03 Wounded

Wounded

© Copyright 2009

Written by Banzai Ben and Amazing Anastasia

ben@banzaiben.com

 

Wounded Chapter 03

 

Tuesday 04 December

 

Present – Jens - Hospital – Ramstein AFB Germany

 

I sit and hold Ben's hand and put wet washcloths on his head for the few hours it takes him to become stable. I watch as nasty looking and smelling fluid drains from the wound in Ben's arm. The recovery room nurse keeps coming in, changing the pad under his arm and then repacks the hole in his arm. She shakes her head every time she looks at it.

 

The doctor is happy with his vital signs, but Ben is still unconscious. I ask the doctor, "I'm concerned that SM Blaine is still unconscious. Can you explain it to me?"

 

"I'm a little puzzled by that too. By all accounts he should be awake by now. We're running some tests to see if we can determine the problem. His vital signs, other than a very high fever look excellent," the doctor replies.

 

"Do you feel it's safe to move him out of recovery?"

 

"Yes, but we're putting him in the ICU so he'll have one on one care. He's also going to be in isolation to keep the chance of cross contamination down."

 

I shake his hand, "Thank you doctor."

 

The nurses come in, make sure everything is secure and wheel his bed to the elevator. We ride down three floors to the ICU, then right into his new room. The nurses stop me at the door and help me put on isolation gear. Liz is waiting and smiles as I walk in the room. "Hey how are you doing?"

 

I bite my lower lip, "Liz, I'm worried as hell, Ben is still unconscious."

 

She looks at me, "I'm sure he'll be fine, but I'll go find out more information if you'd like."

 

Liz is such a good friend and seems to have a knack for finding things out. One day I should ask her how she does it, but I'm not sure I really want to know.

 

"Liz, don't bother, I don't think the doctors know anything else."

 

"Okay, how about I take care of Ben for a while and let you get some food, clean up and take a nap." She answers.

 

"Oh, that would be wonderful. Promise me that if he wakes up you call me right away."

 

"I promise." She says and gives me a hug goodbye.

 

I really don't want to leave Ben, but I need to take care of myself so I don't get sick. Ben is going to need so much help and I need to be very strong. I wander down to the cafeteria and load my tray up with a nice salad, some fruit and a hamburger patty. I want a cup of coffee, but hope to catch a nap sitting by Ben so I decide to drink water. I'm starving and eat the food without enjoyment and with tears streaming down my face, remembering all the wonderful meals that Ben and I shared. I stop halfway through my meal when Glen and Evelyn walk in the cafeteria, and come over to my table.

 

"Jens, it's good to see you taking care of yourself," Evelyn says and tries to kiss me on the cheek. I turn my head so she can't.

 

"Hello Evelyn, Glen," I say with an icy attitude.

 

"Do you mind if we join you?" Glen asks.

 

"I'm not hungry anymore so you can have the whole table." I leave, take my tray to the garbage and throw out the rest of my food. I'm still hungry but I refuse eat with those two.

 

Damn, I wish I could shower - I'm smelly and need to clean up. I walk up to the receptionist and ask if they have a women's locker room. She gives me directions and I leave to find it. I change my plans and come back to ask about a gift shop, thinking they may have some sort of clothes I can buy.

 

I head to the gift shop but they didn't have any clothes. They have the toiletries I need so I buy those and head for the locker room. I take a long hot shower and scrub the hell out of myself, trying to remove the last trace of the prison smell lingering on me. I dry, fix my hair, put on my makeup, put on my dirty clothes and head back to be with Ben.

 

As I step off the elevator at the ICU floor I find all hell is breaking loose in Ben's room. I run to the room but Liz grabs me on the way and drags me off to the side, "You can't go in there right now."

 

"What the hell is going on Liz?"

 

"Ben's having some complications and we need to stay out of the way of the nurses and doctors," she replies.

 

I fight with her, I see Liz wave her free arm, and an MP comes over and asks, "Yes Liz, do you need some help?"

 

"Can you help me hold Jens so she doesn't get in the room?" Liz asks. The MP grabs my other arm and I glare at both of them.

 

"I should kick both your asses!"

 

The MP laughs, "Like you could do that."

 

Liz answers, "Don't provoke her, or she'll do it. I've seen her kick SM Blaine's ass."

 

He looks at me with more respect, "Sorry miss, it's just that you don't look very big."

 

I see things have simmered down in Ben's room and they are all coming out. "Hey, you two had this planned just to distract me."

 

Liz grins at me, "….and it worked! Let's go be with Ben."

 

I grab the doctor as he's heading out of the room, "What the hell just happened to my fiancé?"

 

"His blood pressure and heart rate dropped very quickly and we thought that he was going to die. Your friend Liz called the nurse right away and we were able to take care of it," he answered.

 

"What caused this to happen?"

 

"We think it's the infection. He's got one of the nastiest bugs we've ever seen."

 

"Can't you give him more or different antibiotics?" I question.

 

"We're giving him all and the best that we can. If he doesn't start getting better soon we're going to have to amputate his arm," the doctor replied.

 

We both head into the room after putting on gowns, masks and gloves. I look down at Ben, he looks worse than ever. I touch his forehead and even through the gloves he feels like he's on fire. I want so bad to crawl into bed and hold him, but I know they won't let me do it this time.

 

Liz leaves to go shopping for me. I pull the chair as close as I can and fall asleep with tears in my eyes and my head lying on this good arm.

 

 

Flashback Jens - Incirlik Airbase in Turkey - Sunday 14 October

 

I was a good girl last night and didn't try to escape, but I have plans to do it later. I also refused to talk to my doctor about Ben. He tried a couples times and I told him I didn't want to talk about it. He fixed my pulled stitches but the bastard did it without numbing the area. I think he just wanted to torture me for hitting him and being a pain in the ass. Pain in the ass - My Ass! - They haven't seen anything yet, once I'm just a little bit better I'm going to really kick some ass.

 

I acted like I feel more pain than I actually had just to keep fooling them. I refused more pain meds because I needed my mind to be sharp. Liz brought me a computer. She was supposed to bring my computer with her from the base at Jalalabad, but I guess the fuckers took the computer. I bet they had a surprise when they tried to hack into it and had it melt down in front of their eyes. I wished I'd put a fricken bomb in it and blown the hell out of the slimy spook and bastard general.

 

The first thing I did after Liz gave me the computer was to download a new copy of Linux, wipe the hard drive and install it. I setup firestarter, configured the firewall, then opened a VPN1 connection to my secure server. I checked the logs: It looked like they did try to hack my laptop and it did destroy itself. Someone had also been trying to hack into my server - fat chance of that ever happening.

 

1 Virtual Private Network – a secure means off attaching to another computer.

 

I downloaded the hardened Linux OS2 that I prefer and the script on the server that changed the IP address3 of the server and launched a virtual machine4 with the same IP address my server used to have.  The virtual machine had a few vulnerabilities that a good hacker could try to exploit. Once they found them and exploited them, I'd have their ass because the virtual machine would grab everything on their hard disk then erase their disks. I'll teach the fricken spooks to screw with my computers.

 

2 OS – Operating System

3 IP address – the numeric identification of a computer connected to a network or the Internet.      When you type www.yahoo.com into a browser the DNS server translates the name into four octets ie: 192.168.1.1

4 Virtual machine – an OS that runs virtually inside of another OS.

 

It took awhile for my OS to scan the computer for trojans5 that might be loaded into the BIOS6 and then install itself on boot up. It did find a one in the BIOS. I stopped the install and looked at what it found. I really was nervous, thinking they might have compromised my passwords, but it was just a program to notify the hacker where the laptop was every time it connected to the Internet.

 

5 Trojans – a small program used to hijack or send information from a computer, came from Trojan Horse.

6 BIOS – Basic Input/Output System the tiny program in flash memory that runs when you first boot (start) a computer. It tells the rest of the computer what hardware the computer has and where to boot from.

 

 

I FTPed7 a new BIOS image from ASUS8, saved the old BIOS image to a flash disk, installed the new BIOS image and continued the install of my hardened OS. I needed to ask Liz where she got this computer, because someone's been playing games with it. I kicked back in bed and let the install finish. Soon I'd have the eyes and ears I needed to figure things out.

 

7 FTP File Transfer Protocol – a command line way of downloading files to a computer. Not secure because usernames and passwords travel as clear text.

8 ASUS – the laptop manufacturer.

 

Thirty minutes later the laptop played the wedding march and it was done. I booted my OS, setup all the secure links and was ready to rock and roll. The door opened and Liz walked in, "Wow, you're looking much better today. In fact you look like a woman with a mission."

 

I smiled at her, "Hey sis, I'm feeling much better and I'm a woman with a mission to find my man. Can I see your purse for a minute?" She handed me her purse and I dumped everything on the bed and started examining it.

 

"Hey, I didn't know you were going to make a mess out of my stuff," she grumped.

 

I held my finger to my lips telling her to shush. First I looked at her phone, yeah it had GPS built in and it was turned on so I'm sure they used it to track her. I turned off the GPS, took the battery out and set the phone on the table so they couldn't use it as a bug. I know some phones can have the microphone enabled remotely.

 

I pawed through her makeup and everything looked fine until I got to her compact - it felt too heavy.  I tore it apart and found a bug inside. I took it out and sat it on my bedside table. I found a new, unopened box of condoms and held them up as Liz turned about four shades of red. I ripped the box open to make sure there were no extra surprises. I slipped out of bed, had Liz  follow me into the bathroom and closed the door.

 

"Jens what the hell was all that about?" Liz asked.

 

"Hey girlfriend, you've got crabs. Where did you get that computer?"

 

Liz blushed again, "I do not have crabs, I'm more careful than that. I always travel with two computers and that was my spare."

 

She didn't get my joke, "Sorry, I meant your computer has crabs - probably your phone and certainly your compact have been bugged. You might even have a wire in your clothes."

 

I saw her get really pissed, "Those sons-of-a-bitches, I'm a member of the news media and they can't do that to me! Who the hell did it?"

 

"I'm not sure yet, but the job is pretty good. I guess the CIA, NSA or some other three-letter branch of the government did it. I bet all your gear is bugged so you should bring in your other laptop and let me check it."

 

Liz gave me an evil grin, "Well, shall we give the bastards something to listen to?"

 

"What do you have in mind?"

 

"How about some pretend girl-on-girl action?" she said as her eyes twinkled.

 

"Oh Goodie, this sounds really fun. How about we pretend here in the bathroom and then drop the wire into the toilet?"

 

She ran out and brought back the wire taken from the compact. We started carrying on as if we were making mad passionate love to each other with lots of screaming and yelling. Finally, it was getting to be too much and I was going to laugh so I dropped the wire in the toilet and flushed.

 

We both broke into laughter, "I bet that made their ears burn," I said.

 

"I bet we tented their pants," Liz giggled.

 

We walked back into the room and I climbed onto the bed. "Let's see what I can find out about the people who did this." Liz watched as I converted the infected BIOS's machine code9 into the Assembly language10 it was originally written in and started to reverse engineer it. I used the diff command to compare the infected BIOS with the BIOS I loaded from ASUS and found the changes right away. I showed her the code, "Liz look here - this is beautiful."

 

9 Machine code – the lowest level code that a computer runs, the CPU (Central Processing Unit) of the computer runs this code directly.

10 Assembly Language – Probably the lowest level programming language there is.

 

She looked over my shoulder and said, "It looks like a bunch of nonsense to me, what's all this mov, add and sub crap?"

 

I giggled, "That's the program that told them where you were when you started up your computer. It's a beautiful work of art. Whoever did this really knows what they are doing. I bet there are only ten programmers I know of that could do this."

 

"You think it was one of them?" Liz asked.

 

I laughed, "Hell no they hate the spooks more than I do. But they're going to love to get their hands on this code." I translated the hexadecimal IP address into a normal IP octet to view the address it reported to, did a lookup on the address and it came back as private."

 

"Hey, you want to have some more fun?"

 

She looked at me, "I've seen that evil look before, what are you going to do?"

 

"Watch this!" I downloaded a picture of the cat I had when I was a girl, compiled the hacked code into an executable file and embedded it in the picture. I renamed the picture Jennifer Donaldson's pussy and anonymously uploaded it some pirate torrent11 sites.

 

11 Torrent sites – websites that let you legally and illegally download files.

 

Liz grinned, "You are evil! Don't tell me, - when someone downloads and opens that picture it will send the location of their computer to the spooks – who will think I am everywhere all at once."

 

"That's right, just a few more things then I'm going to find Ben." I wrapped up the code in an encrypted zip file, added a quick email and sent it off to my hacker friends. I asked if they could trace the IP address and get back to me.

 

I went to Liz's secure server and downloaded the video of the helicopter crash. "Hey how did you do that?" Liz grumped.

 

I grinned at her, "Your computers have no secrets from me. Yes, I did see the videos of Stockman while I was grabbing this file, and no I won't look at them."

 

Liz blushed, "You wouldn't want to see what was on them anyway."

 

I watched the video first in real time as Liz said, "Look, right there, something just flew out of the chopper." I backed up the video and watched it again in slow motion. "Shit! I can't tell what it is."

 

"We tried our best Jens, to figure it out but we couldn't either. We sent a copy off to the best post production shop I know of to see if they can enhance it."

 

I made the video to run in a loop on that section and stared intently at it. After about ten minutes I looked at Liz and said, "Liz, I don't know how I know, but I'm sure that is my Ben. It's more a feeling than anything else."

 

She groaned, "Jens, you're putting a lot of trust in your feelings - are you sure?"

 

I got pissed as hell, "Liz, I'm fucking tired of everyone asking me if I know what I feel! I know that is Ben flying out of the chopper, I know Ben is still alive and I know someone is torturing the hell out of him. Now if you want to be my friend and my sister you'd better put all doubt out of your mind right now and help me."

 

"I'm sorry Jens for doubting you, I'm still not used to this whole sensing, feeling thing you and Ben have. I will do my best to believe you and help," Liz humbly said.

 

I wanted to ask Liz some questions but I wasn't sure she wasn't bugged. "Liz, take a new gown out of the closet and go to the bathroom and change. I'm still concerned you might have crabs."

 

She stuck her tongue out at me but did what I instructed. When she came out I asked, "So tell me what you have Bernie and Jon doing?"

 

"Bernie is back in Jalalabad talking to our sources and trying to figure out what the hell Stockman is doing. The mission you and Ben went on and the rescue mission Ben went on were both weird." She said.

 

"They were both FUBAR!" I interrupted.

 

Liz looked at me, "You're right, they were. Jon is undercover in Pakistan trying to sneak into the town where the chopper was shot down. It's hard as hell because the whole area is in turmoil. From what we found out, Ben killed a couple of very high ranking Taliban bastards. Now they have the whole area locked down."

 

I grinned thinking, that's my man!

 

"These gowns are embarrassing and drafty," Liz complained.

 

"Now you know why I want some jammies. Liz, let me think for a bit." I leaned back against the bed and started analyzing the situation. I had almost come up with a plan when the room's phone rang, "Who the hell is that?" I asked as I picked up the phone.

 

"Jenny, this is Mom. I wanted to tell you we're so sorry about your getting sick, oh yeah and about Ben dying. Don't worry, Daddy’s on his way and should be there soon to bring you home to us."

 

I slammed down the phone in anger and it fell off on the floor. Liz looked at me, "What was that all about?"

 

I was too angry to speak and I couldn't believe the fricken phone call! Mom was more worried about me being sick than Ben being dead. I started crying and Liz came over, sat on the bed beside me, hugged me and held me until I stopped crying. I looked at her, "Liz, that was mom. She hardly said anything about Ben, but she did say Dad is coming here to take me home. You've got to help me get out of this hospital so I can stay here and look for Ben."

 

She looked at me, "I'm probably crazy for doing this and I'll probably end up going to jail. But I can't say no to you."

 

I asked Liz to bring me some things as soon as she could. She went into the bathroom, changed back into her clothes, came over, hugged me and took off. I went back to messing around with my computer and slipped off to sleep watching the video.

 

Current - Liz - Late Tuesday 04 December - Hospital – Ramstein AFB Germany

 

Telling off Glen and Evelyn just made me more pissed at them. I'm so angry I want to either beat the hell out of something or fuck the brains out of someone. I overhear they're moving Ben to the ICU and decide I'll meet Jens there and surprise her. On the way I run into a cute, young MP and he gets lucky, he gets very lucky! I look at him panting on the floor as I pull my clothes back on, "I'm going to be in the ICU, how about if you come down and hang around just in case I need something?"

 

He grins at me, "Miss, after that I'll do anything you ask."

 

I blow him a kiss (he's so young and cute), walk out the door and check my watch. Good I should still beat Jens and Ben to the ICU. The nurse at the ICU station gives me some crap until I pull out my press credentials. All of a sudden, they are more than happy to bend over backwards and kiss my ass.

 

Since Ben is going to be in isolation, I need to wear a gown over my clothes, with gloves and a mask. As I slip into the isolation crap and go into the room, I realize Ben must be really sick if they are doing this. I make a few adjustments to the room, trying to make it more comfortable and cozy, but there's not much you can do with a hospital room. I flip on the tube to see what's going on in the world, find a news channel and almost throw up. They kept running news about Ben and Jens, the same damn tapes and copy we sold them with very little modification. I turn it off, disgusted at how poor the quality of reporting has become.

 

Jens finally shows up and she looks like hell - no she looks like twenty miles of bad road in hell. Her eyes are bloodshot with huge black bags under them, her hair is askew and her clothes are a wrinkled mess. The ICU nurses stop her at the door and inform her of the whole isolation crap while the others wheel Ben into the room.

 

The minute I see him I almost pass out! Damn is he fucked up! If Jens looks like twenty miles of bad road in hell, Ben looks like a million miles of bad road in hell. He has lost a lot of weight, I bet fifty pounds, his face looks old and tired and his hair is long with some gray in it. I curse myself as I start crying again - what the hell is wrong with me, crying all the time like this.

 

I wipe away the tears and pull myself together before Jens can see me. She needs my strength right now. She walks over beside me and we begin to talk.

 

She is so worried because Ben is still unconscious and no one knows why. I offer to find out for her. I could really use a dose of 'doctor du jour' right now, strictly for medicinal purposes, and I'm disappointed when Jens turns down the offer.

 

I do talk her into going to eat and taking care of herself. After she leaves I silently curse myself for not bringing extra clothes for her because she is starting to smell almost as ripe as Ben's arm.

 

The nurses finally get through screwing around with Ben and leave, so I see my chance. I want to see if what the first doctor, gee I've already forgotten his name, told me is true. I pull the covers loose from the bottom of the bed, raise them and peek at Ben's feet and legs.

 

Oh My God! I about piss my panties when I see them. The doctor I fucked was right and I hope that Jens doesn't see his legs anytime soon. They are covered with scars, all in the shape of little squares and rectangles and long gash marks. The doctor said he thought they were animal bites, probably rat bites. I quickly tuck the sheets back into the foot of the bed and move to the left side of the bed.

 

I glance around making sure no one is watching, I raise the middle part of the sheets and gently move Ben's gown aside. Holy shit! He was right about this too, something sure doesn't look right to me. I move his gown back in place and smooth out the sheets.

 

I step back, drop into a chair and the tears start boiling out of my eyes while soaking the mask. My poor Ben, my poor Jens. Even though they're back together, they still have so much hell to go through. I angrily curse God for letting them go through this. Then I pray, for maybe the first time in my life, promising God if he just lets Ben live and get through this, I will become a good girl.

 

I finish my prayer, look over at Ben and see his monitors going all wacko. I run out to the nurses' station, "Hey something really bad is happening to Ben!"

 

The nurse jumps up and runs into the room, she sticks her head out the door, "Call a code blue on room three-oh-two."

 

Well that lights a fire under their asses! It is announced over the PA and nurses and doctors start running into the room. They even haul in a large cart with a bunch of crap on it. I look over and saw the young MP and wave at him. He smiles and waves back. I slip up to the windows of the room and watch them work on Ben, until a nurse see me and closes the curtains.

 

I go back to the desk and make some small talk with the unit clerk, "So, does a code blue mean what I think it means?"

 

"What do you think it means?" she asks in reply.

 

"I've heard it means someone is dying and they bring in special doctors and nurses to save them."

 

"Excuse me, are you family." She retorts.

 

I wave my press pass at her, "That and a whole lot more, now will you answer my question?"

 

She looks uncomfortable but leans close, "Yes your right. But don't worry, I see this happen quite a bit and they save most of them. In fact it looks like they saved your brother because I see them coming out right now."

 

I look over and see they are wheeling the large cart out and the doctors and nurses are leaving. I'm glad Jens isn't here to see this since it scared the hell out of me and she might have totally lost it. I see her walking into the ICU, I run over and grab her arm. We struggle some and she is going to get away until I motion for my MP to help me. We distract her long enough that all the doctors have left except one. Jens latches on to him and gives him the third degree without getting much of an answer. I need to find one of the doctors later and screw the truth out of him, so I make a mental note of his name.

 

Jens barks at me, "Liz why didn't you call me."

 

We walk in the room and I hug her tight, "Jens it happened so fast that I didn't have a chance to call you. Besides you don't have a mobile phone so how could I call you?"

 

"Sorry Liz for yelling at you. I'm just so worried about Ben and now this happened. Please forgive me."

 

"Hey that's what sisters do, we forgive each other." I kiss her on the cheek and pull away from her. "You look better and smell better but those clothes still stink. I need to go buy you some clothes and other essentials."

 

"Thanks Liz, that would be nice. I have a little makeup and a toothbrush and toothpaste. Would you get me a small purse to carry everything in, some new undies, you know I like thongs. And see if you can scare up a mobile phone. Oh while I'm thinking about it, do you have your extra laptop here?"

 

I smile at Jens, she's so practical, "Your wish is my command. I do have the laptop and it's still configured for you. It'll take me a couple hours to get everything. I'll probably bring it all in a little suit case to make it easier for you."

 

She thinks for a moment, "Are you sure everything's secure this time?"

 

"Yes Jens, we hired one of your geek friends. He travels with us and secures everything. In fact I'll have him come here and scan the room and the clothes your mom gave you."

 

She looks relieved, "See you soon sis."

 

I wave and walked out of the room. I stand to the side, watch her put her head on Ben's good arm, and fall asleep. I walk up to my MP friend and smile at him, "Will you do me a favor and make sure no one goes in the room and wakes up my sister. She really needs to sleep."

 

"Yes miss, whatever you say."

 

I head towards my room to pick up some of the stuff and go to the Base Exchange for the other things I need. I guess I'll have to find someone to help me at the BX.

 

Flashback - Liz – Hospital - Incirlik Airbase in Turkey Sunday 14 October

 

Shit! Things are a mess and I'm right in the middle of it. Jens has me convinced that Ben is still alive and being held captive. Against my better judgment, I'm going to help her get out of this hospital before her fat fuck dad shows up to take her home.

 

I found the BX and grabbed all the supplies I needed, it's a good thing that Jens and I are almost the same sizes. Then I remembered they won't let me buy things here because I'm not military. I look around and finally see a cute young Airman and walk over by him. "Excuse me, I'm wondering if you could help me." I bat my eyes at him.

 

He almost drops his basket, "Y-y-yes, miss. What can I do for you?"

 

"I'm Liz Morgan from the truth network and I needed a few things. But they won't let me purchase them here without being in the military. Do you think that if I gave you the money, you can pay for these few things for me." I gave him a big smile.

 

He blushed and looked so cute, "Yes miss, I'd be happy to do that for you."

 

I decided to have a little fun with him, "I need to pickup one more thing."

 

"No problem miss, I'll follow you."

 

We walked over to the aisle with the feminine products and I throw a bunch in my basket. "There, I'm all done."

 

I pulled a wad of twenties out of my purse, hand them and my basket to him, turned and walked away adding just an extra bit of wiggle to my walk. I looked over my shoulder, "Oh, I forgot to mention, I'm in a hurry."

 

He almost ran to the front of the store as I casually strolled up. He was through the checkout (blushing so bad I thought he was sunburned) and waiting for me. I walked right up to him. "Here you go miss, is there anything else I can do for you?"

 

"I took the bags out of his hands, letting my hand touch his and said, "No thank you Airman, you've been most helpful."

 

I walk out of the BX and hotfooted it back to the hospital. We needed to get Jens the hell out of there before Glen shows up.

 

I walk in the room and she's fallen asleep, still watching the video of Ben's chopper crash looping at the spot when we see something fly out of the chopper. I sit on the bed beside her and gently rub her forehead, "Mmm, is that you honey?" She asks.

 

"Jens, it's Liz. Wake up, we need to get moving and get you out of here."

 

She sits up, "Ouch, I've got to make sure I don't move that fast again. What did you bring me?"

 

I show her everything, "Do you know when the nurses will be in to check you again?"

 

She looks at her watch, "One should be here anytime. After she leaves we should have two hours."

 

I hid the clothes and supplies in the closet and we wait for the nurse.

 

"Good afternoon Sgt. Donaldson, how are you feeling today?" The perky nurse said.

 

"I'm still feeling pretty sick. Just how long does it take for someone to recover from this?" Jens lies.

 

"That varies with each person; do you need something for pain?"

 

"No thank you, not now, maybe later."

 

"Okay, just ring if you need anything." The nurse finished and left the room.

 

I ran over to the closet and pulled everything out, "Okay Jens, move your ass."

 

She jumped out of bed and headed into the bathroom. I anxiously waited for her to finish so we could get the hell out of here.

 

Flashback - Zarika and Yasmeen – Tajikistan Day Sixteen

 

Ben went to sleep again when the truck started bouncing all over our bad road. Yasmeen was on one side of him and I was on the side with his wounded arm. She pretended to be strong when Ben was awake, but started sniffling once he went to sleep.

 

"Yasmeen, why do you cry so much? You need to be strong for Ben."

 

"Zarika, quit it! I am tired of you being mean and bossy to me. You pretend to be Ben's first wife, but you are really not even married to him."

 

I got very mad at her, "You are a spoiled little baby, you take that back!" Yasmeen raised her hand and flipped me off.

 

I leaned across Ben and slapped her face. She moved back in surprise and then attacked me. We were hitting each other and biting each other and pulling hair and swearing at each other. We were so upset that we had forgotten about Ben and were on top of him.

 

"Hey, what the hell is going on! You two are hurting my arm." Ben said.

 

"Sorry Ben, Yasmeen started a fight with me."

 

"That's not true; Zarika was being mean to me and slapped my face."

 

He looked at both of us, "Girls no more fighting! If I was well right now I'd make both of you run behind the truck for two hours."

 

"Please Ben, do not do that again. I will be good if Zarika is not so bossy."

 

"Yasmeen, I'm the oldest and I get to be the boss."

 

"Listen to me, no one is the boss. If you fight one more time you can both go sit in the front of the truck. Now give me some water to drink." Ben ordered.

 

"I gave Ben a big drink of water and Zarika checked his arm."

 

"Ben, I need to change the dressing again. Do you need your morphine first?"

 

"Hell no! I don't want to get addicted to that crap. Just try to be gentle." Ben said.

 

I started unwrapping the cloth, trying to be gentle but Ben let out a moan and went back to sleep. It was easier when he was asleep. I got it all wrapped back up and Yasmeen said, "You forgot the antibiotic powder."

 

She was right, "Do you think I should unwrap it and put the powder on?"

 

"I think Ben will be fine for right now without it. I'm going to lay down beside him." Yasmeen answered.

 

We both lay on each side of him and would give little kisses to him.

 

Flashback - Ben – Tajikistan Day Sixteen

 

I dreamed I was in the middle of a wildcat fight but I woke up and Zarika and Yasmeen were lying on top of me fighting each other. They were smashing my arm and it hurt like hell.

 

I yelled at them, threatened them, and they finally stopped. I'm sure they're still fighting about being my wives. I don't know how else I can tell them I can't marry them. All hell is going to break loose when Jens meets them. I looked down at my arm - this is bad and will probably end my career. Perhaps it would be better if I just die now, it would make things simpler.

 

Zarika starts to change my bandage and I start to pass out again, I see Jens face and hear her voice, "Remember our last kiss."

 

Flashback - Ben – Late 1999 Flight back to Camp Lejeune after first mission

 

I was anxious as hell to get back home to Susan. I wanted to brag, well as much as I could, about my first mission and then to get down on one knee and give her the engagement ring. I looked over at Jack - he was sleeping. But I was too excited to relax. He had such a great idea about surprising Susan. The more time I spent with Jack the more thankful I was for his friendship. Fatigue finally took over and as I drifted  to sleep I had the strangest dream, remembering an incident that happened earlier.

 

Flashback - Ben – 1998 Camp Lejeune

 

Jack and I had just gotten back from our two week indoctrination mission and we'd just come in at second place in the sniper competition. I was really bummed out that I didn't win it, I should have but a gust of wind took my last shot wide.

 

"Jack, I really wanted to win this for you. I'm sorry that I failed and let you down." I hung my head.

 

"Hey, do I have to kick your butt again." He laughed at me, "Ben, you did great today and I don't want you kicking yourself in the rear about this. You surprised the hell out of everyone."

 

I looked at him, "Even you?"

 

He grinned at me, "No, you didn't surprise me. I knew you were going to open some eyes today. I would have told you earlier but it would have just got your panties in a bunch. If that wind gust hadn’t caught your last shot, you would have won."

 

"Yeah Jack, but if wishes were fishes we'd all have a skillet full."

 

He laughed and clapped me on the back, "Let's go get a beer and celebrate."

 

We headed off to find a beer. On our way there we saw the BCO and he called us over, "Sgt. Reynolds and LCpl Blaine, I want to congratulate both of you on your excellent performance today in the sniper competition."

 

"Thank you BG Donaldson." Jack replied.

 

I was distracted by a scrawny looking girl standing next to BG Donaldson. She smiled at me and then her gaze seemed to pierce my soul - deep down into my heart. It's as if she unlocked a hidden empty room in my heart and I shuddered at the feeling.

 

"LCpl Blaine?" the BG said.

 

"Sorry Sir, I was distracted. Would you please repeat what you just said?"

 

He laughed, "I said if you keep it up you're going to make a name for yourself."

 

The little girl said, "I think his name should be Banzai Ben. It sounds cool."

 

The BG looked down at her, "Haven't I told you Jennifer not to interrupt when adults are talking?"

 

"Yes Sir, daddy sir." She said.

 

Jack and I both fought back a laugh.

 

"Well Jack and Banzai Ben, keep up the good work." The BG said and walked off. The little girl turned around, kept watching me and smiling at me. I swear she even blew me a kiss.

 

"Banzai Ben, hey jarhead wake up!" Jack shouted at me.

 

"Oh, sorry Jack, I was distracted."

 

"What's gotten into you? Ignoring the old man like that. You're lucky he didn't chew your ass." Jack admonished me.

 

"I don't know Jack; I guess I'm just tired."

 

He looked at me, "I've never known you to be tired before. Are you sick or something?"

 

"I might be coming down with something. Do you mind if we get that beer later? I think I want to go to the barracks and rest."

 

"Well, you take care of yourself and give me a holler if you need anything. I'll check on you in the morning."

 

I lay on my bunk and shivered, but it wasn't from the cold. It was from the incredible emptiness that I felt in my heart. Ever since that scrawny little girl looked at me, something was wrong. I didn't feel the same.

 

Flashback continued - Ben – Late 1999 Flight back to Camp Lejeune after first mission

 

"Banzai, wake up!" Jack yelled.

 

"Oh sorry Jack, I guess I was dreaming."

 

He looked at me, "Now you aren't upset about your first mission are you?"

 

I'd never told anyone, not even Jack about that dream and I wasn't about to tell him now, "No Jack, I was just dreaming about a girl."

 

"You never were any good at lying, that's only a half truth. But a half truth is better than no truth at all. I guess when it becomes important enough to you, you'll tell me. At least it wasn't about the mission, I don't need the best damn sniper I ever worked with getting all soft in the head." He grinned.

 

"I'm the best damn sniper you ever worked with?"

 

"Oh hell, I guess I let the cat out of the bag. Yeah you are but don't go getting a big head on me either. You're still pretty green."

 

"Susan says I'm pretty in green. She likes it when I wear my uniform." I sassed back.

 

"That's the Banzai I know. Now don't forget to check in all your weapons before you head home and surprise that sweet young thing."

 

"Aww Jack, you know I like to keep my pistol with me."

 

"Hey, I'm serious this time. You're going to get caught carrying your pistol and they'll throw your ass in Leavenworth. Check all your weapons and that's an order."

 

"Yes Sir!" I sassed.

 

He gave me the evil eye and then laughed, "Get out of here and go do what I said."

 

We headed off the plane and I did exactly what Jack told me, even thought I felt naked without a pistol. I'd never disobeyed and order from him and I wasn't going to start now. I caught a ride to my parked car, started it up and sped into town. I needed to stop by the jewelry store and pickup the ring. I got to the store in plenty of time and looked at the ring, it was beautiful. This was going to be a great surprise.

 

I hopped in the old piece of junk car, (I sure did miss the Cobra), and flew to the apartments, stopping first for a bottle of champagne. I was gonna get lucky tonight, maybe even twice! I saw Susan's car and grinned. Good, she's home, but some idiot took my parking place. Oh well, I'll leave them a note later. I ran up the stairs two at a time, put my key in the lock and quietly slipped into the apartment.

 

She wasn't in the living room but I heard some noise from the bedroom so I walked down the hallway and threw open the door. Son of a bitch, I can't believe it! Susan's in bed with two other men, one's taking her doggy style and she’s giving the other a blowjob. They all stop when they see me, she scrambles to cover herself and the guys take off and hide in the bathroom. "Ben you didn't tell me you were coming home!" she yelled.

 

I look at her and tears start down my face! I reach for my pistol but it's wasn't there. I throw the ring at her, drop the champagne on the floor, turn around and walk out the door - slamming the hell out of it behind me. As I walk down the stairs, Jack is waiting for me.

 

"Come on son, you need a drink." He put his arm around my shoulder and guided me to the passenger seat of his car. He jumped in the driver's side and we took off.

 

I've never felt this bad in my life, I'm fighting back the tears but they're winning. I look over at Jack, "You knew didn't you?"

 

He nervously cleared his throat, "Yeah, I knew. I wish I could have made it easier on you and told you. But you were in love and wouldn't have listened."

 

"Damn Jack, I really thought she was the one for me. Where did I go wrong?"

 

"Son, let me tell you. You chose the wrong sort of woman. I'm kicking myself in the ass for not keeping you safe from her type and warning you earlier. You see women like her at every base: They're just out to sleep with as many soldiers as they can. I checked and she has a really bad reputation. Rumor has it she even banged the old man."

 

I looked over at him, "You're shitting me, the old man! He's got a wife and little girl."

 

"Well, that's what I heard. I knew she'd have some men in there tonight. That's why I told you to surprise her and to check your weapons. I bet you thought about shooting her didn't you?"

 

I looked at the floor embarrassed, "Yeah, I even reached for my pistol."

 

"Her type isn't worth the powder it'd take to blow them all the hell. If you married her she'd be screwing every guy she could while you were deployed and spending all your money. She's a fucking vampire and would have sucked you dry. Be glad you found that out now and in person, not when we're overseas from a Dear John letter. Give me your keys and I'll get your gear tomorrow."

 

Hatred burned in my heart, "Fuck it Jack! I don't want anything from that damn apartment, it's all been contaminated by her and will just remind me of her cheating on me."

 

"Don't be hasty Banzai, you don't make so much money as an LCpl that you can throw much stuff away."

 

I sniffled and laughed, "Jack, I never told you but I don't need the money the Marines pay me. When my dad died he left me pretty well off."

 

"What about your guitar and clothes?" Jack asked.

 

"Oh, I forgot about my guitar. I've had it since I was young and would like it back." I handed him my keys. "You think the old man would give us some time off? I'd like to go home and take you with me."

 

"We can check and see. But after your performance on the mission, I bet we can get some time."

 

Flashback continued - Jack – Late 1999 Camp Lejeune after first mission

 

I'm so upset at myself for not taking care of Banzai better and letting him get involved with that camp whore. He's a good kid but green as grass, and he didn't deserve this - hell no one deserves something like this. At least I got him out of it before the slut became his wife.

 

I guess he met her when he was playing in a band at a local bar. He's an incredible musician and usually I went to hear him play. But I was busy that night and couldn't make it. I'm sure the bitch figured he was all alone in the world, was lonely and she played on his emotions. There has to be a special place in hell for women like Susan.

 

My current live-in girlfriend Anna clued me in on what sort of bitch Susan was and I thanked the hell out of her for doing that. The last thing I needed was for him to get more messed up than he already was. It's like there are two people inside Banzai's head: There's the gentle and kind kid and then there's a bastard that's hard as nails. It's a good thing he didn't have to take any psych tests when he joined the Corps because they might have diagnosed him with dissociative identity disorder. Plus his social skills are almost non-existent.

 

I think it has to do with the way he was raised. He doesn't say much about his dad other than to call him a real son of a bitch and mention he beat the hell out of him all the time. He even has some scars I think are from the beatings. If the bastard was still alive I'd kick his ass! Shit when I meet him in hell that's the first thing I'm going to do.

 

He loves to talk about his mom. She's the one responsible for all the good in him. I can tell she was an incredible woman. He told me his mom taught him martial arts and now he's an excellent fighter. I guess he never figured out she could take care of herself. I'm sure Banzai took the beatings thinking he was protecting her.

 

He told me he spent most of his time off by himself when he was a kid. I guess they lived in a remote cabin in Colorado and his dad was such a bastard no one ever came to visit. So he never learned any social skills. Do you know he never had a single birthday party at his house when he was growing up? What sort of man would do that to his only son?

 

I drove him to my place, Anna met us at the door and handed Banzai a full bourbon highball, "Here Ben drink this." He sat on the couch and downed it in a few big gulps.

 

"Thank you ma'am, I don't feel well. Do you mind if I lie down on the couch?" He asked.

 

"My house is your house son." I answered.

 

Anna went over, took off his boots, he fell back on the couch and was asleep so fast I thought he'd passed out. Anna covered him with a blanket then we walked into the back bedroom.

 

"He's a fucking mess, what did that slutty bitch do to him?" Anna asked.

 

"Shit Anna, you told me about her just in time. He had a ring and was going to marry her. I don't know the details. But I think he found her with another man."

 

"I knew that would happen. I hate that bitch! I want to go and kick her ass." She stated.

 

I held up Banzai's keys, "How about we go over and get his guitar and clothes instead."

 

"Will she be there?"

 

"I don't know. I hope so ‘cause I have a few choice words I'd like to give her."

 

"If that whore might be there, I'm not letting you go alone. She might try to get you in bed."

 

I laughed and swatted her on the butt, "Hey, you're all the woman I need."

 

"Just you remember we're mutually exclusive." Anna's eyes blazed.

 

I thought, she's a good kid but unfortunately it's not going to last. She's too possessive. "Yes dear." I said as sarcasm dripped from my voice.

 

She punched me in the arm, "Hey, I'm serious."

 

I hugged her and kissed her. "So am I." We walked back into the living room and found Banzai was still dead to the world.

 

"Jack, you think he will be okay here?"

 

"He's exhausted and isn't going to wake up for a while. Let's go." We headed out to the car for the short drive to Banzai's apartment. When we got there Susan's car was gone. "Too bad, it looks like she left."

 

We walked up the stairs, I unlocked the door and went into the apartment. It was – well a fucking mess. Anna looked around, "How can two people live in filth like this? This place looks like a pig sty."

 

There were empty pizza boxes lying on the floor and empty beer bottles all over the room. The kitchen had nasty smells coming from the over flowing garbage can. I looked in the fridge and it was spotless inside and well stocked. I opened the cabinets and they were arranged and organized - something didn't make sense.

 

We walked into the bedroom and it reeked of sex. Anna looked at the bed, "That little slut, this bed is so nasty I'm afraid we'll catch something from it just being in the same room." I looked at one nightstand and it was a disaster, covered with all sorts of crap including sex toys. The other nightstand looked immaculate. I walked over and opened that nightstand and it was obvious it was Banzai's. I emptied the contents into one of the boxes we brought.

 

We opened the closet - it was all her clothes and was a huge mess. Anna said, "Shit the little whore has expensive clothes in here that she doesn't even take care of. Just look at this leather jacket, it must have cost four-hundred dollars and it's just thrown on the floor."

 

"I wonder where Banzai's clothes are? Let's check the second bedroom." I said.

 

We went out in the hall and down to the second bedroom; it had a hasp and padlock on the door. "This is bizarre. What the hell was going on in this apartment?" I looked on Banzai's key ring and found a key that looked right. I tried it in the lock, it opened the padlock, swung open the door and stepped into an incredible room.

 

The room was spotless and perfectly arranged. There was a small single bed in the corner, perfectly made. A desk was under the window with a laptop sitting on it, hand written sheet music in a neat pile on the corner, and a couple pictures. In the other corner was Banzai's guitar and amplifier. The wall was covered with Marine posters, it looked like a shrine. I walked to the closet and opened it - all of Banzai's clothes were there, in perfect order.

 

Anna looked at me, "This is Ben's room." She walked over, picked the pillow off the bed and sniffed it. "He's recently been sleeping in this room."

 

I was mad as hell but needed to control myself, "Anna, this all makes sense to me now. Last time I was here, the apartment was spotless just like this room. Banzai told me he did all the cooking, but I think he did all the work around here. I think the mess we see is from Susan."

 

She grumped, "And the bastard that was fucking her."

 

I looked at her, "You can never mention this to Banzai. The embarrassment would kill him. Let's pack up his things and get out of here."

 

We carefully packed his things. I looked at the pictures on his desk before I put them in a box: One had to be his mother and the other was his bastard father. I wanted to leave the one of his dad here, but knew even after all he'd done to Banzai, he still loved his dad. So I put it in the box.

 

Anna took his clothes down to the car and hung them up on the rail across the back seat. "Damn Jack, just look at the clothes he has. They're all old and half wore out but they're pressed and hung perfectly."

 

She opened the dresser and said, "Jack, you have to see this." I walked over and again things were in perfect order. Anna picked up a pair of his boxer briefs, "Look at this, I think he even irons his underwear."

 

"Does he starch them too?" I laughed causing Anna to giggle.

 

We both turned and looked when we heard a noise at the door, "What the fuck are you two doing in my apartment." Susan said.

 

Anna flew over to the door and got in her face, "We're packing up Ben's stuff you worthless, no good, cock sucking, ball busting, piece of shit. We don't know what you did to him, but he's not living here with you anymore."

 

"Fuck off and die you ugly old c…." Susan never got the last word out of her mouth because Anna jumped on her. The cat fight was on!

 

If you've never watched two women seriously fight, it's a scary thing because they don't have any rules. They were scratching, kicking, biting, hitting and swearing up a storm at each other. I wasn't worried because Anna was tough as nails and besides I was getting a free show. It got even better when Anna ripped Susan's top off, damn she had nice breasts. I almost laughed when she started using them for punching bags.  Anna finally had Susan face down on the carpet and was on her back slamming her face into the rug, blood was flying everywhere. I knew I had to stop it before Anna killed her.

 

I walked over, picked up Anna and pulled her to the side, "What the god damn hell did you do that for. I was giving her skanky ass the whooping she deserved."

 

Susan wasn't moving. "I was afraid if you kept going you were going to kill her. Look, she's unconscious."

 

Anna simmered down, looked at Susan and laughed, "I guess I did kick her butt. You can let me go."

 

"Are you sure you're okay?"

 

"Oh yeah, I'm fine." I let her go and she went over and kicked the shit out of Susan's side, I grabbed her again. "Hey, I thought you said you were done."

 

"Well, I'm done hitting and kicking her, but there are two more things I want to do. Help me roll her over."

 

"You have to promise me you won't hit, kick, scratch, bite or physically injure her in any way."

 

Anna gave me an evil smile, "I promise I won't physically injure her."

 

We rolled her over, Susan's face looked like hell and blood was running out of a crooked nose, "I think you broke her nose." I said.

 

"I hope I did, the little slut deserved it." Anna went to the desk and grabbed a permanent black marker and started writing on Susan's body and face. I was shocked at how descriptive she could be as she took extra special care of Susan's breasts. She even pulled down her pants and wrote up and down her legs. She wrote 'CLAP TRAP' on her belly with a big black arrow point to her pussy. I could tell she was thinking of shoving the marker where the sun didn't shine, "Anna, you promised." She listened to me. When she was done she told me, "Turn around I don't want you to see this."

 

"You promised you wouldn't physically hurt her again. What are you going to do?"

 

"I won't even touch her, I promise."

 

I turned around but Anna didn't realize I could see her in the mirror. I watched as she unzipped her jeans, squatted over Susan and peed on her. Anna looked over and noticed the mirror, "Hey you perverted old fart, what are you watching?"

 

"Uh, nothing. You do realize that Banzai will end up having to pay for all your mess out of the damage deposit don’t you?"

 

"Like hell he will, I'll gladly pay it. It was worth it to teach this little slut a lesson. Let's get the rest of the stuff and get the hell out of here. It smells like someone pissed in here." She laughed and that cracked me up too.

 

As we loaded up the rest of Banzai's stuff, I made a metal note to never get Anna pissed at me and to make sure that when we did break up, it would be on friendly terms. We made one final check of Banzai's room and made sure nothing was left. As we walked out the bedroom door, Anna 'accidentally' stepped on one of Susan's breasts and Susan moaned. I swatted Anna hard on the butt, "Hey you promised."

 

"Sorry Jack, it was an accident," She laughed.

 

I made one more sweep of the apartment and was glad I took the time. When I checked Susan's nightstand there was a stash of wedding rings that looked to be from men, an engagement ring in a box, and a bunch of pot and white powder. I grabbed everything and as I handed the drugs to Anna I told her, "Go flush this down the toilet."

 

I sat down at the kitchen table and wrote Susan a note:

 

Just so you know, we found your stash of men's wedding rings, many with inscriptions, the engagement ring Banzai gave you and your drugs! If you ever try to see or contact Banzai again, or if you press any charges about the fight you started, I will make sure the authorities get everything.

 

Anna came in and we left the apartment, leaving the door wide open behind us.

 

Once in the car Anna asked, "Jack, I can't believe that apartment. Ben's part was perfect and Susan's parts were fucked up. How in the hell did Ben think he could marry her, I don't think they even slept together."

 

I was distracted, worrying about the drugs we found and wondering if Banzai was using so I didn't answer her at first. "Jack, did you hear me?"

 

"Sorry Anna, I was just hoping that Banzai wasn't using any of those drugs. He's lonely as hell and has never known much if any love. When the bitch threw him her table scraps, he couldn't resist. He's too damn naïve for his own good."

 

"Jack, I know Ben too and I can't believe he would ever use drugs. Look at him, he passed out when I gave him a full highball, drug users wouldn't do that. So what are your plans for Ben?"

 

I'd thought about this for a while, "Anna, if you don't mind, and if I can get permission from the BCO I'd like him to move into our second bedroom. He really needs someone to watch out for him."

 

"Jack, you pretend to be a hard ass, but you can't fool me you old softy. That's why I love you so much. You feel like you’re his dad, don't you?" She scooted over beside me and started nibbling on my neck.

 

"Hey, don't do that or you'll cause me to wreck the car." And I thought about her last statement. Yeah, I guess I'd sort of adopted Banzai and I did think of him as my son.

 

"Sorry love, but kicking that little slut's ass has me all horny and I need screwed. You think Ben will still be asleep when we get home?"

 

"I hope he is."

 

"If he is, I know a devil-dog that's going to be howling at the moon soon." Anna winked and grabbed my crotch, I almost ran off the road.

 

He was still asleep when we arrived at my house, but the phone message machine was beeping. Banzai was so tired he slept right through the ringing. I went over and listened to the message, Banzai and I were to report in two days for another mission. We waited to bring Banzai's stuff in the house because Anna had needs that couldn't wait. And this old devil-dog did howl at the moon, more than once.

 

Flashback  - Anna – Late 1999 Jack's house after first mission

 

I was so horny after beating the crap out of that slut that I needed some hard lovin' - and Jack was the happy man that met those needs. However, the old fart fell asleep again after we were done and there was still work to finish. Aw shit, he's a good man and treats me well so I'll do it myself.

 

I hauled all Ben's stuff into the house and put it in the second bedroom as best I could, and it took me over an hour. I didn't bother to set things up, but I did put his clothes in the closet. I shook my head again - his clothes were so old, yet taken care of with such love. Damn, he's a good kid and just thinking about what she did to him gets me pissed off and I want to go kick her ass some more.

 

I walked out, saw him on the couch, went over to him and rousted him, "Come on Marine, help me get you into bed."

 

"Huh, what?" Ben replied.

 

"Come on Ben, time to move to your bed."

 

"Uh, okay Susan." I almost puked when he confused me for that slut. I helped him stand but he was wobbly as hell. I guided him into the second bedroom and he fell on the bed. I undressed him, just down to his skivvies and shuddered when I saw his back. It was covered with about ten scars! They were each about six inches long and were about half as wide as a pencil. Someone had beaten this poor boy and they'd beaten him bad. What sort of animal could do that! Then I remembered what Jack said about Ben's dad - the bastard!

 

I tucked him in, went into the kitchen, turned on the radio, made myself a cup of tea and thought about today. The lyrics to song on the radio said, "Lately it occurs to me what a long, strange trip it's been." Yes, it's been a very long and very strange trip today.