“Ooh Rah!” I have come to learn to love my new family, the Marines, my brothers. As an infantryman I took on bold objectives oversees and done many things in the last four years that have, I hoped, made me into a better man. I am physically stronger, and I have a higher self esteem than when I was a “wise-ass kid” as my dad called me. I know I have made my father proud. I still make him proud every time I send him a letter or call him up on the phone. My father was right, this was the best thing for me to do in my life.
After boot camp I received my orders. I was hoping for Bridgeport so that I could be close to my father and Lonni. However, that was not the case. I was to pack my gear and head to Camp Riverton in Riverview. There I was bunked with my roommate, Steve Wryler. Wryler was an interesting guy. He was from Twinbrook and he was missing half his teeth before joining up. The two of us weren’t exactly friends, but we got along. We were both deployed to the Middle East twice together. He decided on going career, and I was counting down the days till I was out.
“MAIL CALL!” I heard from the common area. I, like all the other men in vicinity ran out of my room. We all hoped for something to land on our laps. “Rain!” He called out once he hit the letter “R.”
“Yea!” I shouted and he tossed me a single enveloped addressed to me. I looked at the return address and saw it was from my dad. I ripped it open, knowing exactly what was inside. I found a check made out to me, $16,500 all of which was mine. A letter plopped down by my feet and quickly picked it up and read it.
“David, Here’s the money. You’ve lived up your end of the bargain and now I am living up to mine. This money was once your mother’s so use it wisely. Do what you must with it. I am entrusting you to do the right thing. Love, your proud and loving father.”
I received the money two months ago. After I deposited it in the bank I went out one weekend and looked at houses around the area. Over the last four years I have grown to love the farming country that is Riverview. I found a small little house on the other side of town that was once owned by an old man who recently had passed on. He had no family and so the house went to the bank as well as all the furniture, lucky me.
Today I left the base one final time, and I didn’t look back. I received my discharge papers and I was now a free man. I was no longer in the Marines, but I was still a Marine. “Once a Marine, always a Marine.”
I took the first taxi I was able to hail and headed downtown to the local boutique. The only clothes I owned were in my green duffle bag, and they all consist of my fatigues and my dress greens. I walked in the place and instantly I felt really out of place. I walked up to the old woman who looked to be in charge, but I wasn’t to sure. “Can I help you?” She asked in her sweet elderly voice.
“Yes ma’am. I am in need of a new wardrobe ma’am.”
“My aren’t you a polite young man.” She smiled at me and I knew she was flirting. Ewww.
“Yes ma’am. Just got out of the Marines ma’am.”
“Well, lets get you some new clothes shall we.” She directed me to a booth where there was a mirror, clothes, and all kinds of things that anyone would need to give a complete make-over.
“Now, what are you looking for my dear?” She asked while she went through a rack of clothes.
“Well ma’am I would love to get out of these fatigues and into something more hip. I wouldn’t mind keeping the green though. I also would like some tighter pants. I’ve never been into this type of style.”
“So, you just want to look like your average joe? Nothing too smancy, but something to get you noticed, right?” She asked eyeing my size and taking measurements.
Within an hour she had me in something more comfortable and something a lot better looking than military fatigues. “Thank you ma’am, this is perfect.”
“It was my pleasure.” I shook her hand and handed her a wad of cash for the new clothes. I really did enjoy my new look. It still had a military style, but it was more laid back. I know I feel great in it. Goodbye military, Hello civilization!
As soon as I left the boutique I headed down to the local grocery store. I knew I needed food for my new house, and I wanted to buy some seeds to start my own garden. I know I may never have a farm, but a garden with fresh vegetables, and fruit, and spices, now that’s living. I picked up some eggs, cereal, bread, milk, a case of beer, and a few packs of assorted seeds. I gave the cashier my credit card since I used the last of my military allowance on my clothes, and was off to my new home.
My home is a very small two bed, one bath cottage home. My realtor told me that the old man that use to live here before he passed was a hunter and loved the color green. Can we say, SOLD! I bought the place after one look. The place was amazing. Now, as I look at it, I cannot believe I own a house. I would have never thought in my wildest dreams that I would come to find such a great place.
I didn’t immediately head into the house, well okay, I put the groceries away. But I didn’t stay inside my house to soak it all in like most people would have, nope I went out back. I dug up a few holes in my yard and started my garden. I had this planned out all through my service years, I would get out, start a garden or farm, and go into business for myself, living off the income of my produce. I knew that you had to get a license to become a professional gardener, so while I was still in the Marines I applied and received it just shortly before I took my leave. I planted twelve plants in all on my first day. I know I have apple trees, lettuce, grapes, and tomatoes.
After spending most of the afternoon on my garden I finally headed inside my new house. I looked around and just couldn’t help but smile. This was mine! I owned the land, the building and even the furniture. All I wanted to do was grab a beer and watch the television before heading to bed. Of course that would have been too easy. I received a phone call as soon as I headed towards the couch. Hell, I didn’t even get to grab a beer!
“Hello.” I answered.
“Hey David, it’s me.” My father said over the phone. We hadn’t spoken over a month. He was on an undercover assignment and I was busy on base. We just never had time to call nowadays.
“Hey dad, what’s up?”
“Nothing much. How’s the new house?”
“Oh my God dad, it’s so amazing! Seriously. I could have not picked a better place for myself, and I have only you to thank.”
“Yea well you deserve it kid. Anyways I am calling about something. . .” He trailed off.
Did I lose phone service? “Dad? You there?”
“Uh yea, I am just trying to figure out how to tell you. . .” He trailed off again. Okay, so this might not be good news, it also might not be bad news. It’s always hard to tell with a man who has the emotional capacity of a brick.
“Well you see son, Lonni and I got married today.” He finally blurted out.
WHAT! I thought to myself. This can’t be! My dad and her, married!!!
“I had a big case over at City Hall and Lon met me there, so we decided it was time.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me? You two finally tied the knot after all these years?”
“Yea well, I didn’t want to lose her again and I didn’t want the ring thrown back at me for the third time. So I finally caved in at the courthouse.”
“So you gonna lay off the hookers now that she’s there permanently?” I could physically hear my dad thinking! Holy Crap, he was actually debating this!
“Dad, you can’t! She just took you in a week ago. I had to be on the phone with her for two hours the last time she caught you with your pants down, telling me how you’re a rotten little twerp who deserves to have it cut off.” I reminded him. My dad was still the womanizer, cigarette smoking, drunk that I left, and Lonni has been having a hard time keeping the man in check, hell I been having a hard time keeping him line and I’m not even in Bridgeport!
“I know I can’t.” He grumbled to me. “It’s the damn booze and the hot women at the bars. I can never help myself.”
“Yes you can, you just don’t want to. Seriously dad, buck up and stop sleeping around. Hell for that matter stop drinking and you won’t have this problem.” My dad started to laugh uncontrollably. “I’m serious dad.”
“I know! But its still funny hearing you telling me to stop drinking. It reminds me of when you were ten.” He continued to laugh. I looked over at the wall clock and debated on hanging up and going to get my own beer at the local watering hole.
“Look dad, I gotta run. You do what you want, but just so you know Lonni will kick your ass to the curb next time she catches you with another woman.”
“Alright. You take care of yourself out there.”
“Will do sir.” I hung up. I just knew at the other end of the line my father was grinning ear to ear because I called him sir. Damn Marines! I learn some freaking manners and my dad gets to crack a smile cause he knew it was all his doing.
I headed down to the local bar that I loved so very much. My Corps buddies and I would head down to Waylon’s Bar every Friday and Saturday night and by Monday morning we were just getting over the hangover.
I scooted my butt onto a barstool and looked up at the big woman, Shonda, who reminded me of some nasty hookers that lived in my apartment building. I shivered at my own thought. “What’ll be?” She asked.
“Hanger 24 Orange Wheat if you have any?”
“Always do Rain, you know that. You want it in a bottle or glass?”
“Glass, please.” Shonda smiled. When I first came in here I was always calling her ma’am and being polite. Now, I just said please or thank you, she told me she’d rip my head off if I kept calling her ma’am. She was now Shonda to me, and I was Rain.
I watched her use her church key and take off the top of a Hanger 24. When I looked over to see Shonda grab a glass from under the bar, that’s the moment I saw her. That’s the moment my heart stopped and nothing around me mattered but her!