went to breakfast. Then everyone came back and my rest was over. We had to tear down our shelter halves.

We tore down our shelter halves and got onto a cattle truck. This cattle truck was fucking full. We always joked 'How many privates can you get on a cattle truck.' I know I know 'One More.' Usually it wasn't too bad but this time we had our rucks. It was crowded and hot because it was July. I was riding standing near the back and we were going down a road with a lot of turns. Every time we turned left I was stabbed by the corner of someone's rucksack frame. Every time we turned right I was stabbed by my own rucksack frame. It was a lose/lose situation.

Jesse sang sweet child o' mine on the way back and we all jumped in it was a great time. Gomez even jumped in 'Wo ey o sweet child a mine' in his ridiculous Puerto Rican accent.

I was wearing my rank one day and Drill Sergeant Vaden stopped me. 'Hey private, what makes you so special that you get be a specialist?' 'Bachelor's Degree Drill Sergeant.' 'Well, If you're so smart then how many times can you drink your own urine.' I was tired of being fucked with and I had just completed a ten mile ruck march. 'I don't know Drill Sergeant.' 'Twice, asshole. But do you see what I'm saying. Education is relevant. Now get out of my face college asshole.' He was rude and he was trying to embarrass me. But I didn't care.

That night on fire guard Jesse woke me up. 'Hey, Joneses it's your shift.' I looked out groggily 'Jess, what's up, good morning. Got any coffee for me.' 'Naw, no coffee tonight.' 'What the fuck are you wearing.' Jesse had on his LBV, Kevlar, and pants. No boots, or BDU top. A.J. had on less. I laughed my ass off and quickly relieved Jesse and AJ.

The next week was pretty much the same. More ranges and lines to wait in to shoot weapons. We stood in line to shoot an M24B for six shots. It was mounted on a tripod and we weren't allowed to aim it. Just walk up pull the trigger for approximately 6 seconds and go sit back down in the bleachers. This is the kind of stupid shit that really got to me. It was hotter than satan's den because it was summer time and here I am wasting my time so the army can check something off their list for me to do. Most of the time while I was in line I would either say the rosary or practice learning the Hail Holy Queen. I was so upset about Navy OCS that it was all I could do to keep from going nuts. I must've said about 3 rosaries.

Catholic Mass was held on Saturday at 18. Kito Kimoto, Harkleroad, and I never missed mass. One day they were short on altar servers. Having been an altar server before I volunteered. Every time I was at church I prayed for the same thing. OCS. That was what I prayed for. 'Please, Lord help get me from here to OCS as quickly as possible.' Over and over. For serving I got a prayer book. The prayer book was full of prayers that said few people have seen their prayers fail to achieve them their goal. I was all over that. I said some every night before I went to bed. I still have that prayer book.

During bivouacs CGL would meet out in the woods away from everyone else. We were supposed to be cleaning our weapons. Instead we made coffee. 'The frustrating thing about the 18x-ray contract is that you get here to the army and you expect to be the turd of the 18xers. You think this place is going to be full of athletes and former military. Its not, there are guys who just look like shit and then you see their performance and you know they aren't good athletes and they prove that their not intelligent. Ferguson is a perfect example. He spends a week on profile and finally comes off profile does part of the obstacle course and quits the obstacle course.'

The thing about cleaning weapons is that no matter how good you clean it, it will definitely get turned away as dirty. So why waste your time trying an impossible standard.

'Mohler is a definite example as well here's a guy who preemptively fell out of the 1 mile road march.' 'Mohler, tell your children not to walk my way, but if you want to get on the deuce with your profile.' Jesse just made up one of the funniest songs of the cycle. By parodying Danzig's Mother he just gave us one of the more memorable things of the cycle. We sang that shit all the time and laughed our asses off. Anytime Mohler was around we fire it off. The best was when Flaugh would sing it. Mohler was a big guy about 6'2' and 25 lbs. and Flaugh was 5'8' and 145. But Mohler knew not to say shit because Jesse and A.J. would just stand next to Flaugh and laugh their asses off and if they weren't around we'd have found out and fucked that guy up. CGL was waiting for someone to fuck with a member. It's really empowering to stand up for your friends.

The day we got back from this bivouac was the day before Drill and Ceremony in week 8. So we practiced a little and the following day the platoons performed Drill and Ceremony and competed against each other for a streamer. We had already had the PT streamer which we got for having the highest average PT score in the company. We got to make a phone call as our prize for keeping that. Well of course we won Drill and Ceremony. But right after D&C we went on our 36 hour pass. So we were released into the great city of Columbus. I stayed in a hotel room and made phone calls all day. Everyone of my friends was pretty much used to hearing from me on the weekends but that's what I did. Came back and it was pretty uneventful. Everyone was so excited to be in a hotel room all by ourselves. That was awesome, just the unadulterated privacy. It was kind of lonely in the shower though. Because I was so used to walking in their at the end of the day and standing in hot water bullshitting. CGL was so overbearing that we pretty much had the shower to ourselves. But I watched movies both adult and regular and the next morning it was awesome because I woke up and at the hotel I stayed at was this amazing breakfast buffet.

We came back and prepared to spend a little more time out at ranges. The next week we went on the great 12 mile road march. That shit sucked and the Drill Sergeants added a new wrinkle. We were to carry a couple m23's and a couple of saws per squad. So everyone was going to get one of these weapons for a couple of miles. By the time I got the saw I got it from Jesse who was my team leader at the time. The strap was adjusted to his 6'4' frame so. I hand carried that bitch for the time I had it. We got breaks every 3 or 4 miles which was awesome. And we finally got to about 11.8 miles and Gomes the great gets dehydrated or tired or something and does this great prat fall. And says 'I need a chewy.' He climbs on the Deuce and a half with the usual cast of characters and is told he's going to have to redo the road march.

Well anytime that A.J. or any of us see or hear from this guy we always say in a great dying Gomes voice 'I need a chewy.' Well Gomes gets mad and he goes after A.J. the most talkative of our group. 'Gomes, I'm going to put you in an American lock in about 5 seconds.' Gomes continues to run his mouth and the two challenge each other and Gomes either makes a wrong move or says the wrong thing. A.J. locks Gomes up in about 3 seconds. A.J. had already got into a number of altercations through out basic but this was the most memorable one simply because this guy was so mad and it was over so quick.

FTX was coming up and our time in basic was almost over. We had heard about all these nightmares of 2 something mile road marches and the crucible or whatever. Carrying water jugs, logs, stretchers, and ammo cans. It was really a great opportunity to sham. We laid in our hasty foxholes and I fell asleep most of the time. We also had to do this thing called peer training were we would rehearse tasks like claymore landmine, First Aid, functions checks on weapons, Hazardous environment gear, shit like that. So we would always get broken up into groups and forced to go through these motions. But the Drill sergeants didn't supervise us that much and I would fall asleep or bullshit with whoever from CGL was in my group.

So the next week was pretty chill. We debated over whether many of the people at basic with us deserved to graduate with us. It was a bitching session because a few guys didn't have to do the same things that I had to do. In retrospect obviously I wouldn't have had to do them but I didn't have an excuse. It was still frustrating.

We drove out to FTX our whole platoon was inside of a cattle truck. Well as the cattle truck drove off the horn was blaring. Well we all cheered and clapped and we were like 'alright this truck drivers motivated to drive us out.' But the horn kept going and people kept saying what the fuck is going on. So the truck pulls over and the Drill sergeant says 'You privates pull on that emergency horn one more fucking time and I'll smoke the shit out of this whole trailer while you're all in it.'

It was a great way to start off FTX, it was fun and set the whole mood for the entire day. We were to start off with a tactical road march and shoot. So the object was to stay quiet and keep our spacing as well as get the best time. When we got to where we were marching we had to shoot at alternate qualification targets. Third platoon was the favorite for honor platoon and if we won this event it would seal the deal. So the Drill sergeants kept holding it over our heads. We also had to have the contents of our packing list. Jesse was my squad leader at this time and had been squad leader for a real long time. Well Jesse was the only one in our squad to be missing anything from the packing list. Drill sergeant calls him forward and says 'Who do you put in charge when your delegating tasks?' Gomez speaks up and says 'Josh Daner was de best squad leeder. He don't even let scratch my balls teel I put my packing list togeder.' Throughout showering together in basic training we had noticed that Gomez had balls the size of a damn grape fruit. Many a joke was made about Gomez's donkey balls. 'Smoke yourself Gomez.' I laughed quietly and Gomez begins to do some push ups and mountain climbers. 'I usually leave Jones in charge Drill Sergeant.' Fuck I was damn near through this bullshit and totally under the radar. I was a little mad because this kid Hauser who was totally squared away through out training really should have been squad leader. Any rate I was the new third squad squad leader. Third squad was the most fucked up squad in the whole platoon. Harkleroad, Halladey, The Gomi (as Gomez and Gomes were often called), and Gleezen were all in this platoon. Gleezen had some sort of glandular dysfunction and he was from Maine to boot. He had suffered from heat exhaustion several times through out basic and was constantly sweating. He looked like he just took a bath most of the time he was just drenched in sweat constantly. We were often called the whack pack by the Drill sergeants. 'Where's whack pack squad leader.' I knew whenever I heard this I was going to get smoked. It got to be a joke to me and I just got used to getting smoked. I didn't want to get fired though. And actually I kind of liked the job.

I had already figured out about guard out in the field. You sleep during it and if you get caught you lie about sleeping and if you get smoked, you get smoked. So, Ryan Jones my faithful battle buddy and easily the most optimistic person through out this whole tale, pulled all the guard and when he woke me up I went back to sleep. 'Ryan, this doesn't even matter but if it helps you sleep I can pull guard while my head rests on my weapon so it looks like I'm awake. But that's the best I've got.'

So each night at FTX we were going to run a lane on what's called the bayonet. The first night was the water can carry. There was 22 water cans and the platoon was 44 deep at this point not counting our broke dicks. What happens when you assign a platoon a task like this is that guys who are weak aren't going to be able to carry these jugs as far or as fast. Immediately Ellis falls back. His water jug was taken from him and I ended up getting no brake at the beginning. As the march continues all the strong and fit individuals are carrying water jugs for twice as long as those who aren't strong or fit. You have to yell at Ferguson to get him to carry a water jug. Halladey was falling out with out a water jug and you couldn't tell him shit. CGL banded together and got the platoon through this lane of the bayonet. Figi always had a water jug and at times two weapons and a water jug. Prouty always had a water jug and at times two water jugs. Jesse carried two water jugs at the very end. The great Dane did the last leg without letting a water jug leave his hands. I swapped out water jugs frequently and tried to go up and down the file relieving individuals in the rear of their water jugs. Ultimately it got the best of me and I kept seeing the same people in the rear or the middle with no water jug. I was pissed off at those guys. Harkleroad was like a dog, foaming at the mouth unable to adjust his glasses without squinching his face. 'Jones, could you take this water jug from me?' I'll relieve Harkleroad because he just looks retarded and I always see him with a water jug. I see Ferguson 'Ferguson, get your faggot ass up here and relieve me. I'm smoked and I just relieved Harklechoad. You've been in the rear the whole time fuck face.' Gomes was in the rear too. There was like a group of guys that just didn't or wouldn't work and you found yourself carrying their load whether you wanted to or not. This leg of the bayonet was so tough that even drill sergeant Stoen, who at this point had been called drill buddy Stoen quite regularly, came in and carried water jugs.

When we got back to our hasty postions where we were staying I changed out of BDU's that were completely soaked. It was like I took a bath in them. So in order to sleep I had to change. We were only issued four sets of BDU's so with FTX lasting 6 days I was going to have to dry some out or rerun some nasty ones. During the day FTX was pretty stupid. We just kept going over peer training tasks for EIB. So I did my best to get the whack pack through all the tasks so that I could get some rest and get on a great sham detail where you assist with peer tasks.

The next night was the log carry and this was straight easy compared to water jug carry. Our platoon formed up in order of height. I got on the smurf crew to carry logs. We carried the logs and were relieved by a squad every half mile but everyone agreed this was way easier than water jug carry. It was a lot easier also because we only took weapons LBV and Kevlar. We left the rucks in the rear this time unlike water jug carry.

When we got back we had our AAR (after action review), and immediately all the drill sergeants are telling us to shut up and go back to our gear and shut up. They wanted to talk to someone with medical experience. This big Russian guy Baburnic was unconscious and suffering convulsions. His temperature was like 13 or something. Baburnic was 1st platoon and they just weren't as strong as us. So in our platoon where we had studs and CGL to get us through, theirs didn't so Baburnic was making up for people that couldn't pull their own weight. With our platoon leadership could atleast prevent this to a small degree. 1st platoon just wasn't blessed with the kind of leadership we had. So after that the Drill sergeants chilled back on us a lot.

The next night we had the litter carry. So through out the whole march people were chosen to 'die' so that the litter would be full. It was always a fat guy who was falling back. It sucked. That night we got back and we were doing nod familiarization. It was just walking around in the dark with nods on. During the exercise someone spotted two naked bodies in the distance. Jesse and A.J. were changing. So drill sergeant Bryant walks over to them and has them put their clothes on. Drill sergeant Bryant had wanted to smoke A.J. ever since he had been fired for bathing when he was told not to. A.J. subsequently had been smoked a number of times since then.

That was the last night of FTX and we were to march back in the following night. The road march sucked. We started at midnight and got back at 5am. At 5am when we got back we had to have an annoying ceremony. 'I am too tired, my feet too blistered, and I think this ceremony is too stupid for me to be out here.' We were awarded our cross rifles and the drill sergeants got to make statements about what is important about the infantry. So we stood at parade rest and attention for 3 more minutes than we should have had to. Matthews was one guy who didn't have to make the final road march. He still got awarded his cross rifles and he still graduated with the rest of us.

The next thing we did was shower. CGL kicked a many out so that we could take the longest showers of the cycle. Flaugh comes into the shower room and says 'Hey guys check it out.' He's almost happy the way he says it and what he's got in his hand is his penis and it's swelled to about twice what it probably should have been and it's really gross and infected looking. 'I think I might have poison ivy on my dick.' Jesse looks at him then looks at me and A.J. and says 'Jeez Flaugh for your sake I hope that is poison Ivy. Between your penis and Gomez's balls I think 1st platoon has the most freakish genitals in the Battalion.'

Warrior's breakfast was a shitty steak and some tater tots and eggs. I was of course called out to do my First Sergeant Lee impression. First Sergeant Lee was a little old black man with a distinctive walk and the slow drawl to match. 'Back in my day we didn't have no mid-cycle pass to go and try to pick up ladies. No. We had to fashion a pocket pussy out of bungee cord, shaving cream, and a wet weather top.' That was the big quote that really got the company rolling in the aisles. I didn't even want to be up there but I was called out by a few guys in my platoon.

After the little show in the class room of impressions of drill sergeants was weapon cleaning. I don't know why but no one was allowed to fall asleep until after lunch. We had all week to clean these weapons but we did it all morning and the next 4 days. We prepped to leave by cleaning the bay and the gear issued to us. We had an inspection and graduation practice.

Spider bites were some what common. I had gotten one on my hand. Everyone was so discouraged from attending sick call that I didn't go. So the day of graduation comes up and my hand is swollen to twice its size. Family day was going to allow us the evening to see our families the night before graduation. I was so happy to see my Dad. We went out to eat and I told them as much as I hadn't already told them weeks before. I spoke to him regularly and asked for his advice. I realized early on that enlisting in the army was a mistake. It was hard for me to live down not going to OCS and I really wanted to be an officer. But before we got a chance to sit back and relax my Dad had decided that it was really better that I should go to the hospital for my hand. I was pissed because I really wanted to hang out with my family. But instead my Dad drove me to the hospital.

I was at the hospital from about 5:3 till 11. I got to talk to my Dad the whole time. I strategized about how I would get from enlisted army back to OCS, preferably in the Navy. I went back to the company pretty late. I got back took some of the pain killers they had given me for my spider bite and went to sleep.

The next morning we graduated and headed for Airborne School. CGL was broken up when A.J. got put in airborne hold because of a paper work foul up. CGL would be broken up again when I gave up my contract to put in a packet for OCS. I'm still friends with everyone from Cool Guy's Lounge. I've noticed that no matter where I go, and whether there's a name for it or not I'm going to make friends which will be a distinct group within a group. I wouldn't say it's a clique, but it is. But to me, and especially in basic, it was important to be choosy about who I socialized with. Without CGL life wouldn't have been as fun in basic.


Thursday, January 1st, 2004

I would wake up in the morning and see someone important and say in a loud voice “It smells like poop here!” I still think the word poop is funny especially when adults use it. It had more stink but less garbage than mexico. I was a half a day ahead of the states so I made phone calls in the middle of the night. I spent 2 of the 22 days in korea on an army training facility. I never got to go to Seoul. Katusa’s (Koreans in the Army) told me that to really experience korea you must see Seoul. I went just outside of camp casey in Tae Du Chong or TDC as it is commonly reffered to. It was pretty cool. The food was terrible. There is a product worth exporting from korea but its probably just cheaper to make it here. Let’s Be is a sweet coffee in a can served both warm or cold. That was really the only stand out product. We did a lot of reading magazines and listening to CD’s that was awesome. I was in a two man team, 200nd squad Alpha team. I was on every single detail in Korea for that reason. In the last week my team leader broke a tooth and had to go to the dentist. I was now 2nd squad alpha team leader, a one man team of me. Let me tell ya that team was never run so efficiently. So I will change my resume to reflect that I have acted as a team leader on a deployment. During the second week in Korea boxing matches were being set up. Parson’s ran his mouth about kicking my ass. At 22 pounds I was given 6 to 1 odds. Sgt. Barr put $1 on Jones to win. I was amped. Nacpil (pronounced nakpil) filmed the entire fight and the two other fights that occurred in Korea. The barracks were full and the undercard just ended. The tension was palpable and the audience (half the battalion) was electric. The fighters were introduced. “In this corner weighing in at 156lbs. Specialist “rocky” Jones.” The crowd goes wild. “And in the black corner weighing in at an atrocious 22lbs. Specialist “Sad Catfish” Parsons.” I got a cool nick name because most people liked me. Parsons got a goofy nick name because he grew out a real silly looking mustache that combined with his facial features caused him to look like a sad catfish. The fight was over before it started. I came out swinging and punched parsons in the face 4 times. Parsons began to cower and after realizing he was getting his ass kicked he wanted to wrestle. During parsons wrestling match he lost a glove and was dragged into the other room. The audience was rabid and I was declared winner. Parsons however had other plans. “He’s coming back in to finish the fight.” “Jones already won. But if he wants to go again.” I was asked if I wanted to go again and that was an emphatic yes. I already had him on the ropes and he lost his cool. Parsons charged me as I had him in the first go. I deflected his punches and started raining hooks and jabs. I caught him a couple of times and he bent over. When he bent over I stood him back up with a right uppercut in the face. Parsons hit the deck. He got back up and we repeated the same old song and dance two more times before. The medics threw the towel in for him. He quit defending himself and had a mouse over his eye. The medics who were always eager to practice their trade wanted to cut it open. Now I don’t care what kind of fighter you are or at what level your fighting, you might win the prize money, you might go to Disney land, hell you might even kiss the ring girl. But there is no greater feeling than the medics carrying your opponent off down stairs in front of your battalion for treatment. It’s the macho of machismo. We toured the JSA (joint security area) at the DMZ the next day parsons was not to be found in a single picture due to 2 huge black eyes one of which was massively swollen. I asked parsons for a no hard feelings pic but he wouldn’t have it, and was insulted. Rocky still had every detail and parsons still didn’t. But I earned my chops and everyone loved me for winning. And I got something from Korea that no one can take away. What its like to be tasked out to clean latrines, baggage handling, and picking up trash.

A Political Attack

Thursday, January 1st, 2004

I met a candidate senator during the first few months of internship under Governor Windsor who described to me the way that he felt when he ran for a higher appointment. He said that no matter what was said or done, he could always look into the mirror and see staring back at him a figure of indomitable strength and confidence. He said that when he looked upon his reflection, he saw himself the way children see their fathers. Without that, he could not endure the constant politicking of the campaign trail. He’s dead now and I don’t remember his name, but the words are still important. I wish I could have asked him what he would do if that feeling ever went away. I don’t think he would have been able to give me a straight answer. I think he would have danced around the question in the dizzying way that senators do, and walked away quickly for a very important lunch date. Men like that can’t bring themselves to question their own self-confidence. Once they hold their notions up to the light of reality, they quickly become transparent and fall apart like so many before them. I don’t hate the girl as much as I used to. She changed me. She showed me where I hide and how to bring myself back. It’s a good thing now. I know that she’s sorry. Not dead, just sorry.

I imagine her name is Mellissa. I don’t think she actually said it, but she looked like a Mellissa to me. I think that might be against the rules though. The way I understand it, we aren’t supposed to give them names because it helps to think of them as less than people. That’s not important. She was pretty. Long brown hair and smooth skin. Maybe eighteen. Maybe less. Too young for me to look at for sure. When she came up to me though, that was O.K. If I don’t initiate, it’s not my fault. It’s in the handbook. I guess the red light was next to the bus stop. I have to assume. I’m not really sure. I don’t pay that close of attention when I drive. When she got in the car (I think she asked, because I said “alright”). She said, “I need to go up the street just a little ways. Are you sure you don’t mind?” and closed the door before I could answer. I know for sure that I didn’t answer. I didn’t have time. That was rude. No big deal. She told me where she was going. It was a lot farther than I expected. It’s a long street. She misrepresented herself. That was rude too. No big deal.

We made small talk. Nothing important. We talked about the weather and football. She didn’t flirt with me. I was disappointed. I asked why she stopped me for a ride. “Isn’t that a strange thing for a girl to do?”

“Yes it is, but I need the money.” She said.

That took me a minute. I couldn’t imagine that she thought she was going to rob me. She’s a little girl. Maybe 12 or 13 pounds. I’m twice that. Besides, I’ve been to the gym more than once. People vote on more than the issues nowadays. I think that that is an awful reflection on our society. I couldn’t tell if she recognized me. I’ve been on television a few times now, and people are starting to know my face. Maybe she wanted charity. She didn’t look like she needed it, and that’s not a very good way to ask.

“What do you mean?” I said to her.

“I need you to give me a hundred dollars.” She replied.

I’m not really that quick on my feet with women. She had laid down a challenge for me. It was my turn to respond in kind. I used to get in trouble for fighting at school. All the time actually. Someone spray painted FAG on my four hundred-dollar leather jacket when I was in 5th grade. I told him he was going to pay for it. He used a very powerful argument.

“Or what?” I said.

“Or I’m going to scream rape, and it will cost you a shit-load more to deal with all of these people.”

Then she stared at me. I stared back at her for a very long time. Almost a full minute. That’s pretty disconcerting from the passenger seat of a moving car. I think. There really were a lot of people. It was a busy street. She was scared. She hadn’t been scared when she started, but she was now. I could smell it. I think that if I had said something she would have been able to respond or move or scream or something. The alleyway was not nearly so busy. There were lots of them running off the main artery of traffic like little capillaries. I picked one at random. I can’t remember if she screamed and I hit her, or if I hit her and she screamed. I think it was the first. I think she started as soon as I turned. This is Texas. No one cares. That’s not entirely true. If it were New York, no one would care. In Texas, someone cares, but they’re never around to help you. Besides, I didn’t need help.

I drive an old car. It’s big and American, and it has a very hard dashboard. I think she was unconscious the first time she hit it. I had my hand splayed out across the back of her head. If it were a baby’s head, my palm would be just behind the soft spot with my fingers spidered out to their full extent and following the curve of the skull. It reminded me of my Dad’s Brainsucker. He would put his hand on my head the same way and say,

“This is a Brainsucker. Do you know what it’s doing?”

“No Dad.” I would reply.

“It’s starving.”

That was his joke and his way of bonding with me. It was funny until I was at least twelve. With my hand on her head like that, I could feel all the things in her face popping each time she impacted. It was pretty disgusting. After a while I stopped. She wasn’t dead. That was good. I didn’t want her to die. I couldn’t have that on my conscience.

I’ve never been a violent person by nature. I just don’t like to be taken advantage of. Bad things happen to those who let them. I think J. Edgar Hoover said that. My Dad would have agreed. He used to punish me when I got in fights at school. I mostly lost those fights. I didn’t understand why he did it then. I just thought he was mean. Once I grew a little older with a little more perspective, I changed my mind. You can either be the brainsucker or the brainsuckee.

When she was limp, I pushed her out of the car. Actually, I rocked her and she fell out of her own accord. She had never put on her seatbelt, so that made it easy. You should always wear your seatbelt. She slid onto the damp asphalt like a garbage bag full of meat and lay there. I was very careful not to hit her with the car when I backed out.

Then I left. I didn’t get a chance to look back. I imagine that whoever found her in that alley will assume that some psycho tried to rob her and something had gone wrong. I wish I had taken her purse. That would have made it more believable, and I would have liked to know her name.

That was the first time. There have been others.

I don’t have the same dilemma with it now that I used to. Everyone needs a release. Important people need big ones. That’s where it all comes from. Mellissa showed me how to deal with an imperfect world on its own level, and sometimes you have to get your hands dirty. That philosophy translates beautifully in the political arena.

Things are different for me now. I can look into the mirror and I like what I see. More importantly, I know how to get there. That’s a priority for a man in my position. People rely on individuals of confidence and direction to make changes in their lives. They don’t care where it comes from; they just want it to be there, shining warmly from their television sets and telling them that there world is in good hands. It’s a great responsibility, and it’s one I take very seriously.