More Sweat in Peacetime, Less Blood in War

by Kyle SUNDBY

“Sir, Recruit Carter has no medical or personal problems to report, Sir!”

Carter, standing in front of his footlocker in his standard issue flip-flops and skivvies, snaps his head to the left and flips his hands over to a palms-drown position. Drill Instructor Sergeant Barrow says nothing as he moves in closer to inspect the ears, nose, and nails that Recruit Carter presents.

While turned, Carter sees his rackmate, Recruit Collins, who was trying to regain the composure, befitting a United States Marine, that had left him after Sergeant Barrow finished his nightly hygiene inspection.

“You eyeballin’ that Marine, Sunshine?” asks Sergeant Barrow, about five inches from Carter’s turned head. “Do you have some tender feelings for your rackmate that you’d like to share?”

“Sir, no sir!”

With that, Recruit Collins’ discipline goes AWOL. He holds back as much as he can but he snorts and a grin is evident under his reddened face.

“You think its funny your rackmate has a crush on you, Sweetness?” asks Sergeant Barrow as he moves back in front of Collins. Before he can answer, Collins is launched over his footlocker and tangled up in personal gear (letter writing equipment, hygiene tools, boot polishing kits, etc.) and olive green wool blankets at the end of the lower bunk, courtesy of the right fist of Sergeant Barrow. If Carter wasn’t eyeballing him before, he was now, along with the other fifty sets of eyes belonging to Kilo Company, Platoon 3093.

Sergeant Barrow returns his attention to the rack mate still standing. “Oh no! Did I hurt your boyfriend, Carter?”

“Sir, no sir!” Carter still faces left with his hands before him, resembling a begging dog. His master moves in close.

“Do I have to sleep on my stomach around you, son? Should I grab a few of your fellow Marines to pull guard duty while I’m in the shower? Do you find me attractive, pretty boy?”

“Sir, no sir!”

It’s the second to last thing to come out of Carter’s mouth for the next few minutes. The last thing is a chestful of breath as Drill Instructor Sergeant Barrow makes hard contact just below his sternum. He joins his rackmate in a pile of gear from the overturned footlocker.

The rest of the platoon stares from the respective racks. Those who have already had their inspections are relieved. Those who have not are concerned about their immediate future. They all wait at the position of attention.

Collins is back on his feet first and quickly helps Carter to his–Marines do not leave a man behind. Carter struggles to catch his breath. If he could speak, he would tell Drill Instructor Barrow thank you–thank you, sir.

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