At the time, I didn’t know his name. Martin turned out to be a fine man. But our introduction was hidden behind tears. His tears.
“Pick up the weapon and hold it shoulder high!” was the plain, if loudly spoken, order. The drill instructor repeated, “I said shoulder high you candy-ass tail hole.” To this day, I can hear Martin’s knees knocking about as loud as my teeth clattered.
He wasn’t the only one that forgot how to pick things up on their first day of Basic Training. There was something about the voice of Sergeant Skinner that turned ordinary men into fumbling idiots. But I’ll tell you what, he eventually turned four dozen “candy-ass tail holes” into soldiers, and he started that night.
Sarge stood five foot six. But in our minds, he was twice as tall and a hundred times meaner than any man in the platoon. He practiced insults on us that would make a sailor cringe. While you could feel his hot breath on your neck, you could never see beneath the bill of that trade-mark broad brimmed hat. It took me until the end of Basic to figure out that the he even had eyes.
But on graduation day, I saw them. Tears trickled out the sides of each as Sergeant Skinner watched his new soldiers step out on their own. I looked to my left. Martin eyes watered, too. His tears matched mine. They weren’t the first or last we shed in the Service, but that day they made us brothers. All of us.
I tried something new, today. Normally, I’m all about the poetry. I fit poetry into writing prompts, all the time, even if they’re meant to evoke a short story. Well, this time I gave in and wrote that story.
“Building Brothers” is a response to the Trifecta Writing Prompt that set the topic as the third definition of the word, “ass.” Check out their page for details, and to find some really well done stories.