Ship got sent to help the engineers. Kat got sent to the kitchens. I got sent to the southern Wall. The Wall was actually a wicked long, eight foot chain-link fence that encircled the entire facility. I’m sure you can see where this is going, and I was more than adamant that the Colonel hear my gripes that this very type of barrier is the reason a whole bunch of people were converted to the enemy back in Tennessee.
They laughed at me. Fuckers laughed. They said everybody was aware that this was just a fence, but what could they do? I was all, “Hey, why don’t you reinforce it with something?” And they were like, “Dude, with what?” Sorry about the teen-speak right there, but I’ve been spending a lot of time with Kat lately. She’s a good kid, and more like my baby sister than my daughter if that makes any sense.
So my patrol on the southern Wall, (That’s the last time I capitalize wall, it was in my written orders like that). My patrol was nothing short of excruciating. Me and five other guys walking for twelve hours and looking at marshland through the holes of a chain fence. Three soldiers and two civvies. Alvarez was one of the soldiers, and when we broke for lunch, we played cards. We would rotate a guy in and out every few hands and always keep an eye out for pussbags, of which there were few. We had to radio check in every twenty minutes.
Sometimes our lunches lasted a tad more than an hour, but hardly anybody came to check up on us ever. The stray Hummer would drive by and ask how we were doing and maybe drop off a case of water, and did we see anything, did we need an MRE or ammo.
Oh yeah, they gave me my guns back, but only while I was on patrol. That was cool of the Colonel. (Still a Giants fan.)
You know I never considered myself a card player. I knew how to play, but believe it or not cards are frowned upon in the joint. You take a guy for ten cigarettes, or worse, lose and don’t have them, and you get shanked. I didn’t want to get killed for cigarettes, even if they are just like cash inside. I don’t even smoke. Anyway, I may not have been the best card player, but these guys I was with absolutely sucked. I’m talking bad. Initially we had nothing to play for, so we just played for fun. Then it was little pebbles, and bottle caps. One of the Hummers drove by one day and a Corporal got out and handed us a bag. There was almost three hundred thousand in cash in the bag. They had rescued some folks from a bank, and the cash was just sitting there. It was just paper now. I won that entire three hundred grand in less than two hours of play time.
A little aside: no matter how rich anybody ever got, I guarantee nobody ever really wiped their ass with hundreds more than once. Guaran-damn-tee. If you’re ever desperate, and trapped in bank or something, I’m telling you, don’t. Just don’t.
The bets graduated to bunk time, or best bunk, or who would have to stand watch while the other guys played. Cigarettes, booze, and other contraband. Then it turned to food. Desserts out of the MRE. Coffee out of the MRE. The whole MRE. You get the idea. Problem is, you can’t win everybody’s food for three weeks. It doesn’t work that way.
So I mentioned before that there were two civilians. Me and this guy North. Initially I liked the guy, I really did, but he began to get kind of pricky. You know, a real prick. He would say stupid shit, like calling Alvarez a job-stealing wetback, or telling me my M4 was slung wrong, and proceeding to put his hands on me to correct it. I’m not crazy about being touched.
Anyway, we’re playing cards while one of the soldiers, Cartier (not Carter, it was pronounced Car-tee-ay, like the jewelers, but no relation.), is watching for rotters. Alvarez and I are getting smoked by North, who usually sucks as bad as Alvarez. North already has all the desserts for three days, and four whole MRE’s, and the other soldiers, Westbrook, and Eastham, (no shit) are getting restless. I could see it going down, this arrogant prick was going to get lynched by his own group, but he was clueless. You just don’t fuck with a man’s life, and food was life. He didn’t see it or didn’t care. Being me, I decided that enough was enough, and went all in with my three hundred grand to shut this little fucker (actually he was fat as shit) up.
“Nope,” he says to me.
“Nope. That shit is worthless, I wouldn’t even use it for toilet paper.” Stinger right there. Little did he know, I had already tried the hundred dollar TP thing, and I wholeheartedly agreed with his assessment.
“Fine then, what do you want?”
He looks me dead in the eyes and says, “Cat.”
I honestly had no idea what he meant, but Alvarez flipped the safety off of his weapon, and it got real. I stood up looking for rotters, still unaware of what was transpiring less than two feet away. When I saw nothing of interest, my attention focused back on North, “What the hell are you talking about? What Cat?”
Alvarez stood too, his rifle pointed toward the ground, “He means Kat.”
I know this doesn’t make any sense, but when Alvarez said her name I knew immediately what this fat asshole was saying.
“Yeah,” he began, “that hot little number you’ve been banging. You got no right keeping that all to yourself. I want a taste, and all you have to do is win this bet and I’ll go to bed alone.”
The other two directions, East and West, stood as well. The only one sitting was North, and he could fucking stay there.
“Firstly, douche, Kat is my friend. That’s it you sick fuck, she’s like my kid sister.” He harrumphed and I continued, “That having been said, if you ever even look at her, shit if you even mention her name again, Christ himself won’t be able to keep me from ripping off your head and shitting down your neck.”
He stood and folded his arms. Then he got all snide and superior, “Well how about I tell Jessup about our little card…”
He didn’t get to finish because I kicked him in the balls. He doubled over and put a hand on the ground gasping.
“Tell him whatever you want you fucking pedophile, what I said still stands. Go anywhere near her and I will fucking kill you. I’ll sleep great after too you fat fuck.” I pushed him on his ass, kicked the bets and cards all over the place, and spun around to join Cartier on watch. Alvarez walked away with me.
“What the fuck was that abou…,” began Cartier, and his eyes grew wide.
I tried to spin around to face North, and I got all the way around before I heard two shots. One was North shooting at me, and the other was West, shooting him at point blank range with his Beretta. North’s bullet sailed right past my head, it sounded like a bee. West’s bullet hit North in the side, right below his armpit, and in less than one minute of choking and gurgling, we were down to two directions.
West kicked the .38 revolver away from North’s corpse, then shot the dead man between the eyes, “Sick bastard was gonna kill you dude.”
“All good.” West ejected the magazine and jacked the slide on his Beretta, ejecting a single bullet, which he caught in mid-air. He passed the weapon and his M4 over to East.
None of us knew what to do.
“Call it in,” said West and he sat down.
Three Hummers showed up in five minutes. Twelve soldiers, Jessup included, leapt from the vehicles and approached us. The Colonel, his sidearm in his hand, looked at Alvarez, “Report!”
Alvarez showed no signs of fear when he told the Colonel exactly what happened. Afterward, the Colonel turned around, removed his cover, and ran his fingers through the stubble on his head, “Fuck!”
West stood, “Sir I take full responsibility, I shot…”
“Save it Corporal,” Jessup told him, “Tell it to the court martial. Round them all up and bring them to the stockade.”
They took my guns again and I was going to the stockade.
Prison. Armageddon was here and I was going to prison. At least something was going to be familiar.