Crossroads, Part Four

Continued from Part 3
Snyder awoke in a white room filled with gauze, bandages, and anti-septic. A figure  sat at the foot of his bed. Cerulean?

His vision focused. No, not Cerulean, the face was all wrong. Just a sergeant.

He groaned. “What happened?”

The sergeant said, “Four Canadian recruits beat you up. When I came in, they were still trying to get your book away.”

Snyder reached into his shirt and pulled out the Constitution. “Thank God.” Snyder bit his lip. Such stupid old habits could get him killed.

The sergeant said, “They were pretty bold to do that in a room filled with mostly Americans.”

Snyder nearly laughed. “Sir, you’re forgetting that we’re taught in school that nationality doesn’t matter. That we are first and foremost citizens of the Empire. For most back there, we might as well have been fighting over whether Meridian High was better than Capitol.”

“I’m glad to see you’re okay. You’ll be able to start training with the next recruits, once you’ve recovered.”

Next recruits? He wasn’t going to let some stupid Canucks lay him up.

He climbed down off the table. His head throbbed. But no way he was backing out. “Sir, I want to go now, sir.”

“You’re a tough kid.” The sergeant stood silently a moment.

He nodded. “Okay.”

He turned to Snyder. “Come on.”

Whatever, as long as he got back and showed those Canucks.

The sergeant led Snyder to a common area with four barracks on either side.

The sergeant said, “Fall in, son.”

Snyder walked to the end of the coed troop lineup and took his position. The sergeant delivered his opening message. It was pretty much the same speech as he’d watched online, though this drill sergeant was less harsh, and even seemed nervous. He might just get out of Basic without getting his back striped at the flogging post for the unpardonable sin of insubordination.

The sergeant came and got in Snyder’s face. “What is your name, soldier?”

Snyder bellowed out, “Sir, A. L. Snyder, sir!”

“What does A. L. Stand for?”

“Sir, Awesome Lover, sir!” A chorus of laughter went through the ranks.

Snyder dropped and began doing push-ups. “Sir, how many, sir?” Snickers came from the men around them.

Snyder looked up at the puzzled sergeant, who said, “Forty will be fine.”

Forty? Piece of cake. He’d been doing eighty every morning since he was twelve.

Soon enough, Snyder was back up.

The sergeant said, “Now, let’s get to your bags.”

A cart with 120 bags on it was brought in by two Privates First Class.

The sergeant said, “You have seven minutes to get your bags off the cart.”

This had been online, too. The exercise was meant to get them to work as a team.

Dashing forward, Snyder reached the cart first. He grabbed a bag, looked at the label, and tossed it at the mad dogs.

“Lexus Montgomery!” He grabbed another. “Toyota Seu!”

With everyone else pushing and shoving like rioters, he had to let the others in on the secret. He stood on the cart. “Listen! You’re not going to get through 120 bags looking for your own. We help each other, we get it done. We don’t, we won’t.”

The others began copying him. Within five minutes, everyone had their bag.

The sergeant said, “Well done, that’s a record, men. I have your platoon assignments here. Dinner will be at 1700 hours, lights out at 2130.”

Snyder resisted the urge to grimace. Or in American English: dinner’s at five and be in bed by nine-thirty.

Later, Snyder and his platoon claimed their bunks in the barracks. He stole into a bottom bunk. The lone female in his platoon lobbed her duffel bag into his top bunk. The shorn female recruit sent him a smile filled with admiration and trust. He had that effect on the ladies. But Contrary White Boy only went for fine sistas that Mama Borden threw fits over if he got caught dating them.

Another teen recruited from JD leaned into his bunk and said with a slight Arabic lilt, “You did great out there, man. How did you know?”

Snyder smiled. “Sources. I got everything here figured out, bro. Stick with me, and you’ll make it through this thing.”

The young man slapped hands with him. “Count me in.”

Continued next Thursday

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