03 Kaneohe Bay Hawaii - Day One

Captured: Dreaming of home

© Copyright 2008 – 2009

Written by Banzai Ben



Chapter 3 – Sniper School Sunday 02 September 2007


Khudabah, Pakistan – Fourth evening of capture


The towelheads continued my torture today until early afternoon. I guess beating on me wore them out yesterday, because today I had the pleasure of being introduced to water boarding. I’d been trained for situations like this, so it wasn't too bad.


They pulled a sack cloth over my head and immobilized me on my back, reclining me so that my feet were raised and my head was down. Then the fuckers poured water over the cloth on my face and into my breathing passages.


This torture is much worse than if they would have just tried to drown me, because my automatic gag reflex didn't kick in. But I knew what was coming and fooled the fuckers, acting like I was drowning when I really wasn't. They paused every ten minutes or so to ask me questions, but again, they got no answers. In the end, all they did was give me a good bath.


They gave me some sort of nasty stew and some water, and now I am back to being hooked up to the ceiling, preparing for another night fighting the rats and chasing memories of home . . .


Kaneohe Bay Hawaii – Sunday Day One


The alarm on my watch beeped all too soon; before going to sleep I changed the time so it was an hour earlier than my normal o'dark thirty. I quietly shaved and dressed, I’m going to show Jens I’m not predictable. As I walked into the living room I smelled food cooking in the kitchen, so I made a detour and there was Jens all dressed and ready to go, she was cooking up a big pot of oatmeal.


"Good morning Marine," she said, "Breakfast in another five minutes, there's fresh coffee in the pot, pour us both a cup and sit down at the table. This sure beats eating the MRE's when I was watching you."


Damn, she was perky for this time of the morning. Like a good Marine, I did what I was told. Four more minutes later she put a huge bowl of oatmeal mixed with peanut butter and four slices of toast already buttered with honey on them in front of me. She slid over a plastic pill container marked for each day of the week.


"Don't forget to take today's vitamins." She bowed her head and prayed. Not knowing what to do, and feeling a bit awkward about it, I did the same.


"I knew you were going to try to wake up earlier by an hour just to prove to me you aren't predictable, I woke up an hour and a half early so I could make your breakfast and be ready, I know we have a busy day."


I stared at her, dumbfounded, "Are you some sort of witch? It seems like you’re always one or two steps ahead of me."


"Well, let's see," she said, "I've been called a bitch before, even by you, but this is the first time I can recall being called a witch. I like that much better. I've been studying you for the ten years you have been in the Corps, ever since DI Anderson told the General you were going to be the next best sniper. I knew one day I would be your spotter and I wanted to make sure I was ready when that day came."


"Wait, isn't that called stalking?" I protested.


"Shut up and eat your food, it's getting cold," she ordered. Well, I wasn't going to argue with that besides the smell was making me hungry. The food was damn good and I didn't waste any more time making small talk. I finished before she did and politely waited until she was done, picked up our dishes, rinsed them and put them in the dishwasher.


"Thanks for a great breakfast, that's the first time a woman has cooked me breakfast since I lived at home with my parents."


"You’re welcome," she replied. "I wanted to show you I was more than just a beautiful and deadly killer. I know that 'Jugs', as I liked to call your ex-girlfriend, never did this for you, shit she never woke up before ten. Other than her big tits, I don't know what you ever saw in her and even then you know 'anything more than a mouthful is wasted'."


"Dammit, is there anything you don't know about me?"


"Nope, there isn't, after all I am a 'witch'," she said with a laugh.


First order of duty for the morning was PT, after the plane ride and the crappy sleep I had last night I needed to get out and workout and sweat to get my mind off things. I opened the front door and stepped out, and I'll be damned, it was DI Anderson and the platoon.


"It's about time you two sleeping beauties woke up, damn half the day is wasted!" was his greeting. "Today the General said your ass is mine, we need to evaluate both of you to see if you're in condition. We're going to start with a little run of about 12 miles and then a little swim of about 5 miles and then we're going to get serious and do the obstacle course."


We were on Mofatt Road next to the Kaneohe Klipper golf course. I’ve never understood what a golf course is doing on a Marine base. We ran over to Lawrence Avenue, which turned into H3. At least I had been on this route and knew it; DI Anderson was going to run us over to Kahaluu point along the Kamahamaha highway, and then we’d have the joy of swimming back to MCBH through the Kaneohe Bay.


We were running at the back of the platoon and I motioned Jens closer to me, I leaned over and whispered to her, "We've got company; I've seen two men following us."


"Good," she said, "I’m glad you're finally starting to pay attention. They’re our fully armed escort in case we run into trouble. When we start the swim they will shadow us in a zodiac."


The DI said, "Hey you two keep your mouths shut. PLATOON Cadence!"


"Born on a mountaintop raised by a bear,
Got two sets of teeth and a full coat of hair.
See us coming better run better hide,
Cause we’ll hunt you down and eat you alive.
Slit your throat and wipe it clean,
Were mean Mother Fuckers were US Marines.
We’ll spit on your graves and laugh out loud,
Wear medals on our chest and feel damn proud.
Fighting and killing that’s our job,
So we earned the name Devil Dogs.

Oh Yeah
Oh Yeah"


Then one of the PFC's started:


"Ben and Jens running on the road,

It ain't easy carrying such a load.

Ben and Jens running in the sand,

Fightin' in Iraq gonna save this land.

Ben and Jens running on a mountain,

So many kills we lost track countin'.

Ben and Jens swimmin' in the sea,

If you don't wanna die you better leave them be.

Fighting and killing that's their job,

That's why we call them Devil Dogs!

When I grow up I want to be like them,

a Devil Dog until the end.




I looked over at Jens and I think she was blushing as bad as I was. I started singing:


"DI Anderson is the best,

Drill Instructor above the rest.

DI Anderson trained me well,

Kept my sorry ass out of hell.

DI Anderson knows he’s good,

Training troops the way he should.

Made his head so big and fat,

Gotta get a new Smokey Bear hat.

When I grow up I want to be like him,

A Devil Dog until the end.




At that, the whole platoon lost it and started laughing, I looked over at Jens and said, "Shall we show these Jarheads how to run?" We both broke rank and beat feet, and the race was on.


DI Anderson yelled, "Platoon, if you don't want to do KP for the rest of the week you had better catch those two."


By the time they got moving, we had a good lead on them. I was pretty sure that, unless they had someone really fast, we would be the first two at Kahaluu point. I did notice we had lost our escort too, and mentioned that to Jens.


"Don't worry, they also have a Predator1 following us and I don't think we can outrun it," she grinned.

1 (The MQ-1 Predator is an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) described as a MALE (Medium-Altitude, Long-Endurance) UAV system. It can serve in a reconnaissance role and fire two AGM-114 Hellfire missiles. The aircraft, in use since 1995, has seen combat over Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bosnia, Serbia, Iraq, and Yemen. It is remote-controlled by humans, not an autonomous aircraft.)


One Private First Class did catch us, but I found out he had been a track star in college until he signed up. We handed him our sidearms, told him to give them to our escorts when they caught up, and jumped in the water for the swim back to MCBH.


When I first joined the Corps, I couldn't swim worth shit. There weren't many chances to swim in Leadville, there was no swimming pool, and even in the summer the lakes were too damn cold. When I joined, I would swim a couple of laps at the pool and be totally exhausted. DI Anderson saw how much this bothered me, so he called me into his office one day and handed me a DVD called Total Immersion swimming.


"Ben, watch this, do the exercises, and you'll never have problems swimming again," he said. I did that, and in about a month, I had no problems swimming. The five miles back to MCBH would be a piece of cake.


Ten minutes later, the zodiac caught up with us with our escort and DI Anderson.


"You two doing okay?"


"If we were doing any better we'd be in heaven. Nothing like a nice little swim," Jens replied.


"Hey, DI," I said, "Taking the easy way over today?"


"I didn't want my new hat to shrink or it wouldn't fit," he replied.


"Hey, no fair making me laugh." I splashed water at him.


"The predator is still following you two, so we are going back to make sure none of the recruits drown. Blow your whistle, Jens, if you need any help." With that, the zodiac turned and headed back.


The water was a perfect temperature that day, and it didn't take long until I was in the zone. Once I got to where I could swim, it almost became a Zen like experience for me. It was so nice to feel the warm water move around me, gliding over and massaging my muscles like an unseen hand. Soon we were on the beach drying off. The zodiac came up and our escort handed us our sidearms.


"Head on over to the mess hall and grab some chow. We’ll be over when the last of the recruits are done," DI Anderson said.


I was hungry again (swimming always makes me hungry), so we beat feet over to the mess hall for lunch. Because we were with the platoon, we went to the enlisted mess hall. It was pretty busy already, so we got in the back of the line and grabbed our trays.


I noticed most of the Marines in the mess hall were watching us, and I leaned over and said to Jens, "I hope they all get this out of their system soon. I am getting tired of everyone watching us."


"You don't understand. You’re a hero to everyone here, and they all want to be just like you," Jens replied.


"You know, I think that's a bunch of bullshit. I know what it is. They just want to be talking to the General's daughter like I am." That reply earned me a kick in the shins. Damn, that hurt.


About that time the platoon showed up and of course they were singing, the Ben and Jens cadence.


This set off the whole mess hall and they all started singing until we heard, "Ten hut! Officer in the mess hall."


In walked Brigadier General Thompson. "At ease, Marines. Continue with what you were doing."


The hall quieted down (at least that stopped them from singing) and he came over and sat at our table. The cooks brought him a tray of chow and he started eating.


"This is a damn sight better chow than when I first joined the Corps.” He nodded his head in appreciation. “I heard you two did extremely well on the run and the swim. I think after today you can cut back some on the PT and start working on other things. We need the two of you working as a team in the field if we’re going to win the trophy. Well, I have some other things to do." With that, he got up and went around to each table in the mess talking to the men.


Jens admired him. "It's actions like that that make him so loved by his men."


I had to agree.


When lunch was over, it was time to head over to the obstacle course for an afternoon of fun. Some say they have mastered it. Others struggle. But everyone at some point will be humbled by the dreaded obstacle course.


It started easy enough, with a waist-high log we both jumped right over. The second obstacle was the horizontal bar, like a chin up bar. We both grabbed it and swung up and did sort of a back flip over it. Then we hurdled another waist-high log. Next came the combination bars– another log like the others, then very high parallel bars that start at 10 feet off the ground and slope down to 6 feet off the ground, we grabbed them and slid down to the end, but it wasn't over. We climbed up on top of two more logs that were about 10 feet off the ground and parallel to the bars, and with a foot on each log, ran to the end, where we jumped over another log that's about 10 feet off the ground. This was one of the hardest parts of the course, and I blew through this and left Jens behind.


Next was the 6 foot high wall. I grabbed the top and jumped over. Jens was about half a second behind me. Then came a series of waist-high logs, the last four of which were right next to each other. Most Marines jump up and over each log, hitting the ground between each one. I climbed up on the first one and ran across the top of the other three. I was about one second ahead of Jens when we hit a couple more logs to jump and then a double chin up bar. I was able to jump up and grab the top one first and then climb right over. Jens was falling further back.


The last obstacle was the dreaded rope climb. I knew this was where most people failed because of the upper body strength required. But I had been a rock climber since my high school days, and could do 50 two armed pull ups and 10 single arm pull ups with no problem, so I look forward to the ropes. When I got close, I didn't even slow down. I jumped as high as I could, and grabbed the rope. Hand over hand without using my feet, I flew to the top and slid back down. Jens was just getting to the ropes.


I yelled, "That was so much fun. Let’s do it again." I ran back towards the start.


I passed DI Anderson on the way. He shook his head as I jogged in place in front of him, "Damn Banzai, you’re one crazy mother fucker. That was a new course record."


I did the course two more times that day, but never bested my first time. I lapped the slower recruits and after the last time through, I jogged over and laid down under a tree.


About five minutes later, Jens came over. "Shit. I thought I was good on this course, but you blew me away. That was incredible. I couldn't believe you on the rope."


"Hey, I thought you knew everything about me. I guess I still have a few secrets. You never saw me work out in my home gym because it was in the basement, but I do a lot of pull ups," I replied. That was a mistake; it made me remember everything I had just lost and really put me in a bad mood.


DI Anderson came over, "Banzai, get your sorry ass up and stop moping around over here. You aren't done for the day. You and Jens get your ass over to the gym for Semper Fu.2”

2 (A nickname for MCMAP Marine Corps Martial Arts Program a combat system combining existing and new hand-to-hand and close quarters combat (CQC) techniques with morale and team-building functions and instruction in what the Marine Corps calls the 'Warrior Ethos'.)


Well, that got my attention! With the funky mood I was in, I wanted to kick some butt and take some names.  There was only one thing I liked better than Semper Fu, and that was shooting someone. I didn't think they would let me do that here. In the Marines I was an MMQ which equaled a 5th degree black belt in the real world, so I was psyched.


When we got to the gym, I noticed most of the platoon was dragging. I was disappointed; I want some real competition. We worked out for an hour, and I wasn't even working up a sweat. Man these recruits were green. They needed a lot of help.


Then DI Anderson blew his whistle, "Everyone, take a seat at the edge of the mat. Platoon, we have a real treat for you today. You have been training with Banzai and Jens. They’re both ranked MMQ. We are lucky enough to have two MMS instructors here today, and thought you would like a display of excellence in CQC techniques." With that, the door opened, and in walked two of the largest Marines I've ever seen.


I looked over and Jens. "We're in for a fight, this could get interesting."


She replied, "I've seen these guys fight. We can take them." Damn. Was there anything she didn't know? She continued. "We’ll fight them together, back to back. That’ll limit their attacks. They’re big, but they aren't fast, and that’s our tactical advantage. Whatever you do, don't let them get close enough to grab you."


The sparring match started. Jens and I were back to back and we were holding our own. Then Jens missed a block, allowing her opponent to grab her and slam her to the mat. He dropped on top of her and was just getting ready to deliver a “death blow”.'


I got pissed. No, I got really pissed. No one was going to take down my spotter! I started a Capoeira3 dance. My opponent missed on a kick, and I took him down with an easy foot sweep. Then, I quickly danced over to Jens and took care of her opponent with a head butt and an elbow strike to the throat.

3 (Capoeira emerged in Brazil some time after the 16th century in the regions known as Bahia, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, and São Paulo. It is a martial arts dance marked by fluid acrobatic play, feints, and extensive use of groundwork, including sweeps, kicks, and headbutts. Less frequently used techniques include elbow-strikes, slaps, punches, and body throws.)



My opponent was up and was coming after me, but was puzzled about my fighting style. He wasn't sure how to attack a man who looked like he was dancing and not fighting. I was in the zone now, and I knew I needed to make a point, so I decided to play with him.


He would strike or kick, but I wouldn't be there. He got angry when the platoon started laughing at him. He lunged at me and I let him grab me. I heard Jens shout, but this was my plan. I used his strength to pick him up and body slammed him to the mat. I think the whole building shook. Then, I flipped and landed in the middle of his chest.


Two quick eye scoops, ear slaps, and finally a throat punch and he was “dead.”


The platoon and Jens started cheering. Jens came over to me and gave me a big hug. Damn, that felt good.


She said, "I guess I don't know everything about you. What the hell sort of dance was that?"


One of the defeated Marines came up. "That was Brazilian Capoeira, the “ballet of death”. I’ve heard about it and seen videos on YouTube, but I never knew anyone who could do it.” He stuck out his hand. “My name is Matt, and my partner is Jim. It’s an honor to fight both of you. Ben, if you knew Capoeira, why didn't you use it at first?"


I shook his hand. "This was a training exercise for the platoon. I didn't want them to see Capoeira and try to imitate the moves. My mama was Brazilian, and started teaching me when I was a little boy. It takes years to become even mildly proficient at it, but I’ve been doing it almost as long as I’ve been walking. If this was a life or death situation, I would’ve killed either of you in less than two minutes."


Jens piped up, "I’d like to see that."  Matt and Jim echoed the same.


Oh, shit. What did I get myself into, now? I went over to talk with DI Anderson, "DI, I’ve been asked by Matt and Jim to continue the Semper Fu exhibition. However, I’m not going to be using the MCMAP method, I’ll be using Brazilian Capoeira. We need to tell the platoon they shouldn’t consider this is part of the training."


"Banzai", the DI replied, "Please address the platoon and tell them this."


I turned to the platoon, "Platoon, I’ve been asked by Jens, Matt, and Jim to continue this exhibition not in the MCMAP style of fighting, but in the Brazilian Capoeira that you saw just a little bit of at the end of the last fight. This form of martial arts takes many years to master, so I order you to not try any of these moves on your own, and especially not against a real opponent."


Jens handed me a water bottle, looked at me, and said, "Kick their butts for me. When Jim threw me to the mat, it hurt."


I looked at her and smiled.  Then, a fire rose up in my gut."He’s going to pay for that."


Matt came over. "Which one of us do you want to fight first?"


I looked at him, vengeance on my mind, "I’ll fight you both at the same time!"


Jens looked at me, wide-eyed. "Banzai, are you sure? They’re both 6th degree black belts qualified to train the troops. You don't think you can beat them both at once?"


"No", I replied with my blood boiling, "They aren't 6th degree black belts, they’re dead meat. DI Anderson, please double check the protective gear on Matt and Jim. I’d hate to see them get hurt during this exercise."


"You little prick," Jim bellowed, "I’m going to break you in two."


I just smiled at him. "Then today is a good day to die."


They went to one end of the mat, and Jens and I went to the other. "Let me check your gear," Jens said.


I looked at her. "I don't need you to check it; I’m taking it off. It slows me up too much."


"The hell you are," Jens replied.


"Listen, I outrank you, I outrank the DI, and I outrank Matt and Jim. Therefore, I’m fighting this fight without any protective gear. They won't even touch me, and this is going to be over in two minutes."


She was going to argue with me, but after looking in my eyes she knew better.


I continued, "DI Anderson, am I the ranking Marine here?"


"Yes Banzai you are," he replied.


"So then my orders will be followed by everyone here?"


"Yes, they will be, Banzai," DI Anderson replied.


"Here are my orders. First, I can’t fight effectively in this protective gear so I’ll be fighting without it. Second, I’ll take all responsibility for any injury Matt or Jim might inflect upon me. And finally, I order Sergeant Matt Coomes and Sergeant Jim Marky to fight their hardest. Are these orders understood?"


The whole gym answered, "Yes, sir."


I looked at Matt and Jim and said, "Loser buys the beers at the NCO club."


Jim replied, "I hope you brought your wallet. I won't have my back to you this time."


That cocky little prick. I was not only going to kick his butt, I was going to mop the floor with his ass.


Jens helped me out of my gear. It felt good to be free again. She kissed me on the cheek. "You better not get hurt, or I'll kill you."


"I’m ready," I shouted. moving to the center of the mat, I started my dance. Matt and Jim split up and started moving towards me. This was perfect; divide and conquer. I made sure I kept Jim in front of me and let Matt get behind me. Jim’s eyes flickered for a second to a point behind me, and the sound of  Matt’s feet on the mat told me he was attacking me from behind; he went for a flying jump kick. I danced down and out of his way, and as he passed me, I stood and delivered a spin kick that hit him right in the solar plexus. He went down hard. Jim moved in on attack, and I danced out of his way, slapping him on the face as he passed.


I went over and delivered the coup de grace to Matt, and it was time to concentrate on Jim. For about five minutes, Jim would move in to attack and I would dance out of the way, slapping him on the face as he went by. Jim was furious.


Finally, he roared like a bull and charged me. I waited until he got close. Then, I grabbed the protective gear on his chest, rolled back with him, falling to the floor and kicking him with both feet in the stomach as hard as possible. I threw him back over me as hard and as high as I could, and Jim flew all the way across the mat, landing hard on his back, threw up, and passed out.


The DI headed over, looked at him and made a call to the medics. "I think you broke his ribs."


Jens ran up and slapped me across the face as hard as she could. "Don't you ever do something that foolish again or I’ll kill you."


Women, I’ll never understand them, here I kick a guys butt for her and she's mad at me.


I went over to look at Jim. I felt bad now. He was just waking up. "Did you get the name of the truck that hit me?" He tried to laugh, and then winced.


"Hey guy, I’m so sorry. I got carried away. Please forgive me," I replied.


"No problem," he groaned, and then he passed out again. The medics came and carefully moved him to a stretcher to take him to the infirmary.


Matt walked over to us. I shook his hand, and said, "You better go with Jim."


"Good fight. I’d like to get together with you later and have you teach me a couple things," he replied. We agreed to a time later in the week.


Jens had finally simmered down and came over to me, "Remind me to be careful if you ever ask me to go dancing. I don't want to end up like Jim," she laughed. That lightened the mood, and soon everyone was feeling better.


Training was finally over for the day, and it was time to head back to the house. Outside, I turned to her. "Jens, I need to stop by the BX (Base Exchange) to pick up a few things before I head back to the house. I'll see you in a couple of hours."


I did need to get some things, but I also wanted a little time by myself. The BX is great. On a good base like this, you can buy almost anything you want or need, and you get a great price. I picked up a couple of new books to read. One was a new Clive Cussler novel. I chose a couple of nice bottles of wine and added another bottle of Knob Creek bourbon.


Then, I went to the women's area and bought three pairs of pantyhose for Jens to replace the pair she had ruined on our run to the NCO club the first night we were here – two of what they called a neutral color, and one pair of fishnets. I wonder what she will say about that. I’d already peeked and found out she was a size 4, so I knew they would fit.


I was shocked at how expensive they were. No wonder she was upset when she ruined that pair. Finally, just on a whim, I picked up a big bunch of assorted flowers. Not for Jens; for our dining room table. When I was checking out the lady cashier gave me a funny look when she started ringing up the pantyhose, but she didn't say anything. After all the policy is “don't ask, don't tell”.


It was a pain carrying all that crap; especially the flowers, but I finally got back to our house (it was sort of strange calling it that), walked in the door, and said, "Hey, honey, I'm home," just as sort of a joke.


"I'm in the kitchen," Jens called. "Dinner in twenty minutes. Go get cleaned up."


Wow. She cooked dinner for me. That’s something Jack, my old spotter, never did for me. I was shocked when I walked into the kitchen to find that the table had a very nice white table cloth on it and was decorated in the center with candles in crystal candlesticks and set with very nice plates. I sniffed. I didn't know what she was cooking, but it smelled great. Jens was dressed in a nice white blouse and a black floor-length dress. She looked stunning.


"Damn, you clean up nice for a Marine."


She turned and said, "Hey, you need to get cleaned up before you can eat."


I brought the flowers and the wine and the bag with the pantyhose out from behind my back and held them out to her. "I bought you a few things."


She squealed with joy, skipped over to me, took the flowers, and gave me a big hug, "Put the rest of the things on the counter while I take care of these beautiful flowers. Thank you so much. I haven't had flowers in years. Now, go get cleaned up." I wanted to tell her the flowers were really for the table, and not for her – well, maybe they were for her – but just as a way of saying thanks for all she had done for me.


Instead, I kept my mouth shut and headed into my bathroom to clean up. I have to admit, the shower felt great. I scrubbed myself vigorously, dried off, and dressed in a nice polo shirt and some classy shorts, but of course I went barefoot; I do that whenever I can.


Jens was sitting at the table waiting for me when I walked out of my room. She looked radiant, and was smiling ear to ear, She had arranged the flowers in a vase that matched the crystal candlesticks, and the table looked incredible. It was as nice as I had seen at any restaurant.


The food was already on our plates – we each had a big bowl of mixed salad with pinon nuts, cranraisins, and mandarin oranges on top; the main entrée was grilled tuna with teriyaki glaze; and steamed green beans rounded out the meal. It looked and smelled wonderful. She had chilled the sauvignon blanc I bought at the BX and had already poured half a glass for each of us.


I sat took my glass and said:


"Here’s to a long life and a merry one.

A quick death and an easy one.

A pretty girl and an honest one.

A cold drink — and another one!"


We clinked our glasses.


Jens said:


"Here's to me, and here's to you,

and if in the world there was just us two,

and I could promise that nobody knew,

WOULD you?"


I must have turned about twenty shades of red.


She teased, "What's wrong? Cat got your tongue?" 


"Nope, we need to eat. The food's getting cold," I replied. It was nice getting in the 'last' word.


She bowed and prayed, and again, I didn't know what to do, so I sort of joined her.


Conversation during dinner revolved mostly around the day’s events. Jens complimented me on how well I did on the obstacle course, and I complimented her several times on her excellent cooking.


Finally, Jens said, "Thank you for the new hose. I love them – especially the fishnets. How did you know my size?"


I should have told her I guessed, but I think I’d had too much wine, so I confessed, "I looked at your clothes the other day while you were busy. I hope you don't mind."


"Did you find anything you liked?" was her mischievous answer.


"Ah, ah, ah, well you did have one camo top that was nice," I stuttered, not knowing what to say.


"You know, that's exactly what I expected you would say," she laughed.


After dinner, I cleaned up and put the plates in the dishwasher. Jens wandered out to the back porch.


"Hey,”she called. “The sunset is beautiful. Come take a look."


We sat on a couple chairs, finishing the bottle of wine and enjoying the sun setting over the ocean. "Jens," I said, "this was wonderful. Thank you for taking such good care of me. I almost feel like we’re an old married couple."


Her reply shocked me. "Yes, a married couple but without all the benefits."


I turned and looked into her violet eyes. "Jens, we have to get one thing straight. I can tell there’s a strong attraction between us, but we’re both Marines, and we’re serving together. Even though we both may want more, it isn't going to happen. We can't let it happen. It would ruin both of our careers. So for right now, we’ll have to keep it the way it is."


I saw a little tear form in the corner of her left eye. "Dammit, I know you’re right about this, but I know you’re Mr. Right for me. The problem is, I've been waiting forever for this, and I want you to be Mr. Right Now."


"Jens, believe me when I say I’d like nothing better than to be your Mr. Right Now. But we’re Marines and for us honor has to come first," I reasoned with her.


She pouted "I’ve really loved being with you today and taking care of you. Can we at least be an 'old married couple' without the benefits?"


I took her hand between mine."Jens, I will promise you more. I also know you're Miss Right for me and I’ll wait for you until the time is right, Semper Fidelis4 my Jens!"

4 (The phrase is "Always faithful." It isn't "Sometimes Faithful." Nor is it "Usually Faithful," but always. It is not negotiable. It is not relative, but absolute. Who is always faithful, though, and to what, exactly are they faithful? Interestingly, the simplicity of the phrase and the calculated neglect to specify its parameters seems to strengthen it. Marines pride themselves on their straightforward mission and steadfast dedication to accomplish it. Things do not need to be spelled out for them; they know what it means and what to do about it.)



I must’ve said something right, because she came over and sat in my lap and started crying. I held her close and stroked her back and hair and whispered to her over and over again of my love and that I’d always be faithful. After about ten minutes, she settled down and started telling me the same.


I kissed her on the forehead."Well, my love, we need to get some sleep. O’dark thirty comes early."


“Couldn't you hold me for just a few more minutes?" she asked, almost begging.


She settled into my lap (it's a good thing she wasn't very heavy), leaned her head on my shoulder, and promptly fell asleep, making little snoring sounds. I thought about the whirlwind that had been my life for the past two days.


Yesterday, I found out DLP was actually the Jens who had won the Leadville race with me and saved me from being killed. I also found out all that I owned except my guns had been destroyed. All the memories of my folks and the cabin I grew up in were gone. Not even one picture survived. And now I have fallen in love. Me – a 28-year-old man who really has nothing.


So, not wanting to disturb her, I just held Jens closer, closed my eyes, and went to sleep.