11 Escaped Leadville CO - Tuesday

Escaped: Fighting my way home

© Copyright 2009

Written by Banzai Ben and Amazing Anastasia

ben@banzaiben.com

 

 

Chapter 11 – Tuesday 30 September 2007

 

Leadville Colorado – Tuesday Day Thirty-two

 

I slept the sleep of the dead last night. It always seemed like I slept the best at my-uh-our cabin. I used to think it was the bed, but this was a new bed. Jens's snoring didn't even bother me. It must just be… being home in the comfort and perceived safety of home.

 

I was wide-awake and I wanted to run! I wanted to run the trails of my youth and relive the memories of both happier and less happy times. And I wanted to see if my friend was still here and would run with me. I reached over and started stroking Jens on the back, her little snores turned into sighs. I pushed a little harder and she started waking up, "Mmmm, this is a nice way to wake up." She rolled over and her smile lit up the whole room. "This is our house, my dearest. Our house! I can't wait until we have children and this house echoes with the pitter-patter of their little feet." She leaned over and hugged me tight and kissed me lightly on my lips, I pulled her tighter and kissed harder. She pulled away, "Now don't hurt your lips."

 

"Come on Jens, let's go for a run. There's someone I want you to meet." She gave me a funny look but shrugged her shoulders and jumped out of bed. Watching her move always mesmerized me. When she wasn't doing her sexy strut she had graceful moves that reminded me of watching a puma stalking a deer. She looked over her shoulder at me and said, "Thanks, that's the nicest thing you've thought about me all day. Now are you going to lie in bed all day and watch me or are we going for a run?"

 

I smiled as much as my lips would allow, "I don't know. Since you're my blonde trophy babe I thought I might have you strut around the room awhile. Perhaps I might even order you to give me a fashion show!"

 

"Pul-eze! If I did that you'd get so excited you'd die from a heart attack - and I don't want you dying for a long time. Get your ass moving Marine or I might have to kick it. Besides, you tweaked my curiosity about this friend of yours." She giggled.

 

 I jumped out of bed, "Oh you'll like her. She's a real vixen."

 

I saw a bit of jealously cross Jens face, "So you've been holding out on me and there's another woman!" She defiantly stated with her hands on her hips.

 

I walked over and hugged her, "I'm a Marine not a sailor so I don’t have a girl in every port. You're all the woman and the only woman that I need. I'll bet you a kiss and a massage that you'll approve of this girl."

 

"You're on Marine. Now get dressed so we can meet her and I can win this bet."

 

I checked the temperature; it was a balmy 25 degrees. I opened the drawers and all my clothes were there, "My love! Thank you so much for setting up all my drawers just the way they used to be."

 

"See! There are advantages to being stalked by me!" She teased back.

 

I acted worried, "Oh, I'd almost forgotten about that."

 

"You little shit! Don't think that I can't sense when you're teasing me. Stop stalling I want to meet your mystery woman." She ordered.

 

I threw on my clothes, making sure to layer well and headed towards the kitchen. I walked in the kitchen and my mouth fell open, this was not my mama's kitchen. There was a large walk-in freezer and all the appliances were professional, from the gas stove and double ovens to the sinks and counter tops. Jens walked in, "I made a few changes, I hope you don't mind."

 

I grabbed her and kissed her, "Whoa Marine, save that for later. You've only seen a few of the changes."

 

"I don't know where anything is! Where are the hydration packs?" I questioned.

 

"Don't worry, this is MY kitchen now and I MIGHT let you in occasionally." She walked over to a large pantry that was also new, opened it and handed me a pack. "You're cleaning the bladders, so if you want to share it'd be great. Besides it's more fun that way." Then she winked at me.

 

I swatted her butt, "If this gets to be any more fun I don’t' know if I’ll be able to stand it. I feel like a kid with a never-ending Christmas. I thought I knew this house but every room I go in has a new surprise." I grabbed her again and kissed her as best I could, "Thank you so much my love. I never dreamed that my - I mean our house would be like this. It's like a wonderful combination of the old house and the new house. I have all the good memories of my childhood and the excitement of our new life together."

 

She gave me a big smile, "Good, then my job is done. This was what I planned and hoped would happen; -it's the hardest thing I've ever done. Moreover, you haven't seen the whole house yet. Let's go for the run, I can't wait to finally run with you at our house! And I want to see this bitch you've been talking about."

 

I laughed, "No, she's not a bitch. She's a vixen."

 

Jens shot daggers with her eyes and I decided that now would be a good time to drop the issue. I filled up the hydration pack and asked, "Is there any Hudson Bay Bread?"

 

She looked at me, "Natch! She walked back to the pantry and gave me four squares, "One of those is mine, so don't get greedy."

 

I looked at her, "I have one more favor to ask. Do you have a piece of meat for Anastasia?"

 

"Ah, the bitch has a name! I'm not going to cook any damn meat for her."

 

I grinned, "It doesn’t really need to be cooked, she'll eat it raw."

 

She gave me a very quizzical look, "What sort of wacko bitch is this? I won't even eat raw meat."

 

"I keep telling you, she's not a bitch she's a vixen; so how about a little meat for her?"

 

"I've got a five finger sandwich she can munch on." Jens grumped.

 

I walked over to the refrigerator and found a nice piece of beef, "This will do." Jens gave me the evil eye. "Let's go. When you meet her, you'll love her."

 

"Like hell I will!" Jens almost shouted.

 

"Want to bet another kiss?" I tease.

 

"You're on. I'm s-o-o-o-o-o going to win this bet." Jens quipped.

 

I thought, you're s-o-o-o-o wrong on this. You're going to owe me big time. If we were married… you'd really owe me big time!

 

We walked to the front door; Jens disabled the security system, we went outside and I started looking around.

 

"Well, where is she? Do we meet her on the run?" Jens asked.

 

I whistled and then I saw a movement over in the scrub oak, there she was. I walked out in the yard, sat the piece of beef down, and moved back on the porch.

 

Nastya the fox came out of the scrub oak, walked in the yard, sat down and looked at us. I turned to Jens, "Jens, I'd like to meet Anastasia - Nastya the fox." It almost seemed like Nastya was smiling at us, she walked over and ate the beef.

 

"O-h-h-h Ben, she's s-o-o-o cute. I was so upset at you I thought she was a woman."

 

I held her hand, "You're the only woman for me. Nastya has been my running partner for years whenever I've been home. She stopped running with me when I was training for the Leadville one-hundred, I never knew why until you told me that you were watching me. I think you scared her away."

 

Jens squeezed my hand, "I'm sorry I was so jealous. I should have known better. You think that she will run with us today?"

 

"We can only try and see what she does. I do know that she's a very forgiving vixen." I answered.

 

"A-h-h-h, a vixen is a female fox. Now I understand." She laughed and Nastya jumped but didn't run away.

 

I walked off the porch and looked back at Jens, "You now owe me, what was it, two kisses and a massage. Come on Arm Candy, move your ass." We started off down one of my favorite trails and Nastya fell in beside us. When the trail got wider Nastya moved up to one side of me and Jens the other, "I think that Nastya likes me. She's a real fox." I started laughing, "Yes she is, but not as f-o-x-y as my Arm Candy!"

 

I do think that Nastya approved of Jens since she stayed with me longer than usual. "Ben, have you ever touched her?" Jens questioned. "I've never tried; I didn't want to scare her away. Besides if she bit me I might have to get rabies shots."

 

"And what do you need if I bite you?" Jens sexily suggested. "I think I'd need full spectrum IV antibiotics." I teased and then took off running hard. "I'm gonna get you for that." Jens yelled.

 

She didn't have to as Nastya slipped up and nipped me on the butt. "Ouch, that's the first time she ever did that." I yelled. Jens stopped and laughed, "You see, we girls stick together. You'd better not tease me or Nastya will get you."

 

Jens and Nastya were standing beside each other, I swear that it looked like Nastya was smiling. I thought, damn my women are ganging up on me again. "That's right Honey. You just remember that we girls stick together." Jens replied sensing my feelings. I knew better than to start anything so I said, "Last one home is a rotten egg," and took off for the house. They weren't expecting that and I had a big lead on Jens, but Nastya caught up to me and started running circles around me and slowed me down a lot. I heard Jens laughing, "Way to go girl - you show him how I feel." I slowed up some more and let Jens catch me.

 

We met Liz on the way back to the house. She'd also been out running. "You guys didn't wait for me," then she looked over and saw the fox, "What the hell is this animal doing with us." Nastya looked at Liz and growled.

 

I almost fell over laughing. "At least I won't have to do battle with all three of you. I don't know if I'd survive."

 

"L-i-z! That's Nastya, she's a real fox and my new friend." Jens piped up. Liz eyed her again, "I thought the only thing foxes were good for is turning into fur coats." Nastya growled even louder this time, started running circles around Liz and snapping at her. "Hey! Get this vicious animal away from me. Ben quick - shoot it."

 

I started laughing so hard that I couldn’t run any more. Everyone else stopped and Nastya came over, stood by me and growled at Liz. The hair was even standing up on the back of Nastya's neck.

 

"L-i-z! You'd better apologize to Nastya. You have her all upset." Jens stamped her foot and ordered.

 

"Ben, save me from these two." Liz begged.

 

"No way, you three can figure this out between each other. I'm headed home." I took off running.

 

I guess they figured things out because the three of them showed up about 10 minutes later. I had another piece of beef for Nastya. Jens ran up to me, "Thanks dear, I wanted to give Nastya another piece of beef for being such a good girl and forgiving Liz." She took the beef, Nastya walked right up to Jens and took the beef out of her hand. Jens reached down and petted Nastya a couple times and Nastya took off for the woods. I was shocked, I had tried for years to pet Nastya and she'd never even let me get close. Jens walked back, "Close your mouth you'll let flies get in."

 

"You're amazing. I've been trying to do that for years and never could. You're here a day and you have her eating out of your hand." I sulked.

 

She smiled at me, "Poor Ben! You of all people should know I have a way with animals. After all, it only took me three days to catch you and for two of those days, I was just playing with you! By the way, close your mouth again." She walked past me into the house and I heard Liz laughing, "I don't know if that was a compliment or a putdown, but the look on your face was funny as hell."

 

I was dazed and didn't know what the hell to do. So I decided to head to the barn and check things out. I walked up to the door and noticed a keypad, I tried the code for the house and it didn't work. Jens's voice came over the intercom, "Wrong code Jarhead, reverse the one at the house." I tried it in reverse and heard a bunch of noise and the door went click, I turned the knob walked in and turned on the light… Jens's voice again, "Close your mouth or your tongue will dry out."

 

I couldn't believe my eyes! The barn was better than ever. My old Dodge 2500 truck was gone, destroyed in the attack on my cabin. In its place was a brand new 3500 with the Cummins turbo diesel. As I walked around behind it I noticed that the tailpipe was huge and got to thinking - they couldn't have. I opened the door and popped the hood and sure enough someone had done a bunch of work on it. I think it even had a twin turbo. It looked like the truck of my dreams.

 

Jens came strolling in the barn with a cup of coffee and a bowl of oatmeal. She looked amazing, her face was all fixed up again and she had on skintight Levis and a tight (really tight) t-shirt. She swayed with the provocative walk that someone had taught her. I think it was Liz and I really needed to thank her. "Breakfast is served my love!" She announced.

 

I jumped out of the cab, went over, hugged her tight, and gave her a hell-of-a kiss, not even caring about my lips or the hot coffee spilling down my back. I pulled away and looked at her, "So, you decided to start with dessert first? It's good to see that you paid more attention to me than your shiny new toy." She teased.

 

"You are the shiniest toy I've ever seen? I'd much rather play with you." I let my hands start creeping towards her butt. "Honey, not now. We're on TV." She said and grinned. I looked past her, saw Liz and the crew, and blushed. Jens kissed my cheek, "I do love you so much when you blush. It tells me that you're still my little boy. Eat breakfast and then I'll show you all the shiny, shiny toys!"

 

She fed me the oatmeal one sexy spoonful at a time, making sure to blow on and taste each bite, teasing the hell out of me with her tongue and lips. I was glad that I wore some loose sweatpants because things were starting to get uncomfortable. She finished the oatmeal before things got so bad I couldn't walk and then made a big production out of the coffee. She stuck her finger in it, swirled it around, and very sexily sucked the coffee off her finger, "There, now you have some sugar for your coffee." She was lucky the news crew was here, otherwise, I would have gotten real frisky. I slammed down the coffee and reached for her, "Not now my love, let me show you the shiny, shiny toys first."

 

She walked in front of me with that sexy strut and I was lost! I heard her saying something but what she said didn't register - my mind was on her toys. "And that's the truck, what do you think?" I heard her say. I opened my mouth and mumbled, "Truck good." Laughter filled the barn, "You didn't hear a word I said. Did you?" "Uh, not really. I was distracted." I mumbled and blushed.

 

She came over and took my arm, pressing it tightly against her chest, "I think that I need to walk beside you for awhile. Otherwise you won't hear a word I say." I slipped my arm out of her grasp, slid it around behind her, and let it creep into the back pocket on her jeans, damn they were tight and I could barely get my hand in. She looked at me, "Behave yourself or I might have to handcuff you!" But she didn't remove my hand.

 

We walked over in front of a red Jeep Grand Cherokee, I was still in a daze. "This is my new car and it's diesel too. We didn't do anything to the engine, but we did have the differentials and the transfer case replaced. Do you like it?"

 

I pulled her close and kissed her, "Yes I love you." She pulled back and grinned, "The Jeep, do you like the Jeep?" "Oh yeah, it should be great for you to drive." I answered. She giggled and I felt butterflies in my heart.

 

Her cobra was in the next part of the barn, it was covered with the car cover. Finally there was an old John Deere tractor that looked like Dad's but in much better shape. It had the front scoop on it for plowing the road in winter. "This was the easiest thing to find and it wasn't expensive at all. We did get a gas tractor because we didn't want to bother with diesel in the winter." Jens recited to me.

 

She showed me the workbenches and all the tools. Shit! We even had a pit so we could get under the vehicles and work on them. It was the perfect barn, I couldn't have asked for anything more. I had mostly come out of my Jens induced daze and really started looking around. The concrete floor was all covered with epoxy. Where the workbenches were located there was rubber to stand on, and I looked at the walls and noticed they weren't the normal insulated steel building walls and the doors. They even looked different. "What's going on with the walls and the doors?" I asked.

 

She beamed, "So you're finally noticing the shiny, shiny toys. It's about time."

 

Jens looked at Liz, "Why don't you send the crew over to get some video of Mom and Dad." Liz talked to the team and they left. Jens pulled a PDA out her shirt pocket and hit some buttons. The shutters closed over the windows and there was a bunch of noise at the doors.

 

"Listen Ben and tell me what you hear." I strained my ears and I couldn't hear anything but us breathing. "I don't hear anything, not a bird not anything."

 

"That's right, this isn't your Papa's steel building. It's a bunker made out of steel reinforced concrete. And the doors are steel blast doors. The house is built the same way. I'm not going to have some fucking terrorist blow the hell out of my family." Jens had switched from beauty queen mode to Marine.

 

I stared at her as she repeated, "Close your mouth jarhead."

 

Liz walked over and said to me, "So Alice are you ready to go down the rabbit hole?" I was in a daze again, not because of Jens's beauty but because my mind simply couldn't get around all the changes.

 

They lead me into the pit and I noticed a door with no doorknobs at the back. "Open the door Marine." Jens ordered. I put my hand against the door and it opened right up, lights started and I could see a tunnel. I looked quizzically at Jens.

 

"The door is keyed to automatically open when one of the family touches it, but it's also designed to analyze and verify your body, just in case someone decides to cut off your hand or use fake fingerprints. Go on into the tunnel, nothing's going to bite you." Jens lectured.

 

I started down the tunnel as the door closed silently behind us. The tunnel made a turn and I knew we were headed towards the house. As I walked the lights came on ahead of me and went off behind me. I noticed several panels in the wall but didn't ask Jens what they were. We reached a ladder and I climbed to the top and touched the door, it opened and I walked into a damn cold room. Jens and Liz scurried up the ladder after me and the trapdoor closed. I looked around and realized that we were in the walk in freezer, I went to open the door and Jens said, "Wait. Let's see who's in the kitchen." She touched a display, it showed the inside of the kitchen where Mom was making some coffee. "Oh Goodie! Let's scare the crap out of Mom." Jens said all excited.

 

She went to the door, swung it quickly open and shouted, "BOOO!" Mom jumped and spilled the coffee, "Young lady, I'm tired of you using that to sneak up on me. If you do that again I'm going to spank your butt."

 

"I'd be glad to help," I offered. "So would I," Liz chimed in.

 

Jens faked a pout, "You three are no fun. What's the joy of having a secret passage if you can't use it to sneak up on each other?"

 

Mom ignored her and looked at me, "You looked dazed and must need a cup of coffee. I know how I felt the first time she showed me the rabbit hole." Mom poured me a cup of coffee.

 

"Thanks, I do need this. That was amazing and I couldn't tell it was there. What were all the panels along the wall?" I asked.

 

"Those are storage for food, water and weapons." Jens smiled, "They open just like everything else."

 

Liz added, "You forgot to mention the crypt."

 

Jens stomped her foot and pouted, "I wanted to surprise him with that later. I thought we might make a midnight trip to the crypt. I remember how much Ben liked the coffin," then she laughed.

 

I shuddered remembering my escape from the hospital, "The crypt?"

 

"Yes my love. The rabbit hole is the code word for the tunnel; the crypt is the codeword for the underground bunker." Jens smiled.

 

I sat down heavily at the table. The morning had brought so many surprises that I could barely cope with all of them. The women joined me at the table and started talking to each other about girl things while I drank my coffee and tried to get my head around all the changes. I stood up, went to the window and looked out towards the barn. The landscape looked just the same as it always did. However, right under the surface there was a tunnel and an underground bunker. I set the coffee cup in the sink and walked outside trying to trace the path of the tunnel from the barn to the house. I squatted, looked closely at the ground and didn't discover a single thing.

 

Dad walked up and said, "You're not going to see it or even find it. I don't think you realized it, but everything is over fifty feet below ground. All the work was done with subterranean tunneling machines."

 

"You guys paid for all this?" I asked.

 

He laughed, "We started out paying for it, and paid for most of the cabin. But when Jens showed us what she wanted we had to switch over and let your company pay for it."

 

"My company? I don't own a company." I responded with confusion.

 

He laughed again, "No, you own several companies." And he started naming them off to me.

 

"When did all this happen?" I asked still feeling like I was lost.

 

Jens walked up, "When we were busy becoming America's Sweethearts Daddy was busy investing all the money we were making. He made some very wise business decisions for us."

 

Liz walked up, "You may not know it hero, but when you started the Truth Network it was one of the wisest things you have ever done. We've made more money in the short time we've been in business than most networks do in years. America is not only hungry for the truth, they're starving for information about you two. Do you remember the movie The Truman Show?"

 

"Isn't that the movie where Jim Carey's whole life is a TV show?" I answered.

 

"Close hero, but you left off the important part, it was the top rated TV show in the nation. America is so hungry to see you two that I could do a Truman Show on both of you."

 

Jens interrupted, "That is if I would let them. We do need some privacy."

 

Liz continued, "Yes that's right. If I had my way, we'd video everything about you two from the moment you woke up in the morning till your last kiss goodnight. If I did that you'd be even richer than you are already."

 

"We're rich?" I questioned.

 

"No, we're really rich." Liz said.

 

"H-h-how, much?" I stuttered.

 

Dad told me and my mind simply couldn't take anymore. I needed to do something to give my mind time to work on this… I needed to go for another run.

 

I looked at the three of them, they all had silly grins on their faces. "You know, I'm not sure what to think about any of this or whether I like it or not. I never wanted to be rich, and I sure as hell never wanted to own any companies. I'm going for a run to figure this out."

 

"We're coming with you." Jens and Liz piped up.

 

"I don't think you two can keep up with me."

 

"Are you forgetting hero? I already caught you once." Liz added.

 

"That was at sea-level. This is at ten-thousand feet and you're on my turf. There's no way in hell you're keeping up with me." I challenged.

 

"You wouldn't want to make a bet on it would you?" She teased.

 

"Ben, you'd better not bet her a massage. Those magic hands of yours are reserved for me and me alone." Jens stated.

 

I looked her in the eyes, "I'm your huckleberry."

 

Jens sucked in her breath, "Liz, I only heard him say that phrase once. I think you'd better back down."

 

"No way in hell, how about a thousand dollars." Liz taunted.

 

I laughed, "If I'm so fucking rich, why don't we make it ten or fifteen or twenty-thousand. Shit! I don't care. It's whatever you want to lose."

 

"I'll tell you what! I'll kiss your ass if you can beat me." Liz taunted.

 

"I'm tired of flapping my lips; try to keep up with me." I took off for the hills.

 

I started off easy and they fell in behind me, Nastya even came out of the woods and ran beside me. Liz and Jens were jabbering to each other and it was irritating me beyond belief. I wanted peace and quiet to think. I picked up the pace and they did too.

 

Finally we hit the first hill, Nastya stopped at the bottom like she always did. She hated running hills with me. Now I started running for real. I was sucking wind and my legs were starting to burn from the lactic acid buildup. I heard from behind me, "Hey slow up. We can't keep up with you." It just motivated me to run even harder. I was running as hard as I could on this hill and both women were falling far behind. They were yelling at me, but I couldn't hear them anymore. I knew myself and I knew this hill - it was steep and about five miles long. At this pace I would just make the top of the hill and still be able to run.

 

I looked over my shoulder and couldn't see the women, I was finally free to work on my problems. I dropped my pace to a more comfortable speed and started considering all that I had seen and heard. It was troubling to me because I'd never thought or dreamed of being rich or owning companies. I'm a Marine, I loved being a Marine and I loved all that was associated with being a Marine. Being rich or a businessman didn't fit into those plans and they were serious distractions.

 

I ran my ass off for two hours before I decided to head back to the cabin. It took me an hour and a half to make it back.  Everyone was in the yard as I ran up. Jens was pissed off at me. I smiled, ran up to her, started feeling dizzy and collapsed to the ground.

 

Mom ran up, "What did you all do to Ben? He looks as sick as a dog! Quick, get him upstairs to his bed right now and don't give me any grief."

 

Somehow, they helped me up to my bed, I settled in and slipped off to a fitful nap full of terrible dreams where I was an evil businessman oppressing all my workers. I think I slept for an hour, when I woke up, the whole bed was soaked and there was Jens holding me close and smiling at me.

 

"Wow, those were some nasty dreams you were having. Are you going to be okay?"

 

"You could sense my dreams? When did that happen?" I asked.

 

"I've never been able to before. But I tried really hard because you were tossing and turning and moaning in the bed. I'm sorry my love, this is my fault, I should have started telling you sooner and done it more gradually." Jens said and bit her lower lip. "I was just hoping to give you a big surprise."

 

I blurted out, "I want to give it all away. I don't want any of the money. I won't be a rich fat cat living off other’s misery."

 

Fire rose in Jens eyes and she lightly slapped my face, "If you weren't sick I'd slap you so hard that your teeth would hurt for a week. Listen here Mister! And listen good! If you think that Daddy or I would do anything like that then you don't know us very well. As we've become more prosperous so has everyone around us. There's no oppression of anyone that works with us. You did notice I said works with us and not for us. They are all wealthy enough they could retire but they love what they're doing."

 

"Wh-wh-what about the businesses that we own?" I stuttered.

 

"There again, they are small businesses that needed cash infusions and would have closed if we didn't help them. All the employees were given raises and are treated fairly. You're making something out of nothing. Don't you think the news would be ripping us up if we did anything wrong? They're just vultures waiting for us to make a mistake. So get your head out of your ass and just accept that you have the Midas touch, anything you do turns to gold." Jens smiled.

 

"That's right hero," I turned and Liz was sitting in a chair on the other side of the bed. "I'd be ripping you a new one if you'd done anything wrong. Remember, my network only reports the truth. Right now you could fall in a pile of cow shit and come out smelling like roses. Jens is right - get your head out of your ass."

 

I remembered the last time I'd heard this many people tell me to get my head out of my ass and figured I'd better listen before Mom, Dad and even Nastya the fox came in to tell me the same thing. I sat up in bed and I really did feel better. In fact, it was the best I'd felt since this whole crazy morning began.

 

"That's my man! For once you listened and I didn't need to beat it into your head." Jens smiled at me.

 

"I'm getting out of here," Liz said, "With all the sweating Ben did you guys stink too much. I even feel like I need to take a shower." She walked out of the room.

 

Jens and I looked at each other. Finally, she said, "We both need to take a shower. Want to do it together; we'd save water that way?" Her violet eyes twinkled.

 

"Someday we will. But I don't think I could take any more excitement today." I replied.

 

She sighed, "Someday, I sure am getting tired of hearing that word."

 

She jumped out of bed and headed towards the bathroom singing:

 

First thing I remember was askin' papa, why?
For there were many things I didn't know.
And daddy always smiled; took me by the hand,
Sayin', someday you'll understand.

Well, I'm here to tell you now each and every mothers son
You better learn it fast; you better learn it young,
cause, someday never comes.

 

I struggled once again in my mind with my desires and my honor. I wanted to make someday happen now, at least for the shower, but I didn't know if I could stop myself at just being happy with the shower.  I made up my mind and walked in the bathroom.

 

Jens yelled at me, "Hi Honey. I can sense what you're thinking and I need to tell you that just knowing that you want to do it makes me feel sooo much better; I was just teasing you earlier.  Now is not a good time because Aunt Flo has been visiting for the last few days and is being a real bitch; so be a good boy and go back out and make the bed."

 

"Who the hell is Aunt Flo?"  I asked.

 

Jens replied, "You know. She visits me about this time every month. Don't be stupid about this."

 

I figured it out and was glad that Jens couldn't see me blush. I chuckled as I remembered a joke, "Never trust anything that bleeds for a week and doesn't die."

 

"Hey! I can sense that joke and it's not nice." Jens grumped.

 

"Jens, do you know why women make terrible musicians?" I yelled at her.

 

"I'm not sure I want to know, but I'm sure I don't have a choice."

 

"It's because they only know two rhythms, Three weeks jazz time and one week rag time." I laughed and left the bathroom. I stripped the wet sheets and mattress pad off the bed, went to the linen closet, found new ones, and made the bed.

 

I was getting tired of waiting for Jens to finish so I went back in the bathroom, "If you don't finish soon I'm going to start telling jokes again."

 

"Ha, like that would bother me." She retorted.

 

"Okay you asked for it. Do you know why it's called PMS?"

 

"DUH, it's because we have to Put up with Male Stupidity." She laughed.

 

"No, it's because Mad Cow Disease was already taken."

 

She flung open the shower door and started splashing me with cold water, "I'll show you PMS and mad cow disease combined." I beat feet out of the bathroom and decided that a strategic retreat was called for. Besides there had to be another shower somewhere that I could use.

 

I ran past Mom and laughed, "This is my house so I can run in it if I want."

 

"Phew you stink, go shower." She yelled at me.

 

Liz and Dad were setting at the kitchen table, I walked in and Liz plugged her nose, "Oh My God! I wondered what stank, you didn't shower yet."

 

Dad said, "Boy you need a shower."

 

"I'm trying to find one; Jens is hogging ours and won't get out." I replied.

 

Jens and Mom walked in the kitchen and gave me a dirty look, "You know what he was doing? He was telling her jokes about Aunt Flo…"

 

I didn't wait around for a scolding and ran upstairs to the shower. I figured Dad would fill me in on all the gory details. The shower felt great and I made sure to block the door so I wouldn't be interrupted. I stepped out of the shower and ….Shit! All the towels and my underwear were gone. Somehow, Jens had figured out how to get past the doorstop and get in the bathroom. I'm lucky she didn't throw cold water all over me. I wondered if she found the spare towel and underwear beneath the sink. I opened the cabinet door and found a hand towel, a pair of Jens's thongs and a note, "You're so predictable, yes I did find your secret stash. You should be able to barely dry off with the hand towel and my undies should just about cover the important parts. We are all waiting for you to come out and give us a show." It was in Jens's lovely handwriting with some nice hearts added.

 

I wondered who the hell "we" were when I heard Liz's voice, "Have you noticed all women's problems include men? There's MENtal illness."

 

Jens added, "PreMENstrual syndrome."

 

Mom said, "MENopause."

 

Liz added, "MENtal breakdown."

 

They all laughed and carried on. Jens yelled, "Hey! Are you coming out soon? Don't let things get too cold, I've heard about shrinkage." And they giggled like a gaggle of geese.

 

I smiled and reached in the medicine cabinet hoping that she didn't find my second stash. I pulled out a swimming chamois, a pair of underwear and shorts. They still laughed and carried on. I dried off and decided to sing Jens a song so I started singing as loud as I can:

 

First class and fancy free
Jens's high society
Jens's got the best of everything

What could a guy like me
Ever really offer?
Jens's perfect as she can be
Why should I even bother?

'Cause Jens's so high...
High above me, Jens's so lovely
Jens's so high...
Like Cleopatra, Joan of Arc, or Aphrodite
Jens's so high...
High above me

 

I stopped and listened, and didn't hear anything so I open the bathroom door a crack and threw out the hand towel, "I don't need this anymore." They started whistling and clapping, "We loved the song, come on out so I can give you a kiss for singing it for me."

 

I'm wasn't yet so I start singing the next verse.


Jens comes to speak to me
I freeze immediately
'Cause what Jens says sounds so unreal

But somehow I can't believe
That anything should happen
I know where I belong
And nothing's gonna happen
Yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah   

 

'Cause Jens's so high...
High above me, Jens's so lovely
Jens's so high...
Like Cleopatra, Joan of Arc, or Aphrodite
Jens's so high...
High above me

I listened at the door and I heard some sniffling and Jens said, "Did you hear what he sang for me. I love that song and he called me Aphrodite." I slipped the door open and threw out the thongs, "There's no way in hell I'm wearing these, ready or not I'm coming out."

 

"Ben n-o-o-o, don't." Jens yelled.

 

I threw the door open and stood there in my shorts with my chamois towel over my shoulder. They had their eyes covered and were screaming. Jens peeked and said, "That snit, he's got shorts on." Mom and Liz took their hands away from their eyes and looked dumbfounded. I started laughing, "Not quite the show you expected? This is my house and I'm the prank master here. Just so you know, all three of you can expect retaliation."

 

Jens cleared her throat, "Excuse the hell out of me! I thought this was our house!" And acted upset.

 

I looked at her and smiled, "You know! I'm getting better at sensing your feelings so you can drop the upset act and come over here and give me that kiss you promised."

 

"Shit! I thought I was going to get you worried. I'm not sure I like it when you do this." Jens laughed, jumped off the bed, came over, and hugged me.

 

I looked at Mom and Liz, "This is our house and our bedroom and I'm saying that there's entirely too much estrogen in her so will the FBUs that are not my BTB clear out."

 

Mom questioned, "FBUs?"

 

Jens replied, "Female Biological Units. Ben watches too much sci-fi on TV."

 

"Well I never." Mom acted all indignant and started to leave.

 

I yelled after her, "If you never then how did Jens happen."

 

She turned, blushed, and rushed out of the room.

 

Liz started laughing, "You sure got her goat that time." I looked at her, "Are you leaving or am I going to demand payment on my bet." She blushed and left the room.

 

I looked at Jens, picked her up, put her gently on the bed, and lay down beside her. "Are there any more surprises like this that I need to know about?"

 

She bit her lower lip, "There are a few, but nothing like todays. Please trust me that now is not the time to deal with them."

 

"I'm sorry I didn't trust you and Dad like I should have. All this is so unexpected and not part of any of my dreams or wishes and it's hard for me to handle. I don't want this to change us, or to change me. I like us the way we are and I like being a Marine."

 

"That's why everything is setup so you or I don't have to do anything about it. Daddy has good people taking care of things; most are Marines that were forced to retire and needed a chance." Jens replied.

 

I nodded my head, "Then I owe Dad an apology and a very big thank you."

 

Jens kissed me, "What about me? I helped."

 

"I was going to give you a kiss. But if you'd rather have an apology…" I never got to finish my sentence because she planted a big kiss on my lips. Yes it hurt, but it was worth it. When we came up for air, I looked at my watch, "Shit! We need to get going."

 

"I thought we were spending the night at home cuddling."Jens said.

 

"No way! We're meeting a bunch of old friends at the Silver Dollar in an hour. I need to show off my Arm Candy." I answered.

 

That fired Jens up, "Shit! Don't you know how long it takes for me to get all dolled up now. I can't be ready to go in ten minutes anymore. Go get Mom and Liz back in here to help me."

 

I took off to find Mom and Liz. Liz laughed and headed right in, Mom was grumpy and I had to apologize to her before she would help. I walked in the room, it felt like a briefing room before an exercise. Jens threw some clothes at me and said, "Get out of here and change. I'll be ready in another twenty."

 

I knew better than to stay around so I beat feet to the kitchen. Dad was sitting at the table by himself, "Things are sure quiet around here."

 

"Not in my room, it's like a briefing room before a war." I answered.

 

He crinkled one eye and looked at me, "What did you do this time?"

 

"Nothing, I just told Jens we needed to be at the Silver Dollar Saloon in an hour to meet my old friends."

 

Dad laughed, "Oh boy, did you open a can of worms. The women have decided that Jens is going to be dolled up to the max anytime that she goes out in public with you. Next time you'd better let them know hours ahead of time. Tonight sounds like fun, you mind if Evelyn and I tag along?"

 

"I was hoping that everyone including Liz would come. But I'm not going back up to my bedroom until things have simmered down. You can go tell them."

 

"You know you can call them on the intercom." Dad answered. I shrugged my shoulders. He walked over to a panel on the wall and pushed a button, "Evelyn, just to let you know. We're going with kids to the Silver Dollar tonight and I want you to look your best." I heard a bunch of swearing and Dad turned off the intercom and started laughing.

 

That looked like fun so I turned on the intercom and pressed the same button, "Jens I'm leaving in five minutes better be down here or I'll leave you at home. By the way Liz is coming too." Wow could those women swear. I heard Jens yell, "If you know what's good for you, you'd better patiently wait for us."

 

I looked around the kitchen and was hungry, I realized that I only had a bowl of oatmeal to eat all day. So I decided to rustle up something to eat, "You hungry Dad?"

 

"I'm starving." He answered.

 

The kitchen was so different that it took a bit of searching to find a skillet and the other fixings. I whipped us up a couple bacon and grilled cheese sandwiches, some potato chips and two beers. We sat at the kitchen table and enjoyed our meal. I looked up when I heard Jens clear her voice. Once again she looked amazing, like every cowboys wet dream. Her makeup was perfect again! She had on a cute white western shirt, tied at the waist that showed off her washboard belly and a short little western skirt that barely covered her ASSets, a white Stetson hat and matching Tony Lama boots. I knocked the chair over as I got up and ran over to her, "You look fantastic."

 

She twirled showing me that at least she wasn't going commando or in a thong - her short skirt had matching panties. She said in her best Texas drawl, "Why thank ya sir. Really this is nothin'. I heard there was an ornery despicable desperado down here that thought he could dance and wanted to take this young filly out two-stepin' tonight."

 

"I'm your huckleberry," I drawled in answer.

 

She sashayed around me looking at me as if I was a horse, "Well, I guess ya’ll have to do. I do hope that an OLD cowpoke like you can keep up with a wild young filly like me."

 

"Don't worry missy, I ain't met a filly yet that I can't rope, tie and ride. If I'm a lyin' I'm a dyin."

 

She sashayed her sexy walk up to me and grabbed my shirt, "Put yer money where your mouth is cowboy. If'n yourn' real good I might consider hirin' you on permanent, I need me a hired man with a slow hand an' a easy touch. Cause this filly's a wild mustang and needs to be treated with respect. I ain't never been roped, tied or ridden."

 

She leaned in, kissed me, and then pulled away. "Gosh that was fun! I can't wait until we're married."

 

Liz was laughing her ass off, "You two crack me up. Wait until that hits the news, we're going to make a fortune."  Jens blushed a little, "You don't think I was… well… too much over the top do you?"

 

Liz continued, "Honey, men are going to be having wet dreams to this for years to come."

 

Jens scowled, "Ewww gross…" Then she changed her mind, "Really, you think I'm that sexy in this outfit." And did another pirouette.

 

I grabbed her, hugged, and kissed the hell out of her, "Sexy! Hell yes! If you act like that in the Silver Dollar I'm going to have to beat the hell out of every man in the place."

 

She bit her lower lip, "I think I want one more accessory for my outfit. Do you think it would be okay if I wore my Colts?"

 

Liz piped up, "Jens the guns will ruin the effect of the dress and you won't be able to twirl."

 

She pouted, "Damn, I really like those guns."

 

"Colorado is an open carry state. I'll bring my Kimber." I answered. I put a holster on my belt and slipped my Kimber with three extra mags in it. Dad looked at me, "Expecting trouble?"

 

Jens laughed, "He started carrying three extra mags after he almost ran out in Hawaii."

 

Liz stepped back and looked at me, "You know with a little beard and a cowboy hat… you'd look a bit like Chuck Norris."

 

Jens purred, "Mmm, I love Chuck Norris, he's so sexy. You do know that I'm naming three of our twelve children: Walker and Texas and Ranger."

 

"Tw-tw-twelve children." I stuttered, "When did we decide on twelve children?"

 

She smiled, "You're right. I don't think twelve is enough."

 

Liz, Mom and Dad all started laughing and I figured I'd been setup again so I decided to get even. "You know, if I'm going to have twelve children I think I'm going to need at least one more wife and maybe a couple of mistresses to take care of me while the first wife is knocked up."

 

The laughter immediately stopped and I had a room full of grumpy looking people, I smiled, "Gotcha!"

 

Jens came over and smiled, "So you don' think I'm woman enough to handle you?"

 

Damn! Another unanswerable question - Jens loved doing that. "I refuse to answer this question on the grounds that I might incriminate myself or be seriously hurt."

 

Everyone started chuckling as I wormed my way out of yet another sticky situation.

 

I looked around the room, "Which car are we taking?"

 

"Let's take the Jeep." Jens replied. Liz added, "We've got the news van so we will take that."

 

"Well Pilgrims, let's head em up and move em out. We're burning daylight." I said imitating John Wayne.

 

We walked over to the barn, Jens entered the code on the keypad, and the car doors opened. We all jumped in the Jeep, Jens in the driver's seat and she started it up. "This is going to seem pretty boring after the Cobra, but it will be great for hauling all our children."

 

"I don't think it will be big enough." I teased, "I think you need a mommy van."

 

"Pul-eze, I'm never going to drive one of those pieces of shit. I'm not that old or frumpy." She shot back.

 

Dad added from the back, "You can't haul twelve children in this."

 

"You're right, if we're going to have twelve children I think Ben will have to get a new Peterbuilt – semi that is." She and Dad started laughing and Mom was upset. "Young lady, I hope you don’t' kiss me with that mouth."

 

"Okay Mom, I won't." Jens quipped.

 

"Well I never," She said then looked at me, "Young man, don't you dare say it again!"

 

I kept my mouth shut for once.

 

On the drive to the Silver Dollar we drove by a big herd of elk, "Damn! I'm going to miss all the meat that was in my freezer, I could go for some elk or venison right now." Dad added, "I haven't had any elk for a long time. Is it hunting season?"

 

"We just missed the elk and deer season west of I-twenty-five, the next one won't come until October and we'll be gone by then. I'll talk to one of my friends and see if we can get some steaks from them." I replied. "That'd be great if you could." Dad said.

 

We pulled up to the Silver Dollar and it looked to be busy, "Jens, please head up the street and let's see if we can find a parking place." I asked. Jens maneuvered around and found a place to park. I jumped out of the Jeep and opened her door, "Okay Arm Candy, do your job."

 

She sashayed over, grabbed my arm pulling it tight against her, winked and said. "Candy is dandy but sex won't rot your teeth." We started strolling towards the front door.

 

I stumbled, caught myself, leaned over and whispered, "I thought things were closed for repair?"

 

She swatted me on the butt, "Don't you know there's more than one way to do it?" Then gave me an innocent smile.

 

I blushed which must have been the desired effect because she kissed me on the cheek and whispered, "Just so you remember. I may be just your arm candy right now, but someday will come!"

 

I opened the door and we walked in, the Silver Dollar was already rocking tonight. Several friends saw us walk in and started yelling and clapping, soon the whole bar was following their lead. It was damn embarrassing! I was trying to turn and escape but Jens had a tight grip on my arm and wouldn't let go. "Quit fighting me and enjoy yourself. These are your friends and praise from them is honest." We walked in and the best table in the place was reserved for us, "Tonight you’re the king and this is your court so enjoy it." I helped Jens into her chair and sat down, Jens moved her chair so close to mine that she was practically in my lap. "You're crazy if you think I'm going to let go of your arm in here. This bar is full of women on the prowl and you’re the prey." Jen told me, "Just a reminder, you're only dancing vertically or horizontally with me tonight."

 

I do have to admit, the women were dolled up more than usual, especially for a Tuesday night. Plus there was much more skin showing than normal. As soon as we sat down Sally the waitress walked over and she looked great. She was in a skintight t-shirt and very short, tight, shorts. I'd seen more clothes on waitresses at Hooters. She sat a couple pitchers of Coors on the table and poured me a frosty mug. The whole time she was eyeing me, "Sally, I'd like you to meet my incredible fiancée Jens." She nodded her head curtly towards Jens and walked off.

 

Jens leaned over and whispered, "You did good Marine. So how long were you with her?" I turned red, "Jens, I was never…" She cut me off with a kiss and then when she pulled away, "Don't you try lying to me, remember that I can tell; besides from the looks of things I figure you were friendly with about half the women in this bar." Now that was a huge exaggeration and I was going to tell her until I noticed the twinkle in her eyes, she was bullshitting me. I glanced around the room, "More like three-fourths of the women." That earned me a kick under the table, she leaned over, "You big liar! Even in your perverted dreams you weren't that lucky."

 

I spent the next hour or so greeting all my old friends and signing autographs in the manner that Liz had taught me. Jens was a big hit with all my friends and many asked us for dual autographs. A couple asked her to dance and she acted shy and told them she only danced with me. The women were definitely interested and I made sure with them that my introductions of Jens left no openings. Jens would squeeze my arm when one of the women had been a friend with benefits, each time I would blush. When there was a lull in the greetings Jens whispered, "Yes I can tell by the way they look at you, the way they treat me and the extra special way you introduce me to them. Just remember you're coming home with me tonight." I kissed her on the lips, "Why would I want to go home with anyone but the best." She smiled, "Let's dance. I want to show off."

 

We spent the next hour dancing and Jens was indeed showing off. Several times people tried to cut in and a couple women tried to worm their way in when we were dancing fast dances, but Jens held them all at bay. The last woman was getting Jens upset. I stopped dancing and escorted Jens to our table, and we sat down.

 

Jens slammed down a full mug of beer, "Whew that was fun but tiring. It was hard work keeping all those women away from you. That last bitch was real persistent and I was getting ready to deck her."

 

"Jens, don't worry about her, she was the school beauty queen slut and never even talked to me when I was in school. I don’t know why she thinks I'd be interested in her when I've got someone so much better." That earned me a smoking kiss. Beverly walked over to the table, "Ben, it's good to see you after all these years. Why don't you introduce me to your little friend?" I felt Jens tense as she was holding my arm. "Beverly, it's so funny that after all these years you're finally talking to me. I'd love to introduce you to the only woman in the world for me - my fiancée Jennifer Donaldson. She's ten times the woman you'll ever be."

 

Jens was grinning and Beverly walked away, "You'll never know what you're missing." She quipped. Jens replied, "Yeah, probably a case of crabs and the clap."

 

Beverly came back, "What did you say you little titless slut?"

 

"I said, if I had a dog with a face like yours I'd shave its ass and make it walk backwards." Jens shot back and went to get up, but I held her down.

 

Beverly went to lunge at Jens and a couple of my friends grabbed her and took her away. "That bitch, I should go and kick her ass." Jens was all fired up.

 

"Hey! I thought I was the bad ass that was suppose to get into the bar fights. If you keep this up I'm going to leave you at home next time I go out. I think we need to go home now!" I scolded her.

 

She moped and said, "I'm sorry Ben. I fought so long to get you; I didn't think I'd have to continue fighting to keep you."

 

I held her hands and looked her in the eyes, "That's because you don't really believe me and that really insults and hurts me. How many times do I have to tell you that you're the only woman for me. There's nothing that Beverly or any woman can do that will change my love for you. Even when Jugs kissed me in Gunny's all it did was make me almost puke. I cannot stand the thought of ever being with another woman, it makes me physically ill. So get over your unfounded jealously and believe me and trust that you're the only woman for me."

 

Tears formed in her eyes as I dropped her hands, stood up and walked out the door. I crossed the street, turned left, headed down to The Delaware Hotel, and took a room for the night. I made a quick phone call to Liz's mobile phone, told her I was fine that I just needed some time to myself and don't try to find me. Then I told the desk clerk Kevin, my friend, not to tell anyone I was there.

 

I shucked my clothes jumped under the covers and was practically asleep when there was a knock at the door. Shit! I wonder who that could be. I grabbed the robe out of the bathroom and my Kimber from the table and looked through the peephole. It was Liz, what the hell was she doing here. "Go the fuck away." I yelled. She banged on the door loud enough to wake the dead, "Better open up. I'm going to bang this door until you do."

 

"I'll call the front desk and have you thrown out." I grumped. "No you won't. I charmed Kevin and he's now my friend. Open up this door." She started kicking it.

 

I opened the door and she pushed Jens into the room, "Did someone here call for a very apologetic fiancée. You two had better work this out tonight or I'm going to make both of you look like assholes to the whole world tomorrow." She slammed the door and left.

 

I stood there looking at Jens. She was standing there with her head down and was crying. I reached out and took her hands.

 

China Northeast of Khudabah, Pakistan  – Day Eleven

 

My attempts at sleeping aren't working. It's cold like most nights now, so cold that even with my blanket I'm quaking like the leaves on an aspen. The girls huddle together under three blankets to share warmth so they're fine. Sometime after midnight I finally get tired of freezing my ass off and decide to do something about it. I decide to get up, put some blackout covers on the headlamps and start driving.

 

Driving in the desert in the middle of the night with the stars all out and no moon relaxes me. For a brief period of time I forget I'm in China and driving back to Pakistan. I remember being in 29 Palms when we'd go in convoy in the middle of the night.

 

Silently I thank my Dad for the many times he forced me to do orienteering drills. It takes all those skills now just to keep from getting lost. I'm sure getting pissed that it's taking so damn long to get anywhere. But I remember times I'd traveled in convoys in Iraq and how they barely made 25 miles an hour. At least we’re covering more ground here, but we have such a long way to go. My mind's made up: Even though the route through Pakistan is slower, we have to get the hell out of China! I'm sure the chopper crew radioed our location and description to their commanders. Shooting down their Hind would be just like the time I threw a rock through a hornets' nest. It wasn't going to be long till all hell broke loose and I'm amazed that it hasn’t hit yet.

 

We're really up shit creek. I think of taking the girls back and leaving them with Aamir and Ivan, but I know it would be a huge fight and to be truthful I would miss both of them. Yasmeen is such a sweet young girl and reminds me of the loving side of Jens - Zarika is fiery and reminds me of the warrior Jens. Plus I have a feeling that I'll need them before this is over. So we continue to travel at night and find a good place to hide during the day.

 

We're in Pakistan and heading north towards Afghanistan when it starts to get light and the girls start stirring. Yasmeen yawns and looks at me, "Ben, where are we?"

 

"Good morning little sister, we're in Pakistan." I reply.

 

"She blinks her eyes and gives me a worried look, "You are not going to take us back to Mama and Papa?"

 

"I thought about it, but I decided not to." I answer.

 

That wakes Zarika, "You had better not try. We would just run away. Ben, we need to stop to take care of some business and eat some breakfast."

 

"I'll find a good place to stop, can you wait awhile?"

 

"I can, how about you Yasmeen?" Zarika replies.

 

"I can wait for about thirty minutes." Yasmeen answers.

 

We start looking for a good place to stop, hopefully one that might let us hide all day. "Ben, there is a little canyon over there." Yasmeen points - again showing she has extra sharp eyes. Heading the truck toward the canyon, we stop and Yasmeen and Zarika jump out. I turn the truck around and slowly back the truck into the canyon while Zarika guides me and Yasmeen uses a bush to erase our tracks. The canyon opens up and we can drive far enough back so we can't be seen from the road. I shut the truck down, hop out and grab some supplies from the back. "I'll be back in a few minutes. I want to setup a booby trap in case we have visitors."

 

"Ben, what is a booby and how do you trap it?" Yasmeen asks. I chuckle, "Ask your sister she knows everything."

 

I improvise a claymore with a hand grenade, some C4 and a can of nuts and bolts and stretch the trip wire across the narrow part of the canyon. If someone or something comes through here we should know. Trotting back to camp I warn the girls, "Don't go to the front of the canyon, I have a bomb up there."

 

"Ben, did you think it was funny to tease me about trapping a booby. I do not know why you want to trap someone's breast." Yasmeen complains with a sniffle.

 

I look over at Zarika and she's grinning. "Yasmeen, Zarika has pulled a trick on both of us. A booby trap is a bomb set to surprise anyone not paying attention as they come this way." Yasmeen looks at Zarika and she sticks out her tongue. Zarika does the same thing back. It makes me laugh to see that these two acting more like sisters all the time.

 

"It is time to eat," Zarika announces. We walk over and grab a plate of food, I start getting ready to eat and I notice that Zarika and then Yasmeen cross themselves and then bow their heads – more reminders of Jens. I don't wait and dig right in, I don't know how she does it but Zarika is a fine cook.

 

"Ben, are you not thankful for your food?" Yasmeen asks.

 

"I'm very thankful for my food. It's very tasty."

 

"Then why do you not pray before you eat?"

 

"I don't know, I guess I never learned how." I reply.

 

"That is silly, a grown man like you not knowing how to pray. I will teach you." Yasmeen comes over to instruct me. I look at her apprehensively and finally confess, "Yasmeen, I know how to pray, it's just that I never do it." She looks at me with shock and then disbelief and takes my food, "No more food for you until you pray," giving me a defiant look.

 

I cross myself in the proper Orthodox fashion and start the Lord's Prayer:

 

Отче наш, сущий на небесах.

Да святится имя Твое;

да приидет Царствие Твое;

да будет воля Твоя

и на земле как и на небе;

хлеб наш насущный дай нам на сей день,

и прости нам долги наши как и мы прощаем должникам нашим,

и не введи нас в искушение

но избавь нас от лукавого.

Ибо Твое есть Царство и сила и слава во веки. Аминь.

 

 

I finish and cross myself again. Yasmeen smiles and gives me back my food. "There, now we all know that you are thankful for your food." Zarika's grins - damn they set me up for this.

 

"Yasmeen, how is it that you became Orthodox?" I ask.

 

"Papa and Mama are not Pakistani, they are actually from Kazakhstan. But living in Pakistan they found it was easier to pretend to be muslim."

 

As this fact registers in my mind, many things finally click into place. Now I know why they seem so different and out of place to me. "But yet they were willing to have you married to me when they thought I was muslim?"

 

She laughs, "We knew right away that you were not Tajik, and that you were not muslim. At first we thought you might be Russian, but quickly decided that you were American."

 

Zarika adds, "You can pass for being Russian or other European, but you can not pass for being Tajik or muslim. That is why we have to keep you out of sight when we meet people."

 

"What is it that gives me away?"

 

"It is not one big thing, but many little things and mannerisms." She answers.

 

"Do you think you can teach them to me?"

 

She grins, "I do not know, what is the famous saying in your country? You cannot teach and old horse how to drink water."

 

I chuckle, "My little sister, you may be smart but you still don't know everything. The saying is ‘you can't teach an old dog new tricks.’"

 

"Then we will make a deal with you. Yasmeen and I will teach you to act like a Tajik or Kazak muslim, and you will teach us more about America." I hold out my hand to shake but she isn't sure what to do, so I show her how to shake hands. "That is your first lesson."

 

We spend the next hour learning about each other's culture. It's very interesting but I'm getting tired, finally I open my mouth and yawn.

 

"Ben, you need to get some sleep." Yasmeen tells me and Zarika adds, "You go to sleep under the truck and Yasmeen and I will take our rifles and go to the top of the canyon and keep watch." She makes a nice bed for me out of the blankets, hands me my Dragunov and she and Yasmeen take off with their rifles. My head hits the ground and I'm out like a light.

 

Son-of-a-bitch! I'm right in the middle of a hot dream about Jens in a slinky negligee on our wedding night and she's doing this s-e-x-y strip tease for me - when the sound of an explosion and AK fire wakes me. I hate being awakened by explosions and gun fire and I'm pissed-off! I grab the Dragunov and roll out from under the truck. Shit! It looks like we have company. A Chinese troop truck is sitting at the front of the canyon with both front tires flat. I guess my improvised claymore worked better than expected. The girls are shooting the shit out of the troops. I'm not going to let them have all the fun so I brace my rifle against the truck and start helping out. We've just about wiped them out when the three that are left decide to turn tail and run. Do you know what happens when you run from a sniper? You die tired! I take aim and the three Chinese fulfill their duty.

 

I wave to the girls and they wave back, Yasmeen starts coming down the canyon to meet me and Zarika stays where she is. We go to check the area for survivors; I pull my pistol just in case. As Yasmeen walks past one Chinese, he raises up to shoot her. She jumps as I yell and fire two rounds in his head.

 

"Yasmeen, go back by the truck and wait for me. I don't want you getting hurt." I order.

 

"But Ben, you might need help." She complains.

 

"Yasmeen do as you're told or I will spank you. I will call you if I need any help."

 

"Zarika told me that men in your country like to spank their wives. Is that true?" She gives me an innocent smile.

 

"I guarantee that if I spank you and Zarika neither of you will like it. Now do as you're told."

 

She pouts and heads back to the truck. I very carefully work my way through the troops and find two that are still alive but seriously wounded. I make sure to take their weapons and motion for Yasmeen to come and help me. We move them over by our truck, into the shade and try to make them comfortable.

 

"Yasmeen, please go in the back of the truck and get my medical supplies." She comes back with the supplies and sets them beside me.

 

I don't speak Chinese, but I wonder if they speak any Russian, "Do either of you speak Russian?" The first soldier is too sick to respond the second replies, "I speak a little Russian."

 

"Good. Look neither of you are going to live, but I'm going to make you as comfortable as I can before you die. Tell your friend this for me."

 

He spoke to him in Chinese and his friend nodded his head. I prepare a couple of morphine injections, "This is morphine and will help take away your pain." He told his friend and I injected both of them.

 

"Why are you doing this for us?" The one asks.

 

"First, what's your name?" I reply.

 

"I am Xing. But why would the American Ghost Wolf do this for us?"

 

"I do not understand who is this Ghost Wolf?" I ask.

 

Xing replies, "If you are the one that escaped from Khudabah with the truck and gold, then destroyed the Taliban camp and shot down our helicopter then it is you."

 

Yasmeen giggles, "My brave husband-uh-brother has a new name, volk-nevidimka1."

1 Literally Wolf the invisible being

 

Xing looks at her, "And this girl is one of your devy-voina2?"

2 Warrior Maidens – literally maidens of the soldier.

 

Yasmeen has a huge giggling fit. I give her a dirty look, "She is one of my adopted sisters."

 

Xing, sits up, "It's an honor to have met you and to die an honorable death." The other Chinese soldier starts moaning so I give him another injection, knowing that it will kill him.

 

Xing says, "Wait, before you give me another injection will you do a favor for this dying soldier. In my pocket is a letter to my family, will you make sure they receive it?"

 

I fight back the tears as I take the letter out of his pocket. Xing notices, "What we were told about you was not true, you are an honorable man. I should not tell you this, but I am dead anyway. This whole area knows about you three, the gold and the truck. You will need to be very careful and lucky or you will be caught. And if you are caught, they will not show you the compassion that you have shown me." Xing salutes me and then passes out; I give him the final injection of morphine and watch as the life ebbs from his body.

 

I stand up and move their bodies to the side of the canyon. Then I go back and search the other bodies for letters to their families, each soldier has one. As I find them I hand them to Yasmeen, "Guard these letters, we will make sure they are delivered."

 

I look at the disabled truck and realize that it's blocking the entrance and exit to the canyon. Shit! I didn't think about this. Yasmeen walks up and notices that I'm thinking, "Ben what is the problem?"

 

"The truck is blocking the canyon and I'm not sure that we can drive out." I answer. I jump in the truck and try to start it. It starts right up but when I put it in gear it barely moves because of the two flat tires. I hop out of the cab and find it has two spare tires; it looks like I'm going to be changing tires. "Yasmeen, please grab some RPGs, some water and some food. Give some to Zarika and go back to the top of the canyon and watch to make sure we don't have any more visitors. I need to change the tires on this truck before I can move it."

 

She runs off and I get to work changing the tires. At least the Chinese military supplies are better than the crap they sell to America. I find a piece of wood to help support the jack and start changing the tires but it's hot sweaty work and I have to take more breaks than I would like. Every time I stop and rest I get more pissed at Hussein for stealing my strength. Someday I'm going to kill that goat fucker! I finish with the last tire and slump down in the shade of the truck to rest and catch my breath.

 

Yasmeen is running down the canyon wall towards me, at first I get worried that we have guests, but she appears to be more interested in me. She runs up, "Ben are you okay?"

 

"I'm fine; I'm just tired and needed to rest." I answer.

 

"I was so worried when I saw the way you fell down and thought you were sick again."

 

I stand up, jump in the cab and start the truck. I put it in gear and drive it easily into the canyon and pull in beside our truck. Yasmeen runs and catches up to me, "Ben I have been thinking about what Xing said."

 

I interrupt, "Yes you and Zarika are my devy-voina."

 

"No Ben not that, listen to me. Xing said that everyone is looking for our truck. Maybe we could change our truck for this truck?"

 

I'm in shock, wondering why I didn't think of this. I was too focused on solving the truck being in our way and didn't bother to think of anything else, if Jens was here she'd kick my butt. "That is an excellent idea and I'm very proud that you thought of it. Let me look carefully at this truck and decide."

 

I hop out of the cab and give her a big hug, it surprises her and she lets out a squeal! I hear a noise from up on the canyon wall and noticed that Zarika was jumping up and down and looking upset, "Ben you will have to make sure that you hug her too or she will be grumpy all night long." I wave to Zarika and it looks like she flips me off. Yasmeen laughs, "Oh yes, she is very upset at us."

 

I start inspecting the truck and the first surprise is all the weapons in the back of the truck. I find a bunch of Anza missles3, 63-1 Mortars4, 69 RPGs5, and a crapload of AKs, AK mags, and uniforms. But the biggest surprise was the M996 sniper rifle. There are also a bunch of Chinese field rations that I wouldn't even feed to a dog.

3 Chinese equivalent of the American Stinger.

4 Probably the smallest mortar in the world.

5 Chinese copy of the Russian RPG7.

6 Chinese anti-material sniper rifle 12.7x108 a poor copy of a .50 BMG (12.7x99) shoots about 1.5 MOA.

 

Next I look over the mechanical structure of the truck, the engine and the running gear. It's in excellent condition, the body is a bit beat up from my fake claymore. I check the tire size and it's the same as our truck so that seals the deal.

 

"Yasmeen, if you weren't my sister I'd kiss you! This is an excellent truck and your idea is incredible." She runs over to me and surprises me with a kiss on the lips. I jump back and she starts giggling, "Surprise! I kissed you anyway my Ghost Wolf." I hear a huge amount of noise from Zarika's outpost - she'd seen the kiss, is irate and is heading our way. "Uh oh, you are in big trouble now. Your sister is upset." I say.

 

I climb in the truck and move it close to the back of ours. Zarika is almost here. I start moving the equipment from one truck to the other. "Ben, you will protect me from her, right?" Yasmeen pleads.

 

"No way! You know better than to kiss me like that, now you will have to pay the price."

 

"I think that I will go and stand guard until Zarika settles down." Yasmeen says and beats a hasty retreat to her outpost.

 

Zarika arrives and is swearing up a storm, "Where is that little bitch, I'm going to pull her hair out. Why did you let her kiss you!"

 

"Wait a minute! Don't blame me, she ambushed me."

 

Zarika stamps her foot, just like Jens, "First she gets a hug and then she gets a kiss, I want one of each too!"

 

I stop moving the gear, "I'll gladly give you a hug, but no kisses. We're brother and sister and they don't kiss." I gave her a big hug and I could feel her shaking from her anger, as I pulled away she grabbed me and kissed me on the lips trying to force her tongue in my mouth.

 

I am tired of this shit and need to nip it in the bud. I grab her, put her over my knee and spank the hell out of her. "Ouch Ben, that hurts. Please stop, I will never do it again." I let her loose and she rubs her butt, "I heard that was fun, but it was not fun at all. I hope you never do that to me again." She starts crying, "Why did you not spank Yasmeen like that. She started it."

 

Yasmeen runs up, "I want to be spanked too!" So I spank the hell out of her. She is yelling and complaining, "Ben, you are hurting me. Stop please."

 

They both look at me like I'm an ogre, then they see the tears start down my cheeks. Zairka asks me, "Why are you crying? We are the ones that are hurt, not you."

 

"I hate what I did to both of you! I do not like hurting women, and the spankings hurt me much more than they hurt you. But I had to make both of you realize that I will not allow this to happen again. If either of you kiss me like that again you will not be my little sisters. Now both of you back to your outposts and leave me alone." I order.

 

They slink off to their outposts in tears and leave me to deal with my self-rage for having spanked both of them. I channel the energy into moving the gear and it helps. When I get to the fuel drums and the gold I back the trucks together and slide the supplies over.

 

I motion for them to come back to the truck and they both hightail it down the slope. Zarika makes it first and runs up and hugs me, "I am sorry Ben and I will not do that again. Please do not send me away." Yasmeen is right behind her and joins in on the hug, "Yes Ben, I was a bad girl for starting it. Please do not ever spank me again. It was not fun like Zarika said it would be. My bottom still hurts." I spend a couple minutes consoling them and pull away. "We need to change our clothes." I announce and toss them each a new Chinese uniform.

 

Zarika figures it out, "Ah, if we're in a Chinese truck, we need to look Chinese." She starts stripping out of her clothes right in front of me; I blush and turn away, "Zarika and Yasmeen please do not undress in front of me."  They both giggle, "We're sorry we will not do that again." I think yeah right, you two still haven't learned. Damn! I need to get home before something bad happens with these two.

 

I find three corpses that are about our size, put them in our old truck and take the other bodies to hide them in a little cave. Then I take an RPG and collapse the cave on them. I change into a Chinese uniform, it's damn uncomfortable and doesn't fit worth shit. I pull our new truck far away from the old truck, hop out and grab another RPG and blow the hell out of the old truck, watching to make sure that the extra fuel I left in it ignites. The truck becomes a flaming mess sending billows of smoke into the air.

 

As the sun sets, I hop in the cab of our new truck ready for another night of driving. "Ben will you sing that road song again?" Zarika pleads. "What road song?" Yasmeen asks. "Just listen, he will sing us to sleep."

 

I start singing:

 

On the road again
Just can't wait to get on the road again
The life I love is makin' music with my friends
And I can't wait to get on the road again
On the road again
Goin' places that I've never been
Seein' things that I may never see again,
And I can't wait to get on the road again.