01 Prologue - Wounded

Wounded

© Copyright 2009

Written by Banzai Ben and Amazing Anastasia

ben@banzaiben.com

 

 

Dedication

I'd like to dedicate this book to Sgt. Jack Reynolds

Jack, as an author I'm expected to be able to write.

But these few words have been harder to write than anything I've ever written.

Do I call you my spotter, you were that but it's not enough.

Do I call you my mentor, you taught me about life but that's not quite right.

Do I call you my FRIEND, you are my closest friend, it's still not complete.

Do I call you my Father, that's close because you were more like a father to me than anyone else.

I think I will call you simply the best thing I can think of, a Marine.

You and I both know what that means.

Take care of your lovely wife and young son.

Thank You

Semper Fi!

Banzai Ben

 

Jack, thank you for taking care of Ben!

Masha, thank you for helping me to understand Ben better and for loving Jack, it paved the way for Ben to let me into his heart!

Little Vanya our Godson, listen to your parents and be a good boy, you couldn't have better parents to raise you!

Jack, I look forward to you giving me away.

Masha, I look forward to you being my maid of honor.

Hugs and Kisses

Amazing Anastasia

 

We would like to say that the hardest part of writing this book together has been integrating our different styles. We did our best and then sent it to our excellent editor and he fixed our mistakes and made it much better. A book is only as good as its editor and we have one of the best.

 

Finally, we want to thank our readers for taking this journey with us.


Reader notes:

 

You will notice that the format has changed in this book. Some of you will like it and some of you won't. We chose to do this for many reasons and we're happy with the choice. We will try, but can't promise, that the very first section will be in the present time, the other sections are marked as present or flashback.

 

The first chapter retells some history of the previous books, this is in case someone jumps into this book without first reading "Captured" or "Escaped."

 

Writing together has been more fun than we ever imagined it could be and we both look forward to continuing this for a very long time. We've tried our best to integrate our different styles so we're not going to tell you who wrote what. Some of our more astute readers have noticed a change in the style as my lovely wife-to-be has become more involved in helping.

 

Thanks again for reading our books

 

Ben and Nastya


Chapter 01: Prologue - Reunited

 

Monday 03 December

 

Present - Hospital – Ramstein AFB Germany

 

It’s impossible to sit and wait anymore so I get up and pace the floor. I really wish they'd let me go in the operating room to be with my fiancé Ben. I argued with them but they wouldn't listen to me so instead I'm stuck in this waiting room not knowing how Ben is doing.

 

I sense that he's still alive - like I've always been able to. Even when everyone said he was dead I knew he wasn't because I could still feel him. But I couldn't get anyone to believe me, not even my Father, the General of the Corps. Damn bastards left him for dead in that God forsaken country. I'll never forgive them, never.

 

Most of you know our story but a few of my might not, so I guess I'll fill you in on the important parts.

 

I'm Jennifer Donaldson, former Marine Corps Sergeant and spotter for my fiancé, the most wonderful man in the world, Sergeant Major Bennie Blaine - a Marine Corp sniper. It's a long story about how we met and how I captured Ben's heart, I'm not going to retell it here because Ben wrote about it earlier in his memoirs.

 

He also wrote about our first mission in - well I can't tell you where - it was so FUBAR. I got appendicitis, we had to ask for an emergency extraction and after all that, he got sent on the mission from hell where his helicopter was shot down and he was captured by the fricken Taliban.

 

Somehow he escaped but was seriously wounded. I don't know details of how he was injured yet because he hasn't made much sense as he keeps drifting in and out of consciousness. He keeps mumbling about Hussein and two women named Zarika and Yasmeen. He'd better not have any other girlfriends because if he does I will kill him when he gets well.

 

It took all my strength not to cry when I first saw him - he is so skinny and sick looking. His hair is long and scraggly and even has some gray in it. Someone put him through hell and when I get the name of the person, I'm going to kill them with my bare hands. I could sense everything they did to him and it was hell on me.

 

I'm getting ahead of myself so I need to back up and give you some more information. I was told yesterday that Ben was finally found.

 

Flashback - Jens – One day earlier – Ft. Leavenworth Penitentiary

 

I'd just finished breakfast, the guard had taken my tray and I started my morning workout routine. At least the food in this place was decent and they gave me more than I could eat. Being in solitary wasn't that bad since it gave me time to keep in shape and not worry about the other prisoners.

 

My first day here some bull dyke tried to make me her bitch: She was "going to break me in the right way." I ended up slapping her around some until she pulled a homemade knife on me. I broke both her arms for that. The fight and my actions were ruled justified but the warden decided I should spend some time in solitary for my own protection. I think it was more for the protection off all the other inmates and guards. He told me I had a very bad attitude which was only reinforced the time I took out two guards and almost escaped.

 

Ever since my bastard father Glen had me thrown in this prison for going AWOL and trying to rescue Ben, I've been pissed off. The only one that ever listened to me about my Ben still being alive was Liz and I don't think she totally believed me. I've been trying to get in touch with her for the last three days because I sense that something serious happened to Ben. But she's out of the country and hasn't answered the emails I sent her. I get to check my email at 1300 when they escort me to the library and I can see if she's replied.

 

Ben would be so proud of me! I spend all day working out. I do pushups, pull-ups and I even talked them into letting me have a jump rope. I put my mattress against the wall and beat the crap out of it when I'm not working on other things. The guards watch me do it and I think even they are scared of me. I'm faster and in better shape than I've been in my whole life.

 

I'd just gotten into my routine and had worked up a good sweat when a guard interrupts, "You have visitors."

 

I walked over to the door, "Who are they?"

 

He looked on his clipboard, "Glen and Evelyn Donaldson, your parents again. They say it's an emergency."

 

I corrected him, "They were my parents and I don't care to see them. Tell them they can go practice self copulation."

 

He laughed and walked away shaking his head. This wasn't their first visit and probably won't be their last. I don't care to see either one of them again. I bunched up my mattress and started punching the crap out of it as I pretended it was Glen and the fricken seal team that caught me the last time I tried to rescue Ben. Perhaps I'll destroy another mattress today - that would be three I've demolished since I’ve been in here.

 

I hear another knock, "What is it this time? Can't I be left alone today?" I yelled at the door.

 

"Sorry but you have an emergency phone call." The guard said.

 

"Did they say who was calling?" I asked.

 

"You know we're getting tired of being your messenger service. It's the news reporter Elizabeth Morgan." He replied.

 

"Great, I've been hoping she would call." I answered.

 

He yelled through the door, "You know the routine."

 

Yes I did. I put my mattress back on the bed, went over against the far wall, put both hands against it and assumed the position. The guards came in my room, put the chains on me and escorted me into the hallway.

 

We started heading towards the warden's office this time. "Hey this isn't the way to the phones," I complained.

 

"The call came in on the warden's private line so you're going to take it in his office." Liz never ceased to amaze me, she had connections everywhere. I tried to control my emotions but I was walking faster than normal. The guards could tell I was impatient and walked even slower than normal. They loved playing little mind games with the prisoners.

 

As we walked in the warden's office he was smiling at me - the very first time I remember him smiling at me. "Ms. Donaldson, you might want to sit down before you take this call," he said as he handed me the phone.

 

I checked my senses really quick just to make sure that Ben was still alive. I could still sense Ben and sat down, "Liz is that you?"

 

I heard her say through a terrible phone connection, "Jens, I've found Ben and he's alive."

 

"Tell me all about it, where are you?"

 

"Jens shut up and listen! We're at the American Embassy in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Ben is hurt really bad, no make that extremely bad and is very sick. They're airlifting him to Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany. I know you hate your parents, but they are there to take you to Ramstein to meet Ben." The phone clicked dead and I started to cry.

 

The warden looked at me and motioned to the guards. One guard escorted Glen and Evelyn into the room while the other guards held my chains. I stood up and Evelyn ran over and hugged me, "Jens, we're so sorry we didn't believe you." I didn't return the hug and pulled back away from her.

 

"It's a little late for this now. Ben's been found and needs me but I can't leave this prison," I replied.

 

Glen nodded to the warden, the warden motioned to the guards and they took off my chains, "You notice I called you Ms. Donaldson, not inmate nine-oh-one-two-five. That's because your sentence has been terminated and you are released from prison."

 

I looked at him, "How did that happen."

 

Glen spoke up (the sound of his voice was still irritating to me, like fingernails on a chalkboard), "Jens, we really fucked up not believing you when you insisted Ben was alive. Once we found we were wrong, I called in all the favors I could. Because of the extenuating circumstances you have been released."

 

Evelyn added, "Jens, we have a jet waiting to fly all of us to Ramstein, Germany. Here, I brought you some clothes." She handed me a bag.

 

The warden pushed some papers towards me, "You need to sign here for your release." I quickly signed and he continued, "You can change down the hall."

 

The guard escorted me to a small room, I threw off my prison jumpsuit and started changing clothes. I put on a nice blouse and blue jeans. It felt great to be out of that nasty jumpsuit. I didn't even bother to mess with my hair because I figured I'd have time on the flight. The guard took me back to the warden's office. We shook hands with the warden and were escorted out the front gate into a waiting limo.

 

I sat back and Evelyn said, "Jens we're hoping that we can put this bad episode behind us and become a family again."

 

I glared at both of them, "I don't want to talk about this right now. I want to hear everything that you know about Ben."

 

They filled me in on the details they had but they didn't know much more than Liz had told me.

 

We rode the rest of the way in silence and boarded a waiting jet. I moved to the back remembering how I'd always done this with Ben and fell into a troubled sleep. I dreamed of Liz's support on the day I was told that Ben 'died.' That was fifty-two fricken long days ago!

 

Flashback - Jens - Incirlik Airbase in Turkey - Thursday 11 October

 

I woke up, felt very sick and sore and expected to see my Ben sitting beside me. Instead I saw my good friend and quasi-adopted sister Liz.

 

"It's about time you woke up. I've been holding your hand for hours." Liz smiled.

 

"Wh-wh-where's Ben?"

 

"That bastard Stockman called him back to Jalalabad." Liz replied.

 

"I had a terrible dream that Ben is in hurt and in trouble. I need to get up and be with him." I struggled to get up but Liz and the pain kept me in bed.

 

Liz looked at me and said, "He's fine. I guess they had something for him to do."

 

I instantly got very upset, "Liz, don't lie to me! Just as I do with Ben, I can tell when you lie." I struggled some more to get out of the bed.

 

Liz restrained me and pushed the call button. A few moments later a doctor and another man came in the room. "Jens, this is Doctor Indiehouse and Chaplin George." Liz said.

 

I blinked and looked at the chaplain - the realization hit me: they thought Ben was dead. I checked my senses again and I could still feel Ben but he was in severe pain.

 

"Sgt. Donaldson, we regret to inform you that your fiancé SM Blaine was killed in action." Chaplain George said.

 

I started laughing, "You fools, he's not dead! I can still sense him." I started fighting to get up. "Ben is hurt and needs me." The doctor grabbed one arm and the chaplain the other.

 

Dr. Indiehouse said, "She's delusional, the stress is going to be too much for her." He pressed the call button and a nurse came in, "Give her a sedative and restrain her to the bed."

 

Like hell they were going to restrain me! I broke my hand free from the chaplain and KOed him. Then I started wailing on the doctor trying to get my other hand free. My so called friend Liz ran over and jumped on top of me - boy that hurt like hell.

 

"Jens simmer down, you're going to pull out your stitches!" Liz yelled at me.

 

I beat her back and tried to knee her, but I was too weak and sick. I saw the nurse come into the room and inject something into my IV, I slowly started getting sleepy, sleepy, sleepy. I looked at Liz, "Liz, believe me, he's not dead. Please help me. Please find…"

 

 

Flashback - Liz - Jalalabad Wednesday 10 October

 

God dammit! I couldn't believe what Ben just told me on the sat phone. Jens is sick and he thinks it's appendicitis. They're headed to Incirlik Airbase in Turkey and General Stockman won't let Ben stay with Jens, he wants him to come right back here.

 

The ass Stockman had them on some sort of weird, almost suicide, mission to somewhere, I'm not even sure where. The only way I knew anything ,was in the same room as the fat fuck general and got to hear the phone call was because I'd sucked his scrawny dick earlier and I was now his 'best friend.' Unlike my self-adopted sister Jens, who's a virgin, I'm not against using my charms to get what I want. At least I hadn't fucked the bastard and now I never will.

 

I hung up the phone and looked at Stockman. I must be a good actress because I could actually flirt with him without throwing up. "General, I and my news crew really need to get to Incirlik so that we can be with Sgt. Donaldson when she wakes up. The publicity will be excellent for the Corps." I batted my eyes and smiled at him.

 

He gave me an evil grin that almost made me puke and leaned close so only I could hear, "I can arrange this, but when you get back I expect you to be very appreciative."

 

I purred in his ear, "You have no idea how appreciative I will be." I thought about the videos the crew had of me blowing Stockman and smiled.

 

The dumb bastard called Colonel Rowe and had us on a chopper to Kabul right away.  As soon as we were in the air I looked over to Jon and Bernie, my two cameramen and said, "How much of that did you guys get on tape?"

 

Jon replied, "Enough to fry his perverted ass."

 

"Liz, I'm not sure what's going on. We've been here taping combat on previous trips for years, but that's about the most fucked up mission I've ever seen." Bernie added.

 

"You guys have any of the details on tape?"

 

"As much as we managed to shoot." Jon answered.

 

I thought for a few moments. "Guys, we need to make sure the video of this mission is put someplace very safe. I think it's going to be very important."

 

"We already thought of that Liz. We uploaded it before we left and sent it to our secure server in the Caymans." Jon replied.

 

I sat back and thought how much I really owe Ben and Jens. They got me out of the hellhole of CCCN and gave me my own network. Somehow Ben saw through me and figured out what the fuckers at CCCN had me doing. He gave me a chance, a chance I probably didn't deserve. Then Jens had become the sister I never had. It's a good thing I loved her, otherwise I'd make a run at Ben - just thinking about him gets me hot. Shit, I'd do both of them together if I ever got the chance.

 

They both needed me right now and I'm not going to let them down.

 

Flashback - Liz - The next day - Incirlik Airbase in Turkey Thursday 11 October

 

When we arrived at the hospital, we rushed in with the cameras blazing. I've found if I go into a situation with the cameras rolling I'm more likely to get my way. And if that doesn't work, well there are always other forms of persuasion.

 

Thanks to my stepdad for fucking up my life. He taught me when I was a little girl that I could use sex to get my way, so for me sex is just a tool that I use when I need it. After mom found out, killed the bastard and then committed suicide, it was reinforced by the many foster parents that I lived with - they all fucked me, both the men and the women. I've always been able to use sex and get my way with any man, any man except for Ben. He's so in love with Jens he doesn't even notice my very subtle little flirts. I think that's why I want him so bad.

 

The fat bitch at the reception desk gave me some shit until I started asking her name, telling her that she was going to be on international television, and have to tell the world why she was keeping me from seeing my sister. That shook her fat ass up and she personally took us to the recovery room. I asked to see the doctor as soon as I could. They went to find him and I sat down beside Jens's bed.

 

Jens looked so peaceful as she lay on the bed and I held her hand. I took a wet washcloth and gently wiped her face and forehead. She was sure restless and it didn't seem normal to me. I thought patients coming out of anesthesia were supposed to be docile.

 

She finally came out of the anesthesia with great vital signs, but was so out of it as I followed her to her room. She went back into a restless sleep and I held her hand until Bernie came to the door and motioned for me. I looked at Jens, yeah she wasn't going anywhere and I went out in the hallway.

 

 "What's going on?" I didn't like the look on his face.

 

"Shit Liz you aren't going to believe this." Bernie answered.

 

"I won't if you don't tell me."

 

"Ben - SM Blaine is dead."

 

I almost fell and Bernie grabbed me, "Damn Liz, I've never seen you do that before. Don't tell me you've fallen for him."

 

"Okay Bernie, I don't want to talk about this. Spill it."

 

"We got a call from one of our snitches. I guess that bastard Stockman sent him and a squad on a rescue mission in Pakistan. They rescued the squad but then were nailed on the way out. SM Blaine saved all five of the wounded and jumped in the last Blackhawk out. It was shot down, exploded and there were no survivors."

 

I slipped down to the floor, Bernie beside me. Goddamn that fucking bastard Stockman! What the fuck was that snake doing? Tears started running down my cheeks and I reached up and touched them. I brought my hand in front of my face and seeing the tears, I couldn't believe it. I! Me! I was crying. I don't remember the last time I cried for anything. Bernie hugged me and I cried like a little girl.

 

Thank god Bernie didn't say anything - he just held me and that was exactly what I needed. I was cried out after fifteen minutes. I pulled away and looked at him, "Thanks for that and thanks for not saying anything."

 

"Hey that's what you needed and that's what friends are for." Bernie replied.

 

"Bernie, we need your eyes on this. Get your camera and your ass back to Jalalabad and figure it out. I can't believe that Ben's dead - something just doesn't feel right."

 

"I'm going to figure this out. Take care of yourself and take care of Jens because this is going to kill her." He took off, I got up, went back in Jens's room and fixed my face. Shit! What am I going to tell her, how can I break this to her?

 

Flashback - Zarika, Yasmeen and Ben – Tajikistan Day Fifteen

 

Hello my name is Zarika Blaine.

 

And my name is Yasmeen Blaine.

 

We are Ben's first and second wives although we let him pretend we are his sisters - just to keep him happy. He is going to take us to America with him.

 

Zarika – Ben rescued me from the evil chewchemek Hussein where I was his sex slave. Hussein captured my whole family on a raid of my home village of Dzartygumbez, Tajikistan. He made me watch as he killed Papa and my brother Igor. Then he gave mama to his men and they raped her to death. I had to watch that too. Finally he raped me. It was my first time and hurt very bad. I hate him and what he did to me and my family!

 

Yasmeen – Ben and Zarika came to our house in Afghanistan. It was so funny at first because he pretended he was Muslim and Tajik, but we knew right away he was not. They talked Russian to each other, thinking we did not know Russian, but I learned it from Ivan, my sister's husband. The funny thing is that Ivan and Ben already knew each other. Papa was smart and tricked Ben into taking me as his second wife, but he has never lain with either of us. He says we are too young. Zarika is almost 14 and I am almost 13 – it is old enough in our countries.

 

Zarika – We fought many battles across Pakistan, China and Afghanistan and killed many chewchemeks to finally make it into Tajikistan. I was so happy when I saw the Tajik guards open the gate for us as we drove through into the freedom of my homeland.

 

Yasmeen – Yes it was very good to finally be away from all those bad men trying to hurt and kill us. They were chasing us because of all the gold that Ben and Zarika took from them. Zarika drove for about a half an hour after we entered Tajikistan, then she stopped the truck and we both jumped out.

 

"Ben we are free." Zarika said.

 

"Ben, what is wrong?" Yasmeen asked.

 

We looked up and saw he was not moving.

 

"Zarika, look there is blood on the truck!"

 

"Yasmeen, Ben is hurt. We need to get him down."

 

We climbed up on top of the truck and saw that Ben had been shot in the arm and had tied a piece of cloth around it. I took Ben's knife and cut the strap holding him to the top of the truck, "Yasmeen, we need to be careful with him."

 

Yasmeen started crying and I told her, "Do not cry now or Ben will die."

 

He was very heavy as we lowered him to the ground. His right arm flopped around like a fish out of water, "Yasmeen, we need to be very careful with his arm. It is broken and if we move it too much it will bleed more." She was still sniffling - sometimes she is such a little girl.

 

"We need to get him in the back of the truck and get the medical gear," I told Yasmeen. We carefully moved him into the back of the truck and put him on some blankets. His arm started bleeding very badly again. I grabbed the medical supplies even though I didn't know what most of them were for. "Yasmeen, you drive the truck, just stay on this road and we will get to my home town."

 

Yasmeen started crying and didn't move so I slapped her across the face, "Do not be a baby! Just go do what I said. Or do you want Ben to die?"

 

"Owww, do not do that again. I will drive the truck."

 

I touched Ben on the side of the neck and could still feel his heart beat, and I could see his chest move. I was happy he was not dead. I looked under the cloth and Ben's arm was a big mess, I almost got sick when I saw the bones sticking out through the skin. I put a new bandage on his wound and held it very hard to stop the bleeding.

 

He moaned some when I squeezed it hard and woke up, "Where am I?" Ben asked.

 

I smiled that my strong husband woke up, "Ben, you are hurt and in the back of the truck."

 

"Where are we? Are we safe?" It was just like Ben to make sure we were okay.

 

"We are safe and in Tajikistan. Yasmeen is driving the truck and soon we will be in my home town and we will get you fixed."

 

Yasmeen yelled at me, "Is that Ben that I hear?"

 

"Yes it is, now shut up and drive the truck."

 

Ben tried to sit but he couldn't, then he looked at his arm, "Zarika, my arm is hurt very badly, here's what you need to do with it."  I found the medical supplies he told me to use.

 

Then he looked at me, "You need to find two pieces of wood that are just a little longer than my arm and tie them on each side of my arm so it won't move. When you move my arm to do this it will hurt very badly and I will probably pass out." He asked me for a small stick and a piece of cloth. "Help me tie this around my upper arm." We tied it around his arm just below his shoulder and he stuck the stick through it. "If my arm starts bleeding badly again, twist the stick very tight until the bleeding stops, then release the stick after about five minutes. This is called a tourniquet and is very important, do you understand?"

 

I nodded at him and he smiled at me, "Thank you Zarika." I wanted to kiss him but I knew it would upset him.

 

I moved his arm to put the wood on it and he yelled and passed out, Yasmeen screamed at me from the front, "What did you do to Ben."

 

"I am doing what he told me to do, shut up and drive." She is such a pain sometimes. I put the wood on both sides of his arm and tied it very tight like he told me too. I checked and I couldn't move his arm. I looked at his arm and it was bleeding  badly again so I tightened the stick until the bleeding stopped, then I leaned over and kissed him. Yasmeen and I kissed him many times before when he was hurt, and we always enjoyed it.

 

Flashback - Ben – Tajikistan Day Fifteen

 

I woke up in the back of the truck and Zarika was taking care of me, I was very dizzy and the pain in my arm was the worst I've ever felt. I told her how to make a splint and a tourniquet for my arm and told her to give me some antibiotics, I should have asked for morphine, because when she moved my arm to apply the splint I passed out and my unconscious mind took over.

 

Flashback - Ben – 1998 in jail awaiting trial

 

I sat in the corner of my jail cell, mad as hell at myself for my own stupidity and lack of control. I'd become a real hell raiser since my graduation from high school and my dad's death two months ago. Even though dad was a real son of a bitch, I still loved him. But I never remember hearing him say he loved me. He did take care of me even in his death, the cabin and land were all paid for, he was part owner of a very profitable business and he left a huge retirement account. Our family lawyer Frank managed all of this and I got just enough money each year that if I wasn't stupid I could live comfortably. I was bored, angry at the world and consequently, I'd gotten in some trouble, mostly minor.

 

There was the huge speeding ticket in dad's Cobra. My lawyer got me out of that one with a massive fine and my promise that I'd never drive the car that fast again. Of course I didn't listen and still drove that car like a bat out of hell. I just made sure I was never caught again. A couple of times I was caught with hard liquor that a kid my age wasn't supposed to have. Again the family lawyer took care of the problems.

 

But this time I'd really screwed up. After run-ins with the local law, Frank suggested I spend some time away from the Leadville area. I joined an up-and-coming rock and roll band and we took off on a cross country tour. We were three weeks into playing and screwing our way across the country with a different town and a different girl each night. When I got stupid in Austin, Texas, I found out there's one thing you don't do in Austin - get stupid.

 

We had just finished our first set and I was heading to the bar to see if I could score a drink. Most clubs didn't card you if you were in the band so I got my fair share of booze. I walked past some shit-kicker right as he punched a girl full in the face and she fell off the barstool in a heap.

 

"Hey dumb assed shit-kicker, what the fuck is that bedpan doin' on your head." I yelled.

 

He turned and looked at me, "You insulting my cowboy hat, dick weed?"

 

"I'm sayin' anyone stupid enough to hit a fine woman like you just did must have shit for brains. That makes the thing on your head a bedpan, not a hat."

 

He was pissed and took a swing at me. I dodged the blow and slammed my elbow down on his arm hearing the bones crack. He grabbed his arm and yelled, "That little prick broke my god damned arm."

 

His three buddies jumped up. "We're going to kick you're scrawny little ass!" one of them yelled. I didn't wait for him to move and I took him down with a palm to the bottom of his nose. He fell on the floor yelling, screaming, and bleeding.

 

The other two rushed me at the same time, I took out the left knee of one of them with a kick - the pop sounded like a firecracker going off as he dropped and grabbed his knee. The other one managed to land a punch on my chin, which really pissed me off. I stepped back and waited for him to swing again. When he did I grabbed his arm with my left arm and slammed my fist down on his upper arm snapped it like a twig. Then I grabbed his other arm and did the same thing.

 

I stood there looking at the girl, still unconscious on the floor and the four screwed up cowboys feeling quite proud of myself when I heard a voice behind me, "Mister put your hands in the air and turn around very slowly."

 

There was an instant that I thought it was another shit-kicker and wanted to take him out, I looked in front of me and one of the band members mouthed police. He'd probably just saved my life. I raised my hands, slowly turned and found myself looking straight down the barrel of two pistols.

 

"It was self-defense." I blurted.

 

"Save it for the judge boy. We're Texas Rangers and we both know someone trained in martial arts when we see it. Seems to us this wasn't a fair fight and these four cowboys didn't stand a chance." They put the handcuffs on me.

 

"But he hit the girl first."

 

She was awake by now and started screaming, "Jim didn't hit me at all, that little shit hit me when I wouldn't dance with him. And look at what that little bastard did to Jim when he tried to protect me. I'm gonna cut his balls off and make him eat them." She lunged towards me and one of the Rangers restrained her. She went over to the bastard that hit her and started taking care of him. I'll never understand women.

 

The Rangers took me to the local jail, fingerprinted me and threw me in the cell. I got my one call and woke up Frank, back in Colorado. He chewed my ass off over the phone and said he didn't practice law in Texas but would be down the next day to find me an attorney.

 

It was late the next day when they took me out of the cell and to the consultation room. My Texas lawyer chewed my ass some more. "You really messed up this time; do you know what you did?"

 

I acted like a smartass and answered, "I sure as hell do! I saved a lady from getting the hell beat out of her. I should get a fricken medal for this."

 

"First we haven't been introduced; I'm Jim your lawyer here in Texas. And that's not the story we've heard," Jim said. "Son, the lady says that you hit her and attacked her boyfriend and then his friends."

 

"What about my friends in the band, they saw what happened."

 

"Son, I don't think they're your friends, they got thrown out of the bar and left town last night." Frank replied.

 

"Didn't anyone see the SOB hit the girl?"

 

"The Rangers didn't interview anyone and no one's come forward. It's your word against the five of them."

 

I looked at Frank, "I'm screwed."

 

He replied, "With a capital S."

 

"So what are they charging me with?"

 

Jim replied, "We've been with the DA all morning and boy, they are throwing the book at you! Two charges of attempted murder, five counts of bodily assault with intent to injury, and underage drinking."

 

"But I'm only eighteen."

 

Frank said, "That's right, and that's why they're charging you as an adult."

 

Jim cleared his throat, "It gets even worse. It seems like you have a bunch of angry parents going after you for messing around with their underage daughters."

 

I looked at him in disbelief, "I asked and they said they were eighteen."

 

He laughed, "Shit boy, you can't tell an eighteen year old from fourteen and fifteen year olds. You're in big trouble."

 

I looked at Frank, "Can't you do something like you've done in the past."

 

"Not this time. I told you that you needed to stop acting foolish but you didn't listen to me. There's nothing I can do, you're going to prison for this."

 

The realization sunk in that I was going to spend some time, maybe a very long time behind bars. I slumped down in my chair and sat there not saying anything for about five minutes.

 

Finally Frank said to Jim, "You think we've let him stew about this long enough?"

 

The gruff looking old bastard started laughing, "Yeah, I figure we got his attention. Son, you're lucky as hell that Frank and I are hunting buddies and that he called me."

 

I mouthed off, "This doesn't seem so lucky to me."

 

He banged his fist on the table and the whole room shook, "Don't you dare mouth off to me you little prick or I'll let you rot in prison. Now shut the fuck up and listen to someone for a change."

 

I glared at him but didn't say a word.

 

"Frank told me about the hell-of-a life you've had and about how your old man beat the shit out of you if you even blinked your eyes wrong. Son, it wasn't his fault. Some of us that were in Nam came back pretty messed up and unfortunately for you, your dad was one of those."

 

I gulped, "You were in Nam, and now you're a lawyer."

 

"Damn straight, two tours of duty with the Marines. Being a lawyer is just what I do when I can't go hunting or fishing. Now shut up and let me finish. Like I was saying before you got mouthy and interrupted me, you're damn lucky to have me as your lawyer. I talked to the judge that's going to try your case, he's an old war horse like me and when I told him all about you and what you did to the four cowboys he laughed and said, 'Anyone who can fight as good as you can should get the chance to use it to defend our country.' We then talked to the DA and he agreed with the judge. So here's the deal you can take it or leave it. You enlist today in the branch of service of your choice and all the charges will be dropped."

 

"And if I don't?"

 

Jim slammed the table again, "Listen little prick, you're going to do your time for this crime one way or the other. I've worked my ass off to get this deal for you so stop acting like a shithead and take the deal."

 

I recognized I was between a rock and a hard place - busting rocks and doing hard time.  I looked at Frank and he nodded his head. "I'm sorry sir." Jim interrupted me, "Don't you call me sir, I work for a living."

 

"I'm sorry I didn't know. Thank you for all your hard work. I'm sorry I've been a little shit. I'll be glad to join the Army.  Did you know that dad and Grandpa were both in the Army?"

 

Jim smiled and looked at Frank, "You know he's a pretty good kid when he's not being a smart mouth. He'd make one hell-of-a Marine."

 

I looked at Jim and said, "Aren't they both the same?"

 

Jim first looked angry and then figured out that I didn't know anything and started laughing, "Son, let me tell you about the Marines."

 

He spent the next hour telling me about the history of the Corps and by the time he was done I knew that my whole life I'd been training to becoming a Marine. "Where do I sign?" I asked.

 

Jim smiled and made a call on his mobile phone, "The recruiter will be here in half an hour."

 

I looked at Frank, "Did you pickup my guitar, amp, clothes and money from the band?"

 

"Sorry, it looks like your friends ran off with those. Don't worry I'll get them back." He answered.

 

Jim went on to describe that once I joined the Corps I would know what real friends were. "Oh, I almost forgot, if any of those girls you messed around with get pregnant you'll have to do right by them and either marry them or take care of their babies."

 

I slumped down in the chair again and they both started laughing, "Frank, he's so damn easy to fool. We were kidding Ben. I'll be sure to take care of any loose ends concerning this."

 

"Thank you sir-uh-Jim."

 

He shook my hand, "Since we're going to be brothers, you might as well call me Gunny."

 

I didn't understand until later what he meant by brothers, because later I discovered all Marines are brothers to each other. The recruiter showed up and I signed the enlistment paperwork. We met with the judge and the DA in the judge's chambers; they both shook my hand and congratulated me. The judge said, "Son, there aren't many boys your age that mess up like you did that I give a second chance. But Gunny and Frank fought hard for you and convinced me that I should. I think you're smart enough to not waste this opportunity."

 

The DA added, "I'm glad to see that you joined the Corps and we'll be brothers. With what the Rangers said about your fight the Corps can use you. Semper Fi Marine."

 

I looked at Frank, "Thanks for bailing me out again. Make sure the cabin is taken care of."

 

He smiled, "We'll see you after basic training. Stop by the office."

 

The recruiter escorted me out of the building and congratulated me on becoming one of the few, and the proud. He took me to the bus station, loaned me twenty-five bucks out of his own pocket for food, and put me on a bus to North Carolina, someplace called Camp Lejuene.