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85 That Time I Went to Boot Camp

    --Jimmy POV--

    I stare at the floor in defeat and humiliation as the jury foreperson clears his throat.

    "Your Honor, we, the people of the jury, find the defendant guilty."

    "So say you all?"

    """Yes, Your Honor,""" the jury members reply together.

    The courthouse becomes a buzz instantly as to my embarrassment this whole fiasco has become quite the hot topic in this small town.

    **Bang. Bang. Bang.** a gavel beats against the hard surface of a desk.

    Slowly, I turn my head up, and I find myself standing alone in a small courthouse. To my right stands my court-appointed attorney, and to my left on the other side of the room stands my father with his boyfriend, or as everyone else knows him, my father's 'friend'. Anyway, I'm no idiot, I know their relationship, but I didn't care; I was just happy that he was happy. However, the problem is that his boyfriend is an abuser, a narcissist, a blackmailer, and ultimately the reason I am here.

    After I found out everything he had done to my father, I saw red. Things would probably have been fine regardless, but my father was too afraid to admit his relationship with his 'friend'. So to my surprise, my father sided with him.

    The air is stiff, and the atmosphere is thick as I wait to hear what my future shall hold. "Jimmy Nolan, on the count of assault in the third degree, this court has found you guilty."

    The Judge removes his reading glasses and stares daggers at me. "You have embarrassed this town, Jimmy. You attacked a well-respected man unprovoked and could have killed him."

    'Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! The bastard he... he-'

    My thoughts are interrupted by the Judge's continuation. "You should be ashamed of yourself, and this court is going to make an example of you to show the people who are watching this case that the town of Bedford does not allow such violence."

    'An example!? No! Why did it get turned into this!?'

    As I sit in complete and utter dismay, I can hear my father arguing with the man and his lawyer.

    **Bang!** the Judge beats his gavel against his desk to silence the three before beginning to speak in a booming voice, "Jimmy Nolan, I sentence you to six years-"

    The opposing lawyer stands interrupting the Judge, "Your Honor!" he shouts.

    The Judge's face turns red as a tomato, "Am I going to have to hold you in contempt!?" he points his gavel at the lawyer "What do you want!? This better be pertinent!"

    "S-sorry Your Honor, but we'd like to offer a solution that doesn't involve Jimmy going to jail."

    The Judge raises his eyebrow and looks between the three men, "That's not how this usually works, but given the unique circumstances, go ahead and say what you wish to say."

    Despite the debate raging in front of me, my attention is drawn by something else. The world becomes eerily silent as I look around, 'Wait? This has already happened before? A long time ago.'

    A loud creaking noise reverberates throughout the room, and I anxiously run my gaze across the courtroom searching for its source. Eventually, I notice a door just off to the side of the Judge is just barely open, and I lean forward curiously to get a better look.

    A low tapping noise echoes as a pair of long bony gray fingers reach out from between the gap causing my eyes to go wide. The hand unfolds revealing its leathery palm as a flap of skin splits exposing a bloodshot eyeball embedded within. The eyeball spins within the palm, shifting its stare about the room hungrily until our gazes meet. Immediately, the hand jerks behind the door and slams it shut. My vision seems to twist as the world fades.

    ...

    ...

    ...

    A man in a naval uniform slams a bag into my chest nearly causing me to lose my breath, "Here is your seabag, recruit! Everything you've arrived in, take it off, and put it in the boxes over there! Write your address, and ship it home!"

    Some saliva hits my face causing me a moment's hesitation, "S-sir! This recruit has a question, sir!"

    He shoves another seabag into another recruit's arms, "It's 'Yes, chief,' recruit!" he barks.

    I straighten my back, "Yes, chief!"

    "Now what is it, recruit!? This isn't the time for chit-chat!"

    "U-uh, sir! I-I mean chief!" I take a deep breath pacifying my anxiety, "What do we do if we do not have a home to ship it to, sir!... chief!"

    "No home!?" He points at a black bin in the corner of the room, "Then throw them in the trash, recruit! You can't keep your civilian clothes here!"

    Nodding, I rush away from the chief before he decides to make an example of me. Around fifteen minutes later, I stand, in my casual naval attire, holding the last remnants of my old life that seemed to disappear overnight.

    'I'll come back stronger, and even though you were too much of a coward to admit the truth, dad... James, I don't hate you, but you lost a son. I hope you find happiness with that bastard.'

    I push my long hair from my eyes, take one last look at my favorite 'Tim and Berry' graphic t-shirt, and without further pause, drop it into the garbage. Suddenly, a loud cooing noise echoes from the bin as the room begins to shimmer, and my mind goes blank.

    ...

    ...

    Four days later, we stand in line while the RDC screams at the pudgy man next to me. Reflexively I rub my bald head, feeling the stubbles of my short prickly hair while resisting the urge to sigh.

    "Get your hand out of the air, recruit! This isn't a classroom!" I flinch after suddenly hearing the RDC screaming in my ear.

    "Understood, petty officer! This is not a classroom!" I repeat back to him, temporarily satiating his need to scrutinize my every action.

    Satisfied, he returns to the pudgy man next to me, "How are you so out of shape!? You are as worthless as a football bat! Why are you here!?"

    "Petty officer, I am here to prove myself!" from the corner of my eye, I can see the pudgy man put on a look of pure conviction, "To prove I can do something that is bigger than myself, petty officer! To prove that I can make the world a better place! To prove that I can be one of the men young boys can look up to someday!"

    "That's a perfect answer, recruit! So perfect that I won't even make fun of the fact you want to get even bigger than you already are!" the RDC smiles and begins to step away.

    At the same time, the pudgy man looks at me with a wink and a smirk. "I'm actually here because chicks dig soldiers," he says to me in a low voice.

    The RDC stops immediately and performs an unprecedentedly perfect one-hundred-eighty-degree turn and storms back toward the pudgy man. "What did you just say, you little prick!?"

    "Nothing, petty officer! I was just further fortifying my resolve, sir!"

    The RDC points at his ear, "Do you think I'm deaf, recruit!?"

    "No, petty officer!"

    "Are you sure, recruit! Maybe, you should check for me?" the RDC turns his head, and moves it closer to the pudgy man's face. "What do you see, recruit!? Do I appear to be wearing a hearing aid!?"

    The pudgy man squints taking a surprisingly serious and close look, "No, petty officer!"

    "Are you sure!?" the RDC yells while moving even closer.

    "Yes, petty officer. Your ears are surprisingly immaculate, petty officer!"

    The RDC shakes his head like someone staring at a sideshow attraction, "What's your name moron!?"

    "Recruit Samuel Abramson, petty officer!"

    Unexpectedly he turns to me with a piercing gaze, "And what about your conversation partner over here?"

    'M-me!? I didn't do anything. I was just standing here... Dammit!'

    With a straight back, I shout my name, "Recruit Jimmy Nolan, petty officer!"

    "From now on you're in charge of making sure Recruit Abramson here doesn't say anything stupid!"

    At that moment, another man begins to walk by, and the RDC grabs him. "What is your name, recruit!? I know some of the recruits have taken to calling you the Silent Giant!"

    He ignores the latter statement, but answers the RDC without hesitation, "Recruit Terry Allen, petty officer!"

    "Recruit Allen, you're in charge of making sure recruit Nolan makes sure recruit Abramson doesn't do or say anything stupid again! If he does, all of you will pay the price, like right now, all of you drop and start giving me push-ups until you puke your goddamn guts out!"

    """Yes, petty officer, sir!"""

    As recruit Allen lowers himself, I catch him giving me a stern gaze, 'Great, now I've managed to gain someone's animosity thanks to this stupid recruit Abramson guy.'

    ...

    ...

    That night I lie in bed, but not before tossing away the dirty pair of underwear someone left on my pillow.

    I sigh, "I can't believe I'm gonna have to make it these next few weeks with someone who's out to get me."

    Recruit Abramson walks up while looking around in confusion, "Hey, uh, Nolan, right? Have you seen...? Oh, hey! There is it." he grabs the dirty underwear from my pillow. "The RDC would have killed me if he would have seen that."

    Glaring at the pudgy man before me, my stomach churns angrily, but I suppress my anger. "Hey, recruit Abramson." He looks at me bewildered and waits for me to continue, "You need to learn to put away your clothes properly. Please, do not put them on my bed again, and please make sure you put them away correctly from now on."

    Recruit Abramson shrugs his shoulder, "Sure, man. This is the stud zone, not the sloppy zone, but honestly, I don't know how they got there. I've got no interest in doing extra PT either, so yeah, of course, I wouldn't leave it out like that."

    "Really?... Well, still, you need to take this more seriously. Why did you join the Navy if you are just here for women? Which, by the way, doesn't make any sense."

    "Huh? Can't I do both?" He laughs loudly and shakes his head, "Anyway, let's just calm down, I was just joking earlier."

    'Of course he was joking; surely, no one would join the military for such a stupid reason.'

    I laugh, and speak with some relief in my voice, "That's good. You had me concerned."

    "Yeah, of course," recruit Abramson smiles and starts tapping his head, "This is just step one; the women come later."

    Sighing again, I rub my temples and shake my head, realizing I'm in for a very frustrating experience. Recruit Abramson and I lie down for the night and wait for the chief to call for nights out. Eventually, the chief returns and shouts for lights out.

    "Sleep!" the chief shouts.

    """Ahh, sleep, chief,""" everyone responds in tandem as we were trained to.

    An hour passes and unexpectedly I have an extremely hard time sleeping due to the constant sound of something gurgling with the occasional cooing noise mixed in. At first, I thought it was recruit Abramson snoring, but that was only until I realized it was under my bunk. Three times I got up to investigate and see if I could find where the noise was coming from. Until the fourth time, when with frustration I hastily thrust my hand beneath my bunk to catch the recruit who keeps preventing me from sleeping. To my horror, what I catch seems to be something thin, bony, and rubbery. A scream that sounds like it comes from the depths of Hell shatters the calm as a palm shoots out from beneath the bed, and...

    ...

    ...

    Two weeks have passed since I've arrived at the boot camp; since the course of my life was completely derailed. Most of us have gotten used to the rigorous training and aerobic exercises. Well, all except for one person who was particularly out of shape when he arrived.

    "Recruit Allen, recruit Nolan! Both of you are going to run until recruit Abramson here is on the same level of fitness as everyone else!" Next to me, an RDC screams into my ear as spittle sticks to my cheek, "Now repeat after me! When my Granny was ninety-two!"

    """When my Granny was ninety-two."""

    "She did PT better than you."

    """She did PT better than you."""

    "When my Granny was ninety-three!"

    """When my Granny was ninety-three!"""

    "She did PT better than me!"

    """She did PT better than me!"""

    Abruptly, someone stands in our path, and the RDC holds up his fist, signaling for us to stop.

    "Chief, sir!" the RDC shouts with a salute.

    "Petty officer, this trouble maker will be joining these three from now on." Next to the chief stands a girl with tan skin, and dark black hair, which she keeps tightly in a bun, "Make sure you give them all their fair share of hell," the chief says as he turns to leave.

    "Yes, chief!" the RDC responds with a salute.

    The RDC gets in her face and begins to shout, "Name, recruit!"

    The woman straightens her back and grudgingly replies, "Aponi Williams, sir."

    The RDC looks furious at her casual introduction, and he turns to the rest of us.

    "You are all in this together from now on! If one of you messes up, all of you will pay the price. We are going to start over, and run double what we've run so far due to recruit Williams! All of you thank recruit Williams!"

    """Thank you, recruit Williams!""" the three of us shout together.

    Recruit William's face turns red as her eyes turn away.

    "Recruit Williams! They just thanked you! Respond!"

    Recruit Williams bites her cheek in frustration, "...You're welcome," she says through gritted teeth.

    A deep frown comes across the RDC's face and he holds up three fingers, "Recruit Williams lax response has made it so we will now run triple what we were going to do! Let's go! If you don't hurry up, I'm going to make you pick up every rock in the field, clean them, and then put them back where you found them!"

    I'm not sure how long our punishment lasts, but by the time we've finished, Abramson has vomited twice, Williams once, me once, and Allen none though he looks a bit green in the face. The RDC leaves us to our own devices, and the show begins.

    The Silent Giant, recruit Allen, walks up to recruit Williams, "Why can't you just answer him like a sailor instead of like a spoiled child!?"

    I stand in disbelief as I watch the man who I have never seen speak more than a few words start to angrily go off on this short woman.

    However, to my surprise, this woman doesn't hesitate to yell at the man who has over a foot on her, "Spoiled child!? You don't know jack **!"

    "Oh, yeah! Well, thanks to you, these two nearly fainted," recruit Allen points at recruit Abramson and me, "You need to apologize to them, and try to do better from now on."

    'The fact he wants her to apologize to us, and not him, makes me really confused... and strangely insulted.'

    "...I'm sorry, okay!" she yells and begins to stomp away. When she enters the women's dorms a male recruit stops her and makes some obvious lewd gestures.

    Recruit Williams begins to shout at him and enters the dorms. A moment later, an RCP walks over and starts to make small talk and joking comments.

    Recruit Abramson crosses his arms, "He is obviously friends with the RCP."

    "Think that has something to do with why she is considered a trouble maker?" I ask questioningly.

    Looking toward recruit Allen, he simply stands there silently eyeballing the nameless recruit.

    ...

    ...

    It's past lights out, and everyone has split into their 'cliques' to talk about the day's happenings a few people keep watch and make sure no RCP's notice us recruits are up and about. Somehow recruit Abramson has managed to sneak a few books into the dorm, but weirdly they're all vampire-related. In the corner of my eye, I suddenly notice a large familiar figure passing by. I look over to see recruit Allen slowly moving toward a particular group near a bunk in the corner of the room.

    'Uh, oh. That's the same recruit from earlier.'

    Turning toward recruit Abramson, who is reading something called 'Trixie the Vampire' nearby, I thump his shoulder, "Come on. He's about to start some trouble."

    He looks at recruit Allen, and then gives me a dubious look, "If I have to run anymore I might actually die," he says with fear in his voice.

    Quickly, he stands, and the two of us rush toward recruit Allen, but it's too late. Recruit Allen taps the nameless recruit's arm, the two exchange a couple of words, and a second later recruit Allen's fist is against the nameless recruit's jaw.

    "Dammit! No!" I charge forward to stop them, but before I know it the dorms break out into a chaotic fistfight. That night the entire male dorm, as well as recruit Williams, spent half the night running in the cold rain. Although, I think I saw some recruits watching us through the windows of the buildings waving at us mockingly, but whenever I tried to catch a glimpse they would duck from view.
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