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

Author’s Note: For some reason, I feel as if I should start today’s writing with an author’s note. I spent my career on three bases, two stateside and one in Europe. When I first joined, I wanted to experience all that was the army. The bases, the families, the communities, everything, and I did. Germany and Fort Hood was everything I wanted it to be. Fort Carson is where I lost my career, so that made it suck. It wasn’t the area that was horrible, although we’re about to get into some of that, it wasn’t the people, I really can’t put a finger on one specific thing and say what it was. 

The unit was horrific at first but even that turned around. 

My wife picked out a house for us to check out, so one day after work we raced over to see it. She had narrowed down her choices between a ranch-style house, and something else that I can’t remember. 

The house we looked at this day was a very nice ranch-style house, complete with a wooden fence that went around the property. This was during the ‘housing market catastrophe’, and it was cheap.

“Eh, I don’t know,” my wife said. 

So, we loaded up and headed off toward another one. It was Smurf Blue and bi-level. One floor was under the ground, the other on top of said earth. My wife loved it, but I was hesitant. 

“I don’t want to use the VA loan on something we’ve got to start working on immediately,” I said. I know, it makes me sound lazy but that was my reasoning for my response. So, she kept looking. Finally, one day-a Friday I believe, she came to me and said, “I think I found it.”

“Well, let’s go look at it.”

We loaded the kids into the back seat of the new Jeep Patriot I bought her, and we rushed over to the address. It wasn’t far from base, and it sat in a cul-de-sac. 

“Wow,” we both sighed together.

The house was magnificent, much nicer than anything we had looked at to this point. We walked up the concrete drive to this beautiful two story home. The realtor didn’t have to do anything to sell it. We were already sold and hadn’t even made it inside yet. 

“What do you guys think?”

“Um, can we go inside,” my wife asked.

“Sure. Come on in.”

We went inside, and I stopped and looked around. Carpeted stairs led upstairs to two full bedrooms and a small room, the living room was massive, so was the kitchen area. It came with a full bathroom and a small half-bath located in the kitchen. Then, I walked out into the backyard, and I just stopped.

“You have the biggest backyard on the block. Check out that view,” the realtor said. 

“Oh, wow.” It looked as if I could walk to Pikes Peak from my house. The snow-capped peak seemed so close. “It’s beautiful.”

Right there on the spot, we agreed to purchase the house. I hadn’t even found out how much it would cost for me to buy it, but like Fry from Futurama, I was waving money and hollering, “take my money!”

My wife and I got excited at the prospect of owning our own home. I was nearing a decade in the service, and while this posting hadn’t excited me the way my other two had, I could see retiring here. 

How little I knew. 

What money we had left, we spent trying to fix up our new house, and on ‘things’ we wanted. My excitement would wane however, because it wasn’t much longer at this point that I received orders to deploy to Afghanistan. 

War came calling again, and once again I found myself excited to return to the only home I’d known for three years.

Before we could get serious about our training, some things had to get squared away at the unit. One of the first things that changed was our First Sergeant left. A senior NCO I knew from Germany came in and took his spot. 

I met him as we passed on the stairs.

“Freeman? What are you doing here?”

“I work here, Sergeant. What are you doing here?”

“I just came in. This is my new station also.”

“Well, welcome. It’s good to see you, sergeant.”

He nodded for me to follow him, and we walked over to a corner by the copier. For the purpose of the story, we’ll call him Y. 

“Give me your honest assessment of this unit, Freeman.”

I wasn’t having a good day, so I may have come off a bit extreme in my response, but I knew Sergeant Y, and I knew he could take it.

“I’d burn it to the ground and start over, Sergeant Y. No one cares about the troops. They’re walking around with 64 ounces of cranberry juice talking about ‘they got UTIs.’ The NCOs are…I don’t want to be ugly. We need to lose some of the dead weight.”

Y grinned at me, so I didn’t feel as bad as I probably should have. 

“So, you don’t think they have UTIs?”

“One or two of them, sure. Whole platoons? No.”

“I’m taking over as First Sergeant, Freeman. I’m going to need your help. Do you have any issues with working late?”

“No, top. I’m down to clown.”

A week or two later, Y took over. One the first day, we separated thirty or so people from service. 

“Bring your truck to the barracks, Freeman.”

I backed up in front of the doors, and soldiers loaded the back bed of my truck with these former soldier’s belongings. Y walked up and gave me my instructions.

“Take it right outside the gate and throw it out. They don’t live here any longer.”

“Roger that, Top. I’ll be right back.”

This went on for months. We kicked them out, new soldiers came in and filled the open slots. Soon, we had the numbers for combat missions.

Our training for another war would soon begin.

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