Chapter 22

Wanderer Chapter 22

 

Flashback – Jack – Last day of week four of spook school

 

I remembered the next day after what I liked to call 'Hamburger Hell': It started off early with a real bang, then fizzled out during midday and ended like a hotter than hell exploding firecracker! I guess the talk the Major had with Banzai had some effect. He still did whatever the hell he wanted to do (and dragged Mira and I along with him), but to my disappointment, he didn't tear anything up. So I spent the whole day in anticipation of Mira's new outfit that night and I wasn't disappointed! But I sure as hell was surprised by Banzai!

 

Flashback – Charlie – Day five, her apartment

 

Even though I was out late last night (taking care of business) I set my alarm to wake me up early. I wanted some serious loving to quench the thunder down under Ben had aroused in me. He didn't know it, but leaving those soiled panties on my pillow was like slapping me across the face with a glove. He threw down the gauntlet and it was up to me to pick it up.

 

The alarm sounded, I flipped on the light, jumped out of bed and headed to the spare bedroom. I didn't even turn on the lights and I just dove on the bed… shit, he's gone! I landed on something which crinkled. I flipped on the light in curiosity. It was a note which read:

 

Thanks for the place to sleep, but you're too late. I made breakfast for you and it's in oven. There's also a little thank you gift on the dresser. Enjoy your breakfast and I will see you tonight.

Ben

 

Well he certainly was a polite guest - a gift already. I walked over and opened up the box. Inside was a whole pack of AA batteries and another note. I opened this note and got pissed off when it read:

 

For BOB1!

 

1 Battery Operated Boyfriend.

 

The bastard did it to me again! I was one pissed off bitch when I walked into the kitchen until I discovered he'd made a wonderful soufflé! I took a bite and it was one of the best ever. How could I stay mad at him?

 

I sat eating the wonderful soufflé and came up with a great surprise of my own for Ben later tonight. Who can tell? He might just be grateful enough so I will not need the batteries or BOB tonight…

 

Flashback – Jack – Day five, week one of spook school

 

Son of a bitch! Some bastard threw a flash bang in my room, flipped on the lights and rudely woke me out of a hotter than hell dream about Mira. Then I heard Banzai yell, "Get the hell up sleepy head! It's time for PT."

 

I hollered back, "You're lucky I didn't shoot your ass."

 

He laughed, "Like hell you could - I took the pistol from under your pillow first."

 

I slipped my hand under my pillow and sure as shit, my pistol was gone - I looked over and Banzai was holding it. I complained, "When and how the hell did you get so damn sneaky."

 

He continued laughing as he commented, "You should know - you're the one that taught me. You sure were sawing logs."

 

Damn him, I hate when he's right: I did train him and I did sleep too soundly. I rolled out of bed to see he's in combat gear again today and jibe, "With the pranks you pulled on the Major and Mira last night it's wise you're wearing your combat gear. Messing up the Major's car and Mira's room was bad enough, but your damn prank went way overboard when you shot your rifle at us and then set off all the meat bombs in the field. They were ready to kill you and once again, I had to save your ass from the result your practical jokes."

 

I watched as surprise and then anger crossed his face. He paced the room and replied, "Jack, I would never fire towards Mira and what the hell sort of meat bombs are you talking about?"

 

Well, I confirmed my guess and just like I figured, it wasn't Banzai that fired at us but I still wasn't sure about the rooms. So I described in detail what went on last night and watched as concern and anger rose on Banzai's face. When I was finished he said, "Shit! I'm getting really pissed off at people firing on my friends and the Major. And even more pissed that someone set the meat bombs for them. How did Mira take it?"

 

I laughed and said, "She was ready to gut you with her practice katana until she found one of the meat bombs that didn't trip. Then she became really quiet, but still seemed very angry. Aren't you wondering how Major M took it?"

 

He laughed, "Hell no! I know he was pissed since he's an officer and they don't have any sense of humor."

 

I laughed. Yep I taught Banzai well. I was now geared up and said, "Well, let's go get Mira."

 

Flashback – Mira – Day five, week one of spook school

 

Last night was a Mongolian-cluster-training! My… my… my ninja outfit was ruined, which was a dreadful dishonor. My… my… my room was virtually destroyed and required many hours of cleaning before I could retire. Then my psyche played pranks on me all night long: Either my olfactory units pretended to sense the odor of vile meat, or my dreams were full of exploding meat bombs. I was so tired I didn't even notice when…

 

Flashback – Ben – Day five, week one of spook school

 

Jack and I knocked on Mira's door but there wasn't an answer. So I looked at Jack and double-checked, "Did you make sure she got back to her room last night?"

 

He gave me a dirty look and replied, "Hell yes I did. After all that went on last night I wasn't going to let her walk here alone. Knock again, maybe she didn't hear you."

 

This wasn't like Mira, so I knocked again but there still wasn't an answer. I became very concerned and ordered, "Jack cover me." I waited until he was ready then I unlocked Mira's door, opened it, flipped on the lights and discovered she was still in bed. For a brief second I thought about waking her like I woke Jack. But if what Jack told me was true, then Mira didn't need this shit – at least not today. I walked over to the bottom bunk, looked at how she had totally destroyed her bed, and knew she must have had a hell-of-a-night. I bent over, shook her shoulder and all hell broke loose…

 

Flashback – Jack – Day five, week one of spook school

 

I was laughing my ass off! Banzai finally got his ass kicked! When he shook Mira's shoulder, she exploded out of the bunk like a missile, taking Banzai totally by surprise. With one perfectly placed punch, Banzai was out like a light! Shit! She even nailed him a couple more times on his way to the floor. I wished I had a video camera because then I could have enjoyed his comeuppance over and over again.

 

But the vision of a nude Mira, standing over a KO'ed Banzai would stay with me for the rest of my life. Mira looked at me, blinked her eyes and asked, "Sgt. Reynolds?" Then she looked at Banzai on the floor, dropped to her knees beside him and continued, "What is wrong with my boyfriend?"

 

I was distracted by her nude body still trying to remember if I had banged her or not, then she realized she was nude, grabbed the sheet off the bunk, covered up and repeated, "Sgt. Reynolds, what is wrong with my boyfriend?"

 

With the show being over, I laughed and answered, "Well Mira, it seems like you knocked him out when he went to wake you."

 

She gave me a dirty look and commanded, "Sgt. Reynolds, this is not humorous! Leave my room immediately."

 

Flashback –Ben (unconscious) – Day five, week one of spook school

 

I hated school, well, maybe not so much school as all the kids in school. I had been picked on and singled out the whole time I was in school so consequently school became the major annoyance in my life. Years later I would figure out it wasn't totally me that caused my problems at school, since most of the problems I inherited were due to my bastard dad. When you're an asshole in a small community, like he was in Leadville, people find ways to get even and I became the community's whipping boy.

 

But he wasn't totally to blame; my own rebellious attitude just added fuel to the fire. I remembered the days which lead up to me getting the most hated nickname I was ever given - it was even worse than half breed! Kids can be so cruel to each other…

 

Flashback – Ben – High School

 

With Mom being gone and dad being a sick invalid, for once in my life I was semi-free. Oh it took some time each day to cook, clean the house and take care of dad, but it sure wasn't like before when I was dad's slave. Yes I was almost my own man and for once had some free time.

 

I woke up early like always, jumped out of bed, got dressed and headed outside to do PT. It was great doing PT because I wanted to do it, not because I had to do it. I liked the way it made me feel: Strong and in control. A day without PT was like a day without sunshine, and living in Colorado I was used to seeing the sun almost every day.

 

I ran again today with my running partner the female fox. She sure could run and motivated me to run an even greater distance than normal. I flew into the house after my run, and right away knew this was going to be a bad day for dad - I could smell it. I walked into his room and he spat at me, "Where the hell have you been little bastard? I've been calling for you for over an hour."

 

I internally sighed and replied, "Sorry Sir, I was out doing my morning PT."

 

He cackled evilly and said, "Well since you weren't here, I couldn't make it to the shitter so now that's your problem."

 

Yes it was my problem since I couldn't leave him there all day. I apologized, "Sorry Sir that I didn't check on you first." I went over, easily picked him up, carried him into the bathroom, cleaned him up and said, "You're taking a shower today."

 

He complained, "You little shit, I don't need a shower."

 

I ignored his complaint, set him in the shower chair, adjusted the water, turned on the shower, gave him a washcloth and soap and said, "Do a good job or I will have to get out the scrub brush."

 

He threatened, "You get out the scrub brush and I will take it away from you and beat you senseless with it."

 

I looked him in the eyes and laughed, "Sir, you haven't been strong enough to beat me for years. So clean yourself up or I will get out the scrub brush."

 

Yeah dad hated the scrub brush, or at least he hated how hard I scrubbed him with it. I whistled a little fugue I had just learned on piano and transposed to guitar as I headed into his bedroom to change the sheets - again. He yelled, "Shut the hell up with that damn whistling of yours. You're not a fucking teakettle."

 

I ignored him and continued whistling as I changed his bed. Then I threw the sheets into the washer, started it up and heard him yowl, "You son-of-a-bitch, did you flush the shitter again while I was in the shower?"

 

Shoot, I forgot about that. I quickly turned off the washer and ran into the bathroom. He was pissed and barked, "I knew I should have beat some more sense into you when you were younger. It was that damn mother of yours, the bitch made me take it easy on you…"

 

I interrupted him, "If you say anything else bad about Mom today, you can sit in the shower all day because I'm not helping you out."

 

He grinned evilly at me and said, "Well at least you're finally starting to grow a pair. Now get me the hell out of here little bastard."

 

I dried him, helped to dress him, set him in his wheelchair and said, "I need to wash the sheets, then I will start breakfast. Be in the kitchen in twenty minutes."

 

I whistled the fugue as I ducked out of his room, just dodging the book he threw at me and laughed when he yelled, "Damn kid's turned into a fucking teakettle. He whistles all the fucking time."

 

Yes I did whistle all the time because for once my life was pretty good. I started the washer again and whipped up a breakfast of ham, eggs, hash browns and coffee then yelled, "Breakfast's on the table, come and get it before I feed it to the foxes."

 

He rolled into the kitchen with a threat, "I should kill those fucking foxes. Since I haven't been able to walk, the little fuckers have taken over the place."

 

I stood in front of him and cautioned him, "I don't think you want to do that."

 

He nervously glanced at me and said, "Get the hell out of my way, I'm hungry."

 

We sat at the table. He grabbed his fork, started eating and complained, "This food tastes like shit! What did you put in it?"

 

I smiled at him as I ate and teased, "Mine tastes fine, Sir."

 

I couldn't wait to finish, clean up the dishes and get out of the house. I was shocked when dad spoke, "I'm getting a little low. You think you can pick up some on your way home from school?"

 

I nodded my head and answered, "Yes Sir, but I will need some money and I should probably take the truck into town today too. While Wally will sell it to me, because he knows it's for you, they don't like it when I carry that on the bus."

 

He glared at me, pulled out his wallet, handed me his ATM card and said, "Take out a hundred, buy me a couple bottles, bring me the receipt and all the change."

 

I inwardly smiled: Any day I could take the truck instead of the bus was a good day for me. Breakfast was done, I cleaned up the dishes, put his sheets in the dryer and asked, "You want to go out on the porch today?"

 

He grinned, "Yeah, I'd like that. But make sure you bring me one of my Colts for protection. Besides I might be able to shoot one of those damn foxes you have hanging around here."

 

Yeah dad liked sitting on the porch all day, drinking his rot gut whisky, waving one of his Colt revolvers around and occasionally shooting at things. Not that he could hit anything anymore. And even if he did, it wouldn't have caused much damage. I'd replaced the real rounds in his Colt with glue stick rounds2 over a year ago when he'd almost shot me. He never realized what I had done which was fine and much safer for me.

 

2 Glue stick round – Disclaimer: If you try this on your own and kill or injure yourself it's not my fault! The glue stick bullets still exit the barrel with enough force to cause serious injury, plus the gun needs a total cleaning after firing glue stick rounds before switching back to normal rounds. A hot glue gun stick just happens to be the right size to fit inside a .45 case. With a little work you can have an interesting practice round.

 

I rolled him out onto the porch, made sure he was all setup for the day, handed him his Colt and headed to the barn to get the truck. I threw my gear behind the truck seat, drove out into the front yard, rolled down the window and yelled, "I might be a little late getting home from school today because of shopping for you."

 

He cackled, "If you're too late, I might have another gift waiting for you."

 

I started whistling the fugue, dad yelled, "You keep that up and I'm going to use this Colt to give you a new hole to whistle out of." I was shocked when he actually fired at me and was relieved when he missed the whole truck. I floored it and spun out of the driveway before he fired again.

 

Driving to school was a rare and great honor, it gave me time to reflect on my love affair with Colorado, Leadville, the mountains and of course my heroes of the 10th mountain division. When I grew up I wanted to be just like the men of the 10th mountain division and had spent years practicing my mountaineering skills of cross-country skiing, mountain climbing, snow shoeing, rock climbing and of course PT. I was going to join up and be the most fit person in boot camp. Shoot, I was already one of the most fit guys at school; which was why I ended up with my hated nickname. Because of all the rock climbing and pull ups I'd done for almost my whole life, my arms were like steel cables and my grip was like a vise.

 

I don't know how it started, but I do know how it ended. The guys in school started having hand shaking contests - it was more like hand squeezing contests. They would join hands like a hand shake and then squeeze until one of them gave up. I pretty much stayed to myself so I hadn't been involved in this contest of manhood yet, but that was going to change.

 

Things were fine until lunch time. I was sitting at a table, minding my own business when my old nemesis Beverly and her boyfriend Kevin sat at my table. I immediately tensed up because I knew this wasn't going to be good - with Beverly it never was good.

 

Kevin sized me up and said, "Beverly said you think you’re the strongest guy in school?"

 

I looked down at my plate and didn't say anything. Beverly teased, "What's wrong half breed you forget how to speak English?"

 

I looked up, glared at her and said, "No, I don't have anything to say."

 

She gave me a mischievous look and answered, "I tell you what half breed, if you can beat my boyfriend Kevin in a hand shaking contest, I will give you a kiss."

 

I replied, "And what if I don't feel like beating your boyfriend?"

 

Kevin threatened, "Then, me and my friends will beat the hell out of you after school."

 

I felt like a fox caught in a leg trap and would have gladly chewed off my leg to escape, but I knew Kevin and his friends and I had been introduced several times in the past to their after school meetings. I knew there was no escape. I reluctantly said, "Okay, let's get this over with."

 

The three of us stood up, Kevin grabbed my hand before I was ready and squeezed the hell out of it. Beverly egged him on, "Make the half breed cry like the baby he is Kevin."

 

It hurt like crazy. I was already mad a Beverly so I don't know what happened. As I squeezed Kevin's hand with all my might, the bones snapped and sounded like firecrackers on the fourth of July. Kevin let out a yell and passed out on the floor. Beverly started screaming and beating on me and yelled, "What did you do to my boyfriend?"

 

The teachers ran over and I was escorted to the principal's office… Our principal was known as Stern Vern: He was a lethal combination of judge, jury and executioner and I think he really enjoyed it when students were brought before his kangaroo court. Rumor had it he received his teaching degree from the Marquis de Sade school of teaching, because he was a sadistic son of a gun.

 

Stern Vern grinned at me, "So I hear you broke Kevin's hand today. You do know he's on the football team, don’t you?"

 

I hung my head, "Sorry Sir, it was an accident."

 

He laughed, "You seem to have more accidents than any other boy in this school. I think these so called accidents need to stop."

 

I replied, "Yes Sir, you're right they do need to stop." I knew what was coming.

 

He toyed with me like a cat before it kills a mouse, "Well, I could suspend you from school, but we both know you hate school and it would be more of a holiday than a punishment. So I think I will give you a gentle reminder to never do something like this again. Assume the position."

 

Yes the position: I bent over holding on to my ankles. You see Stern Vern had a Louisville Slugger baseball bat in his office which was shaved down to about an inch thick at the 'business' end and had three holes drilled into it. He was an expert at 'hitting one out of the park with it.' He was also ahead of his time because it didn't matter whether it was boy or girl, young or old, we all knew what assume the position meant and we all knew what was coming when he used the dreaded words, 'swinging for the fence.' If you were smart you learned to cry on the first or second hit, because he always stopped when you cried. Unfortunately, I must have taken some stupid pills that morning because I forgot to cry…

 

I woke up that afternoon in the nurse's office; my butt felt like it was on fire. I asked the nurse, "What… what… what happened."

 

So glared at me and complained, "It's about time you woke up, now get out of my office and back to your class."

 

I grabbed my books and headed to class. As I walked into the room, Beverly began whispering to the other girls. Class finished, I stopped by the restroom on my way to the next period and one of the guys asked me, "Is it true?"

 

I replied, "Is what true?"

 

He laughed, "I heard Stern Vern broke the bat over you today. That's never happened before."

 

I shook my head and answered, "I don't really remember what happened."

 

He said, "Too bad, if it was true you'd be a fucking hero. By the way, you need to check out your locker."

 

I headed out of the bathroom to check my locker and wondered what sort of evil thing they did to it this time. I saw the dreaded words on my locker! Someone had painted in red nail polish, which looked just like the shade Beverly was wearing, the words 'Chief Iron Palms.'

 

I heard a bunch of giggles behind me, turned and found Beverly and her evil entourage standing there. She said, "Girls meet Big Chief Iron Palms."

 

Melissa asked, "How did he get that name?"

 

Beverly replied, "Well girls since none of us will date him, the only dates he can get are the nightly dates with his right hand. That's how he got so strong!"

 

I blushed like crazy and Melissa said, "Look at him blush, it must be true." The girls all giggled. I tried to leave school, but Stern Vern caught me and ordered, "Get back to your class." I walked into the room to a chorus of snickers… with a new and dreaded nickname… Chief Iron Palms

 

Flashback –Ben – Day five, week one of spook school

 

I struggled because I couldn't breathe, then I realized someone was kissing me. I opened my eyes and there was Mira crying and smiling at me. I asked, "What happened?"

 

She blubbered, "Honey, I am so very sorry. Please forgive me. I accidentally rendered you unconscious when you woke me."

 

Then it all came back to me: Shit, Mira had knocked me out? Now that's a first. I haven't been knocked out since… shit, since that time in high school with Stern Vern and the baseball bat. I smiled at her and said, "Mira, it's my fault so don't worry about it."

 

She jumped on me. I realized she was nude and she said, "No it was my fault and I need to make it up to you. I think you should spank me and then train me!"

 

I fought like hell getting her off me, but it was like fighting with a bag full of angry snakes. I finally jumped up and said, "Mira, not right now. I have a hell of a headache."

 

She didn't even try to cover herself, but gave me a mischievous grin and said, "I know many ways to help you forget about your headache." She then licked her lips.

 

I looked at my watch. I had been out for less than ten minutes and it had seemed like hours. I replied, "I'm going to wait outside while you get dressed. We are late for PT."

 

She pouted and whined, "You are one that ruins sports." I turned to leave and she added, "Tell me - who is the Iron Palms you talked about when you were unconscious?"

 

Shit! I lied to her with the first thing that came to mind, "He was a famous ninja who had very hard hands."

 

She answered, "It is very strange you conversed so frequently about him while you were unconscious. I think I will need to study his style."

 

I opened the door, went into the hallway and Jack was there. He grinned at me like an insane clown…

 

Flashback – Jack – Day five, week one of spook school

 

When Banzai walked out of the room I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing. I could tell he was in no mood for my humor right then, however I couldn't resist one little jab, "Damn Banzai, you're going to have a hell of a shiner."

 

He glared at me and answered, "Are you fucking telling me Mira gave me a black eye?"

 

I nodded my head, "Yep and it's going to be a doozy or my name isn't Jack Reynolds. Take a look for yourself."

 

I handed him my signal mirror. As he moved around in the light he said, "Shit! You're right."

 

Mira walked out and questioned us, "Sgt. Reynolds is right about something?"

 

Banzai laughed, "Yes Mira, it's hard to believe but for once Jack is right. I am going to have a hell of a black eye."

 

I had to bite my tongue again. Banzai made another huge mistake because that comment really fired Mira up. She ran over to him and ordered, "Let me examine your face."

 

He started fighting her and said, "Leave me alone, my face is fine!"

 

He should have known better: You never fight with any determined woman, let alone Mira who was like determination squared. She did a leg sweep on him and he fell on this back. Mira jumped on top of him and demanded, "Let me examine your face."

 

She'd reach for his face and he'd slap her hands away from his face. It was too comical to resist and I started to laugh.

 

Mira stopped, took one look at me and demanded, "Stinky Sgt. Reynolds, just what do you find so humorous?"

 

I took two steps away from them and answered, "Nothing Mira, nothing at all."

 

Banzai added fuel to Mira's growing fire when he said, "Jack thinks it's funny as hell you gave me a black eye." The bastard sold me out!

 

I didn't wait to hear Mira's reply because it was time for me to move it or lose it. I sprinted towards the door…

 

Flashback – Ben – Day five, week one of spook school

 

Jack took off towards the door with Mira hot on his tail - I guess he never learned. You fuck with me, you fuck with Mira; you laugh at me, you offend Mira. I followed after the two of them at a slow trot with no reason to get excited. Mira would catch him, make him pay and then we could get on with PT. At least she was distracted and away from me. I reached up, touched my face and…. damn my eye was sore as hell. Mira really nailed me a good one!

 

I walked through the door and it was my turn to laugh: This was a new tactic. Mira had knocked Jack to the ground, was circling and nailed him with that damn practice katana of hers him every time he tried to get up. I wondered which she was more dangerous with: The real katana or the practice katana. I decided if she really went after me, I'd rather have her use the real thing verses the slow death of the practice katana.

 

I walked up and said, "If you two lovers are finished with your spat, let's go for a little run."

 

Mira stopped and quickly corrected me, "Excuse me L.Cpl. Blaine, you have made a mistake. You are my boyfriend, not stinky Sgt. Reynolds."

 

I laughed, "At least I got your attention. Now fall in and let's run."

 

She fell in beside me, Jack fell in behind us and we took off for a run. I remarked, "Mira, you treat your practice katana as if it's a real weapon."

 

She looked over at me, grinned and explained, "Apparently my boyfriend, you are not well versed in historic samurai. Have you not heard of the most famous swordsman Miyamoto Musashi?"

 

I shook my head and answered, "I have no idea who Miyata Mitsubishi was."

 

She corrected me and added, "I said, Miyamoto Musashi. He fought many of his sixty duels with a stick, using it to beat other samurai to death."

 

I joked, "So he used a stick instead of a sword? Isn't that like bringing a knife to a gunfight?"

 

Mira replied, "Using a 'stick' as you call it, for a weapon can be very advantageous. First when I pull my practice katana, I do not always have to draw blood before putting it away. Second, many times it works better blocking a katana than a real katana. Have you not noticed the many nicks in my practice katana?"

 

I responded, "To be truthful, I never really looked at it."

 

She handed it to me and said, "Please examine it for yourself."

 

I looked at it and realized several things: First it was very old; it showed many years of wear on it; and it had well over a hundred nicks in the wood. I handed it back to Mira, looked at her with respect and said, "Thank you Mira, that katana is very old and has many nicks. Is every nick a battle you won?"

 

She smiled at me and answered, "No L.Cpl. Blaine not every nick was a contest I won. Some are from the swordsman who owned this practice katana prior to me taking it away from him. But Miyamoto Musashi was also known for the introduction of two sword fighting technique and was very adept at throwing his short sword."

 

I laughed and then made my second mistake with Mira for that short day…

 

Flashback – Jack – Day five, week one of spook school

 

Mira must have a Ph.D. in ass kickology because that's what she spent most of her time doing.

 

I'd hung back and watched Banzai and Mira talking when she handed him that damn stick of hers. I had some hope that Banzai was taking it away from her and was going to break it. I should have known he wasn't that smart: He handed it back to her, said something to her and she was after him beating him with the damn stick he had just handed to her. At least she was an equal opportunity ass kicker.

 

Then things got really interesting, so I ran up for a closer look…

 

Flashback – Mira – Day five, week one of spook school

 

Today was very unfortunate for stinky Sgt. Reynolds and my boyfriend. I was very tired and cranky with the attitude of a female dog. Plus, I knew my boyfriend did not sleep in his room last night and I was not convinced he didn't philander.

 

Then my buffonic boyfriend joked by saying, "That Mitsubishi guy would have made a hell of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle." He did not realize that the honor of my clan demanded satisfaction. To compare our esteemed swordsman to a cartoon was a huge insult so I began hitting him (they were just little love taps) with my practice katana.

 

When my boyfriend picked up a stick off the ground, I became very excited. Now I could use his punishment also as instructional time.

 

L.Cpl. Blaine waved the stick at me and complained, "Mira what the hell is wrong with you today?"

 

I danced in, feigned a blow to the left, lightly tapped his right shoulder, spun past him and spanked him hard on his derriere and said, "L.Cpl. Blaine, it might be a joke for you to insult the most revered Miyamoto Musashi by comparing him to a cartoon, but it is serious business for me and my clan."

 

He spun and whined, "Mira that hurt!"

 

I teased and instructed, "Boyfriend, for one so adept at martial arts you are woefully inept with weapons and fight like a child. You foolishly let yourself become distracted by the weapon and forget what your focus should be..."

 

Flashback – Ben – Day five, week one of spook school

 

Son-of-a-bitch! If Mira wasn't trying to beat the hell out of me with her practice katana, I would grab her and give her a kiss. She deserves it for what she just said: She's right! I do lose focus and look at the weapon, not the eyes or the chest. By the time I react to where the weapon moves it's too late. So I changed my focus and started to block some of her blows.

 

She grinned and said, "So my boyfriend does listen to his girlfriend."

 

I opened my mouth and made the third mistake of the day with Mira …

 

Flashback – Jack – Day five, week one of spook school

 

Oh my God! I couldn't stop laughing! Just when Banzai started to block some of Mira's blows and she just finished saying, "So my boyfriend does listen to his girlfriend."

 

Banzai smarted off when he replied, "My girlfriend? Do you mean Charlie? Where is she?"

 

All the action stopped for a second, then Mira let loose a yell and started beating the shit out of Banzai. There was no way he was going to block those blows. She was swinging that stick like she was going to beat him to death with it.

 

Banzai yelled, "Mira, I was just kidding!"

 

She screamed, "L.Cpl. Blaine, I do not believe you now. I think you have been spending the night at her flat."

 

I was just getting ready to help Banzai out when…

 

Flashback – Ben – Day five, week one of spook school

 

I heard the round as it passed over us and yelled, "Sniper!" Then tackled and fell on top of Mira. She fought me and said, "L.Cpl. Blaine get off me!"

 

I was going to keep her safe no matter what, but it was like trying to wrestle with a snake. I commanded, "Mira lie still or I will knock you out!"

 

She spat back, "Get off me!"

 

So I let Mira flip me over and get on top of me, then put her in the guillotine chokehold, she fought like hell and slowly drifted into unconsciousness.

 

I yelled over, "Jack, do you have eyes on the sniper?" and didn't hear a reply. I looked over and realized Jack was unconscious.

 

This bullshit was getting fucking old. I pulled out my rifle, scanned the area, saw my target, ranged my target, dialed in the turrets, took aim, was just ready to fire when my target jumped up and ran over the top of the hill. Hmm, that ass sure looked familiar…

 

Flashback – Jack – Day five, week one of spook school

 

Uhhh, when I hit the deck, I banged the hell out of my head and slowly woke up. Damn my head hurt like hell. I yelled over, "Banzai, are you okay?"

 

He stood above me, grinned and replied, "It's about time you woke up."

 

I reached towards him as he grabbed my hand and pulled me up. I looked over and Mira was out! I asked, "What happened to Mira?"

 

Banzai gave me a guilty as hell look and said, "She was fighting with me so I put her in a guillotine chokehold."

 

I laughed which made my head hurt and said, "Damn Banzai, she's going to kill you when she wakes up."

 

He looked just like a little kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar and asked, "Jack do you think…"

 

I interrupted, "Hell no I can't take care of her when she wakes up! You made this bed; you need to sleep in it."

 

Then he did the most amazing thing…

 

Flashback – Mira – Day five, week one of spook school

 

I slowly came back into consciousness and my head pulsed like someone beat on it with a big bass drum. Then I angrily remembered my… my… my 'boyfriend' put me in a chokehold and rendered me unconscious. I felt my practice katana already in my hands. As I opened my eyes I was shocked to see my boyfriend kneeling beside me and even more shocked to see his helmet and all his combat body armor was off.

 

He smiled at me and apologized, "Mira, I am sorry for the stupid things I said and for what I did. I am ready to take any punishment you feel is necessary." Then he bowed his head and waited.

 

No man had ever trusted me so! How could I remain angry at such a man? I did the only honorable thing I could do…

 

Flashback – Jack – Day five, week one of spook school

 

I couldn't believe it, I swear Banzai could fall in shit and come out smelling like roses. He'd given Mira enough reasons today to gut him with that stick of hers, especially with the joke about Charlie and even more so with Mira's bad mood today.

 

Instead she jumped on him like a pitbull on a chihuahua. It sure surprised me, but it astounded Banzai as she was kissing and humping him like there was no tomorrow - certainly like I wasn't there. And this time Banzai even seemed to be getting in the mood. His hands were all over her butt.

 

My jealousy got the best of me and I said, "You two need to get a room."

 

Mira looked at me and then asked Banzai, "Sweetie, what does Sgt. Reynolds mean?"

 

Banzai laughed and explained, "Mira, he says he's embarrassed by the way we are acting." The bastard sold me out again!

 

Mira sat up and started, "Is that true stinky…"

 

When Mira used 'stinky', I knew better than to wait for anything else, so I was off running again. I knew it was futile, but unlike Banzai, when I fell in shit I smelled like shit. However this time I was surprised…

 

Flashback – Mira – Day five, week one of spook school

 

My ruse worked perfectly, stinky Sgt. Reynolds assumed I was angry with him and he ran away like a coward again, leaving me alone with my for once responsive boyfriend! I renewed my assault on him while my hands went after his belt and pants, but he… he… he fought me this time. Oh how frustrated I was! But I was not to be denied this time!

 

Flashback – Ben – Day five, week one of spook school

 

Mira was as serious as a heart attack today. When she surprised me, I accidentally responded and Jack's perfectly time chide saved my ass. Then she scared him off and now I was fighting like hell just to keep my clothes on.

 

I complained, "Mira, not here and not now."

 

Mira replied, "Yes here and yes now!"

 

I'd get her hands off my pants and then she was after my shirt, then I'd stop that assault and she was after my pants again. I tried to roll over, but she had her legs wrapped around me, it felt like a python squeezing the life out of me. I was really worried that this time I wouldn't be able to stop her. She ordered, "Stop fighting me and train me or you will get hurt!"

 

I threatened, "Mira, I will knock you out again!"

 

She slapped the hell out of me and said, "Shut up and train me!"

 

I never thought I would ever be happy for this to happen, but when…

 

Flashback – Jack – Day five, week one of spook school

 

I ran a short distance and was surprised because Mira hadn't chased me. I turned and saw she was wrestling with Banzai and for once it looked like she was winning! Banzai's teasing had finally come home and was getting ready to bite him in the ass. Even though I was jealous, this was still going to be a hell of a show!

 

I took a squat to watch the show and then dove to the dirt when three shots rang out and dusted the dirt around Mira and Banzai! Whoever that son-of-a-bitch is, I'm getting damn tired of being shot at!

 

I yelled, "Are you two okay."

 

And I watched as Mira took off up the hill towards the sounds of the shots and Banzai scrambled to get his gear back on. Banzai replied, "Shit Jack, I'm getting tired of this bullshit! Go backup Mira and I will be right behind you two. We've got to catch that fucker!"

 

I ran after Mira…

 

Flashback – Ben – Day five, week one of spook school

 

I set a record getting back into my gear and ran up the hill as fast as I could, especially when I heard many more shots ringing out - it sounded like World War Fucking Three! After seeing the ass I did on the shots before last I sure hoped they didn't shoot who I thought I recognized. That would be a mistake which I sure as hell didn't want to deal with.

 

As I approached the top of the hill I heard Mira's attempt at swearing then a bunch more shots. I wondered what the hell was going on as I called out, "I'm coming in so don't fire."

 

Jack ran down to meet me and said, "Shit Banzai, I wouldn't go up there if I were you. Mira is pissed off and shooting at everything in sight."

 

I tried to hide my worry when I asked, "Did you or she get our sniper?"

 

He gave me a funny look and answered, "Hell no, whoever it was they could run like the wind. I do think Mira put the fear of God into them."

 

I asked, "So what the hell is Mira shooting at?"

 

Jack laughed, "She's shooting at the woods where the sniper disappeared."

 

I decided I needed to put a stop to this so I walked up the hill. As Mira sent a few more rounds into the woods I ordered, "Mira stop wasting ammo. Besides you don't know if someone else is in that area and you might hit them!"

 

She turned, gave me a determined look and said, "L.Cpl. Blaine, I am just making sure that sniper keeps running. I will not…"

 

I interrupted her by taking her rifle away, "Mira, you can have this rifle back when you calm down. Now move your ass over and park it under that tree. I want to see if there is any evidence left."

 

She griped, "L.Cpl. Blaine some man who doesn't know his father keeps trying to kill you!"

 

I ordered, "Mira, move your ass, sit down and shut the hell up!"

 

She muttered something about shooting their ass off and then hacking up what's left and I wondered how ill-advised it was to have a trigger-happy 'girlfriend.' Then I started looking around for any evidence which Mira hadn't trampled. This was easier said than done because Mira had stomped around the area so much it looked like Hannibal's elephant herd stampeded through.

 

Yes, the place was a mess with spent cases littered all around. I pulled the mag on Mira's rifle and it had one round left: Damn twenty-nine rounds wasted. I sure hoped one of those wasn't a lucky shot. I finally separated the wheat from the chaff, bent down to pick up a case, looked at it closely and smiled.

 

Jack walked up and asked, "You find something?"

 

I lied, "Oh not really Jack, just a seven-point-six-two case. Give Mira her rifle back and tell her not to reload until she calms down - I don't want her accidentally shooting one of us." I looked at the case and immediately recognized the clue on it. I smiled, waved towards the woods and threw the case into the bushes…

 

Flashback – Jack – Day five, week one of spook school

 

Banzai has gotten better at lying but while he might have gotten lucky as hell and fooled Mira, he sure as hell didn't fool me! He knows something; probably who was shooting at us. Yeah it's damn good Mira's upset as hell, because if she figured this out she'd beat the truth out of him.

 

I gave Mira back her rifle and relayed, "Banzai said not to reload your rifle until he says OK."

 

She gave me a dirty look but for once obeyed. I lied, "He's pretty pissed off right now so I'd stay here until I smooth things over."

 

I walked over to Banzai and whispered, "I told Mira you're pissed so you'd better begin acting that way. If she figures out you know who's been firing at us, she'll beat it out of you with that damn stick of hers."

 

He gave me a concerned look and I finally started playing the part. So I whispered, "Just who in the hell keeps firing at us."

 

He made me promise to never tell anyone and I almost fell over when Banzai told me it was…

 

 

Flashback – Jens – Day five, week one of spook school

 

I had some female friends 'entertaining' the lieutenant that Dad sent to watch me and slipped away from school to see how my Ben was doing and I was sure happy I did. There was this beotch who couldn't keep her hands off my Ben; every time I turned around she was trying to rape him. It made me sooooo proud that he resisted all of her attacks - I was sure it was because he loved me.

 

Oh if only we had stayed at his place and went to his bedroom… that was a b-i-g mistake on my part! But not as big a mistake as the one I just made. Yes my shots stopped Ben from being raped, but now that beotch and Sgt. Reynolds were headed up the hill towards me. I grabbed my rifle and took off running as fast as I could. I knew the beotch was fast and I could only hope I could outrun them because I wasn't wearing any body armor!

 

I barely escaped but even then the psycho beotch kept firing towards me. I hid behind a log and some of the rounds hit the log in front of me. Finally the firing stopped. I rose up and my heart did a back flip: There was my Ben and he looked right towards me, waved and then threw something into the bushes. Oh my Ben is s-o-o-o-o smart, he found my clue and knows it's me!

 

Flashback – Ben – Day five, week one of spook school

 

Jack did save my ass because he was right, if Mira figured out what I knew she's beat me to death, because there was no way in hell I was going to tell her anything. Jack gave me a hell of a look and asked, "You're telling me it's the old man's daughter? Have you lost your mind?"

 

I continued my act and said, "Hell yes it was her, there was a little heart on the spent case."

 

Jack shook his head and said, "Shit I thought it might be Charlie, but this is totally a surprise."

 

I replied, "No shit Sherlock. I thought the old man locked her up so tight I'd never see her again. You think you can keep Mira here while I head down the hill to look for her?"

 

Jack glanced over at Mira and answered, "Banzai, I don't think I'd do that right now. Otherwise Mira might chase you and if Maria fired at her, you might lose both your girlfriends."

 

I corrected, "Jack Mira is not my girlfriend."

 

He chuckled lowly, "You might not feel that way but she sure as hell does. I would suggest we get the hell out of here and finish PT before Mira wants to go and hunt her down."

 

That sounded like the best idea Jack had ever given me. I glanced at the woods one more time and waved, then I turned and said, "Good job Mira. I'm not sure I liked you wasting all that ammo, but I'm sure you chased off whoever was firing at us."

 

Mira said, "I think we should go after them just to make sure."

 

I lied, "Mira, I would but Major M made it clear we should complete our training here and if we miss everything today, I'm sure he wouldn't be happy."

 

She spat, "I think we should shoot Major M and then go after the sniper just to make sure!"

 

I shook my head, "Mira that would cause you to be expelled forever from this country and Jack and I would end up in Leavenworth. Now let's get back to PT."

 

We headed down the hill to finish our workout. And I really wondered if there was any benefit to having a trigger-happy 'girlfriend'…

 

Flashback – Jack – Day five, week one of spook school

 

Somehow, and I'm still amazed, we all survived the rest of the day. Mira eventually simmered down. I think she got to vent her frustration by sending almost a full magazine of lead downrange. Banzai kept things hidden from her and also avoided a continuation of Mira's mounted attacks. But he sure kept looking at the hills; if he saw Maria again he never let me know about it.

 

As dinner time approached, Mira became even more flirty than normal. Finally she said, "L.Cpl. Blaine we must go back to the barracks so I can dress for dinner."

 

Banzai got a funny look on his face and said, "Shit! I forgot about dressing for dinner. Jack can I…"

 

I laughed, "No way in hell Banzai am I going to let you wear my Dress Blues." Yes for once Banzai had messed up and I was going to take advantage of it. I would be better dressed and he would be in his stinky dirty gear.

 

He continued, "Well at least let me come to your room and shower."

 

Mira grinned and offered, "L.Cpl. Blaine we could save water and shower together."

 

He backpedaled so fast I thought he was going to fall over, "No thanks Mira, I never take showers with anyone." I couldn't believe it; Mira fell for that obvious lie.

 

We trotted to the rooms and I was shocked again…

 

Flashback – Ben – Day five, week one of spook school

 

Well, I messed up! I forgot all about needing to dress for dinner and all my gear was at Charlie's and there wasn't enough time to go back and get my Dress Blues. Jack made it plain he sure wasn't going to loan me anything to wear. I sniffed my gear as we headed back to Jack's room and well, I really needed to change because after all the rolling around in the dirt and exercise today - it stunk.

 

We walked into Jack's room and froze: There was a big fucking package on the floor. I looked at Jack and asked, "Were you expecting a delivery?"

 

He was eyeing the package carefully and said, "No I wasn't expecting anything."

 

I commanded, "Well Jack, I owe you one for today. Wait in the hallway while I take care of the package."

 

He left the room as I walked over to the mystery box and examined it. The package was addressed to me. I smiled when I recognized the handwriting and called to Jack, "Hey, you can come on in, the package is fine."

 

He walked in, still eyed the package and said, "I'm taking a shower first - you can have sloppy seconds."

 

I waited until he was in the shower, opened the package, read the note on top and smiled. Tonight was going to be great and I owed her big time…

 

Flashback – Jack – Day five, week one of spook school

 

I laughed because tonight I would be the one dressed for dinner while Banzai would be hidden in the shadows. I made a few minor adjustments to my Dress Blues, then I heard a knock on the door, it had to be Mira and I couldn't wait to see her outfit tonight.

 

Banzai was taking his own sweet time in the bathroom but that didn't matter because it was Mira I wanted to see. I opened the door and there she was: She was wearing a robin egg blue pullover shirt with black laces, a red bandana scarf around her neck with the knot on the right, a black mask over her eyes, a white cowboy hat, black cowgirl boots, black quick draw holsters with real matching nickel plated revolvers and a robin egg blue very short poodle skirt. As she spun, the skirt flew up and teasingly showed her legs and her long hair flew in the wind.

 

I wasn't sure who the hell she was, but I was sure how hot she looked!

 

She asked, "Sgt. Reynolds, how do you like my outfit?"

 

I smiled at her and replied, "Mira you look stunning but who are you."

 

I heard a voice behind me, "Um, she Kemosabe."

 

I turned and about drew my saber. Behind me was a spitting image of an American Indian but it was really Banzai. He was wearing buckskin pants and a buckskin shirt with long fringe, had a belt around his waist and a quick draw holster on his right hip with a knife on his left hip. He even had a wig and narrow headband. Suddenly I felt like the one not dressed correctly.

 

Mira took one look at him, stomped her foot and said, "L.Cpl. Blaine how did you know."

 

He laughed and said, "My name Tonto, not know L.Cpl. Blaine. How you this night, Kemosabe Lone Rangerette?"

 

I laughed because with these two here I could almost hear the announcer say:

 

"The daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains led the fight for law and order in the early West. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear. The Lone Rangerette rides again!"

 

 

Flashback – Mira – Day five, week one of spook school

 

I was quite upset tonight! I was supposed to be the one with the nice costume and somehow my boyfriend found out what I was going to wear and he… he stole my moment from me. At least he was the comedic sidekick and I was the heroette.

 

We headed into the hallway and I questioned, "Tonto, how did you know what to wear tonight?"

 

He frustratingly answered, "What mean Kemosabe? This what Tonto wear every day."

 

I knew someone had to tell him, but I had no idea who it was. I probed more, "Perhaps Tonto would tell me which other people work for me that he knows."

 

L.Cpl Blaine replied, "Tonto only know you, all others die. That why you called Lone Rangerette."

 

We were at the mess hall, walked in and the whole room became quiet, I was slightly sad it wasn't just for me.

 

Oh well, I have a new costume for tomorrow night…

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