David Soto Writes

I think I figured out what I want to be when I grow up.

Category: Tim Roger’s Secret Life (page 1 of 3)

The First Load of Laundry – Post 22

Since they started living together, Tim and Maria both slept in the nude. Even in his dream state, Tim knew this. So it made sense that he removed his clothes before he got back in bed with Maria after sleepwalking.

Maria found the first pile of clothes in the laundry room not long after she noticed the door being open in the mornings. The clothes were still clean. Apparently only having been worn for just a little while. They still smelled like she pulled them out of the dryer on Sunday. Without even thinking about it, she neatly folded them back up and put them away.

She had to think for a while. She understood why Tim would get undressed to get in bed. But why did he get dressed in the first place? There were no clothes the first few nights he went out which meant he was out there naked. Maybe he didn’t mind being naked because he was in the backyard. If this was the case, then that meant that he got dressed to go beyond the confines of their property. He was going out into the city.

*

Eventually, one morning she couldn’t just fold the clothes up and put them away. They were filthy. They were dirty, grimy in some spots. When she put them up to her nose, they no longer had that fresh scent out of just coming out of the dryer. They smelled like Tim. He had been sweating in them.

Everything had been simple until now. Concealing Tim’s sleepwalking sessions didn’t require a lot of deception or even thought. She realized that if she was going to continue to protect him, to keep silent, things were going to get complicated. She was going to have to do somethings behind his back and keep more from him than expected. Was it worth it? Her husband had been through enough, she thought. He didn’t need to go through any more trauma.

She started the washing machine.

They Finally Skype – Post 21

When Tim read the words, “I am in the hospital. We lost a baby.” His heart sank. It took everything he had to keep his composure. The last thing he wanted to do was break down and cry right there in front of everybody in internet café.

“60 seconds number 18!” A voice yelled over the crowd. That was Tim. He was on the computer numbered 18. He waited in line and hour to get five minutes on the computer. Com had been down for five days. They usually are in the event of a casualty. This allows the government to notify the family before they hear the news through the grapevine. The fact that the attack, which yielded the casualty, took out the power plant meant that com was down for longer than usual. When it finally came back up, everyone wanted to get online to notify their family that they were OK. Thus the brass required a five minute limit on all computers at the internet café.

“I’m sorry.” was the next thing to pop up in Tim’s instant messenger window.

“Don’t be. You didn’t do anything wrong,” Tim typed. “Be sad but don’t be sorry. Call your mother. Fly her in for a few days. I’m about to get cut off. We’ll Skype later. I love you.”

“Times up number 18,” a voice yelled.

“I’m signing off right now. Give me a fucking second,” Tim responded to the voice.

It was after normal duty hours so he went to the only place he knew he could be alone, the shop. When he got to the door, he frantically unlocked the padlock as if he was trying to get into the bathroom and was about to piss his pants. As soon as he opened the door, he stepped in, and it slammed behind him. He leaned back against the door and slid down to the ground and started sobbing.

*

It cost him six 1-pint water bottles of his homemade wine to get access to an unauthorized computer in the COM tent. Being a civil engineer had its privileges in the desert but so did being in the Communications Squadron. Each of the tents where the COM squadron members quartered had a computer and unlimited internet access. While the six members that occupied this tent were out enjoying Tim’s hooch, he had complete privacy and over an hour’s worth of access to the internet. This was when he Skyped Maria.

After a long while of them crying and trying to assure each other that they would be OK, Tim finally got around to telling Maria what happened.

“The news was wrong. It wasn’t four. It was only two,” Tim said. “One of them was my troop, Senior Airman Ricketts.”

The mortar round blew Airman Ricketts to pieces, and the ensuing fire ensured that there was nothing to send home to his parents. Sergeant Martinez survived the blast but not fire. Diesel fuel surrounded the hardened shelter that was the operations plant and engulfed it in flames. Martinez opened the door but quickly closed it after the heat singed his mustache and eyebrows. The autopsy report read that Martinez died of smoke inhalation.

Breaking the rules was probably what saved Senior Airman Jones’s and Airman Ski’s life. They were sitting in the pickup with the windows up. The engine ran while the AC blew, keeping them cool and wasting taxpayer’s money. Protected by the concrete barriers they did not get much of the blast wave from the explosion or the shrapnel from the mortar. Thinking quickly, Jones threw the gearshift into drive and sped away. When he realized that the tires were on fire, he slammed on the brakes, threw it into park, and he and Ski jumped out and ran to safety.

“This whole thing sucks, Babe. I just want to come home,” Tim told Maria.

*

Though he did tell Maria the gruesome truth of what happened, he didn’t tell her how it made him feel. He still couldn’t believe he lost someone under his “command.” In the movies, it happens all the time. But even in the movies, it only happened officers or senior enlisted in the Marines and Army, not Air Force Staff Sergeants in charge of the heating and air shop. He was also disgusted and disappointed with himself. If he hadn’t of told them to “get lost” or had just gone with them, Ricketts would be alive. The worst part about it was every day they had to go to work where there were reminders of Ricketts everywhere. Also since every game of dominoes would have to be cutthroat now, they just stopped playing altogether.

The Call – Post 20

Tim was seven when his parents split up. Looking for a fresh start, Tim’s mother took her two children up to St. Louis. She managed to get a job at a bank as a teller. For the next couple years, she struggled as a single parent of two in her 20s, trying to make ends meet as well as trying to have a social life. When she couldn’t take it anymore, she knew something drastic had to be done she moved back to her hometown and in with her mother.

Between going back to school, her job as a waitress, and boyfriends, Tim’s mom hardly made it back home to her mother’s two-bedroom trailer. On the nights she was home, she shared a bed with Tim’s little sister while Tim slept in a twin bed in the same bedroom.

Tim’s grandmother, Lenore, was put in the position to do most of the raising of Tim and his sister. Though not well-off, evident by her living arrangements, Timothy’s grandmother was not destitute. Her late husband left her the land, which was completely paid for, as well as the trailer in which they lived. Between Social Security and the houses she cleaned for cash, she made a decent living. Enough to spoil her only two grandchildren, who got practically whatever they wanted.

A little lonely Tim’s grandmother welcomed the opportunity to take the role of being a mother. She did an excellent job of it too. She made sure they had breakfast and got them to school in the mornings. Then would pick them up and take them for the occasional McDonald’s milkshake in the afternoon.

At night she made sure whatever homework they had got done. She let them watch a little TV and made them an enjoyable meal. Being The man of the house, Tim got to choose what he wanted for dinner. Yes, he was quite spoiled. His favorite meal were these cheeseburgers his grandmother made on sourdough bread. Later in life, he realized what she was making were Patty melts.

On Saturdays, the big deal was to make a trip to the grocery store. This is where Tim got to pick out what he wanted to eat the rest of the week. Especially his favorite cereals. Saturday nights was also movie nights which included homemade popcorn cooked in a cast-iron skillet on the stove top.

Summer vacations were not typical for Tim. As his grandmother’s trailer was way outside the city limits. There weren’t any neighbor boys to play with for miles. He spent most of his summer days watching daytime television or helping his grandmother tend to their garden. On the days where she left to clean houses, he was left at home alone with his sister.

Tim was a typical big brother. He both bullied his sister and took care of her. He found her as a suitable playmate though he would have preferred the company of little brother.

Though she loved both Tim and Vanessa equally, you could tell that there is a special bond between Lenore and Tim. In her eyes, Tim could do no wrong. They were so connected that she could feel Tim’s pain every time he took a beating from his mother. It broke her heart. Though, she never stepped in to stop it.

*

It was Tim’s grandmother that signed him up for his first martial arts school after he came home from school one day with a shiner. He seemed to be a natural at it and got his Tae Kwan Do black belt in just a couple years. Bored with all the kicks, he signed up at the only other martial arts school in town. A Kempo Karate dojo owned by a guy who had never left the country and who had learned Karate from another man who never left the country. The training was sufficient for most of who attended the school.

By the time Tim was fourteen he had years of training under his belt. Some of his movements had become instinctual. So, he couldn’t help himself when his mother went to slap him in the face. Without even thinking about it, he blocked swing with his left arm. Tim’s mom felt a significant sting when this happened, but it wasn’t as much from the contact her wrist made with Tim’s forearm as it was the realization that she could no longer beat her son into submission. Tim went to live with his father by the end of that very month.

*

One day in fifth grade, Tim got unexpectedly called principal’s office. Expecting some sort of ass chewing, Tim was surprised when he walked into the principal’s office and found his father sitting there. His eyes were dry, but the redness made it evident that he had been crying. The principal asked him to sit down and said that his father had something to tell him.

“Pop is gone, Timmy,” Tim’s dad said just before he broke down sobbing.

Pop was Tim’s father’s dad. The only real grandfather he had. Pop was responsible for allowing Tim to do little boy things. Fishing, riding on the tractor, hunting for crawdads in the creek and the like. Tim’s relationship with Pop was not as strong as his relationship with his grandmother, but it was a close second.

Per the principal’s suggestion, Tim’s dad took him home early from school. Tim had shed some tears when he was told the news but really hadn’t let go until he saw his grandmother.

She was sitting on the couch watching TV when he walked in. She already knew. Her arms were out as soon as he walked through the door. He ran straight to them. That’s when he broke down.

As he sobbed in her big grandma arms, she comforted him and said, “It’s all right.” She rubbed his back and continued with, “Let it out. Let it out.” She didn’t say anything to try and make him feel better, to take away from the reality that was his grandpa’s death. She just gave him permission to cry and let him.

*

”Babe, your phone’s ringing,” Maria yelled from the bedroom. “It’s Vanessa.” She noticed from the caller ID.

Tim came in from the bathroom as naked as the day he was born to get it. “I’m surprised you can even see after what I just did to you.”

“Oh. My. God!” Maria scoffed and then stared at him with an open mouth.

They had just made love, and Tim was quite proud of what he had accomplished. “You love it,” he said as he picked up his phone. Maria still looking at him, amazed by his arrogance.

“Sup, foo?” That’s how he answered the phone when his sister called.

Even though she was a little annoyed with Tim’s cockiness, Maria was immediately concerned as soon as she saw the shit eating grin on his face leave.

Before Vanessa could even say a word, he could tell she was crying.

“Grandma is sick, Timmy.”

It was breast cancer. A mammography found it. It had been quite some time since her previous mammography due to crappy insurance. Surgery was scheduled right away. The issue was her health. It was poor. She was obese and diabetic.  A simple walk from the car to grocery store entrance required her to sit down and catch her breath.  The doctors worried that when they put her under to perform the procedure, she would never wake up.

While the conversation was going on between Vanessa and Tim, Maria held him from behind resting her head on his back.

“Keep me posted,” was how he ended the call.

Tim tossed his phone on the bed and turned around to look at Maria. “My grandmother’s si…” he was sobbing before he could finish the word sick.

Sitting on the bed, she held him while he cried. Rubbing his back and saying nothing to him except, “It’s all right. Let it out. Let it out.”

The Sleepwalking Starts – Post 19

Tim’s odd nocturnal behavior resumed within two days of going off his meds. It started with the heavy breathing and sweats then on to the sitting up at the side of the bed and then moved on to him walking around the house.

Maria observed everything from a safe distance. When Tim made inquiries in the following mornings, she reported nothing. She thought it was best he didn’t know. If Tim knew, he might insist that they go back to the doctor. Maria couldn’t stand the thought of her husband with all those probes connected to his head sleeping in a strange bed for observation. Tim could insist he go back on the meds. For Maria, this was absolutely out of the question. So, she did what she thought was best. She kept silent.

Eventually, she became accustomed to his waking up and walking around the house and started sleeping through his nightly activities.

With Tim’s discharge from the Air Force, Tim and Maria had to move off base. They bought a half-plex in the city of Roseville. In case you are wondering, a half-plex is half of a duplex. It was all they could afford. The housing bubble hadn’t quite burst yet, and California property values were still bloated. They had a plan to eventually buy the other side and start their lives as real estate tycoons.

Although it wasn’t the closest city to the base, they always preferred to travel to Roseville to run errands or go to a movie. It was worth the drive, “It’s just nicer,” Maria admitted. It also gave them an opportunity to stop in Lincoln for pancakes or tacos. So, it was obvious when it came time to finding a place to buy a house. Plus, Maria already worked in Roseville so living there shortened her commute to practically nothing.

Tim had picked up a well-paying job working second shift at the Sutter Roseville Medical Center. This is why sleeping in till noon seemed natural to him. When Tim lost that job, he never noticed that he kept sleeping in till noon, even though he was going to bed at a normal hour.

Maria continued to sleep through her husband’s sleep walking. She never noticed anything wrong in the morning, so she just assumed things were fine. Until one morning while on her way to the car to go to work, she saw that the back door was open. Not wide open but just enough to not latch shut. They had a carport in the back with room enough for just one car. This is where she parked so, every morning she walked through the laundry room, out the back door to go to work.

For the next few nights, she made sure that when they went to bed, that the back door was indeed locked. And most mornings she found it either unlocked or not closed all the way. That’s when she knew that Tim was leaving the house at night.

Maria’s First Dance Part 2 – Post 18

Knowing that the dance was over at 10:00, Hector arrived at the Kims’s at 10:15. He anticipated that he would have to wait five minutes or so, but after 20 minutes had gone by, he began to worry. By 10:45 he was knocking on the Kims’s door trying to communicate with Mr. Kim about the whereabouts of their daughters, but he had no luck. Mr. Kim spoke neither Spanish nor English. By 10:55 Hector had said “Fuck This” and drove off looking for his daughter.

There was not much to Hector Rodriguez. He was of below average height and below average build, but years of manual labor yielded him above average strength. He was quite the athlete too. He played minor league baseball for one season but gave it all up when Espi became pregnant with their first born. He would have liked to continue playing baseball, but his mother told him his decision to stop having fun and go to work was made as soon as he put his “pito” into Espi.

Hector settled for beer league softball for the rest of his days. His years as a landscaper built and strengthen his legs and lower back. His short stature made it easy for him to get down to the ground. He was a hell of an infielder. Nothing could get past him. He loved playing shortstop or even third base, but because he was the only member of the senior league team who could still squat, the team usually posted him behind the plate.

Hector drove the route he anticipated the girls would take to walk home. There was no sign of them. When he got to the high school, he saw that it was dark and empty, except for one car. From a distance, it seemed that there were some people there hanging out, so he pulled into the parking lot to ask them if they had seen the two girls. When he got closer to the car, he could see that the people hanging out were actually a couple that appeared to be fighting. Oh great, he thought, this is the last thing I need. He thought about just driving off but then he thought what if the woman was in trouble. He thought at least the approach of his car would interrupt the conflict, but it didn’t. The cholo was too high to hear or see the approaching vehicle.

“Son of a bitch!” Hector said aloud when he realized he found his daughter.

Hector reached back behind the front seat looking for anything he could use as a weapon as he got closer and closer to the Caprice Classic. He fumbled through the dirty t-shirts, change of shoes, and empty bottles of Mexican Coca-Cola until his hand felt something familiar, his $200 32oz aluminum Louisville Slugger.

As Hector approached the cholo on foot, he thought a little about how hard to swing. At the moment, murder was not something he wanted to have on his conscious. When he swung, it wasn’t with everything he had, but it was enough. The cholo never knew what hit him.

“Daddy!”

“Did he violate you?”

“Daddy, Kim is in the car!”

“Did he violate you?” Hector stood there panting, both hands at the bottom of the bat’s handle, pointing it at the knocked out cholo. He wasn’t even looking at Maria. At this moment, Hector was no longer a rational man thinking of avoiding a murder charge. He was one word away from bashing in the skull of Flaco.

“No, daddy. He didn’t!”

Maria’s words snapped Hector out of his trance. “Get in the Tahoe, Mija.” He let Flaco be and reached over to open the back door to the Caprice Classic. In it, he found Little Joker having his way with a crying Kim Kim. “Hey!” Hector said. “Get the hell off of her.”

“What the fuck?” the large cholo said as he withdrew from Kim as well as the back seat of the car.

Maria hadn’t listened to her father. While he was distracting Little Whatever, she was on the opposite side of the car helping Kim regain her composure and get to safety. When she got a chance to look over at her father, she couldn’t see him. The cholo was so big that he concealed Hector from her just by standing between the two of them. Maria thought there was no way her father could win in a fight between him and Little Joe.

From the front seat of the Tahoe, Maria could see the big cholo swing his boulder of a fist toward Hector’s head. “Daddy!” she screamed. Maria didn’t have to be concerned very long. Within seconds cholo number two was on the ground, and she saw her dad standing there raising his bat over his head to let it come down across the back of Little Shorty for good measure.

*

When the cholo began his swing, without thinking, Hector dropped into a squat as if he was going to pull weeds or catch a pitch. Little Joker completely missed, and when the coast was clear, Hector stood up with all the force of his cocked legs and caught the cholo right on the chin with the very top of his bat. As bad and tough as he was, the big cholo found out that night that he had a glass jaw.

While digging through Flaco’s back pocket, Hector addressed little Joker or Shorty or whatever the hell his name was. He was down but still conscious. “I’m taking your drivers license. I know who you are and I know where you live. Either of you two fuckers ever touch my daughter again, and I’ll send my son after you, and he is not as nice as I am.”

The big cholo placed his palm on the ground as if he was going to begin to get up, but Hector gave him another whack across the back and then dug out his wallet.

Years later, while telling the story of this very night at a family holiday party, Maria would ask her dad what made him take the cholo’s drivers licenses. “I don’t know,” Hector said, “Saw it in a movie, Fight Club!”

Maria’s First Dance Part 1 – Post 17

In 9th grade, Maria was finally allowed to go to a school dance. It wasn’t a formal one. It was one of those that took place on a school night. Still, Maria was excited to finally go to a dance.

Even though he gave his blessing, Maria’s Father, Hector, was still a little leery. He knew the day would eventually come that he was going to have to let his little girl go out at night unchaperoned, but he thought the event would be filled with clergy and maybe even God himself supervising.

Maria’s longtime friend Kim invited to the dance. Kim’s first name and last name were both Kim. Maria met her in elementary school. Kim Kim wasn’t known as Kim Kim then. Back then, she was Mi Na Kim. Mi Na’s parents had immigrated to the states before Mi Na was born. After years of complaining, the Kims decided to let their kids change their names to something “more American-sounding.” Mi Na’s older brother, Sun, picked the name, John. Mi Na picked, Kim. Assuming she would one day be married and that her last name would change, Kim’s mom didn’t see and issue with it. Of course, it never ocurred to her that Kim could marry another Korean with the last name of Kim.

Kim and Maria were schoolmates from kindergarten until the Kims decided that paying for high school was out of the out of the question. So while Maria got dropped off for her first day of high school at Junípero Serra High School, Kim walked several blocks to her first day of school at Gardena High. This is why Hector had a problem with Maria going to the dance; because it was at the public school.

Statistics aside, Hector assumed that everything about public school was sinful. Public school kids did drugs and had sex. Catholic school kids did too, but Hector was blind to this fact. Never mind that he met his wife, Espi, when she was attending a Catholic high school, and they did drugs and had sex then.

Where Hector did have cause for worry was the violence. Gardena High had its share of gang activity and, as a result, there were at least two on duty Gardena PD posted there during school hours.

The plan was for Hector to drop off Maria at the Kims’s. Maria and Kim would walk the few blocks to the dance and return as soon as it ended at ten o’clock. Maria and Kim would then walk back to Kim’s house where Hector would be waiting to take Maria home.

*

It turns out Kim was having the secret relationship with a junior named, Antony. He went by Tony. There were two reasons why this relationship was kept a secret from Kim’s parents. One, he was older and two, he was black. To the Kims, open minded was allowing Kim to date other Asians, not specifically Koreans. But they were heavily partial to her dating other Koreans.

Maria spent most of the dance sitting alone, while Kim and Tony rubbed their groins together rhythmically on the dance floor.  She couldn’t wait for it to be over. She was grateful when the lights came on, and it was time to leave, but Kim was in no hurry to leave.

Outside of the gym Kim told Maria, “Wait here a minute, ok?” Just before she disappeared into a dark corner with Tony.

“Oh my god, Kim, hurry. My dad is gonna be waiting for me.” Maria,  patiently waited for her friend to finish whatever it was she was doing. She stood there in the cool night air watching the gymnasium empty until finally, the last person walked out. This person kicked up the door stop allowing the door to close, and automatically lock itself when it latched shut.

With the parking lot nearly empty and no foot traffic, the ambient noise level dropped enough that Maria could hear the faint sound of moans coming from the dark corner to where Kim. Maria was still unsure of exactly what was going on over there in the darkness, but in the back of her mind, the sounds were familiar. As if she had heard them before one night in bed when she couldn’t sleep, coming down the hall from her parent’s bedroom.

“Kim, let’s go!” It had been 10 minutes since that the doors of the gym were closed. No response. While pacing around a bit to help the time pass by, she got a glimpse of the parking lot. There were only two cars still parked there. One of them must have been Tony’s, she assumed. Maybe he could give us a ride, she thought.

Five more minutes had passed when she heard a woman’s voice shout, “Antony.” Right away, Maria knew it was not Kim who yelled his name. One- it was not Kim’s voice. Two- Kim called him Tony. And three- It was coming from a dark figure walking up from the parking lot towards Maria. “Antony!”

She was a tall, lanky woman. She wore pajama bottoms, house slippers, an oversized t-shirt, and a scarf wrapped around her head. Her breast visibly swung underneath her t-shirt like a grandfather clock that had two pendulums, if one were to exist. She pronounced his name Ant-nee as if there was not an “o” in it at all. Despite the woman’s youthful face, Maria knew the look of a mother. And this one was Tony’s.

“Hello, young lady,” said Tony’s mother. “Have you seen a tall, skinny, light skinned black boy around here?” Before Maria could respond, Tony’ walked out from the dark corner.

“Mama?”

“Boy, what the hell is wrong with you? Got me waiting in the car like a got damn chauffeur?” She didn’t wait for a response. “Let’s go!”

Right then, Tony’s mom was startled by a little Korean girl who appeared from same dark corner Tony had just come out of, still primping herself as not to look like she had just been violated. Without a word, Tony’s mom’s eyes went from Kim to Tony, her jaw dropping in the process.

The change of his name to Tony, the strut in his walk, the shit talking, the bad ass attitude, everything, everything he had done to establish himself as a thug was rendered null and void as Tony got his ass beat by his mama all the way to the car.

*

“There goes our ride,” Maria said.

“Huh?” inquired Kim.

“I thought that one of the cars down there was his and that he could give us a ride. But apparently, that was his mom’s car.”

“Yeah. That’s kind of disappointing,” Kim said. “But now it makes sense that he wanted to do it behind the gym and not in his car.”

“You guys did it,” Maria asked.

“Uhh yeah. We’re freshmen; we’re supposed to be doing it by now. It just…”

“Just what?” Maria asked hoping for to hear some form of regret from her friend for becoming sexually active so early.

“I thought I was doing it with a guy who drove.”

Maria couldn’t understand how her friend was so nonchalant about sex. The church had her believing that it was strictly for her future husband and that only sinners and harlots, had sex before marriage. Eventually, though, Maria would convince herself that sex with someone you love was equally as virtuous.

“We have to go,” Maria said. “I am going to be in so much trouble. My dad is going to be fuming by the time we get to your house.”

“There is still a car in the parking lot. Maybe it’s someone I know. I have a lot of friends here,” Kim said.

Guy friends? Maria thought.

The parking lot was in the direction they had to walk anyway, so Maria saw no harm in seeing if the driver was someone Kim knew. It wasn’t.

*

Thick plumes of smoke and the music of Brenton Wood rolled out from the cracked window of the Caprice Classic. In it were two Cholos sitting in the from seat getting higher with every inhalation. Though not related, they looked like twins. Same shaved head, same khaki Dickies, same black Nikes. Their only differences were their stature and choice in t-shirts. The taller one with the muscles, who was probably called “Little” something (Joe, Shorty, Joker, whatever), wore a white wife beater. The skinny one, probably called “Flaco,” wore a plain, white, crisply pressed t-shirt. Flaco was behind the wheel, and Little Joe was in the passenger seat.

Technically Flaco was a student at Gardena High though he never went. His truancy was why he was on his second attempt at the 12th grade. Little Shorty had dropped out the year before to work and party. He was Flaco’s guest to the dance. They had hopped on picking up some girls but weren’t having any luck. They left the dance for the parking lot to get high and never went back.

For over 90 minutes Flaco had been rambling on about girls, drugs, cars, and money. Not once did he notice that Little Joker hadn’t said a word. As Maria and Kim approached the car Little Whatever finally spoke, “Oye, güey. Mira la Chinita!”

Kim was, of course, Korean, but to cholos, it was just easier to classify all Asians as Chinese.

When Maria got close enough to the Caprice Classic, she knew that they weren’t getting a ride. She didn’t recognize the car in particular but she recognized the type. Thanks to her older brother, she was well educated in the ways of the cholo. “We’re walking home,” She told Kim. “Trust me. You do not want to get in that car.”

“Let’s go, Homes,” Flaco said to Little Joe as he patted him on the side of his leg with the back of his hand while he opened the driver’s side door. “You can have the Chinita. I’ll take the shorty.”

Although she didn’t want to, it was easy to get Kim into the backseat of the Cholo’s car. Maria was resisting but not too much. Flaco had already grabbed her by the wrist when she stared backing away as he approached her and it hurt. She knew not to get in the car but she also knew she didn’t want to resist to harshly. She was afraid of provoking a violent response from the cholo.

Maria realized that she was in a predicament, unaware of how she was going to get out of it. At least she wasn’t in the situation her long time friend was in. For the second time that night Kim found her skirt raised up over her ass. Little Shorty was working on getting an erection. Though Kim had said no repeatedly, he was not convinced. He mistook Tony’s secretions for Kim’s and thought for sure she wanted him. If he had only known what it was that was on his fingers, his attempt to rape Kim Kim would have ended right then and there.

Flaco was now kissing Maria on her neck. He had gone for her mouth but she turned her head in disgust. Tears silently rolled down Maria’s face. She thought herself helpless as she felt Flaco’s hand begin it’s decent into her panties. She tried to push him away but he had her firmly pinned between the car and himself. His fingers were past her waistband and now working their way through her pubic hair. Maria started pounding on him with the side of her fist on her one free hand but it was useless. Flaco’s fingers were now past her clitoris and poised to enter her forcefully. Maria braced herself and closed her eyes. She prepared to feel something, for the first time in her life, enter her vagina. That’s when she heard the thunk of something metal and hollow. When she opened her eyes, Flaco was out cold on the ground, his hand no longer down her panties, and standing there with an aluminum baseball bat in his hand, was Hector.

I am excited to post this. I worked for over a month on this chapter and its continuation. I can usually write a chapter in one sitting but that was not the case for this one. I hope the reason for telling this story of Maria in high school will be understood later in the book.

Their Courtship Continues – Post 16

Because of Tim’s rank, he eventually got a room to himself. That’s when Maria started spending the night on a regular basis. Every morning she would get up a little earlier than usual and head back to her dorm room to get ready for work. It was just easier to do this since, even though Tim had his own room, he still had to share a bathroom with someone.

Within the next few months, Tim’s housing status changed again. He was allowed to move off-base and started receiving BAH. BAH stands for basic allowance for housing. Tim got a shitty little apartment outside of base in the town of Marysville. It was your typical crappy apartment complex. The units still smelt of the previous occupants, the walls were paper thin, and the assigned covered parking spaces were too small for anything other than a compact car. The steps to the upper floors were so worn that the once square corners of the wooden planks were now round and splintered.

Tim was hoping that these substandard conditions would warrant a lower rent than what the Air Force was paying him, but this was not the case. The property manager of this shithole dealt with the military so much that they knew what the BAH was and charged exactly that amount for rent.

Once he signed the lease, Tim headed off to the closest Goodwill to furnish his apartment. He picked up a bundle of utensils that were taped together with clear plastic packing tape marked $5.99, one pot, two drinking glasses, and two coffee mugs (Though he hadn’t figured how he was going to make coffee). He found a semi used mattress and flat screen TV on Craig’s List and put them both on the floor of the bedroom. Back on base, he loaded his pickup with his dorm room contents, made a stop at the Base Exchange for some bedding, and stopped the chow how for one last free meal.

Tim’s first night in his apartment was also Maria’s first night in his apartment. She became what was known as a ghost. A ghost was someone who kept their dorm room because they were not authorized to move off base yet but lived off base anyway. When it came to dorm room inspections, their bed always looked perfect, as if no one had slept in it, because no one had.

It was on that first night Maria realized that Timothy’s apartment was going to need a “woman’s touch.” Most of the people they associated with called him Rogers. Nobody she knew called him by his first name. To Maria, calling him Rogers just didn’t seem right but neither did Tim. For some reason, she started calling him Timothy when she learned of his full name, Timothy Adam Rogers but mostly she just called him babe.

Unlike Tim, Maria knew that one day she would live on her own and started preparing for it as a teenager. She knew that someday she would have her own kitchen. So, every time her mother upgraded any type of appliance or utensil, Maria saved the old version in boxes she kept in the garage of her childhood home. Her mother upgraded so often that it got to the point the Maria was replacing items she hadn’t even used. By the time Maria joined the Air Force she was already on her second coffee maker, toaster, wooden spoon set, and blender. 

“I’m going to have to go home and get some stuff before too long. We can’t live like this,” Maria told Tim.

“Like what?”

“Oh my God Timothy. I  just had to heat up tomato soup then dump it into bowls so that I can use the same pot to make grilled cheese sandwiches. That’s like what. I can’t have my kitchen like this.”

“Oh, it’s your kitchen, huh?”

“Am I your girl?”

“Hell yeah, you are?”

“Do I cook for you?”

“Hell yeah, you do.”

“Then yeah, it’s my kitchen,” she affirmed. “I’m gonna put in for a couple of days leave. That way I can go during the middle of the week while you’re at work and we don’t miss out on time any time together.”

“I’m not coming with you?”

“Hell no, you’re not coming with me. You think my parents know that I’m shacking up with some dude that I hooked up with at a party?”

“Wow!”

“Listen, it’s not that I don’t want to tell them, but they are very Catholic and very Mexican, you know? They probably still think I’m a virgin. Telling them that I have a boyfriend and that I’m living with him would just cause a bunch of drama I do not want to deal with right now. Not yet.”

“It’s because I’m white. Isn’t it.” Tim understood but couldn’t let her off the hook that easy.

“Ay Dios mío!” Maria said this more to mock her mother that to really say it, holding her hands up looking up at the ceiling. She then brought her hands to the sides of Tim’s head and gave him a kiss. She then picked up his bowl and plate, which were paper, and took them to the trash.

There may have been a little of gender roles because of Maria’s upbringing, but she honestly did love to do things for Tim. He never expected it of her but let her serve him as much as she wanted. He loved it and loved her for it. Being taken care of by woman was something he truly missed. Both because he did not get it from his mother and because he got it so much from grandma. Maria could see the appreciation on his face when she put a plate of food down in front of him. It made her warm inside.

Maria put in to take a Wednesday Thursday and Friday off but could not get it approved unless it was two weeks in advance so for now, they did what day could with what they had.

It was during these two weeks that Tim got the call.

I actually spent most of my morning getting another chapter ready but chose to publish this one instead. I felt like the other needed more work. It turned out this one needed a lot too. Still feels like it does but I hit the road so here it is.

The Beginning of Their Courtship – Post 15

Maria’s first night with Tim was a night of firsts. It was her first time at a Civil Engineers dorm party. The first time going home with a guy she just met. The first time she ever had sex on a top bunk while someone was asleep on the bottom. And the first time a man has ever given her an orgasm.

Tim was her third lover. Her Catholic upbringing had her put off sex as long as she could with her longtime high school boyfriend. By the time the senior prom came around, she felt obligated to give it up in the back of a rented limousine. Her boyfriend, however, had been having sex the whole time with a neighbor girl who went to the public school. Maria eventually found out through a friend who went to that same public school and broke if off with him. The experience crushed her.

She met her second lover in college. Well, a failed attempt at college. She dropped out of the nursing program when she realized that bodily fluids made her vomit. The good news was she didn’t want to be a nurse. The plan to go to nursing school was that of her mother. The bad news was her little bit of college qualified her for a job the Air Force was in dire need of, a Medical Technician. The irony is that she worked in the lab and was surrounded by bodily fluids. Luckily, seeing them in plastic cups and glass tubes was a little more tolerable than seeing them actually coming out of a human.

Her second lover was a nice. That’s all. Just nice. They in her Human Anatomy class and paired up as study partners. She liked him but was not enough to date him. She decided to sleep with him out of curiosity’s sake more than anything else. It was bland and uneventful.

Although limited, her experience with sex was discouraging. She decided she was done with it for a while. Maybe even until marriage.

That idea went straight out the window after a few beers and a couple of slow dances with Tim. She felt something just being next to him she hadn’t ever felt before, not just a physical attraction but a connection.

*

Tim was a passionate and affectionate lover. He cared when it came to pleasing a woman. His knowledge of a woman’s body came from reading his mother’s women’s magazines after school as a curious teenager. Being emotionally abused by his mother until she finally stopped talking to him altogether at the age of 17 gave him a subconscious desire seek the approval of the women in his life. All this put him at a significant advantage over other boys his age when it came to making love. As drunk as he was that night he carried Maria to his dorm room, he was still able to make her feel like she had never felt before.

Being in such a hurry and a little ashamed, Maria didn’t leave her number the morning she left his room. Tim took it as a hint that she didn’t want to see him again. He, of course, thought that she wasn’t pleased with his performance.

Tim tried his best to avoid Maria. This would have been a lot easier if they didn’t work in the same building. When Tim swung by the chow hall early on Mondy to pick up some breakfast, he was sure to grab a couple extra boiled eggs for lunch. He stayed in the basement of the hospital all day that day but knew there was a chance he would see her at dinner. Every meal provided at the dining facility was free and most times, not bad. All the Airmen that lived in the dorms ate at the dining facility. So, on Monday night, Tim and Maria ate their meal avoiding eye contact with each other.

They each pretended to be involved in the conversations happening at each of their individual tables, but this was all an act. The truth was, they were more interested in the person eating on the other side of the room. The act continued on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday night. On Friday, Tim didn’t eat at the dining facility. He and a few of his other Civil Engineers decided to hit the lake for the weekend.

*

Friday night on the lake was deemed by the boys as a “sausage party.” It was just them, not a female in sight. They cooked hot dogs over the campfire and got shit-faced drunk off cheap beer. The next morning they decided they “needed some chicks.” Since Stewart had a phobia of taking a shit in public places, the boys tasked him with getting more beer and inviting some girls to come out when he went back to the base to take his morning dump.

“Don’t bring back any of that cheap shit either,” someone shouted as he got into his $300 car. It had a huge hole in the radiator and would over heat if he drove it too long. Usually, it would last long enough for him to get to one location. He could then only drive it again after it had sat long enough to cool off.

Stewart was notoriously cheap and would often only buy the beer that offered a mail in rebate. Though he stole the envelopes from the government, he still lost a good portion of his rebate to the cost of the stamp. The only time Stewart didn’t pinch pennies was when he was gambling. “Bet you twenty bucks I bring some chicks back,” he said to no one in particular as he headed off to the base.

*

After a few hours, someone finally spoke up, “Where the fuck is Stewart? We’re almost out of beer.”

“Who’s knows,” Tim responded. Just then, an SUV and a pickup pulling a boat pulled into their camp sight.

“What the…”

Stewart was the first to get out. “Miss me, fuckers?” He proudly held up two 24 packs of Old Milwaukee’s Best. “Someone owes me twenty bucks!”

*

Stewart’s first stop was the liquor store on base. That’s where he ran into Jay. One of the only Engineers who went by his first name even though he was a Staff Sergeant. And the only one of all of them that had a boat. He was on his way to the lake and was swinging through the base to pick up his girlfriend who lived in the hospital dorm.

“Dude get her to bring her friends. The guys are already out there. I just came back to take a shit,” Stewart told Jay.

“I’ll do my best,” Jay said in his natural voice that everyone insisted sounded just like Matthew McConaughey.

Stewart made the mistake of making two stops, the liquor store and then the dorms. By the time he was done using the toilet, his car was still too hot to drive. He could see Jay’s truck at the hospital dorm. He grabbed his two suitcases of beer and walked over to catch a ride.

Stewart was lucky. Jay should have been long gone by now, but he had successfully gotten his girl to get a group of friends together to join them at the lake. He was waiting on them all the get ready and pack an overnight bag. There were so many of them they had to take two cars.

*

“Holy shit, Rogers. Is that your girl?”

As the girls piled out of the SUV, Tim looked up to see that one of them was Maria.

She was wearing Vans with no socks, jeans, a t-shirt that terminated right above the waistband of her jeans, and an old faded LA Dodgers baseball hat that held her hair up in the back. If it weren’t for the fluorescent pink strings of her bikini tied in a bow popping up from the top of her t-shirt, you would have never known she dressed for a day at the lake.

“Do you have one of those for me?” she asked referring to the beer in Tim’s hand.

“You can have this one. I just opened it.” He handed her the beer and just like that, the awkwardness and tension that had been there for a week was gone.

*

At the sight of Jay’s boat on the water approaching the campsite, someone said, “Who’s going boating?”

“You wanna go?” Tim asked Maria.

“Totally,” She said and scurried off to get her backpack.

The first thing she did was kick off her Vans. Tim tried not to stare, but there was no way he wasn’t going to watch. He took in every detail of her body as stripped down to her bikini. Maria pretended not to notice him watching her.  Her feet were small and cute with toes painted blue, of all colors. Next, were her jeans. The act of her taking them off was a turn on for Tim but what it revealed was even better. Her hips were wide. Her jeans had seemed to accentuate them. Tight little asses were nice, but there was something about a woman with “child bearing hips” that Tim found more appealing. Next was the baseball cap. As soon as it came off, her hair fell all the way down to the small of her back. He had never seen her hair down, not even the one time he saw her out of uniform. The t-shirt was next. Even though Tim was a fan of obnoxiously large breasts, he found her small perky boobs to be perfect.

Obviously, Tim had been naked with her exactly one week prior, but he was drunk, and it was in the dark. He didn’t really get to lay his eyes on her. He loved everything he saw.

Maria put her cap back on and pulled her hair once again through the hole in the back and slipped her Vans back on. She pulled an insulated cool cup for her beer out of her backpack and then stuffed it with her clothes. Instead of slinging the pack over her shoulder, she held it by the strap in one hand, palm up, looking for a place to put it. She was about to head back to the SUV when Tim spoke up. “Here! You can put it in here. This is my tent.”

*

The rest of the afternoon the two of them never separated from each other’s side. After a while, nothing was holding back their physical attraction to each other. Hands rested on thighs, quick smooches were given, footsie was played, and sunblock was applied. From the looks of it, most people would have guessed they had been a couple for a while, not someone who just screwed last week and hadn’t spoken to each other since.

Maria finished a beer she took it out of the cool cup and threw the floor of the boat with the rest of the dead soldiers. She refused an offer for another.

“You don’t want another beer,” Tim asked.

“No, I want to be sober,” she paused, “for tonight.”

Tim already knew that she was going to sleep with him that night, but he didn’t want her to know that he already knew, so he played it off a little bit. With a nonchalant “suit yourself,” Tim fished out a beer for himself from the cooler.

“Uhh, you’re going to want to be sober too. In fact, if it’s going to happen at all, you will be” The drunk sex they had a week prior was the best sex she had ever had but Maria was ready to see what they could do sober.

Without looking up at her, Tim closed the lid to the cooler and sat back down next to her empty-handed.

*

Being the only two out of the group who weren’t completely drunk the night before, Maria and Tim were the first to wake up that Sunday morning. There had been lots of lovemaking the night before. Some of it even ended with a round of applause. As the walls of Tim’s tent did not do much to block any sounds coming from it.

“Are you hungry?” Tim asked.

“Fucking starving!” Maria said. The boys had not really prepared to feed themselves much less and the entire group of girls that showed up later. Luckily, Jay had brought some extra food, but it still wasn’t enough. Most of the group went to bed drunk and hungry.

“Pancakes?” he asked.

“Pancakes!” she approved.

Tim broke down his tent, packed it up with the rest of his gear, and threw it in the bed of his pickup truck. He peeked his head into the large tent that belonged to one of the other guys, bodies where scatters all over the floor like a scene from a zombie movie. “Hey, one of you ride home with the girls in SUV.” The only response he got was a thumbs up. They’ll figure it out themselves, he thought.

Tim got to an intersection where he was going to make a right towards the base when got an idea. “I know this place in Lincoln that has some sick pancakes. Do you want to go? It’s a lot better than the chow hall, promise.”

“Yeah,” Maria said. “Let’s do it.”

For the first time since they officially met, it was just them. No booze, no dancing, no friends, no sex, just them. For the entire time, the drive to Lincoln, waiting to order, waiting for their food, during their meal and the drive back to base there was not one uncomfortable silence. They talked and laughed and started catching each other up on all the years of their lives each other had missed.

This is the longest chapter I have written so far, 2300 words. I love how I can take details from my life and then mix them with pure imagination to come up with the story I am telling you. I hope you are enjoying reading it as much as I am writing it.

Going Off The Meds – Post 14

After leaving the hospital that first day with 60 days worth of Desyrel, Tim and Maria stopped to pick up some groceries before heading home. When they got home, Tim dropped the groceries on the kitchen counter, took a seat on the couch and turned on the TV. It’s not that he didn’t want to help, but Maria had made it well known that she was in charge of the kitchen. He didn’t want to get in trouble for putting an onion in the refrigerator when it was supposed to go in the wicker basket that was on top of the microwave.

From the living room, he could hear the rustling of the plastic bags and clanging of the pots. He knew his wife was going to be busy in the kitchen for a while and in the end, Maria would serve him one of the best meals he ever had.

“Babe,” Maria yelled from the kitchen.

“Yeah?” Tim yelled back.

“I’m gonna put your pills right here on the kitchen counter next to the paper towel thing.” The paper towel thing was a vertical brushed nickel paper towel holder. It could be put anywhere, but it had it’s proper place, to the right of the kitchen sink. Now it seemed that Tim’s medication also had it’s proper place too, to the right of the paper towel thing. “I’ll set out your dosage for you every day. They’ll be on the counter but today…”

“… today I’ll bring them to you.” As she said this, Maria stepped out of the kitchen and immediately caught the attention of Tim. She had a glass of water in one hand, two pills in the other, and was wearing nothing but a matching bra and panties. While everyone else liked G-strings or thong panties, Tim liked the bikini cut. He remembered picking these particular ones out as a Valentine’s gift last year. They were all black but see-thru enough that Tim could see both her manicured pubic hair and the crack of her ass. Maria didn’t care for them because of the visible panty line, but she knew when and where to wear them. Like under a pair of jeans, which were now on the kitchen floor along with the shoes and sweatshirt, she wore to the hospital.

Upon seeing his wife, blood started flowing to the appropriate body parts, and Tim turned off the TV. While he took his pills and drank his water, Maria undid her bra and slipped her panties down to the floor. She took the glass from Tim and went set it down on the end table but not before giving Tim a get those pants off look. Tim got his pants down to his ankles before he realized that he still had his boots on. But it didn’t matter. Maria had assessed that this was good enough and straddled her still dressed husband.

Maria was enjoying this impromptu lovemaking session as much as she could but in the back of her mind she couldn’t help but replay the Doctor’s words over and over again. “To eliminate the threat.”

After climaxing together, Maria stayed on top of her husband to recover leaving him inside of her. The firmness of Tim’s penis diminished to nothing and slowly left the warmth of his wife. After this, Maria got up, picked up her bra and panties and walked back to the kitchen. Tim watched her bare ass swaying from left to right with just a little jiggle with every step as she walked away.

Tim went pee and then returned to the living room and turned the TV back on. After about a half hour of flipping through the channels, the aroma of pan roasted tomatoes, chili, and garlic from the kitchen had made it’s way to the where he sat. More interested in what was going on in the kitchen than what was on tv, Tim went to check it out. “Smells good in here.” He found his wife breading thin slices of chicken breast. Flour, egg, then breadcrumbs. Her hair was in a messy bun and she has a smudge of flour on her cheek. She had put her sweatshirt back on but instead of her jeans, she had put on shorts. Shorts so short that Tim could see just a slight hint of each ass cheek peeking out the bottom.

Tim looked around and spotted the step stool Maria often needed to reach the higher cabinets in the kitchen. He got and it and brought it to Maria. “Here, you look like you need this.” She didn’t but she knew it was for him, not her and played along.

“Yeah? You think so?” she said. She stepped back and let him place the stool in front of the counter and then stepped up onto it with her bare feet. “Oh, that is better.” She continued with her process.Flour, egg, then breadcrumbs. From behind Tim reached his hands up her sweatshirt and cupped a bare breast in each hand and kissed her on her neck. This immediately made Maria wet, ready to receive him again but she did not let her desires be known. Instead, she continued. Flour, egg, then breadcrumbs.

Tim took a step back and pulled Maria’s shorts and panties down to her feet. “No, Timothy. What are you doing? I’m making dinner.” Maria protested standing there naked from the waist down, hands covered in clumps of egg and breading. Tim unzipped his pants and easily entered Maria from behind. Tim pumped away as if it had been months since the last time he had his wife, not minutes. Maria had continued to protest even though she had bent over slightly and was pushing backward towards Tim, ensuring she felt him as deep in her as possible. She managed all of this while without ever stopping what she was doing. Flour, egg, then breadcrumbs.

The eroticism of the whole scenario brought Tim’s climax quickly. After zipping up, he pulled Maria’s panties and shorts back up, put the step stool back, and went to the living room to collapse on the couch.

Maria brought her feet together and clenched her cheeks hoping to keep what Tim had left inside of her for as long as possible. She tolerated the quickies because she viewed them as foreplay. She knew her husband would more that make up for it later that night. Besides, Tim’s leave was almost up. He would be back at work soon and the anytime — anywhere sex would soon come to and end.

“You’re welcome!” She shouted into the living room. Flour, egg, then breadcrumbs.

*

“You have to go off them,” Maria told Tim.

“I can’t.”

“Timothy, please. We haven’t…” Maria stopped with wipe the tears from her eyes.

“But what if I hurt you again? That’s not an option.”

“The reason you hurt me was because I tried to wake you up. I should have just left you alone. All you were doing was sitting on the bed. It just freaked me out. If I hadn’t of done anything, you probably would have just laid back down and none of this would have happened. If it happens again, I’ll just leave you be. IF it even happens. They might not even come back.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, please,” she said. “We can’t continue like this.”

The nightmares and the sleepwalking stopped the night Tim took the medication for the first time. After their excellent meal and the kitchen was clean, Tim and Maria retired to the bedroom and made love again before eventually falling asleep. That was the last time they had sex. It had been nearly a month.

Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea were all common side effects, and Tim had been experiencing them all but what impacted him most was one of the not so common side effects: Change in sexual interest/ability.

Once the Desyrel got in his bloodstream, Tim was sleeping peacefully through the night. But he also lost all interest in his wife, sexually. None of the naughty tricks Maria knew Tim liked worked. Even without the interests, Tim would try to have sex for the sake of his wife, but nothing he or Maria could do could get the blood flowing to his flaccid organ.

Maria was happy and grateful that Tim’s nightmares had gone away, but she was devastated that they couldn’t make love. Yes, she loved sex with her husband. Yes, she loved how much he desired her. But more important than either of those, than whether Tim did a little sleepwalking or not, was her getting pregnant again.

Tim went off the meds but kept this bit of information between himself and Maria. He continued to see the doctor and refilling his perception to maintain the ruse but never took another pill.

When he went back to work, it was evident to his superiors that his performance was not the same as it was before his deployment. Eventually, the doctor recommended a medical discharge, and at the age of 26, Tim was a retired Staff Sergeant from the United States Air Force.

I hope you can see why I had to write in a lot of sex. I got to tell you it was quite the erotic journey I went on writing these scences. I tripled this week’s word count which practically means I wrote this chapter this morning. I hope you enjoy this weeks post.

The Attack – Post 13

The one thing you have to deal with on a deployment, no matter what branch of service you are in, is boredom. For soldiers, it’s the time in-between missions outside the wire. For HVAC technicians, it’s the time in between service calls.

When you are good at your job, do all your routine maintenance, and only have a total of 106 air conditioners on base, you don’t get many service calls. And when you do, with four very qualified technicians ready to pounce on it like over compensating bouncers in a bar fight, no air conditioner stays broken very long.

The members of the 447th Civil Engineering Squadron HVAC shop spent most of their day playing dominoes. The thing is they couldn’t do it in the shop unless they were on an official break, like lunch. For them to be able to play all day, they had to get creative.

The center of the front seat of their six pack pick up folded down when there was no need for the middle seat. After a trading frozen bottles of water (Ice was a hot commodity in the desert) for some wood and time in the Carpentry Shop, Tim and his Airmen fabricated a table top to fit perfectly over the folded down seat. A little bit of trim around the perimeter of the table top made it possible to mix the dominoes up and not lose any between and under the seats of the truck. After the completion of their table top, when it came for the crew to go “get lost,” they could park anywhere, set up their table, and bust out the “bones.”

The four of them spent many an hour out behind the fuel bladders of the Power Plant. The power plant was noisy and smelled of diesel fuel, so people tended to avoid it. Except for the Power Production Engineers, of course. There was always at least one person there to monitor everything.

On the day of the incident, there was no work to be done. But the boys needed to get out of the shop. Being seen in the shop meant you weren’t out working in the field. It didn’t matter that there wasn’t any actual work to do in the field. It just mattered that you weren’t in the shop.

The morning of the attack, Tim was about to head out to the power plant with his troops when he got a phone call from his boss, Master Sergeant Mattingly. The Master Sergeant wanted to go over the evaluations Tim wrote on Jones and Ski. The Master Sergeant was a stickler for well-written paperwork.

“Do you want us to wait for you, Sergeant?” Ricketts asked.

“Nah. You guys go ahead and play cutthroat,” Tim said. “The Master Sergeant is pretty anal when it comes to these things. This will take all morning. Just come get me for chow.”

“Roger that, Sergeant,” Ricketts said as he and the rest of the troops headed out to the power plant.

*

Dominoes just works better with four people. There are two teams of two and everyone gets seven dominoes. This leaves no dominoes left over, and with that, it’s easier to count the dominoes, a strategy used by advanced players.  Cutthroat is an everyman for himself version and not as fun. That’s why when Airmen Jones, Ricketts, and Ski got to the power plant, Ricketts went looking for a fourth.

The 12-foot tall jersey barriers that protected the fuel bladders were also what concealed the crew when they were out playing dominoes. The 8-foot long concrete monstrosities surrounded the bladders, but they did not butt up against each other. There had to be enough room for an Airman to be able to connected hoses to the bladders from the refueling trucks.

After parking in their regular spot, Senior Airman Ricketts went out to see who was manning the controls in the power plant, their possible fourth. Taking a short cut, he slid sideways between two jersey barriers. Then, even though it was forbidden, he walked over the fuel bladders, like a little kid in a rented bouncy castle. Once he got across, he squeezed in between two more of the portable concrete walls and walked over to the power plant. He knocked on the door but walked in without waiting for a response.

Inside the plant Ricketts found Martinez sitting in a chair with his head nodding, fighting to stay awake. Martinez was a grey-haired, overweight Technical Sergeant from the Arizona Air National Guard. He was way older than most Tech Sergeants, something common among the Guard guys. He was in the army when he was younger and missed being in uniform. He joined the Air Guard after a couple of co-workers convinced him.

“We don’t do shit but play cards and drink coffee,” they said. That sounded good to Martinez. He enlisted at the age of 38 he and was probably one of the oldest Senior Airmen in the country. For the next several years he drank coffee and played cards one weekend a month, two weeks a year, then 9-11 happened. He was now on his second deployment. He would have gotten out after his first, spending time away from his beloved wife and three daughters was hard on him, but two words caused him to reenlist once again, “Retirement Check.”

“Hey, Sergeant! Just checking on you AC,” Ricketts lied. “How is it working?”

Ricketts knew as soon as he saw Martinez that they were going to have to play cutthroat. The crew had nothing in common with a middle-aged Guard guy from Tucson, AZ. Inviting him in the confines of their six pack to play dominoes was like inviting a priest to a party. Yeah, he’ll go and even drink, but you’d have to be on your best behavior while he’s there.

Mattingly ended up postponing the meeting with Tim by notifying him that he had, “more pressing shit to handle.” Having sent the boys off to get lost, Tim had some free time and decided to head to the morale tent. It was early back home, but there was still a chance Maria would be up. She had been waking up at odd times since she got pregnant.

During the day the morale tent was nearly empty. He didn’t even have to wait for a computer. He logged in right away and checked if she was online. She wasn’t on Facebook as far as he could tell, so he sent her a message.

“Babe, I got some free time. Are you up? I would love to see your face.”

Tim clicked away at random shit while he waited for a response.

“I’m up. Let me pee and then I’ll Skype you.”

“Yesss,” Tim said as he gave a fist pump. He clicked over to and updated his status to “about to get online with my baby!”

*

While Tim was Skyping with Maria and Ricketts was feeding a line of bullshit to Martinez, a piece of ice at the bottom of a mortar tube reached its breaking point. It had melted from a small block to a thin sheet, and the weight of the mortar round caused it to crack allowing the mortar to drop onto the firing pin, sending it off towards the direction of the base.

Mortars fired towards the base rarely did severe damage. Iraqi civilians, who were paid by insurgents, randomly set the stovepipes in place. They were aimed with no accuracy or care and set with the makeshift time day, ice. They sometimes flew over the base and sometimes hit just short of it. When they did make it into the base, they usually hit something noncritical like and empty hanger or a dirt field. One time some shrapnel ripped through a Cadillac shitter severing a water line, rendering the bathroom unusable for a few hours. That was the worst of it, though.

So when this mortar hit dead center of the jersey barriers that surrounded the fuel bladders, it was a one in a million shot. It was also a one in a million shot that Ricketts was on his way back to tell the boys that they had to play cutthroat. And, even though it was forbidden, Ricketts was happily bouncing on the fuel bladders like a little kid in a rented bouncy castle when the mortar hit.

We are now to the stuff I started working on when I decided to create this website. This material is now a couple months old instead of six months or more. I had a hell of a time getting this one ready. Let me know what you think or if my dimensions of those jersey barriers are off.

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