Tim showered every night before bed. The showers were too crowded in the morning. He had the privilege of using “Cadillac” showers, which were in a trailer, not the bare bones tent showers the men who deployed years before him had to use. These showers provided a bit more privacy and men could take care of their “built up frustrations” with a little less fear of getting caught. Tim would return to the showers again in the morning but only to brush his teeth and shave. This bought him plenty of time to get some breakfast before he walked to his shop.
Tim took pride in his uniform. Where most men were a little laid back about it because of where they were, Tim made sure to adhere to the standards. Having recently sewn on his Staff Sergeant stripe, he made sure those under him did too. He kept extra razors in his desk in case anyone forgot to shave and once sent one of his troops back to their tent because he had, in a hurry to not be late, forgotten his belt.
“C’mon Sergeant Rogers. I’ll keep my blouse on all day. No one will ever know.”
“I’ll know, Airman Jones,” Tim replied, “and more importantly, so will you. Go get it and double time your ass back here so we can get to work. Me and the boys will be playing dominoes till you get back.”
Not wanting to disappoint their Staff Sergeant, the other Airmen frantically grabbed chairs and the dominoes and prepared to play. “You heard the Staff Sergeant,” declared Airman Ricketts, who outranked Jones by age and experience but not by a number of stripes he wore on his sleeve. “We’ll be waiting on you,” he said as he flipped over the dominoes that weren’t already face down over.
Back in the States, Staff Sergeants were a dime a dozen but on a deployment, everyone usually ended up with the job of someone who held one or more ranks above them. This put Tim in charge of the heating and air shop. He had three troops under him. Senior Airman Ricketts, Tim’s second in command, Senior Airman Jones, and Airman Ski— whose name was a lot longer than “ski” but it ended with “ski” so that was good enough for everyone.
As the Shop Chief, Tim attended all the morning staff meetings. Being in charge gave Tim a great sense of pride but after he briefed his troops on the outcome of the meeting, which was usually nothing more than the duress word and sign/countersign, he usually hopped in the truck with them to go out into the field to do maintenance and repairs. Shop Chief or not, he felt most at home out in the field working on the equipment.
If he did ever have some pressing “Staff Sergeant shit” to do, he would send the troops out with the work orders and tell them, “Come get me for chow.” Regardless of his authority over them, he felt like these three Airmen were his brothers. The closest thing he had to family in the desert and he took every opportunity he could to bond with them.
Occasionally, Tim would invite his troops over to his tent to get shitfaced off his homemade grape wine. It took him a month of bringing a can or two a day of grape juice back to his tent from the chow hall to get enough to start a batch. It took another month for the brewer’s yeast to secretly do its job in Tim’s locker. To everyone’s disbelief, one 1-pint water bottle that was refilled with wine, once its original contents were drunk or even just poured out, was enough to get someone drunk. They had a hell of a little party that first night the wine was ready. Somewhere in the drunken haze of that first night, Tim mentioned that he was going to make the next batch out of apple juice. The next evening when Tim got in from work, there was a case of apple juice in his cot.
He did manage to brag to one of the Special Ops guys one night in the recreational area after having already downed one of his stout pints. As much as he hated to admit it, he admired those guys. He would have liked to think they were assholes but couldn’t ever really find a reason to think so. They were all kind of nice. And all badasses whose job required they carry a gun, not a wrench. Tim was chumming it up with a guy who introduced himself as Koa. Koa was a tall, lean island boy with dark skin and dark curly hair. As soon as Koa mentioned he would like to try Tim’s hooch, Tim hurried off to his tent to grab a bottle. When he brought back the bottle, Koa told Tim thanks and then kind of dismissed him. “Thanks for the hooch, man. Listen, I’ll talk to you later, alright?” Koa walked back to join the rest of the Special Ops guys who had formed a circle around a couple of the hottest female Airmen on the base. Koa had to put himself in the running of who was going to get fuck these girls that night. Assholes!
Being highly illegal, Tim kept his wine a secret. With the exception of the Special Ops guy, the only people that knew about it were his troops, the others who shared his tent, his boss Master Sergeant Mattingly, and the Major, Master Sergeant Mattingly’s boss.
I literally just wrote the last three paragraphs before posting this. I wrote this weeks ago but as my story develops, I realize that there are things that need to be said beforehand. The ideas are really flowing now. I am even having thoughts about the second book in this project. I feel I owe it all the the fact that I am reading, at least, a novel a week. Please let me know what think below.