A Walk in Darkness…or The Walk…new writing, unedited, incomplete…

I arrived at the Quartermaster Unit on a cold day in December. If I thought it was cold on the day I arrived, I had seen nothing yet. Generally, when new NCOs arrive to a unit, they meet their First Sergeant and Commander first. Mine was nowhere to be found. So, I met my Platoon Sergeant and Lieutenant. An older, heavyset black man stared at me in apparent disgust.

“You’re the new Sergeant,” he asked. His contempt was barely disguised.

“Yes, Sergeant.”

“You ain’t done nothing.”

“Excuse me?”

“You ain’t done nothing.”

“I’m sorry. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“You have no experience. You’re an empty uniform, an oxygen thief.”

I stood there speechless. In five minutes, I was insulted by the man that would give me orders if we ever saw battle.

“Begone, Sergeant.”

To bring you, the reader, understanding, being called “Sergeant’ and not “NCO” is among the highest insult that could be given to an E-5 and above. Incompetent NCOs are empty uniforms.

My temper rose quickly after my meeting with my Platoon Sergeant. “God only knows what I’m going to do if the Lieutenant is as dumb as he was.” On my way out of the building, I was met by one of the NCOs in my platoon.

“You’re the new guy,” she asked.

“Yeah.”

“Have you met the PSG?”

“Yep.”

“Did he insult you?”

“Yep.”

“Well, come on. I’ll take you to meet the rest. The LT is down at the motor pool with the rest of our platoon.”

I frowned. “LTs aren’t supposed to be in the motor pool. They’re desk jockeys.” I kept my mouth shut. So far, I had surpassed my own expectations regarding my ability to keep it together. My head ached, but there was enough ‘new’ things to keep my attention off it.

She drove us to the motor pool. Most of the platoon was outside the main gate. They stood in a loose gaggle. The LT was cracking jokes and smoking with his soldiers. My frown deepened.

“Sir, this is the new guy. New guy, this is our LT.”

I nodded. He stuck out his hand, I shook it.

“Nice to meet you, Sergeant.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Did you meet the Platoon Sergeant.”

“I did.”

“He’s past his prime. Don’t pay any attention to what he says. Everybody here ignores him.”

The soldiers laughed, so did the sergeants. I forced a smile. They went back to talking. I walked into the motor pool. “I’m in hell,” I thought.

My problem with this new version of hell is that I just got here.

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