06 Wounded

Wounded

© Copyright 2009

Written by Banzai Ben and Amazing Anastasia

banzaiben@gmail.com

 

 

Wounded Chapter 06

 

Friday 07 December

 

Present – Ben - Hospital – Ramstein AFB Germany

 

I only sleep for about an hour because Jens is lying on my left arm and now it's asleep. I almost laugh - all the pain in my right arm and it's my left arm that wakes me. I look down at Jens and realize there's a wedge between us, in fact two wedges named Zarika and Yasmeen. I've been blocking her but I really miss the closeness we share. It's my fault it's gone and I'm going to fix it. I start to gently wiggle Jens, "Hey my love, wake up."

 

"Mmmm, it's so nice to wake up next to you again," Jens says and looks up at me. "Why did you wake me? Is the nurse almost here?" Suddenly she realizes: "Ben! You're back – you're finally back with me." She hugs me tight and starts crying! "I can feel almost everything again!" she says through her sobs. I hug her tightly and let her cry as she slowly quiets down.

 

"Jens, we need to talk. I need to tell you something."

 

"What, that you love me?" She grins at me, "I already know that!" She looks closer at me and realizes it's something else. She sits up in the bed and I flex my left arm to get the feeling back into it. I feel the pins and needles as the blood rushes back in.

 

"Ben, what's this about the girls I'm sensing?"

 

I gaze deeply into those violet eyes of hers, "I guess I need to explain a few things. If you hate me when I'm done I'll understand."

 

"Ben, I don't know what the hell this is but you're scaring me." I see some tears in the corner of her eyes.

 

"Jens, I love you and I've been totally faithful to you. Do you still have the picture of the girls?" She pulls it out of her purse, hands it to me and gives me a dirty look. "Ben, you need to tell me all about these girls."

 

I point to the picture, "Jens let me tell you the story about two of the most incredible young women I've ever met. This girl's name is Zarika: She is responsible for helping me escape. If it wasn't for her, I would have died."

 

She looks at me but isn't happy, "Then I owe her."

 

"And this young lady is Yasmeen: I meet her while Zarika and I were trying to get to Tajikistan. She was a big help in getting us both out of Afghanistan."

 

"Ben, you're not telling me everything," Jens says as she starts to get angry.

 

"Jens, let me explain, but it's going to take some time and you have to be patient and trust me."

 

Present – Jens - Hospital – Ramstein AFB Germany

 

I really miss the closeness of sensing Ben's feelings. I know we haven't been together very long, but I've become addicted to the closeness of sharing one mind with him. Now since it's gone I don't feel complete. I know what Ben felt like before we became a couple and I don't like it.

 

We slept together last night for the first time since he came back, but he's not really back. Part of his heart and mind is still in Afghanistan.

 

He wakes me early in the morning again and I realize he's back! And I can sense all his feelings again, everything that's happened since he was captured comes rushing into my mind. It feels like trying to watch a movie set on fast forward. The emotions are overwhelming.

 

Oh my God the torture he endured! I knew some of it but not all and what I sense almost makes me throw up. The mental and physical anguish he went through. I'm damn pissed at his captors and I want to go and seriously kick butt!

 

Ben's angrier about his captors than I am and is already planning revenge. The thought of revenge permeates his mind. I've never known him to be this angry about anything. I want to tell him I'm ready, let's go kick some Taliban ass!

 

Then things get complicated about the two girls. He starts telling me about them as we look at the picture. I can sense Ben's been faithful to me in spite of those two little conniving bitches! I can tell from their actions, they really think Ben will marry them. He feels they are his little sisters, but he did seem to enjoy the kisses from them too much.

 

"Ben, I can sense almost all your feelings again, except for the one area I've never been able to see. You need to tell me everything about those two little girls!"

 

Ben was looking desperate, "Jens, I'm trying if you will just let me continue."

 

I was getting more pissed all the time. "You'd better start trying harder. Because what I'm sensing is they feel you're their husband!"

 

"Jens, I've never told them that. I always told them they're my little sisters."

 

"Didn't you pretend Zarika was your wife?" I counter.

 

He turns and looks away, "Yes I did, but I made sure to tell her she wasn't my wife and never would be. And it was only when we first met Yasmeen's parents."

 

"That's another thing; didn't you agree to take Yasmeen as your wife?" I was highly pissed off now.

 

Ben gives me a pleading look, "Jens, it's not like that at all. I always told her she was just my little sister."

 

"Ben, what about the kisses? I know you didn't kiss them, but when they kissed you, you enjoyed it - you enjoyed it too much." I start crying.

 

Ben tries to move and hug me, but I'm too upset so I jump off the bed. If he was well I'd kick his butt!  "Ben, I need to go think about all this."

 

I grab my things and head out of the room, "Jens, don't leave. I wasn't unfaithful to you!" Ben shouts as I walk out the door.

 

Flashback Natasha (Jens) – Kabul Afghanistan - Monday 15 October

 

I was so glad when we landed in Kabul. We were lucky to even escape from the Air Base. I was more tired than I realized and I slept through part of the flight. With the surgery I still wasn't back to normal. The whole time I slept, my sleep was haunted by images of Ben being tortured.

 

Liz took us into the airport bathroom with all our gear, opened up bag, handed me some clothes, took some for herself and said, "Natasha, put this on."

 

I went in a nasty stall and looked at the burka she gave me. I yelled over the stall, "Liz, you're crazy if you think I'm wearing this. It's cruel and unusual punishment for women to wear these."

 

"Jens, shut up and put it on. It's a great disguise and no one will bother us."

 

"Liz!"

 

"Jens, don't give me any crap, just do it!"

 

I didn't like it but I put it on. Shit it was hot, uncomfortable, and scratchy. I came out of the stall and Liz was already done. She walked over and made a few adjustments. "There now you look like a proper muslim wife," she teased. I flipped her off and Liz looked around quickly, "Jens don't ever do that again when you're in a burka. If someone saw us and reported us we'd be stoned."

 

"I don't think it'd be any worse than wearing this crap." I complained.

 

"You think it's bad in here, wait until were outside in the sun, you're going to roast. Okay give me your other clothes."

 

I looked at her through the slit for my eyes, "I have them on underneath this piece-of-shit bag I'm wearing."

 

"Okay, go back in the stall and slip out of those clothes and hand them to me. Otherwise you'll be too hot." She ordered.

 

I went back in the stall and slipped out of my clothes. I whispered to Liz, "Do I leave my underwear on?"

 

She laughed, "Yes leave your underwear on."

 

I walked out and handed her my clothes. She put them in a bag, rummaged around in another bag and double checked to make sure we were the only ones in the bathroom. She pulled out a pistol with a belt and holster and handed it to me, "Put this on under your burka."

 

I went back in the fricken stall and complained, "Okay Liz, I'm tired of playing musical stalls. Is there anything else I need to do while I'm in here?"

 

"You did take care of your bodily needs, didn't you?"

 

"Shit!" I said.

 

"That's what I'm asking you Natasha, did you?" Liz laughed.

 

I moved the muslim torture dress out of my way and took care of business. "Damn! There's no paper." I complained.

 

Liz waved a roll over the top of the stall, I grabbed it. "Natasha, don't tell me you're always this helpless."

 

No one could see me so I flipped her off, twice in fact.

 

I messed with the burka but it didn't feel right to me. I walked out of the stall and Liz came over and adjusted it again. "This is how a burka is supposed to fit, "she told me.

 

I leaned close to her and whispered, "No wonder muslim men don't get any, their wives are too pissed from having to wear this shit. I'm already sweating up a storm and starting to stink."

 

Liz leaned closer, "Good now you'll smell like you belong here. Natasha, you know what the difference is between a catfish and a woman in a burka?"

 

"No Liz, what?"

 

She looked around confirming we were still alone, "One has whiskers and smells like a fish – and the other one is a fish." We both started laughing until another woman came in, then we grabbed our bags and left.

 

As we walked out the door Bernie was waiting for us. "Jens, walk behind me and do what I do." I followed her and acted just like her. We walked out of the airport and caught a taxi. Bernie said something to the taxi driver, and we took off. I could tell we weren't headed to one of the better parts of Kabul. Suddenly I was very happy I was in a burka.

 

Present - Liz - Friday 07 December – Dushanbe, Tajikistan

 

I flip on my phone as soon as I we land, and see I have five missed calls from Jens. I call her phone and she picks up right away.

 

"Liz, thank God it's you!" she starts crying.

 

At first I worry Ben died, "Jens, what the hell is wrong. Did Ben die?"

 

"That son-of-a-bitch, isn't dead yet, But if he wasn't so sick, I'd kill him," she cries into the phone.

 

I'm pretty sure what happened, but I want to give Jens a chance to vent so I pretend to be angry at Ben. "Okay sister, I don't know what the hell he did to you, but I'm coming right back to kick the shit out of him. No one makes my sister cry."

 

"Oh Liz, I don't know how to tell you. It's about the two little girls." She continues crying.

 

"Don't tell me the bastard slept with them. I'm going to castrate him if he did," I keep pretending.

 

"No Liz, he didn't sleep with them." Jens continues and sniffles.

 

I decide to get some information from her, "What did the prick do, did he marry them?" I hold my breath waiting for the answer.

 

"No Liz he didn't marry them." I almost sigh in relief. "Jens, then what the hell did he do that has you so upset at him?"

 

She went on to tell me how she can sense all his feelings again. She describes how he called them his little sisters, pretended he was married to them, and how they both helped rescue him. She tells me how they kissed him and that he enjoyed it too much! Most important, she felt the girls thought he was going to marry them. She finally tells me how he promised them he'd bring them to America.

 

I don't say anything for a minute because I'm afraid I'll laugh. "Liz, are you there?" Jens finally asks.

 

"I'm here Jens. So, you're telling me you're upset at Ben because he adopted two sisters?"

 

I hear Jens breathing and I wait for an answer. "Liz, it's more than that!" she tries to explain.

 

"Oh really sister! How the hell do you figure?" I ask in my most sarcastic tone.

 

"Liz, he-he-he…." I interrupt her saying, "He came back to you Jens that's what he did. He fought through hell and back to come back to you. We don't know how many shitheads he killed getting to you, but we know he's one of the few to ever escape. So he picked up a couple of strays on his way back to you. He didn't fuck them and I'm sure he could have, shit he didn't even kiss them – they kissed him! Jens he was totally faithful to you! So get your head out of your ass unless you want to lose him to those two girls."

 

I don't wait for an answer and I hung up the phone. Damn! Sometimes she acts just like a kid. I'm glad I'm around to whip her butt when she needs it.

 

At least I know he says he didn't marry them but I sure hope they didn't trick him into it. Now I just have to find the two of them. I'm glad Jens isn't with me because as pissed as she is, she'd probably kill both of them.

 

The phone rings again, it's Jens. "Liz, did you hang up on me?"

 

"Hell yes I did and I'm going to do it again! I won't talk to you when you're acting like daddy's spoiled little brat. I'm not going to be part of you trying to crucify Ben for something silly and something he didn't even do. Get your head out of your ass and go give Ben the loving he deserves - if you don't you'll lose him." I hang up the phone. Shit! If she fucks up too bad with Ben, I might even have to pick up the pieces – nah, I couldn't do that to Jens, but it is tempting.

 

The phone rings again, and yes it's Jens again. I answer the call and hear Jens give me a raspberry then she hangs up.

 

The phone rings and I get ready to just push ignore, but this time I don't recognize the number. I answer it, "This is Liz; it's my time your dime."

 

"Liz, it's Ben," I feel so much pain in his voice, I almost drop the phone. I decide to be upbeat and try to cheer him up.

 

"Ben, hey it's great to hear from you! How are you feeling?"

 

There's a pause on the end of the line and he says, "Liz, I feel like hell. Jens has left me."

 

My sister is being such an asshole - she's the one that needs her ass kicked! "Ben, I don't think she'd ever leave you. It must be a misunderstanding. Tell me what happened."

 

As Ben tells me the story from his point of view, I start getting even more pissed at Jens. She's way over-reacted to everything. Sometimes she is such a drama queen!

 

"Ben, I think you need to give her some time and space. She's not thinking right now and she's reacting with her emotions. Once she starts thinking logically she'll realize how much of an asshole she's been and then she'll come running back."

 

The line was quiet for awhile, "Liz, I love you like a sister, but don't ever call Jens an asshole again or I'll kick your butt. This is entirely my fault!"

 

Oh boy, now Ben's getting all fouled up. "Listen here Mister, who the hell do you think you are telling me what I can and cannot call Jens. If she's acting like an asshole then I'm going to call her an asshole. Just like I'm going to call you an asshole too! This is not your fucking fault asshole! You both need to get your heads out of your asses!" I hang up the phone in disgust.

 

It rings again and it's Jens. I pick it up and another call comes in and it's Ben, so I conference them: "Jens, you're an asshole and Ben you're an asshole." I yell. They both start talking at the same time and finally realize they're talking to each other.

 

"Jens, is it really you?" Ben asks.

 

"Well it sure as hell isn't one of your other two girlfriends. I bet they're too young to know how to dial a phone." She snaps back at him.

 

"Jens, stop being and asshole." I yell in the phone. The people around me turn and look so I smile and shrug my shoulders.

 

"Liz dammit! I told you not to call her an asshole!" Ben says with anger.

 

"Ben, I don't need you to save me. I can take care of her by myself." Jens adds.

 

"Ben, you're right. She's not acting like an asshole and I apologize to both of you. She's really acting just like Evelyn." I explain in a calm voice.

 

"Liz, fuck you! I'm not acting like my mother."

 

I laugh in the phone, "What's wrong sister, did it hit a little too close to home?"

 

I hear her start sniffling into her phone. "Jens, I need to talk to you in person and tell you how much I love you! Since you won't come to me, I'm going to come and find you." Ben says and his line goes dead.

 

"Jens, he's going to hurt himself if he gets up. You'd better go and stop him." I tell her. She gives me a raspberry and hangs up her phone.

 

I stare at my phone thinking what a FUBAR mess this is. I'm tempted to throw the damn phone in the trash but decide not to and walk off towards the street to find a taxi. Ten minutes later I slap myself on the forehead for being so stupid, I'd better call the hospital and let them know Ben is going to escape. I find the number of the nurses' station in the ICU and call.

 

"Third floor ICU, unit clerk speaking." There's a bunch of noise in the background, it sounds like all hell is breaking loose.

 

"Hi, this is Elizabeth Morgan from the Truth Network. I have information that SM Blaine might try to escape."

 

"Ms. Morgan, I wish you had called five minutes ago. He just ripped out all his tubes and broke out of the ICU. We didn't even think he could walk, but he beat up an MP and two orderlies getting out of here."

 

Shit! I was too late. "I'm sort of his adopted sister; would you please call me when they find him?" I give her my phone number, hang up the phone and slump down into a chair. I hold my head in my hands and start crying. The two people I love the most, maybe the only two people I have ever loved are hurting each other and I can't fix it.

 

Flashback - Liz – Kabul, Afghanistan - Monday 15 October

 

Bernie was going to meet us in Kabul with information, something he couldn't trust to email or the phones. He knew the routine and was waiting for us outside the ladies room in the airport. We came out in our burkas, followed him out of the airport and got into a cab - just like good little muslim wives.

 

I recognized the address of the area we were going and it wasn't a good part of town. Jens was squirming and messing with her burka too much so I pinched the hell out of her until she stopped.

 

The driver made a comment to Bernie about him breaking a new wife into wearing a burka and then laughed. Bernie laughed and told him how important it was for women to be taught their place. I wanted to kick both their butts, but I pretended to be the good little muslim wife.

 

We finally arrived at a dilapidated building and the driver stopped the cab. I held on to Jens arm so she wouldn't jump right out. Bernie got out first, grabbed all the gear, and then ordered us out of the cab. We followed Bernie into the building. He turned and locked the door.

 

I walked over to him, "I should kick your butt."

 

He laughed, "Just like a good little muslim wife, you obey me outside the home, but you rule me inside the home."

 

I flipped him off. "Bet your good little muslim wife never did that to you," and laughed.

 

"Can I get the hell out of this death dress?" Jens complained.

 

"Sure, there's a bathroom down the hall where you can change," Bernie laughed. "Here's some BDU's for both of you."

 

I grabbed them and we took off. "Hey, these are Army BDU's." Jens remarked.

 

Bernie shouted, "Beggars can't be choosers. If you don't like them you can always stay in your burka. It makes both of you look so sexy." He laughed and Jens flipped him off as we went to the bathroom.

 

Jens threw off the burka and she really did stink! I handed her a couple wet wipes, "Thanks Liz, sorry but I really need those."

 

"No problem sister and I agree you do really need those."

 

She bit her lip, "I think I'm so stinky because I'm still getting the anesthesia out of my system. It's too bad we can't take a shower."

 

For a second I had a vision of us showering together, and pushed it quickly out of my mind. "Yeah, that would be nice." I was changed and said, "Let me go ask Bernie if there's a shower." I quickly left the bathroom, to get away from her and my emotions. I went down the hall and asked Bernie, "Jens was wondering if we have a shower here?"

 

"No shower and no hot water. The best you can hope for is a whore bath," He teased me and laughed. Jens walked in as I turned red, "What's going on Liz?"

 

"Nothing Jens, we don't have a shower or hot water. You'll have to just either use wet wipes or a washcloth."

 

"Okay, no problem I do those all the time out in the field." Jens smiled and said, "even though these are Army BDU's I still feel much better being out of that medieval torture device."

 

I wanted to tell her to stop acting spoiled but knew it would cause a fight. "Okay Bernie, what do you have for us?" He went through everything and Jens said, "That sure isn't much, I was hoping we'd have more by now."

 

"Normally we would, but the whole area is in an uproar over Ben killing those two high ranking Taliban. They aren't letting anyone into or out of the area." Bernie answered.

 

Jens went over and pulled out her laptop, "Do we have an Internet connection here?"

 

"Just through this," Bernie answered and held up a sat phone. She took the phone, hooked it up to the computer played around with some settings and said, "Now we have free Internet."

 

I looked at Bernie and motioned him to the side, "She's going to be busy for a while. Let's make something to eat."

 

Flashback - Zarika  – Tajikistan Day Eighteen

 

I was a pest and kept asking Oleg the time since he was the only one with a watch. He finally got tired of it and handed the watch to me. I looked as the second hand moved across the face and it seemed to move in slow motion. I can't wait to get out of the cab and take care of Ben.

 

Yasmeen is such a baby, she complained about the way the men smell. They don't smell half as bad as Hussein's men. I started shaking remembering what they used to do to me and how brave Ben saved me. "Zarika, are you okay?" Oleg asked.

 

I looked at him, "I am fine. I was just remembering some bad things."

 

He looked at the floor, "It was about those terrible men that took you? We were shocked when you came back, everyone thought you were dead."

 

I shivered again and punched him in the arm, "I do not want to talk about it."

 

The two hours were finally up and I crawled to the back of the truck. Yasmeen was curled up next to Ben and was sleeping. I wanted to pull her hair and beat her up but I know Ben would make both of us ride up front. "Yasmeen, it is time for you to go up front." I said and gently shook her.

 

She woke up, stretched and yawned. "Thank you Zarika, I have been taking good care of Ben. I have kept cold washcloths on his head and have been giving him lots of kisses."

 

I wanted to punch her smart little mouth for kissing Ben, "I am sure Ben tolerated all your kisses." She gave me a dirty look and said, "We need to wake up Sasha."

 

"Go on up front and I will wake him." Yasmeen crawled up front; the minute she left I wiped Ben's mouth to get rid of her slobbers and gave him a big kiss of my own. He started coughing and woke up.

 

Flashback - Ben – Tajikistan Day Eighteen

 

I felt like I couldn't breathe and it woke me. I opened my eyes and saw Zarika smiling mischievously at me, "Ben, it is good to see you are awake. Let me wake up Sasha."

 

She leaned over and shook the hell out of Sasha, "It's been two hours and Ben is awake."

 

He sat up and looked at me, "How do you feel?"

 

"I feel like shit and all of a sudden when I was sleeping it was like I couldn't breathe and it woke me up."

 

Sasha looked concerned, "Let me check your lungs." He put on a stethoscope, "Ben, take a deep breath." I took a breath and coughed." He moved the stethoscope, "Take another deep breath." I did what he told me but this time I didn't cough.

 

He looked puzzled, "Ben your lungs are fine, I don't know why you felt like you couldn't breathe. Let's take your temperature." He put the thermometer in my mouth and took my pulse. He read the thermometer and said, "You are doing fine." But I could tell from the concern on his face he was lying. "Drink more water."

 

Zarika put the glass up to my lips and I drank a little bit but it upset my stomach. "Ben, drink more water." Zarika told me.

 

"I can't or I will get sick. Where are we?" Zarika called up front and they answered her, "Good news Ben, tomorrow we will be in Dushanbe." She put a wet cloth on my head and it felt really good.

 

"Ben, I'm going to redress your wound. Would you like some morphine first?" Sasha asked.

 

I looked at my arm the best I could, I was sick of the constant pain but knew from my past I could handle it. I silently cursed the fact I didn't die an honorable soldier's death. "No Sasha, no morphine."

 

He looked at me, "Are you sure?"

 

"Hell yes I'm sure. No morphine!"

 

He started undressing the wound and I said, "Wait! Zarika, give me a piece of wood to bite on." She put a piece of wood between my teeth and Sasha continued. The dressing had stuck to the wound and he had to pull it off taking some dead skin with it. The pain became intense; I saw stars and dots in front of my eyes. I started trying to move, "Zarika, hold him still." Sasha commanded. Zarika fell on top of me and held me down. Just as I slipped into unconsciousness I saw my dad's face where he was burning in hell, "Be seeing you soon in hell with me you worthless shithead!" echoed in my ears. I swung my good arm and hit the SOB in the face and then wrestled with him as we both were consumed by the flames.

 

Flashback - Yasmeen – Tajikistan Day Eighteen

 

I was sitting in the front, trying to keep the other men from touching my legs with theirs and also trying to ignore their terrible smell. One of them kept spoiling the air and it was worse than ever, they were animals. It was so bad, I felt like I was going to be sick.

 

Then I heard a bunch of noise from the back of the truck and had an excuse to leave. "I am going to see what is happening," and crawled into the back of the truck before they could stop me.

 

Zarika was lying on top of Ben and Sasha was lying beside Ben. I saw a lot of blood. "Zarika, what did you do to Ben? Why is there so much blood?"

 

She looked at me and I thought she was going to start hitting me again. "Yasmeen, help Sasha. I think Ben broke his nose." I watched as Ben struggled to get up, "I think you need some help Zarika. Let me help hold him down."

 

"Yasmeen, I have Ben. Please help Sasha." I pouted a little; Zarika was getting to have all the fun with Ben and went over to Sasha. "Are you okay?" I asked.

 

He made some funny noises and I couldn't understand him, then I figured out he was just waking up; I shook his shoulders, "Wake up Sasha."

 

"Ohh, my nose," he said and grabbed his nose.

 

"Sasha, what can I do for you?"

 

He held his nose and looked around, "Get me some rags he said." I handed him some rags and watched as he tore them into little strips and started stuffing them up his nose. It was making me sick so I turned away and started touching Ben's head. The minute I touched Ben, he stopped fighting. Zarika looked at me and grinned. I thought about saying something but I knew it would cause a fight.

 

"Yasmeen," Zarika whispered, "Go help Sasha." I went back over and Sasha was done messing with the rag and his nose. I laughed when I looked at his nose, "Sasha, your nose is crooked." He felt it, "Do you have a mirror?" I took the small mirror I had hidden in my pocket. I used it to make sure I was always pretty for Ben and handed it to him. He looked in the mirror and then handed it back to me. I started looking at myself making sure I looked more beautiful than Zarika.

 

"Yasmeen, stop looking at yourself and hold the mirror for me," Sasha scolded me. He grabbed my hand and moved the mirror in front of his face. I moved my hand a little and he roughly grabbed it, "Keep the mirror here and do not move your hand." I thought about hitting him, but decided it would not be wise. He looked in the mirror, reached up, grabbed his nose and pulled it down and around. I heard a pop and he started swearing.

 

I moved the mirror to cover my ears and he grabbed my hand again, "Do not move the mirror or I will hit you," Sasha threatened. I started crying and shaking.

 

"Zarika, come help me with the mirror." Sasha said.

 

Zarika came over and took my mirror. I thought about snatching it back but remembered what Ben said would happen if we fought. She held the mirror and Sasha messed with his nose some more, his nose made some more noises and he swore even more. Finally it was straight.

 

"We need to tape my nose so it doesn't move. Zarika please get some tape for me." I took my mirror back and wiped it clean because I don't know what sort of nasty things Zarika had gotten on it. Then I looked at myself in the mirror and decided I was the youngest and most beautiful wife Ben would ever have. I moved over to where Zarika had been, lay down right next to Ben and watched Zarika help Sasha.

 

They were done and Sasha asked for the mirror again so I reluctantly handed it to him. He looked at his nose some more, messed with it just a little more and handed the mirror back to me. I hid it from Zarika again.

 

Sasha looked at us and said, "Girls I hate to do this, but I think we need to tie Ben's arms and legs so he doesn't hurt anyone else. Do you have any rope?"

 

Zarika looked at me, "Yasmeen, since your back here during my time to take care of Ben, you can get the rope for Sasha."

 

I really wanted to flip her off, but I knew she would hit me again and we'd both end up sitting in front. So I slowly crawled away from Ben and found the rope for Sasha. I watched as he tied Ben's arms and legs to the board underneath him. It made me sad to think Ben was tied up like an animal. But I thought about all the fun I could have with him when it was my turn to take care of him and smiled. Zarika looked at me, "Yasmeen, it's time for you to go back up front." I crawled back up front and it smelled worse than ever.

 

Flashback - Ben – Late 1999 In flight traveling to base in Indian Ocean.

 

I was shocked because this time we weren't flying on a C130 or a military jet. We were flying on an Evergreen air jet and I felt like I was sitting in the lap of luxury. We were in the last row of the plane, Jack's favorite seats. He went into this long explanation of why he sat here, but I was distracted, too distracted to listen.

 

We were the only two on the plane and the cute little stewardess kept asking me if I wanted anything, and made sure I knew everything was on the menu. I was watching the provocative sway of her hips as she walked towards the front of the plane. Jack elbowed me in the side, "Banzai, are you going to hit that."

 

I looked at Jack and blushed, "Aw Jack, I don't know. I just got out of a crappy relationship with Susan. I'm not sure I want to jump into anything else."

 

"Are you telling me you don't want to jump into the middle of that? If so I'd better not shower around you." He teased.

 

I looked at him, "It's a good thing we're friends or I'd deck you for that comment. Of course I'd like to join the mile high club with her."

 

"So what's holding you back?" He questioned.

 

"I don't want it to affect my performance on this mission."

 

He laughed, "Banzai, that's the lamest excuse I've ever heard. If anything it would help by calming you down. Let me give you some advice, if you're not in an exclusive relationship never-ever turn down a chance to get laid."

 

"But what if she's ugly?"

 

He chuckled, "Banzai, those are the best because they try harder. Many beautiful women think they're doing you a favor by letting you bed them. An average or ugly girl thinks you're doing her a favor."

 

"Jack, I didn't bring any protection with me."

 

"Banzai, didn't I teach you to always be prepared for everything?" He stood up, grabbed his travel pack, opened it up and pulled out a bag and handed it to me. "Okay, now you don't have any excuses left."

 

"Jack, don't tell me you would cheat on Anna?" I indignantly asked.

 

He laughed, "Hell no, we're exclusive. She'd kill me if I ever cheated on her. Go ahead and open the bag."

 

I opened the bag and found a note, from Anna.

Ben, I bought these hoping you'll find some cutie to use them on.

Go get her tiger.

                   XOXO Anna

 

Jack started laughing, "If you could see the look on your face, it's priceless. I think I'll head up front and get some shuteye. Oh, a couple more things: Remember, real men finish last and if it's been awhile you might want to double-bag the first time."

 

I looked at him, "Double-bag, what the heck is that."

 

He laughed, "You sure are green. Double-bag means use two condoms. You normally do it if it's a real slut you're bedding. In this case she's not a slut and it will keep you from going off half-cocked."

 

He went up front and reclined one of the seats. The stewardess came back, "Hey, why don't you take the window seat and let me sit beside you?"

 

I moved over by the window and she sat beside me. The first thing she did was raise the armrest and snuggle up close against me. She said in a sexy southern drawl, "My name is Linda Sue and I'm so happy the old man moved up front."

 

"So am I and my name.." I never finished the sentence because she put a huge lip lock on me. When we pulled away to breathe again she drawled, "My, you are green, but you're as cute as a june bug and a hell of a kisser. Don't you ever tell anyone on these flights your name because it puts you and the person you tell in danger. Even in those black BDU's I can tell you’re a Marine and whatever you're doing is damn important otherwise you'd be flying a cargo plane. That's all I need to know. Now you just wait right here, I'm gonna go and make sure we're not bothered."

 

She walked up front swaying the whole way and had my total attention. She stopped, turned, made sure I was watching, then blew me a kiss as she went into the cabin.

 

A few minutes later she came back and drawled, "Well handsome, looks like we have some time to kill, any ideas what we might do?" she started slipping out of her uniform and reclined both seats so they were just like a bed. She grabbed a blanket and crawled in beside me.

 

I had some ideas and Linda Sue had some ideas and we both had an excellent flight.

 

Flashback - Jack – Late 1999 In flight traveling to base in Indian Ocean.

 

It was all I could do to keep from laughing myself to death. Banzai had found himself a real go getter on this flight. That little flight attendant wanted to have some fun and the fun's name was Banzai.

 

He tried to make some silly excuses, even saying he didn't have protection. But Anna had given me a box of condoms for him. I wished I could have taken a picture of his face when I gave him the box and he read the note - it was utter astonishment.

 

He was so green, I made sure to explain a couple things to him as I excused myself and went up front to sleep. But I couldn't catch a wink. From the way things sounded, he'd listened to my advice. I wasn't worried because we could sleep on the sub. I was just trying to pretend I was asleep so I wouldn't embarrass them.

 

After about three hours they settled down and I think Banzai fell asleep, because the flight attendant came past me and said, "Thanks for moving and thanks for pretending to be asleep." I watched her walk the rest of the way to the front of the plane and decided Banzai had gotten very lucky and the kid deserved it.

 

Flashback – Ben – Eight years old the next day

 

There is some mild child abuse in this section, mostly mental.

 

Someone gently shook me awake. When I opened my eyes, I noticed I was in my bed, and saw it was Mom. "Ben you need to get up and do your PT before he comes in here." I looked at her and wondered how she could be so nice and dad could be so mean, but I didn't have the courage to ask.

 

As I started moving, my back felt really bad and it was very hard to move. The pain brought back the memories of last night's beating. I remembered passing out, but I had no memories of getting into my bed. I grimaced in pain and moaned. "Ben I'm sorry. I tried to stop him last night but he wouldn't listen to me. After he taught you the lesson he drank until he passed out. I brought you to bed and did what I could for your back. But it's going to hurt for a very long time. And you can't go to school, not until your back gets better."

 

The pain helped me slip back into hard Ben because he was the only one who could handle this. When I moved, the pain was still there, but it didn't bother me anymore.

 

I smiled at Mom, "Don't worry Mom, I'll be fine. At least he didn't hit you." I got into my clothes, went outside and did the PT dad forced me to do each and every morning. I was shocked and relieved when he didn't show up to make sure I did everything correctly. I couldn't remember a time when he wasn't there to 'ride my ass.'

 

I just finished my chin-ups when he staggered out of the barn, looking like a mess. His eyes were bloodshot and he smelled of vomit and pee. "Can't you say good morning to your loving Dad?" he laughed. His breath was so bad I almost threw up.

 

I looked at him, "Good morning Sir!"

 

He watched me drop off the chin-up bar, "I guess I overslept today. It looks like you're finished."

 

"Yes Sir, I am."

 

He looked at his watch, "You sure you did everything like you were supposed to?"

 

"Yes Sir! I even did more pushups and chin-ups than normal." He looked at me like he didn't believe me and I thought for a moment he was going to start beating me again. Then a squirrel ran across the front yard and distracted him. He looked back at me and grinned, "Damn, I could go for some fresh squirrel tonight for dinner. Go and get your pistol and Grandpa's old Mauser then come back here. You're going hunting."

 

"Yes Sir," I said and excitedly ran into the house. I always looked for any excuse to get out of the house, and today I was going to have my favorite excuse: Hunting! I started hunting with Grandpa and dad about the time I started walking. Grandpa was great and we went hunting all the time. Many times we didn't kill the animals but we just saw how close we could get to them without scaring them.

 

Hunting with dad was great too since it was the only time he was nice to me. But I could tell today I'd be going by myself because dad was in too bad a shape from last night.

 

I ran down the basement steps, went over and strapped on my holster and belt. I checked the cylinder on my Colt Frontier Scout and it had five .22 LR cartridges in it. I made sure to put the empty chamber back under the hammer. I took my knife out of its sheath and made sure it was sharp by shaving some hair off my arm. Then I felt for the throwing knife I'd made from a piece of steel - it was still hidden in my belt.

 

I went to the gun rack and pulled down the single shot, .22 LR Mauser Grandpa brought back from World War II and gave to me. I kept it pointed in a safe direction and made sure the chamber was clear. I looked at the silver plate attached to the side of the stock and wondered who Otto Bruger was and why I had his gun. I was so excited I forgot about my back, until I slung the rifle over it and was painfully reminded. I dashed up the stairs and into the yard.

 

Dad pulled a box of ammo out of his pocket and looked at me, "You know, normally I'd give you the whole damn box and tell you to have fun. But you were such a worthless little shithead yesterday and made me waste two rounds, so I'm not gonna do that." He opened the box and handed me three rounds, "Let me see your revolver."

 

I took the revolver out of the holster, put it on half cock, opened the feed gate and handed it grip first to him. He slowly spun the cylinder and counted the five rounds. "Well at least you've got some sense in your worthless head. Now you've got five rounds in the revolver and I expect you to come back with all five rounds. Unless you get attacked by a puma but then you'd better come back with the revolver empty and dragging the puma. Do you understand?" He was carelessly waving the revolver around in a manner which would have earned me a beating.

 

"Yes Sir!"

 

He handed the revolver back to me and I noticed he didn't put the empty chamber under the hammer and I made a mental note to do it as soon as possible. "Now where was I?" He scratched his head.

 

"Sir, you gave me three rounds of ammo for the rifle and checked my pistol. I have five rounds in it."

 

"Oh yeah, now I remember," he laughed. "I'm gonna eat at least two squirrels myself, your Mama is going to want a squirrel, that's three squirrels and three rounds. If you want to eat tonight you'd better figure out a way to kill at least four squirrels with three bullets. Now get a bag from your Mama to bring those squirrels back with, make sure you clean them well and you'd better only make head shots on them, I don't want you blowing away half of the squirrel this time."

 

"Yes Sir!" I ran back in the house and Mom handed me Grandpa's possibles1 bag, "Ben, don't let you father look in the bag since I put a sandwich in it for you." I hugged the bag: it still smelled like a combination of Grandpa and tobacco.

 

1 A bag which was used by Indians and Mountain men to carry their possibles (supplies). They function much like today's messenger bags.

 

"Thanks Mom," I smiled at her and headed back out in the yard and took off for an enjoyable day in the woods.

 

"Remember worthless shithead I expect at least four squirrels, or else!" dad yelled. Or else I thought, I won't come back home. I topped the hill, stopped and put the revolver's hammer on the empty chamber.

 

Dad thought he was giving me a big problem when he only gave me three rounds, but I knew it wasn't going to be a problem at all since I'd been secretly hiding some of the ammo he gave me for close to a year and had a large supply cached in many different places. I had grand plans of taking my revolver and the Mauser and running away from home some day - living off the land, just like the Indians did. My first cache was close so I grabbed another five rounds. There wasn't any need to be greedy.

 

Four or five squirrels by dinner would be no problem so I took my time and relaxed, enjoying being out of school and in the woods on this nice fall day. The sunlight streamed through the golden aspen leaves and a gentle breeze murmured through the pines. It was time to get back in touch with the land, so I stopped, took off my boots and socks, tied the laces together and threw them over my shoulder. That was a mistake because the one boot whacked my back and sent waves of pain through my body causing me to fall to my knees. A squirrel's angry bark snapped me out of my pain. I looked at him and said, "It's your lucky day Mr. Squirrel because it's too early."

 

Just for practice I pulled the Mauser around and took aim at the rude squirrel through the JC Higgins four power scope. I concentrated, remembered everything Grandpa and dad taught me about shooting and pretended to pull the trigger. "Yes Mr. Squirrel today is your lucky day." I laughed and walked on.

 

Without my boots, I was silent in the woods and practiced sneaking up on unsuspecting animals. Squirrels were easy because they were stupid: All you had to do was wait until they weren't looking and then move. I liked to get about ten feet away from them and yell because it was funny to watch them panic and run away.

 

Rabbits were even easier because they thought if they stayed still you wouldn't see them. It was too bad dad didn't want rabbit because they let me get close enough I could have killed them with my throwing knife. Instead I just threw rocks at them and laughed as they scampered away.

 

I looked down and noticed some fresh deer poop and the big tracks of a buck deer. I'd never tried to sneak up on a deer so this would be a new challenge. I slipped slowly from tree to tree, watching the tracks and scanning the woods ahead of me. I froze beside a tree when I noticed some movement and patiently waited until this huge buck walked out into the clearing. He had a massive set of antlers with eight points.

 

I was downwind of him and knew I had the advantage.  Just be patient and still until he turned. A deer fly buzzed around my head, landed on my shoulder and bit me. It hurt like a son of a gun, but I didn't move because I was a statue. The buck finally turned and I slowly slipped closer until I could see the flies bothering him.

 

I must have made a little noise because he turned and looked at me, wiggling his huge ears trying to hear me. He looked funny and I had to hold my breath to keep from laughing. He looked right at me but didn't see me. Then he lowered his head and started eating again. I'd never been this close to a live deer and it was both scary and beautiful.

 

I wondered if I could bring my rifle up without spooking him so I ever so slowly moved it around. It must have taken ten minutes to shoulder the rifle. I looked through the scope and dreamed of the day dad would let me shoot my first deer. The sling swivel on the rifle squeaked and the deer bolted from the clearing. I looked disgusted at the sling swivel and said to my rifle, "Next time I need to make sure to put a drop of oil on you." Then I hugged the rifle since it was my best and only real friend. I remembered the day Grandpa gave it to me, I was so proud.

 

I wandered over by the stream, sat down and pulled the sandwich out of my bag. It was peanut butter and grape jelly, my favorite. I was starved because I hadn't eaten anything since breakfast yesterday and wanted to wolf it down but I heard Grandpa's voice, "Little Chief (his pet name for me), always conserve your food when you're in the woods. Too much food will make you too slow in the woods. Save your feasts for the teepee." I ate half the sandwich and put the other half back in my bag. Then I leaned back under a lone Douglas fir, relaxed and almost fell asleep until an angry squirrel barked and disturbed my rest.

 

I looked up - he was about ten feet above me on the trunk of the tree. He was barking and swishing his tail all upset that I invaded his tree.  Then I noticed the Douglas fir had at least three other squirrels in it.

 

This was a proud old grandfather tree which had weathered many storms. The rough bark reminded me of the many wrinkles in Grandpa's face. When I stood up the brave squirrel ran up the tree, hid in the branches and continued to complain.

 

I hugged the tree and enjoyed the rich smell of pine and the rough texture of the bark. I tried to touch my hands but it was so big around I could barely touch my fingers. The squirrels got upset and started barking at me complaining that I was bothering their tree. I walked around the tree and noticed it stood alone by itself, just like me. There wasn't another tree within a hundred yards.

 

I sat on the ground, looked at the tree and began to think. Four squirrels in one tree and no way for them to escape - I should be able to do something about this. It seemed like Grandpa's voice echoed in my ears, "Little Chief, the Great Spirit has given you a big gift. Use your mind and don't become ensnared by it." 

 

I looked up at the sky and said, "Thank you Grandpa and thank you for teaching me so many things." I looked in the possibles bag and found a piece of cord that looked like it would work. There were little saplings all around the base of the big tree that were perfect. I made a noose and tied it to the top of the sapling, bent it close to the big tree, let it go and watched it fly away.

 

There was a branch which stuck out from the big tree and I cut a notch in it with my knife. I found a stick on the ground and cut a matching notch so the two fit together perfectly. I tied the little stick to the rope and threaded the noose over both the branch and the stick, making sure it was hanging freely. Then I put the notches together and they held perfectly. I touched the small stick and the snare tripped with the noose catching my finger.

 

Reaching into the possibles bag, I tore off a piece of my sandwich (licking my fingers and enjoying the taste of the peanut butter and jelly) and stuck it on the end of the small stick. Resetting and testing the trap made the sandwich came off the stick too easy. I ran to the stream and grabbed a piece of grass, came back and tied it around the sandwich. This time it held. I smiled and swore I heard Grandpa, "Good snare Little Chief, you remembered everything I taught you."

 

I moved back sat down on the ground, crossed my legs and patiently waited. The squirrels had all the time in the world but I needed to be home in time for dinner or face another beating. All I had to do was catch one squirrel since I could always shoot the others. I anxiously watched as the brave squirrel came down the tree. He stopped every few feet and sniffed. I watched as he moved out on the branch, his tail swishing and sniffed at the piece of sandwich. He wanted it, but something didn't seem right to him. He reached and then moved back, did that several times and finally grabbed the piece of sandwich and tripped the snare. The noose snagged his neck and flung him off the tree. He thrashed around in the air trying to get free. I jumped up, ran over and smacked him on the head with my knife and watched as the life slowly ebbed from his little body.

 

I took him out of the snare, reset the trap, went over by the stream and started field dressing him. I glanced at the snare and watched as another squirrel headed towards it. Once the squirrel was field dressed, I put him in a plastic bag, weighted it with a rock, and set him in the stream to cool.

 

The other squirrel just tripped the snare so I ran over and took care of him like I did the first one. I didn't bother resetting the snare this time since I thought I needed to shoot a couple squirrels or dad might get suspicious. I field dressed this squirrel while making sure I kept the others in the tree because I didn't want to lose them. One was persistent so I pulled up the Mauser and shot him. The other one ran back up into the branches and hid.

 

I decided to sit and wait for the last squirrel to come down the tree and shoot him. Then clean the last two at the same time. It didn't take long for the squirrel to start down the tree and I had my rifle ready. I waited until he paused, took aim and shot him right through the eye. He fell to the ground, I picked him up, field dressed both of them and dropped them into the plastic bag in the stream.

 

I washed all the blood and entrails off my hands and seriously wanted a drink, but remembered the last time I drank from the stream I got a case of beaver fever2. I checked my watch and was sad because it was time to head back to the house. I picked up the squirrels, put them in the possibles bag and started trotting towards the house. I remembered to stop along the way and drop off my extra ammo in a cache.

 

2 Giardiasis - is caused by the infection of the small bowel by a single-celled organism called Giardia lamblia.

 

The closer I got to the house, the slower I moved, trying to prolong my time away. I arrived home five minutes before I was expected and saw dad sitting on the porch - he looked terrible.

 

"Hey worthless shithead, did you get any squirrels?"

 

I walked up in front of him and stood at attention, "Yes Sir!" I answered and pulled out the plastic bag.

 

He snatched it out my hands and looked inside, "Four squirrels. Okay how many rounds do you have left?" I dropped one round in his outstretched hand. He turned it around and looked at it.

 

"Let me see your god damn revolver." I handed it to him in the correct way. He counted the five rounds in it and even sniffed the barrel to see if it had been fired. "Okay worthless little shit how in the hell did you cheat and get four squirrels with two shots?"

 

"I used a snare on two of them Sir!" He looked at me, "Then why the hell didn't you use the snare on all four of them and save my ammo?"

 

"I would have Sir, but I was running out of time."

 

He started muttering words to himself I couldn't understand and finally said, "Take these squirrels into your mother and tell her to hurry up, I'm hungry."

 

"Yes Sir!" I took the bag into the house and handed it to mom. She looked inside, "Four squirrels, I didn't think you'd be able to do it. I'm so proud of you." I beamed at her, "Thanks mom. Dad says you need to hurry up because he's really hungry." I took the guns into the basement, put the revolver up after putting the hammer back on the empty chamber, cleaned and wiped down the rifle and put it back in the rack.

 

Mom called me for dinner and it was almost a festive occasion because it was one of the few times we were allowed to talk. Dad asked me about the snare and I was proud to tell him all about it. He kept eyeing me like he didn't believe me so I offered to take him to the tree and show him how I did it. Finally he mumbled something and went back on the porch.

 

After dinner I went to my room and did the homework mom had picked up from school for me today. Then l lay back on my bed, fell asleep and dreamed about running away from home.

 

Flashback – Jennifer Donaldson – Late 1999 My first day and hopefully last day of yucky ballet!

 

Daddy was still busy trying to find me a good gun club, but Mommy knew exactly where she wanted to take me for ballet lessons. It was The Ekaterina Maximova school of Russian ballet. I guess Ms. Maximova was something called a prima or primo ballerina from something called the Bolshit Theater in Russia. I didn't care because to me it was a huge annoyance and I figured they made a mistake when they called it Russian, they should have called it rush-in because I couldn't wait to be rush-in out of the class.

 

We wasted all morning shopping for nasty pink tights and an even worse pink body suit. "Oh Jennifer, you look so cute," Mommy said. I looked at myself in the mirror and stuck out my tongue, "Jennifer, don't you dare do that," Mommy scolded me.

 

"Mommy, don't they make these yucky outfits in a good color like camouflage?" I teased as I pulled at the uncomfortable top.

 

"No Jennifer they do not! You look wonderful in pink, it's your color," she replied. I thought, the only thing that looks good in pink is babies because they're naturally pink.

 

Don't tell Mommy, but I do like pink. It's just that everything she buys me is pink and I'm pretty sick of it. I do like camouflage better, it's really my color! I even took some of GI-Joes clothes and dressed my Barbie in them. She looked soooo hot! I hope to look just like her when I grow up.

 

He-he-he that reminded me of how I had GI-Joe rip Ken's head off. Ken is such a baby and soooo gay. Mommy caught me when I did this, was very upset at me and threatened to send me to the doctors. I was able to get Daddy to talk her out of it. Later when we were alone he even laughed about it and agreed about Ken. Besides, GI-Joe has cool weapons. Ken doesn't have anything Barbie doesn't give him.

 

I was a little excited about class, not because I wanted to do ballet, but because I was going to be the primo or prima pain-in-the-rear. I had been watching more TV shows with snotty kids on them and had a great plan.

 

When we arrived I stormed through the door like I owned the place. Ms. Maximova was sitting at the desk and gave me a dirty look. So I dropped into a chair and said, "What the heck are you looking at, Katie?" I heard Mommy gasp behind me, "Jennifer, you mind your manners."

 

Ms. Maximova was not amused and said in a heavy accent, "Ms. Donaldson, perhaps you need to have a talk your daughter."

 

I giggled and looked at Mommy, "Is she speaking English, I couldn't understand her."

 

Ms. Maximova turned red in the face; Mommy grabbed me by the arm and took me outside, "Jennifer, what are you doing!"

 

I smiled really big, "Mommy I saw on TV this is how famous ballerinas are supposed to act. And since I want to be famous, I thought I'd start acting like it right now." I know it was almost a lie, that's why I said I only wanted to be famous, not a famous ballerina.

 

"Well young lady, that's not how they really act so you need to stop it."

 

"Can I ask Ms. Maximova if primo ballerinas act like spoiled little brats?"

 

Mommy gave me a very stern look, "It's prima ballerina and no young lady you will not ask her anything like that."

 

"Why Mommy isn't she a prima ballerina?"

 

"Jennifer, she was one of the best ballerinas in the world. You are very lucky to have her for a teacher."

 

I smiled, "Okay, sorry Mommy. I was just trying to act like I thought I was supposed to." We walked back in the studio and Ms. Maximova was still giving me a dirty look. "Mommy, I think Ms. Maximova hates me. She keeps giving me a bad look."

 

Mommy and she started discussing things and I interrupted, "Is there a bathroom I can use?" Ms. Maximova pointed towards the bathroom. I went into the bathroom and took all the toilet paper and put it in both toilets and started flushing the heck out of them until water was flowing all over the place. Then I went back into the office area and sat back down.

 

"Miss Jennifer, are you ready for your first lesson?" Ms. Maximova asked.

 

I giggled at her English until mommy gave me the evil eye, "Yes Ms. Katie, I'm very excited to take my first lesson."

 

Mommy gave me a dirty look, "Jennifer, address her by her last name."

 

"Oh, when she called me Miss Jennifer I thought we used first names. Sorry Ms. Maximova." And I smiled at both of them.

 

"Very well, go into the studio and warm up. The other students will be here soon." Ms. Maximova replied.

 

I had no idea what she meant by warming up for ballet, so I went in the room she called a studio and started running around and dancing like Britney Spears on MTV. I was even singing Baby one more time. There were two other girls in the room watching me and they decided it looked like fun so they came over and soon we were all dancing around and giggling with each other.

 

I saw a CD player and went over to it but there was some boring CD in it so I replaced it with my CD and turned the volume up as high as it would go. They would be so surprised when they turned it on.

 

A few other girls came in the studio and joined right in and soon we were all dancing like Britney. Ms. Maximova walked in, looked at us, and yelled, "Young ladies, what are you doing?"

 

I looked at the other girls and said, "We're dancing."

 

"Miss Jennifer, those gyrations you were doing couldn't be called dancing."

 

I gave her my innocent smile, "But Ms. Katie, I mean Ms. Maximova, Britney Spears dances this way and she made millions of dollars last year. How much money do you make dancing ballet?"

 

Ms. Maximova turned red in the face, "That does not matter. Those gyrations are not dancing."

 

She had us line up against the wall and start doing exercises. I don't know why they were called exercises because they weren't hard to do. She told me to assume first position and I asked her really loud, "Is that anything like missionary position?"

 

I didn't know what it meant, but I saw it on a TV show and everyone laughed when the little boy gave that answer. No one laughed when I asked but Ms. Maximova turned red and Mommy came over and pulled me out of line. "Jennifer, you'd better behave or you will go to bed without dinner."

 

"Mommy, I don't understand. What's missionary position?" I asked again very loud. I heard a few of the other mothers snicker. "Jennifer, we'll talk about this later. You'd better be good." Mommy threatened me.

 

I acted hurt, fell to the floor and pretended to cry very loud. "Mommy please don't hit me again and please let me have dinner tonight." I heard several of the other mothers gasp, I peeked at Mommy and she was so red in the face she looked like a beet.

 

Mommy knelt beside me and whispered, "Jennifer if you do one more awful thing you won't go to the gun club."

 

Uh-oh, this was serious. I jumped up and hugged Mommy, "Sorry Mommy, this class has me all upset and confused. I'll try to be good."

 

I went back over in line, and noticed everyone was watching me. Ms. Maximova came over and showed me what first position was and then she had us do something called a grande plia then we had to do a weird thing called a tendu and finally a sauta. She'd watch us as we did it and told us we were doing it all wrong and then she'd demonstrate it for us. To me it looked like we did them better than her, she was old and stiff looking.

 

"Now girls, we will turn on the music and do our exercises in time with the music." Ms. Maximova said. "Miss Jennifer, since you are new in the class will you please turn on the CD player."

 

"Thank you Ms. Maximova I would be happy to do that for you." I could barely keep from laughing as I walked to the CD player. I pressed play and Britney came on singing, Baby one more time. I put both hands over my ears and started running around and screaming, the other girls followed me.

 

"What is that terrible noise?" Ms. Maximova yelled. She went over and picked up the CD player, I 'accidentally' bumped into her very hard while I was running around, she dropped the CD player on the floor and it broke, killing Britney's song. Ms. Maximova looked at the CD and was shocked when she saw the label on the homemade CD. I did it on the printer at home: It showed the skull and crossbones and said 'Death to ballet.' Ms. Maximova started giving me a dirty look until…

 

Another parent walked in the studio and told her there were problems in the bathroom. Ms. Maximova headed out of the studio to investigate and we all followed her. She opened the door and there was water and brown things that looked like poop all over the floor.

 

"The toilets must have plugged up, now I will have to call a plumber." Ms. Maximova said.

 

"Ewwww is that poop?" one girl asked who started to throw up.

 

I almost laughed because I knew it was just pieces of brownies I'd snuck from home and thrown in the toilets when I made the mess. I'd seen something like this on a silly movie but they used candy bars.

 

"This is a disaster and I will have to close the school for the rest of the day." Ms. Maximova announced.

 

Mommy was not happy because the first ballet class turned out so bad and was very grumpy as we were driving home. So I turned on the radio and was having a good time singing to the songs until Britney came on. Mommy gave the radio a dirty look and turned it off, "I think I've heard entirely enough of her today."

 

I sat back in my seat and thought: Jennifer one, ballet class zero!