Chapter 22

Walker Chapter 22

Copyright 2011 Banzai Ben and Amazing Anastasia

 

Present – Stacy – The Barn

 

I continue to SLLS and also watch Ben open the door. I'm impressed and feel much better when he stands to the side of the door and uses a rope to open it. When I feel it's safe, I start heading back towards Ben with the horses but suddenly Ben yells, "Stacy, stay where you are with the horses!"

 

I stop, start to ask him why, when… holy frack!!!! It's…it's…it's like all the IEDs start going off at once and something (I can't begin to understand what) happens at the bunker. I hit the ground and the horses take off like their tails are on fire! I throw my hands over the top of my head as stuff is falling on top of me. I've never been particularly religious but this seems like the end of the world for us and seems like a really good time to ask God for a favor or two: First one for Ben and then one for me – then, something really bad happens!!!

 

Present – Ben – The Bunker

 

I knew it was too good to be true: The sapper had the door wired. I blurt out to Stacy to stay where she is then barely have time to hit the ground myself. I watch as the horses bolt and as Stacy hits the deck, she tries to dig herself into the ground. On the ground she's really not in any danger and it's funny as hell watching her squirm, so I start to laugh.

 

The explosions are over as quickly as they started, but my laughter continues. I forgot just how much fun it is (okay maybe I never knew how much fun it could be) training a green recruit. I stand up and yell, "Olly, olly oxen free. Stacy I think it's all over, please be very careful."

 

Stacy stands up and I realize my choice of the word green is apropos for more than one reason as she leans over and pukes. The released tension gives me a reason to find it amusing and I begin to laugh again…

 

Present – Stacy – The Bunker

 

I am mortified! When all the IEDs exploded three really bad – no three devastating things happened to me. First I wasn't able to control my fear and I finally wet my pants – I'm so embarrassed. But even worse, some of the stuff that fell on me – was pieces of putrefied dead banditos. Then to top it all off, I puked because of the smell. I…I…I smell like pee, rotten bandito and vomit but the worst thing of all - Ben's laughing at me!!!

 

I fight it, but I can't control myself…

 

Present – Ben – The Bunker

 

Shit! Untold years of martial arts training, combat experience on every continent, expert rating on virtually every weapon that fires a bullet and I still haven't found any defense against a woman's tears…

 

Stacy falls to her knees and starts crying like crazy! How in the hell did this become my fault?

 

I run down the path (I'm still not certain all the IEDs are gone), reach Stacy, sit on the ground beside her and hug her. Now I understand what she's upset about: She peed her pants and has a few little pieces of the rotten bandito on her.

 

I say, "Stacy, things are fine. Don't worry."

 

She pushes me away and continues to sob, "You…you…you laughed at me."

 

Oh shit! I forgot my first rule about women - when things concern them or their looks, they have no sense of humor! This one isn't going to be easy to fix…

 

Present – Stacy – The Bunker

 

Ben hugs me and it feels really good but I'm such a mess I can't stand for him to see me this way, Plus, he laughed at me. I'm in no mood to have him close to me! I just want to run away and hide in my embarrassment. I push him away and say, "You…you…you laughed at me."

 

Then I jump up and try to run but Ben quickly catches me, wraps his arms around me and says, "Stacy, I'm very sorry for laughing…"

 

I interrupt, "Ben, I hate being laughed at…"

 

He interrupts, "Stacy, I wasn't laughing at you! I was laughing at the circumstances and it was wrong of me. Please forgive me."

 

Hmm, all this mess could end up being a blessing in disguise. I relax in his arms but my voice still quivers when I say, "Be…Be…Ben, I don't understand what part of any of this is funny. When the IEDs went off I wasn't worried about me getting hurt, I was worried about you. Then…"

 

Ben silences my babbling with… a KISS! Now it surely wasn't the best kiss I've ever had, shoot there wasn't even any tongue. But still it is a KISS! And even after I had vomited!!!

 

Present – Ben – The Bunker

 

Shit! Can I fuck up anymore or any worse today? I don't know what possessed me to do it, but I kissed Stacy to shut her up. Thank God I realized what I was doing before I slipped her the tongue, but she sure tried to slip me the tongue. I pull away from her and can tell from the look in her eyes I seriously screwed up. I apologize, "Stacy, sorry about that. I don't know what came over me…"

 

She smiles at me, takes my hand and interrupts, "Ben that was really nice of you, please don't ruin it by saying anything else that's stupid. I really need to find a place to clean up and I would prefer if it wasn't in that nasty house."

 

What I need right now is a big distraction for her. I pull my hand out of hers and say, "Well, we have a bunker to explore and with the way the sapper defended it there must be some really valuable things inside."

 

Stacy responds, "That still doesn't help me clean up."

 

That's the problem with women, they have a one track mind. And when it gets derailed by a little thing like cleaning up, that's all they can think about. She takes my hand again as we head toward the bunker…

 

Present – Stacy – The Bunker

 

Well Ben might not realize what came over him, but I sure realize what's come over the both of us and I certainly know what a kiss, even an almost chaste kiss means. Yes my heart is singing such a sweet song as only a heart can sing. Now I just have to make him realize it.

 

I take his hand and we walk toward the bunker which almost killed us. Before I would have experienced fear and need to pee, but either because I've already wet myself or the redefinition of my relationship with Ben, I don't have that issue to deal with this time. However I still need to get cleaned up.

 

He fights, frees his hand and says, "Stacy, look we still need to be very careful entering the bunker. There could be more IEDs and I need both my hands."

 

I grin and reply, "Yes Ben I understand and I'm sure you want me to watch your ass."

 

He gives me a little bit of a dirty look (he must have finally figured out the 'watch ass' comments - it's about time) and answers, "Yes you will cover my six from beside the bunker – the exact same place that I stood when I opened the door."

 

I smile at him and ask, "So how does this help me get cleaned up?"

 

Ben responds, "Stacy, sometimes in war you have to just put up with some inconveniences and annoyances. Listen, what happened to you after I opened the door is no big deal to me. What's important now is that we put everything behind us and focus on the mission at hand, which is the safe in-fil of this bunker. Now I haven't mentioned it before, but with this crazy-assed sapper setting IEDs everywhere, this might be the most dangerous thing we've ever done."

 

Shoot, my relaxed mood just flew out the window like an escaping canary and took all the music in my heart with it. Now I'm not only uncomfortable about my condition, I'm worried again about Ben and this fracking bunker. I complain, "Ben let's just forget about this bunker."

 

He answers, "No way Stacy. If the sapper took such pains to protect the bunker, he had a good reason for it. Now, take up your position where I told you, cover my six and I'm taking up position on the other side of the door. Once I'm sure there's no IEDs, then I will enter and secure the bunker."

 

I do as ordered but request, "Ben, I would feel much better if it doesn't bother you, if you told me what you were doing."

 

He smiles at me, "Sure I can do that."

 

We take up our positions beside the door, I begin to SLLS, Ben pies the bunker with his periscope and I ask, "What do you see?"

 

Ben swears, "Dammit! I don't see jack. I knew something was fucked up with this door!"

 

I continue to SLLS, become even more nervous and request, "What the hell are you talking about?"

 

He responds, "Damn this guy was fucking cagey! He had a door within a door and I opened the wrong fucking one, that's what setoff all the IEDs."

 

I question, "I don't have any idea what you just said."

 

He ignores me, backs up and begins seriously looking at the wall beside the door. He doesn't find anything then he moves back to the door and asks, "Stacy, push the outer door towards me I want to examine it."

 

I step to the side, making sure not to step on any dirt (I'm still not sure all the IEDs are gone) and swing the door toward Ben. He catches it and begins to examine it. I want to ask him what he's looking for, but don't want to become a nag especially since we finally have a relationship.

 

It seems like it takes forever, but he looks at me smiles and says, "Well, here goes nothing. I sure as hell hope I'm right and don't blow my hand completely off." I start to complain but it's too late…

 

Present – Ben – The Bunker

 

Yeah this guy knew how to build IEDs and booby trap a house. The door I opened was an outer door. Behind it is a steel box about a foot deep which was filled with homemade claymore type mines. Now I understand why I couldn't see into the bunker. But how the hell could the guy open the real door. I search the wall for another keyhole, don't find anything, so I ask myself what I would do. I come up with a pretty good idea, especially after looking at the fake outer door. But it requires me to use my hand to search inside the steel box – unfortunately this could be deadly for my hand.

 

The one thing you learn when you make IEDs is you don't want to make them too difficult to trigger or to disarm. If you make them too difficult to trigger, then you run the risk of them not detonating when you want them too. And if you make them too difficult to disarm, then you run the same risk, only this time they detonate on you when you try to disarm them. The 2X4 IED landmines smacked of this premise: They were utterly simplistic in design. I was certain the sapper followed the same simplicity here.

 

I begin to search the doorway and just like I thought: I turned the fucking lock the normal way to open a door which in this case was the wrong way because it opened the outer door. My fingers feel where the lock, when turned the right way for it, presses a lever, I take a deep breath, hope I'm right and order, "Stacy, press your back against the wall."

 

She starts to complain but I ignore her, press the lever and the inner door starts to swing open. I yank my hand out of the way as the inner door swings open and… for once nothing happens!

 

Present – Stacy – The Bunker

 

Okay, I need to do more than pee this time – Ben's concern over this bunker door has almost scared the poop out of me. What the heck is it about men? Frequently they just can't leave well enough alone!

 

Ben's now concentrating and stops explaining things to me. Then he opens some sort of new door that I guess was behind the other door. I expect everything to blow up again but this time thank goodness, nothing happens; other than some light comes out of the bunker.

 

He finally explains, "Well, that might have been the right way to open the bunker. But I'm still not sure it's safe Stacy, so stay there and cover my six."

 

I watch as he sticks his periscope around the door and begins to pie the room. He whistles which scares me but then he adds, "I think we hit the jackpot but I need to be sure."

 

He takes a rock, throws it into the room and again nothing happens. He gives me a grave look and says, "Well, here goes nothing." Then he walks into the bunker!!!

 

Present – Ben – The Bunker

 

Yeah I take a big risk, but I've been working on getting into the mind of this sapper and I think I've got a good bead on it. So as I walk into the bunker, nothing happens, other than my mouth falling open - we have indeed hit the jackpot!!! This place is setup not like a bunker, it's more like a combination of a fallout shelter and panic room – but one question still smacks me in the face. Why didn't the sapper and his family retreat to the bunker?

 

I'm still not 100 percent sure there won't be more surprises in this bunker, but for right now I feel it's safe for us to be in here. We just have to be careful about everything we open and everything we do.

 

I see something, smile and yell, "Stacy, what's the one thing that's been on your mind for the last thirty mikes?"

 

She yells inside, "Well I need the toilet and also to get cleaned up."

 

I walk over, check it out by opening the door and it doesn't blow up on me so I respond, "Well, there's a nice as hell bathroom in here which the banditos haven't touched!"

 

To her credit she doesn't fly into the bunker, instead she asks…

 

Present – Stacy – The Bunker

 

Ben has found a real bathroom in this bunker! Now that's worth something to me. My first instinct is to run in and use it, but I fight that and ask, "Ben, is it safe for me to come in and use it?"

 

He answers, "Sure, come on in."

 

I run in, see him smile at me and point to a door. I carefully open the door and yes it's really a bathroom. I start taking care of my needs and ask, "Ben would you please find my pack and bring it to me?"

 

I sure don't appreciate his answer, "Stacy, I will but not until you are finished with your essential business. Remember, 'two is one and one is none.' You need to cover my six while I go and recover the packs. Just remember there are two reasons for the famous saying, 'don't get caught with your pants down.'"

 

Two reasons, well the first is obvious because I have my pants down right now, but what the frack is the second reason? I think while I'm finishing things, then I blush and realize the second reason is… sex and almost begin to giggle. Yes that would not be good. I do take a little extra time and try to get the blown up bandito off my clothes without any luck. There's nothing at all I can do about my pants being wet for right now. But I sure eye the heck out of the shower since soon it and I are going to become good friends.

 

I walk out of the bathroom and see Ben examining some boxes on the wall by the doorway. I walk over, lean against him, put my hand on his strong shoulder and ask, "So what did you find?"

 

He says, "If I had opened the door correctly it would have automatically shut off all the IEDs. But because I only opened the outer door, I think it triggered all the IEDs. I'm pretty sure were safe now."

 

I gripe, "Just how sure is 'pretty sure' because I think I've had enough excitement for today."

 

He laughs (at least not at me this time) and replies, "About ninety-five percent sure we won't trigger anymore of the IEDs if any of them are left. This doesn't mean there aren't other IEDs around just waiting for us. Now I'm going to go get the packs, I want you to stand watch at the doorway and cover my six. If all hell breaks loose, close the door because you will be safe in here and you press this lever to open the door from the inside."

 

I grin and him and say, "Okay, I've got your ass. But there's no way in hell I would ever close this door and leave you outside not even if Santa Ana and his whole army was still alive and attacked us. If you go down, I go down fighting right beside you."

 

He glares at me and argues, "Stacy, that's cover my six." Oh yeah, he knows what I'm doing with my ass comments – hey this girl just wants to have some fun, even in the midst of this war.

 

Ben heads out the doorway as I remember Ben telling me doorways are funnels of death. So, I don't stand in the doorway but I move outside, put my back against the door, SLLS and watch Ben's fine ass.

 

He gets to a point where he's going to disappear around the front of the house and I wonder if I should move to continue to cover his six. He stops in a safe looking place by a tree and motions for me to come up beside him and that answers my question, we are doing bounding overwatch…

 

I carefully slip up beside him as he smiles and comments, "Your situational awareness was excellent when you came here."

 

I touch his shoulder and say, "Thanks, I wasn't sure we were doing bounding overwatch and was concerned about not being able to watch your ass."

 

He glares again but mostly ignores this ass comment and answers, "If there's even the slightest chance of danger, we will always move using bounding overwatch. Now stay here and I will recover the packs."

 

I grin and say, "You bet, I've got your ass."

 

He glares at me again, moves carefully to where we left our full packs, puts his pack on his back and my pack over his front and heads back toward me. It's going to feel wonderful to get out of my wet pants but even better to get a fracking shower!

 

Ben reaches my position and corrects me, "Stacy, you're a little distracted. Get your mind back into the game."

 

Yeah Ben doesn't miss anything! Since his kiss my mind has been preoccupied with the normal what, when and how questions. What did the kiss really mean, does it mean the same thing to Ben as it does to me? When will he kiss me (and do other things) to me (again)? And how should I act toward him?

 

I reply, "Sorry Honey, I guess I'm a little excited and I will try my best to get my mind back in the game."

 

He gripes, "Stacy, don't try just do it."

 

I decide he's right so I say, "Okay, I've got lead on this leg of bounding overwatch. You have my ass." I don't verbally add, 'anytime you want it honey' but I sure do think it…

 

Present – Ben – The Bunker

 

Shit! I really fucked up. Things were really good between Stacy and me, we made a good team, but the one little accidental kiss (just to shut her up) has her flirting with me like… yeah flirting with me like Ms. Donaldson use to flirt with me. I watch her as she heads back toward the bunker. She's doing a hell of a job and she does have a fine… Dammit now she has me distracted again. If Stacy keeps this shit up, I'm going to dump her fine… I mean dump her ass like I did with Ms. Donaldson.

 

She gets to the bunker, gets settled in and motions for me. I push all the bullshit out of my thoughts and make sure she has her mind in the game before I move toward the bunker. I make it to the bunker, drop both packs on the concrete and command, "Stacy for right now I want you to stay right here because we know it's a safe place. I still don't trust this sapper so I'm going inside. I will close the door and then open it again. I want to be sure closing and opening the door doesn't come with any more surprises."

 

She complains, "Ben not to disobey a direct order, but what happened to 'two is one and one is none'? If I'm out here I can't cover your six and you can't cover my six."

 

Shit! I hate it when my words come back to bite me! At least she used six and not ass this time. So I decide to take the coward's way out and I lie, "Good job Stacy! That was just a test." We both head into the bunker and I close the door…

 

Present – Stacy – The Bunker

 

OMG Ben is such a terrible LIAR! I have to bite my lip to keep from giggling. 'That was a test' my ass. I wisely decide not to confront Ben about the lie because then he might try to get better at it - Grandmamma taught me to never let a man know you can tell they're lying - but we can always tell when they lie.

 

I do worry some when he closes the door since I half expect this bunker to become our coffin. Ben commands, "Okay Stacy, move to the back corner before I open the door again." I do as ordered, he opens the door and I'm relieved when the bunker doesn't become our coffin. However, I become real excited about what I've found. I ask nicely, "Ben please come here and see what I've found."

 

He closes the door and walks back to me as I point to the horse's tack and say, "You were right, here's everything we need for the horses."

 

Ben laughs, "Yeah, now we've got everything we need for the horses, except for the horses. Or did you forget they ran off?"

 

I boldly counter, "Oh yeah! I'll bet you they come back."

 

Ben wisely says, "Stacy, I'm not going to take that bet until I know what we're betting."

 

Shoot, there goes my chance of easily getting another kiss. I respond with a bit of mock anger, "Be that way! I'm going to go shower and change my fracking clothes!"

 

I storm into the bathroom with my pack and practically ruin everything by giggling! I take off my clothes, look at them and sigh – another pair of ruined clothes. If I keep this up I will have to start wearing animal skin bikinis like in that crazy old movie with the hot girls and dinosaurs (Author note: One Million Years BC).

 

I turn on the shower, get the water just right, climb in and luxuriate letting the water caress my body. If only Ben was here to wash my back it would be perfect…

 

Present – Ben – The Bunker

 

Shit! Stacy is a piss poor liar! She acted like she was pissed at me but I could see the corners of her mouth creep upwards in a telltale smile. What she doesn't realize is she's given me an excuse to now act pissed off at her which should keep her distracted from the accidental kiss I gave her earlier…

 

Enough of this woolgathering it's time to explore the rest of the bunker. No it's not a bunker – it's really a hell of a nice man cave! But I must keep in mind how truly devious the sapper was! Which reminds me of the really big question, why the hell didn't he and his family retreat into this bunker? If he had done that, they'd still be alive. It bothers me and makes me wonder whether this bunker is as secure as it seems?

 

On either side of the same wall as the doorway, there are big metal cabinets which have attracted my attention. I walk over to one, carefully check it for possible IEDs, don't find any then turn the handle to open it and grin! This is a hell of a nice gun cabinet! Just from glancing at the weapons, I can already see I will be changing what I'm carrying. But I want to get more exploration done without Stacy here to bother me. I carefully check and then open the cabinet on the other side of the door and discover it's full of ammo. This isn't quite the ideal way to have these cabinets setup. If it was me, I would have had the weapons and the ammo for each one in the same cabinet, in an emergency, you could grab a weapon and the ammo for it at the same time.

 

The wall on the left side of the doorway as you walk in has what looks to be a computer on a big table. I turn it on. It boots up just like any other computer then automatically runs a surveillance camera program with twelve split screens. This is sweet because we can now see what's going on outside the bunker, in the house and the surrounding area without opening the door. I don't remember seeing any cameras so I remind myself to look for them when I'm outside again.

 

There's another big cabinet adjacent to the surveillance table so I open it and find a rack of VHS tape decks that must be hooked to the surveillance camera system. There's a shitload of tapes stacked by date, but they don't interest me right now.

 

I cross the room to the other wall which is lined with big cabinets. Once again not trusting the sapper I open each one carefully. The first is filled with duffle bags - each bag has a name on it. There's John, Elena, Michelle and Maxwell – they are evidentially go bags for each family member and will require scrutiny later.

 

Someone was a labeling fool. The next cabinet has what looks to be horse packs labeled survival rations. I peek inside one and grin because they're not MREs. Instead they're some sort of high end looking freeze dried food. It makes me wonder if this family was LDS because I've heard there were a bunch of LDS that moved to Texas from Utah.

 

The last cabinet on that wall is packed full of BDUs, underwear and socks, again labeled by name. This gives me an idea so I look at the sizes and smile…

 

Present – Stacy – The Bunker

 

I shower until my skin looks all wrinkly like Grandmamma's, step out of the shower, dry off and what the frack! Those aren't the clothes I set out earlier – Ben replaced my clothes with real military looking clothes. Shoot even the underwear (which are too much like granny panties for my liking) are camouflage. How in the frack did he get in here without me hearing him? I check the sizes and they're almost perfect for me, the bra is going to be small, but I'd rather wear a jog bra anyway, so I pull a clean one out of my pack. I look around for my dirty clothes, even checking for the dirty clothes in my pack, but they're all missing… Ben is certainly sneaky. Too bad I didn't hear him because I would have invited him in to scrub my back…

 

I stand in front on the mirror and admire my body: It's firmer and tighter than ever! I guess that's one of the benefits of being in war. It has turned my nineteen year old body back into a fifteen year old body, except all my baby fat is gone!

 

I brush the heck out of my hair and notice the roots are finally going back to my normal blonde color. I really hate having black hair and now that we're away from the cities perhaps I can let it go natural. I check my nails and note they are a wreck; oh well I guess manicures and pedicures are casualties of being in a war.

 

I even take the time to apply just a little bit of subtle makeup. Now that I have a boyfriend, I do need to look my best. I put on the new clothes, adjust them so they're perfect, double check my ass to make sure it looks good in these pants and step out of the bathroom. I don't see Ben so I call, "Ben where are you?"

 

He answers from a good distance away, "I'll be right there."

 

I wait for what seems like forever and notice the computer which I guess is a surveillance system. I wander over by it and Ben finally comes out of somewhere way in the back of the bunker. He's grinning from ear to ear so I ask, "What has you so happy."

 

He practically gushes as he says, "This place is probably the most perfect man cave I've ever seen. It has everything." He pauses, lets his eyes roam over my body and continues, "Oh by the way, I'm glad those BDUs fit you."

 

I smile and reply, "Thank you for the compliment. Someone really sneaky stole the clothes I had put out for myself."

 

He answers, "Yeah, I also grabbed all your dirty clothes and put them in the washing machine."

 

I blush because one pair of my undies needed some extra care, Ben laughs and says, "You don't have to ask me, I took proper care of your underwear." Now how the heck did he know what I was thinking? I will have to ask him later.

 

I say, "Well now it's your turn to shower while I get to explore this so called perfect man cave."

 

He countermands me, "Stacy, there's nothing I'd like better than to take a shower." He sniffs and continues with a wrinkled face, "I really need one. However I want to give John, Elena, Michelle and Maxwell proper burials first."

 

I sure as heck don't want to get all dirty again so I answer with a frown. Ben notices and explains, "Don't worry Stacy, you're standing watch while I do all the work."

 

I ask, "So how are we going to get back in here?"

 

Ben tosses me a set of keys and says, "Well I found extra keys for the whole place so we each have a set. Just remember to turn the front door lock clockwise to open the door."

 

I question, "Front door? Does this mean there's a back door too?"

 

He smiles and answers, "Yes, it leads into the stables. The horses are back and I've given them some feed."

 

I get all excited and want to see the horses and these stables, but I know first we have the sad duty to bury the owners of this nice ranch. Yes war is hell because sometimes nice people die…

 

Present – Ben – The Bunker

 

I'm not looking forward to burying this family – I've buried too many people already in my life and this family certainly didn't deserve to die. It's still an unsolved mystery as to why they died in the first place. With resources like this man cave they had to seriously fuck up. Digging their grave is going to be a powerful reminder not to ever fuck up like they did.

 

I hand Stacy a new tactical vest and pistol rig. She looks at them and says, "What's all this?"

 

I answer, "It's a tactical vest with a holster for your new pistol."

 

She gets all excited and replies, "A new pistol! What do I have?"

 

I reply, "You're going to be carrying a SIG Sauer P220 combat1 pistol in .45 ACP. It's one of the best and most reliable pistols in the world."

 

1 Sig Sauer P220 combat – A double-action or single-action blowback pistol based on John Browning's 1911 design. These pistols are practically indestructible: They have been dropped in mud, shot in the slides, dropped over thirty feet onto concrete and even endured explosions and still function. Many SOCOM and SWAT units now carry these.

 

She starts trying to put on the tactical vest but can't figure it out. I almost laugh at her again, but bite my tongue to keep from insulting her. I walk over and offer, "Let me help you with that."

 

She finally notices what I'm wearing and says…

 

Present – Stacy – The Bunker

 

Ben comes over and helps me with this tactical gear because it's hard as heck to figure out where everything goes. I've been excited seeing him again because he's so happy and because he's given me so many new gifts. Yeah I know they're from the family that died, and it bothers me some, but Ben thought of me first.

 

I'm really excited when he gets close to me and helps me with the tactical vest. I’m even more excited when he touches my leg while helping me with the new holster! I finally notice Ben's new gear and say, "Ben, what's that you're wearing?"

 

He's finished helping me with my vest, stands up and answers, "You finally noticed. I saw this and while it isn't as effective as your new pistol, I couldn't resist because I've always loved revolvers."

 

His hand is a blur as he draws the revolver with his right hand and continues, "This is an old model Ruger Vaquero revolver." I watch as he does something to the revolver then he hands it to me and I remark, "Wow that was really fast draw you reminded me of a cowboy on some of the old westerns Grandmamma and I used to watch, but isn't this really old school?" I hand the revolver back to him.

 

Ben glares at me for some reason and says, "I'm also carrying a P220 just like you." I watch as he reaches down with his left hand and draws a pistol.

 

I ask, "Is that what my pistol looks like?"

 

He replies, "Yes it is. Now let me go over its operation with you." Ben patiently spends the next ten minutes showing me all the cool features of my new pistol and has me practice everything, even dry firing the pistol. When we're done I kiss him on the cheek and say, "Thanks Ben this is a really cool new pistol! I really like the de-cocker, but what's this on the end of the barrel?"

 

Ben grins and demonstrates, "Watch this." He unscrews a cap of the end of the barrel, reaches into a pocket on his tactical vest, pulls out a long tube and screws it onto the end of the barrel. I recognize what it is from watching TV and gush, "Oh wow! That's a silencer! Do I have one too?"

 

He says, "First it's called a suppressor not a silencer and check the same pocket in your vest."

 

I check my pocket and confirm I have one too. I'm really excited but then Ben interrupts my excitement…

 

Present – Stacy – Second training lesson continued – More ready positions

 

Ben takes the suppressor off his pistol, puts it back into his tactical vest and says, "Okay Stacy before we ex-fil the bunker and I bury the family let's practice the ready positions I've already taught you and teach you the ones you don't know yet. Retrieve your rifle, clear it and your new pistol and demonstrate the positions you already know."

 

I look around the room and say, "Ben, I left my rifle by the doorway and it's gone now."

 

He smiles and says, "Yes, I moved it into the cabinet to the right of the front door. You should have asked me where it was right away when you came into the room and didn't see it."

 

I counter, "Well shouldn't you have told me you moved it?"

 

He replies, "Yes I should have but I was just testing your situational awareness. It's easy in a place that you perceive to be safe, like this bunker, to relax and let down your guard. Unfortunately this can also become deadly. While we are in the man cave, we will either have our rifles with us or in the cabinet by the front or rear doors. So go retrieve your rifle and show me the ready positions."

 

I walk over to the cabinet, open it and see a bunch of rifles. I recognize my cool black rifle, pull it out, close the cabinet walk back to Ben and clear it and my new pistol.

 

I say, "I remember how you used your rifle and pistol together clearing the house. But for right now I'm going to demonstrate the one ready position you taught me for the pistol and then the two you taught me for the rifle."

 

I bring my pistol up point it at the wall and then lower it to a 45 degree angle and say, "This is the low ready position you taught me." I move the pistol back up on target then lower it again and continue, "This is how easy it is to acquire my target."

 

Ben asks, "What happened as you used this position earlier?"

 

I reply, "My arms got really tired holding the pistol out in front of me."

 

Ben praises, "Very good Stacy, that's the major problem with this ready position. The other problem with low ready is if you're in a really tight place you can't raise your pistol. There are two ready positions which will alleviate the problems with low ready and they are similar. Now watch me."

 

He pulls his P220 pistol, clears the action, gets into the low ready position then bends both his elbows so they are against his side and says, "This I like to call close low ready position. Notice how the muzzle of the pistol is still pointing down at a forty-five degree angle. But with my elbow against my side, my arms won't get tired. Here's how easy it is to acquire your target."

 

He quickly move the pistol up on target and back down multiple times getting quicker with each one, then says, "Now it's your turn."

 

I practice, finish and remark, "I already like this ready position better. It's almost as fast to acquire my target and my arms don't get tired."

 

Ben praises, "Stacy you did really well and you're right. Now let me teach you the next ready position. It's called close ready."

 

I watch as Ben draws his pistol, acquires the target then keeping the muzzle level he bends his elbows and places them against his side. He alternates between close ready and acquiring the target several times speeding up each time and then asks, "Okay Stacy practice this ready position and give me your thoughts on it."

 

I practice and say, "Well, the muzzle of the pistol is level so I would need to be very careful in which direction I had it pointed."

 

Ben interrupts, "Very good, you remember to never point a gun at someone you aren't ready to shoot."

 

I continue, "And I think my wrists would eventually get tired in this ready position. So why would I use this over the close low ready position?"

 

Ben replies, "Excellent comment; you're exactly right. You would use this ready position because you're already sighting down the barrel of the pistol and you can acquire and fire off-hand. That is firing the pistol without using the sights, very quickly."

 

I ask, "On TV I see them use this position but they keep the pistol up very high to where they are looking right over the sights." I demonstrate…

 

Ben replies, "Yes they do that but that's not a good ready position because it partially blocks your view of the room, plus you have a tendency to focus on your pistol. Now for the final pistol ready position which is called close weapon retention ready. It is one that I hope you never have to use because you use this position when your target is almost close enough to touch. If your target is that close, you have to make sure they can't take your pistol from you. Please observe this closely."

 

Ben draws his pistol and this time only uses his left hand, he bends his left elbow and holds his pistol with the muzzle level right against the side of his chest and says, "In this position, you can use your free arm to help fend off the attacker and you can even fire offhand from here. Now you try it."

 

I practice and say, "I agree I sure hope I don't have to use this position because I bet it would hurt if you did fire your pistol against your side."

 

Ben responds with, "No it doesn't really hurt."

 

I ask for confirmation, "You've used this position before?"

 

Ben gives me a funny look and replies, "Of course I have. Now you never practiced the rifle ready positions so let's see how you do on the two I taught you and I will show you one more."

 

I switch to my rifle, show Ben the rifle low ready position. He moves the rifle a little and further instructs me, "There, this is just about perfect now the problems with this ready position are…?"

 

I recite, "If the target is below me I can't see the target and if I try to pie a room the rifle will give away my locations and intentions."

 

Ben praises, "Very good Stacy, so what ready position do we use when we pie a room?"

 

I show Ben my indoor ready position and say, "This is the indoor ready position which I would use when I pie a room."

 

He again makes a few little adjustments in the position and asks, "What is the major drawback?"

 

I reply, "It takes longer to acquire my target and if the area is small I might not be able to bring the rifle up on target."

 

Ben says, "Demonstrate what you would do if that was the case."

 

I continue to hold my M4 with my left hand, reach back and fumble for my pistol. I look down to see what the frack is wrong and finally bring it up. I'm embarrassed because Ben made that move look so easy earlier. But he doesn't scold me, instead he says, "Stacy, you just learned a valuable lesson please tell me what it was?"

 

I blush and say, "Well, I really messed up trying to draw my pistol with one hand and had to look down to see what was wrong."

 

Ben smiles and praises, "That's right. You, for a brief moment, lost situational awareness of the room. In that short amount of time you could have been killed. Now how are you going to keep that from happening?"

 

I quickly reply, "I need to practice the heck out of drawing my pistol."

 

Ben smiles and strokes my ego, "You're the best student I've ever had. Now for the final rifle ready position: It's called the high ready or point position. You use this position when your target is above you or when you don't want to disrupt your view of targets below you. We used this position much of the time in the Sandbox because many times Haji was in the tall buildings above us."

 

I observe as Ben goes and gets a rifle out of the cabinet, clears the rifle and brings his rifle up to his shoulder. He then lets the rifle slide off his shoulder as he anchors the butt of the rifle to his side with his elbow with the muzzle pointing upward. He moves the rifle back into the firing position several times and instructs, "The muzzle of the rifle should be held at the level of your eyes. The major problem with this position is if you have any of your team above you, they are potentially in line with your muzzle. Now it's your turn."

 

I perform the ready position several times while Ben makes some adjustments. He gives me a sad look and I worry I did something wrong until he says, "Okay, I've delayed this all I can. Lock and load, check the outside using the surveillance cameras and I'll be back with a pick and shovel."

 

Present – Stacy – The Burial

 

I do as ordered. Ben returns, we head outside, lock the bunker door and do bounding overwatch until we reach the area with the IEDs at the front of the house. Ben says, "Okay Stacy, it's time to see if the IEDs are still active or not."

 

I question, "But didn't they all explode?"

 

He shakes his head at me and replies, "Stacy, with the things John the sapper did around here. I'm not assuming anything. To do that would be foolhardy and might cost one of us our lives. In fact while I've already checked most of the bunker and haven't found any IEDs, I don't want you getting curious about things until I check the rest of the bunker."

 

I watch as he heads over to the IEDs in the ground, did I mention the ground is really messed up! There are little craters in the ground everywhere from the IEDs. I sure as heck don't know how we missed stepping on one of them and blowing up our legs. Ben pulls some device out of his evade pack and I ask, "Ben what's that, it looks new."

 

He answers, "It's a digital multi-meter that was in the bunker. Because most or all of the IEDs have detonated I need some way to check the voltage on the wires to verify that when I flipped the switch in the bunker it really disarmed the IEDs."

 

I caution him, "Please be careful honey."

 

He gives me a dirty look. I quickly decide I'd better not call him honey again until our relationship is a little more concrete in his mind. I continue to SLLS but I'm also distracted by Ben.

 

Finally he stands up and says, "Well the power is off, but I bet there are more IEDs around here so we still need to be careful."

 

Ben looks around, points to a tree and decides, "If I was to die here, that's where I would want to be buried. Stay here and watch my six while I make sure that area is clear of IEDs."

 

I SLLS while Ben heads down the path to the road and then runs over adjacent to the tree, then he takes his shovel and begins beating the ground in front of him as he walks towards the tree. I hold my breath with worry as I fear he's going to blow himself up. But he makes it to the tree with no problems and then he calls, "Stacy, I've got your ass (yes! he did say ass) follow my lead and come over by the tree."

 

I jog to the road, head down the road and follow his lead - even making sure once I head off the road I put my footsteps exactly where he walked. When I reach him, he smiles at me and says, "Excellent job! You even followed my footsteps."

 

I compliment him right back, "Of course, because you trained me very well. Don't worry I will be sure to cover your ass while you are busy."

 

He glares at me and reminds me, "You mean cover my six."

 

I grin and preach, "Your six is my ass just like my six is your ass!"

 

He shakes his head and becomes incredibly focused as he begins to dig the grave – in fact he's more focused than I ever remember! He even seems really angry, but he still takes time to SLLS. However I can tell he's not doing his usual excellent job, so I pick up the slack and make sure I don't daydream once…

 

Ben's a fracking digging machine; dirt is flying everywhere and he's not slowing up at all. I feel a little guilty for not helping him, and ask, "Ben can I dig for a while?"

 

He doesn't even stop but just says in a really grumpy voice, "No Stacy, I'm fine!" Yep, now I'm sure he's suffering from PMS. That's okay because I can live with it just like he's going to have to live with mine when that time comes.

 

He finally finishes. I help him out of the hole and he says, "Stacy, you might want to move a bit further away since these bodies are pretty ripe. Also make sure you cover my six while I go and get them."

 

I move to the far side of the tree and at first I worry he's going to carry the bodies, but when he gets to them he pulls out a big piece of plastic, puts on some rubber gloves, gently moves one body on the plastic and then drags the plastic to the grave and lets the body slide into the grave. I'm thankful I moved because Ben was more than right, these bodies really smell! Oh no – they smell just like the house smelt… Now I understand why Ben didn't want me to go into the bedrooms: There were dead bodies in the bedrooms…

 

Just thinking about the smell makes me nauseas again and I have to fight to keep from getting sick.

 

Ben moves the last three bodies over and on the third and last body, he lets the plastic fall into the grave with them. He removes his gloves, throws them into the grave then he does the most surprising thing…

 

He takes a little bottle of water out of his evade pack sprinkles it on the bodies and then recites the Lord's Prayer in Russian. I realize something about which I need to ask him. He begins to fill in the grave and I ask, "Ben, are you Russian Orthodox?"

 

He doesn't miss a shovel full when he replies, "Yes Stacy I am."

 

I'm dying to ask him so many questions about how, and why and where. But he's so PMSey right now I don't dare!

 

Present – Ben – The Burial

 

Could any day be more FUBARED than today has been? It started with that crazy assed dream, then the IEDs all going off at once, then the accidental kiss I gave Stacy to shut her up, then having to bury this whole family (which shouldn't have happened). And now Stacy figures out I'm Russian Orthodox. I wait for the questions which I know are coming and she surprises me by not saying a word!

 

I finish covering the bodies, look at Stacy and declare, "I'm fucking beat! I know I said I was going to take care of the banditos today and teach you how to clear a house but I don't have the gumption right now. How about we eat some dinner and take it easy?"

 

She smiles at me and her smile lightens the heavy load on my soul and says, "Ben I agree, I just wish we could eat something besides MREs. I'm getting tired of them."

 

I reply, "Well there's a kitchen and supplies in the man cave, but I don't have the energy to cook tonight."

 

Her reply gushes with enthusiasm, "There's a kitchen in the bunker! That's almost as much good news as the shower. You can shower and relax while I whip us up some dinner!"

 

I ask, "You know how to cook?" The dread brought on because I said those words sets in immediately but it's too late to take them back…

 

To my surprise Stacy doesn't get angry, she just smiles and answers, "Of course I know how to cook. Grandmamma made sure I took lessons…"

 

Present – Stacy – The Bunker

 

Ha! Ben doesn't think I can cook but he's in for a big surprise because I can cook my ass off! Grandmamma made sure I took cooking lessons in each country we were in so I excel at cooking.

 

Ben's been really grumpy and upset all day but I hope a good meal will make him feel better.

 

We head back to the bunker. I still worry when Ben opens the door, but nothing bad happens. He says, "Stacy, the kitchen is in the back, follow me and I'll show you the rest of the bunker."

 

We head through a corridor to a small but nice kitchen. I stop and look in the pantry but Ben keeps going so I ask, "Where are you going?"

 

He explains, "I need some time to myself so I'm going to visit with Bo."

 

What the frack! I decide to watch what he's doing so I creep up behind him. He goes through several doors. I follow and we both end up in the stable. Bo sees him and knickers. Ben walks up to Bo, hugs his neck and scratches him. I secretly wish he was hugging me instead of Bo, but I can always hope for later tonight…

 

I leave Ben with Bo, head into the kitchen to figure out what to cook tonight. I look in the pantry again and find bunches of pasta and all the makings for some great ragù alla Bolognese over spaghetti. Now I just need some meat. I see a freezer, look inside and it's packed full of meat. However none of it is beef: It's elk, venison and wild hog. I decide the venison will be the best, so I grab a large package and head to the microwave to thaw it and then prepare a wonderful dinner.

 

While the meat is thawing, I head into the front room of the bunker to have a look at the computer surveillance system. I mess around with it some, discover that it's indeed a real computer and I decide it's time for me to have some fun. I finish recording and sending my message right as the bell on the microwave dings. Oh well time to get to my real work now…

 

Present – Ben – The Bunker

 

I'm enjoying my time with Bo since I never even had a dog when I was a boy. The closest animal friend I had was a fox, but Bo is as good as any dog. The longer I'm with him, the better I'm feeling. I guess I overreacted today – no it seems like I've been on edge in general lately - I'm not my normal self and it bothers me…

 

I'm snapped out of my reverie with Bo by a wonderful smell – damn Stacy is cooking something in the kitchen! I give Bo one more scratch and head toward the kitchen, Stacy sees me, grins and hands me a Lone Star beer (already opened) while commenting, "Perfect timing, you have just enough time to shower and get ready for dinner."

 

I head to the stove to see what she's making, but she orders, "Hey, this is my kitchen and I'm not having you mess up what I've created. So go shower while I set the table."

 

I reply, "Thanks for the beer, where did you find it?"

 

She answers, "There's a whole fridge full of nothing but beer but this is just your appetizer because we're having wine with dinner."

 

I think it over and decide if there's beer in here then these people couldn't be LDS since Mormons don't drink. I give her a jaded look and ask, "Are you trying to get me drunk?"

 

She laughs, "Yeah right! Like a big tough Marine like you needs to worry about a little girl like me getting you drunk. Now go shower, you stink!"

 

I reply, "Yes nag!" I then take off before she can snap me with the kitchen towel she's holding…

 

Present – Stacy – The Bunker

 

It's good that Ben's teasing me again. I guess his time with Bo was therapeutic. I hurry and set the table. It's not my best cooking but then I didn't have the ingredients I wanted. I pour us both big glasses of a cheap red wine called Red Truck. I tasted it a bit earlier and determined that it's drinkable.

 

I figure it's about time to put the food on the plates and arrange it just perfectly. If there's one thing I learned in all my classes, it's that the presentation of the food is very important. I just finish lighting the candles as Ben comes in from his shower. He takes one look at the table and praises, "I think I need to eat at Chez Stacy's more often. Everything looks and smells wonderful."

 

I blush and say, "Thank you, it's not my best but it's the best with what I had to cook with."

 

We sit at the table. Ben holds up his wine glass, I clink mine against his and he toasts, "Here's to Stacy who saved us from eating MREs tonight."

 

I giggle and add, "And here's to Ben who's saved my life over and over again."

 

I anxiously watch him take his first bite. His eyes light up and he offers, "This is a wonderful Bolognese sauce, but it has a little different taste than what I'm used to."

 

I reply, "I had to use venison rather than the normal beef."

 

He grins and says, "Yeah, I can taste it now and I like it even better. Stacy, you're hired! Anytime you want to cook for me I won't complain."

 

Then he tastes the green beans and remarks, "Where did you get the almonds?"

 

I smile and say, "Now those were in the pantry. I wish I could have made us some garlic bread, but I couldn't find any bread and I didn't have time to make it from scratch."

 

Ben gives me an astounded look and says, "You can make bread from scratch?"

 

I smile and say, "Yes Ben, just like I'm constantly surprised by the things I don't know about you, like today when I found out you're Russian Orthodox, you're going to be surprised by many things about me."

 

He holds up his wine glass again, we clink them together and he says, "Discovery is half the fun of a relationship."

 

I blush and we're both so hungry we dig in and the heck with conversation. We end up devouring the whole pot and two bottles of wine. I'm so stuffed I can barely move but I do ask, "Ben do you think we could sit outside for a little bit tonight? I'm going a little stir crazy in this bunker."

 

He answers, "Stacy, I think we could if we take our rifles with us." I clean up the plates and ask, "Ben would you please take my rifle and the chairs out to the front of the bunker, I'll be there in a minute."

 

He answers, "Sure thing, I'll meet you out front."

 

I hurry, rinse the dishes and just set them in the sink for now. Then I grab another couple beers, open them and head out front. Ben's waiting for me and he even has a funny looking little guitar with him. I hand him a beer we clink our bottles and I toast, "Carpe Cerevisium."

 

He grins and comments, "Hey I like that, isn't it Latin for seize the beer."

 

I grin and answer, "Yes you're right. Now what's this funny little guitar you have?"

 

Ben replies, "It's a Martin Back Packer's guitar that I found inside. Would you like for me to play you a song."

 

I take a big drink of my beer, giggle and say, "Yes now that you mention it, I think you should play to pay for your supper."

 

He answers, "Then I'd better play something really good because your meal was par-excellence." He plays - it's really good (even better than my meal). I close my eyes and I get lost in his guitar playing. He does this really long flamenco style guitar then he settles down to a real nice rhythmic beat, sort of a boom –chicka-chicka, boom-chicka-chicka which sounds so familiar. I open my eyes as Ben grins at me and begins to sing:

 

Hello Stacy in the sand. Is this place at your command.

 

I interrupt, "Hey that's supposed to be Cowgirl not Stacy!" then I echo his lines and add harmonies.

 

Can I stay here for a while, Can I see your sweet, sweet smile.
Old enough now to change your name
When so many love you is it the same?
It's the woman in you that makes you want to play this game.

Hello ruby in the dust. Has your band begun to rust
After all the sin we've had. I was hopin' that we'd turn bad.
Old enough now to change your name
When so many love you is it the same?
It's the woman in you that makes you want to play this game.

Hello woman of my dreams. This is not the way it seems.
Purple words on a grey background. To be a woman and to be turned down.
Old enough now to change your name
When so many love you is it the same?
It's the woman in you that makes you want to play this game.

 

 I quickly finish my beer and offer, "I'm getting another beer, do you want one?"

 

He nods his head and says, "Yeah, but just one more."

 

I head inside, grab two more beers, head back out the front but unfortunately Ben's stopped playing guitar. I hand him his beer (opened of course) and ask, "Can I see that guitar?"

 

He gives me a jaded look and asks, "You know how to play guitar?"

 

I grin and say, "Oh I know a little about playing guitar."

 

I take the guitar, grin at him and add, "I'll take your old school, Neil Young Cowgirl in the sand and raise you Hot and Cold by Katy Perry.

 

(Note here is the music video of the song if you wish to watch it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yY3CehyfUko&feature=related)

 

Then I begin to strum the guitar and sing.

 

You change your mind, Like a girl changes clothes.

Yeah you, PMS Like a bitch I would know.

 

And you Over-think

Always speak Cryptically

 

I should know, That you're no good for me

 

Cause you're hot then you're cold

You're yes then you're no

You're in and you're out

You're up and you're down

 

You're wrong when it's right

It's black and it's white

We fight, we break up

We kiss, we make up

 

You!

You don't really want to stay, no

You!

But you don't really want to go-oh

 

You're hot then you're cold

You're yes then you're no

You're in and you're out

You're up and you're down

 

Someone call the doctor, Got a case of a love bi-polar

Stuck on a roller coaster, Can't get it off this ride

 

You change your mind, Like a girl changes clothes

 

Cause you're hot then you're cold

You're yes then you're no

You're in and you're out

You're up and you're down

 

You!

You don't really want to stay, no (woah)

You!

But you don't really want to go-oh (ohhh)

 

You're hot then you're cold (Cold)

You're yes then you're no (No)

You're in and you're out

You're up and you're down (Dooooown)

 

I hope I've made my point, finish, hand the guitar to Ben and say, "Your turn."

 

He says, "Not right now Stacy."

 

I pout some and say, "Why not?"

 

He points up to the sky and says, "Stacy, look at the clouds and tell me what you see."

 

The sun is setting as I look at the clouds and say, "Wow they look really strange, I've never seen greenish clouds before."

 

Ben adds, "Well the only time I've ever seen clouds like this was when it was tornado weather."

 

I watch as lightning flashes across the sky, then I hear a low moaning noise so I get worried and ask, "Is that a tornado I hear."

 

He replies, "No, I think that's our mystery didgeridoo player again."

 

I listen and Ben's right, I excitedly say, "Hey, I think I know that piece of music."

 

Ben says, "Yes tonight he's serenading us with Fanfare For Common Man by Aaron Copeland." He takes the guitar, plays along and once again I close my eyes and I'm lost in his guitar playing – until some loud obnoxious noise disturbs me. I remark, "What the frack is that noise."

 

I open my eyes, Ben's gathering up everything and says, "Now that noise is a tornado and it's close as hell, let's get inside the bunker."

 

I quickly grab my things, we head inside the bunker and a big wind hits. It's so strong I have to help Ben slam the door closed. We no sooner get the door closed than the lights go out and we're in total darkness. I yell at Ben, "I'm scared we're going to be killed by the tornado." And start to sniffle.

 

Ben runs into me, knocks me down and then falls on top of me. I hug the heck out of him and giggle because we're like two ships that collide in the night. Then things start to get real interesting and – OH NO! Something really bad happens!!!

 

Comments