It was all too obvious the next fifteen months of my life were going to be a living hell. Trying to comprehend the fact that I was going to be stuck in this shit hole in the middle of nothingness was unfathomable. I just couldn’t wrap my head around the fact this was all real. Surely I would wake up soon in a puddle of sweat in my own bed, and shake off what horrible nightmare I had just had. But no, this didn’t happen.
After an overly excessive amount of yelling, screaming, and physical abuse they started to P.T. (physical training) us, or “smoke” us as they liked to call it. We did pushups, sit ups, squats, ran, and other various forms of exercise. It was made known that this would keep going until everyone in the platoon vomited. I was one of the first if not the very first. Tripping on cough and cold medicine and doing any amount of physical exercise doesn’t exactly go together like pees’ and carrots. However, what they failed to specify was that after we all reach our goal of vomiting we would stop, but only for a five minute brake.
That night I must have fallen asleep as my head hit the mattress. We had no pillows. Those were privileges earned over time. All I remember was crawling into my rack, and that was it. I have never been, and probably never will be as soar as I was that day in my entire life. Every part of my body ached immensely. Parts of myself I only discovered that day because of the pain generating from those locations. I was convinced I was not going to survive this. I had to escape.
Adapting to this new way of life was no easy task, and took time. However, there was no choice in the matter. You just adapted. Whether you wanted to or not you were going do this. However, waking up to threatening yelling every morning at five A.M. and going out for morning T.P. followed by a no less than three mile run was getting me into the best shape of my life.
The first solid month in this place was non-stop kick your teeth in style physical training. Things eventually died down from there. Thankfully for us the new platoon had arrived and the majority of the special treatment was concentrated on them. We were no longer the fresh meat.
This place was filled with some of the craziest religious fanatics I had ever had the misfortune of meeting. Pastor Dave Rutlage was the program director, and one of the best con-men I had ever met. This guy was so crooked he could swallow nails, and defecate cork screws. I remember the first month I was there he had asked a visiting church congregation (Who was already donating the building of a new school building.) for donations to build a swimming pool and indoor gymnasium for us. He boldly asked for $20K. I watched him swindle these poor suckers out of $25K. That’s only a small percentage of his scams that I was a witness to. That was on top of the $1,500 a month he was receiving from each of our families for being there. By the time I had finished my sentence there was still no pool, unless you want to count the swamp out front, and the gymnasium was still non-existent. However, some how he had managed to build an add-on to his house, buy a boat, two new trucks, and God knows what else.
I got used to the abuse after awhile. I was now in the best shape of my life so I had upgraded from a lose pussy to just a pussy, compared to the full grown ex-military men anyway. I did however, start fighting back once I started getting stronger. Not saying that I ever won a fight against any of those mad men. But I did leave a few marks, and in doing so gained some respect.
I remember the first time I snapped and fought back. I was being “smoked” out in the back woods for something petty. I had to do helicopters with a log on my shoulders. It was one of those logs that you would see in a country back road church parking area in the grass to set the boundary for parking cars in an orderly fashion. Now, helicopters are just spinning around in a circle with your arms stretched out. Only this version was with one of those humongous quarter length wooden telephone polls on your shoulders while running in whatever direction they screamed at you to go in.
They stopped me in front of the cattle piss pond. This is exactly what you are probably thinking it is only worse. The “piss pond” as it was called by the sergeants was a knee hi swamp that the cattle would relieve themselves in. As we approached I could feel the stink rising into the air. The smell of this area was so foul it was hard to keep yourself from vomiting.
There were two sergeants with me, Sergeant Davidson, and some cadet sergeant whose name escapes me. Davidson was the gentleman at the beginning of my time here who had so kindly explained how things were done here.
“Smith!” Screamed Davidson.
“Sir, yes sir!” I answered.
“Get down and low crawl!”
I looked at him in defiance. “Why the fuck are you eye balling me boy?! You think I’m sexy?!” He yelled.
“Sir, no sir!” I replied.
“Then why the fuck you eye balling me maggot. You gay boy?! Do you like penis faggot?!” He asked me again nose to nose, spitting into my face.
“Sir! NO SIR!” I screamed back purposely pitting into his face this time as I’m sure he was purposely doing to me as well.
“Smith, you’re going to be in a lot of pain if you don’t get down on your belly now! Low crawl you piece of shit!”
He ended his spray of a command with a punch to my chest shoving me backwards into the “piss pond”. I tried to regain my footing, but it was no use. I was going down. It was as if it were all in slow motion. The sun was flickering through the tops of the trees in a placid backwards motion. Sound was muffled all around me. The cold thick water hit my lower back, and I could feel the slush like liquid engulfing my entire body from the rear. Not before long I was I submerged beneath this filthy liquid. Soon as I possibly could I leaped up coughing up some of that foul liquid, and vomiting in the process.
I could hear Davidson and his little protégée laughing hysterically at my display of disbelieving disgust. “Now low crawl bitch! Did I say you could stand up?!”
Time slowed down for the next few moments as I processed the fact I was covered in urine, feces, and my own vomit. All of the sudden a heat wave of anger hit my body. Everything I despised about this place flooded my consciousness all at once. The merciless physical, verbal, mental, and emotional abuse endured on a daily basis, the deviant twisting of biblical scripture for personal gain, and justification, the blatant lying taking place even in chapel services, being kick in the stomach while doing pushups, the fact minors do all the physical labor needed done in this place, and profiting off each one of us in the process. Watching those two die of uncontrollable laughter as stood there dripping in excrement made me see red.
Davidson reiterated “Low craw faggot!”
Fuck this. I leaped out from the pond slamming my fist as hard as I could into Davidson’s jaw. His minion’s eyes grew wide in astonishment as he watched his fearless idol fall backwards catching himself before he fully hit the ground. Before he could get himself up I delivered a flat footed kick to his chest. I was getting ready to go in for the kill on my long since nemesis when the cadet sergeant sucker punched me from my right giving Davidson the time needed to get back on his feet. I knew this was going to end bad for me, and I wanted to make damn sure they felt at least one ounce of my pain. I body slammed the cadet sergeant into the cesspool of feces tumbling back in with him. Rising up from the muck I turned to see Davidson rushing towards me. “You’re dead motherfucker!” He screamed in a war cry. He waded through the sewage towards me and swung missing my face by just a graze. I grabbed his arm and submerged us both in the liquid shit. Locked up in each other’s grip we rolled around till we were free of the other. Battered, bloody, bruised, and covered in filth we fought. I amazed my enemies, and myself in the manner I held my own in that quarrel. Just as I thought I might arise the victor in this confrontation everything went black.