Marine Corps Recruit Depot
I always thought of hell as a place. Fire and brimstone, the river Styx, and the tortured cries of those condemned. We all have our personal images on the subject. At that exact moment in time, I knew all of those things were wrong. Hell was a man! Hell was screaming at us to get off the bus, foul mouthed and guttural.
“I will kill each and everyone of you mother fucking slimy numb nuts pieces of civilian shit, if you don’t “get the fuck off of my bus and on the yellow footprints in 30 seconds!” There were about 40 of us, all trying to get off at the same time. The creature standing at the door somehow found time to hit or kick at least half of us on our way out. Knocking the wind out of as many as he could, seemed to be his goal.
When I finally got close to the door I moved up as close as I could to the guy in front of me, hoping I’d be able to slip out the door unnoticed. Just as I thought it was going to work, he stuck his arm in between me and my “shield.”
“What the fuck do you think you’re trying to do slime ball?”
"Trying to get off the bus.”
“Bull shit” he said. “You’re trying to ease your way off the bus, aren’t you?”
“No!” I said.
Before I finished getting the word out of my mouth he punched me in the stomach. I was ready for it, and even though he hadn’t succeeded in knocking the wind out of me, I bent over at the waist like he had. He must have felt my tensed stomach muscles when he hit me, because he grabbed me by the hair and pulled me upright. He then got so close to my face that our noses were touching. I swear I could smell what he had for breakfast on his breath. No, it was actually much worse than that, I could smell what he had for breakfast the day before, and it was rotting and festering inside of him.
“You think you are smarter than me, don’t you fuck head? When you answer, you had better refer to me as Sir! You piece of shit!"
“No sir!” I replied.
“Yes you do” he spat the words into my face.
“No sir!” I repeated.
“Do I look stupid to you?”
“Do you think I’m stupid?”
“Yes you do, fuck head!” he said. “If I had more time to deal with you, this would be your one and only night at MCRD!” “Do you understand me?”
“Get on the yellow footprints you faggot piece of shit!”
Before I was half way out the door he shoved me with his foot. I landed face first on the blacktop and only partially broke my fall with my hands and arms. I got up, looked first at my bleeding hands, and then glared back up at him. He must not have liked the way I was looking at him, because he jumped out of the bus and was in my face again in a split second…
“Do you want to hit me?” he whispered into my ear.
“No sir!” I replied.
“Yes you do, you lying piece of dog shit, but you’re too much of a pussy to do it, aren’t you?” he said.
“Yes sir! No Sir” I stuttered.
I didn’t know what he wanted to hear me say, but I did know I was losing my composure. I was ready to fight him. I was ready to hit him first, hit him in a place where there would be no fight. I would have punched him directly in the front of his throat. When I glanced down a little bit, I was shocked by what I saw. There was no throat! There wasn’t one! I swear on everything I held dear, his head came directly out of his shoulders.
At that point I didn’t care if he was a bull, all I was seeing was red. He probably would have kicked my ass, he looked like one solid and continuous muscle. Of course it would have been in self defense, and then I’d be in the brig. Or maybe I would kick his ass, but he’d still win, because I’d be in the brig anyway. They say discretion is the better part of valor. So I just closed down. All systems stop! Thanks mom, for the training.
I just went back to the position of attention and stood there, mocking him with my refusal to act. No matter what he said he got nothing from me but yes sir, or no sir. He eventually gave up or got tired of me, and told me to get on the yellow footprints. When I turned to do so, I noticed that the rest of the people on the bus had already exited and were standing on the foot prints in formation, watching us. Luckily for me I spotted a set close by that weren’t being used and got on them in a hurry.
I don’t remember exactly everything they told us to do that night, but I do remember that bastard drill instructor’s name. It was Valdez. He said he wasn’t going to be our regular drill instructor, but by the time ours came to pick us up in the morning, we’d be glad to see them. Valdez…
The next few hours seemed like a blur! Heads shaved bald, civilian clothing and personal items sent home, showered, deloused, basic uniforms, and shower gear issued all in a couple of hours. When I say they issued us uniforms, I mean they issued us a set of utilities (fatigues in Marine speak) and high top tennis shoes. When we were dressed we looked stupid (I found out later that it was intentional).
Everyone’s utilities were either too big or too small. They told us not to worry about it because by the time boot camp ended, we’d all be the same size. We didn’t deserve to look like marines, because we hadn’t earned it yet. We were back on the yellow footprints at daybreak with our basic gear in our hands waiting for our assigned drill instructors to come and get us.
Valdez took one more stab at me while we were waiting. He walked between the ranks and stopped in front of me. He smiled at me and knocked all the gear out of my hands. Then he kicked and stomped it all over the place. It took everything I had not to give him the reaction he wanted.
He asked me if I had anything to say.
“No sir” was my only response…
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