Identity Check -Chapter One

New exciting mystery-thriller now available on amazon.com on Kindle or paperback. Here’s the first chapter…

Calvin Mills, the senior Democratic Senator from Maryland, relaxed in his favorite leather chair, watching the latest CNN news summary. He’d spent a long day on the hill fighting for his water conservation bill and felt as drained as a rock star after a three-hour concert at JFK Stadium. After shutting down the big screen TV, he headed to the kitchen where he found Danny sitting at the table, eating a late-night meal. “You find everything you need?” The startled Secret Service agent jumped to his feet, his mouth stuffed with a man-sized bite of a turkey sandwich, and mumbled, “Yes, sir, appreciate your hospitality.” “This protection is a waste of taxpayer money,” Calvin said, as he grabbed a soda from the magnet-covered refrigerator. Danny, his white shirt opened at the neck and his striped tie pulled aside for comfort, discretely wiped mustard off his chin with his finger. “No matter how much you complain, sir, we’re not going away.” Calvin nodded. “Now sit down and finish your sandwich, I’m going to bed.” The senator climbed the stairs toward the second-floor master bedroom, paused at the midpoint landing to catch his breath, and then entered the bathroom to brush his teeth. Judy, his wife and best friend for more than thirty years, clad in a white silk nightgown, sat up in bed, leaning against the headboard, but remaining so engrossed in her latest romance novel, she didn’t notice him enter the room. The sounds of running water, gargling and spitting, however, broke her concentration. “Calvin Mills, is that you?” He stuck his head out. “No, dear, some stranger is using your sink. Honestly, if I can’t get your attention, how do you expect me to win the nomination next month?”
“Don’t pout because I fail to dote on your every move. Look, you are a shoo-in. You have a sizable lead in the polls, and Walter doesn’t stand a chance in the general election.” Calvin put the toothbrush back in its silver holder, crossed to the antique four-poster oak bed, and slipped under the covers. “I can’t remember when an incumbent President didn’t win the nomination, and by the way, today’s Washington Post editorial agrees with me. Maybe I should have accepted his offer to be Vice President.” Judy laid down her book. “Absolutely not…why play second fiddle when you can lead the orchestra?” He held her hand and looked at her slightly wrinkled, but still lovely face. “We’ve been down this trail many times. You think I can walk on water, but it would take an even bigger miracle for me to become President.” “Don’t sell yourself short. Who knows what will happen? If you can’t line up enough votes, we’ll strike a deal. Walter’s will need his own deus ex machina to stay in office, but no matter what happens between you two, we can’t let the Republicans move back into the White House.” He kissed his wife on the forehead. “Now I remember why I’ve kept you around all these years.” Judy swung a pillow at his head, but he ducked, and playfully pinned her on the bed. “Besides, if everything else falls through, my old law firm would take me back in a heartbeat.” Judy wiggled under his weight. “It’ll work out for the best. It always does. Now get off me, you big horse.” Calvin rolled over to his side of the bed, smiling, as his wife performed her evening ritual–turning the nightstand clock radio to light jazz from WJZW-FM, setting the sleep timer for thirty minutes, and kissing the ornate, silver-framed picture of their son, daughter-in-law, and three wonderful grandchildren. Judy sighed, settled under the covers and leaned over to give Calvin a peck on the cheek, “Goodnight, sweetheart.”
“Goodnight, dear.” He switched off the Tiffany lamp, and cuddled behind her, spooning like newlyweds. The moonlight through the bedroom windows projected a diffused tick-tack-toe pattern on the polished mahogany floor as they drifted off to sleep. # A tall figure, nearly invisible in his hooded black sweats, waited deep in the shadows within a stand of birch trees, his breath crystallizing in the cold night air. Through powerful infrared binoculars, Frank Tate observed the activities at the Mill’s large colonial home, nestled safely in the upscale community of Chevy Chase, Maryland. He checked his watch and smiled with satisfaction as the agent, like every other night, finished circling the house, punched in the home security code, and opened the back door–trading places with a second agent, who now stood under the porch light enjoying his last smoke of the evening. Nasty habit, Frank thought, doesn’t he know those things can kill you. Pulling a titanium compound hunting crossbow from his bag, he cocked the heavy gauge Dacron synthetic string, placed an aluminum shaft, four-bladed arrowhead into position, and took careful aim through the ATN Mars6x Gen.2 scope. His adrenaline surged as he squeezed the sensitive trigger and the arrow flew true to its mark. The agent could only gurgle as he tried in vain to shout a warning to his partner and the sleeping couple he had been assigned to protect. Before the injured man could pull his gun, Frank quickly crossed the perfectly-manicured lawn and pinned the agent against the house. While covering the man’s mouth with one hand, Frank plunged his hunting knife just below the ribs. He stared into the man’s eyes, watching him blink several times before the agent fell to his knees and toppled face-first to the cement. Frank retrieved his arrow by pushing it the rest of the way through the neck.
Frank’s head throbbed after another successful kill. He tried to rub it out, but the unrelenting pain and intense flashes of blinding light behind his eyes made relief impossible. He fumbled out a homemade briar pipe from his jacket pocket and filled the bowl with a pungent-smelling mixture of marijuana and tobacco. After tapping the crushed leaves down with his finger, he raised the pipe to his lips and held a match to the potent concoction until it began to glow. Taking several deep drags, his headache subsided to a tolerable level. Frank put out the pipe, broke down his crossbow and tucked it away along with his arrow, and then advanced to the still open doorway. He peered into the empty kitchen and then inched his way forward into the home. He lowered his bag silently onto the kitchen table and stole a bite of a mostly-eaten sandwich lying there. Grabbing some paper napkins from an antique holder, he wiped clean the freshly-coagulated blood along the blade’s serrated edges but chose the back of his sleeve to brush away a few bread crumbs from the corner of his mouth. One down, one to go, he thought. Hearing a TV playing in the den, Frank bent low and crept across the carpet until he reached a spot behind the second agent. With the only light coming from the flickering screen, he rose, silent as a specter, knife in hand, and ended the man’s life with one slashing stroke, while a late night comedian made jokes about President Kendall’s latest ineptness. Crossing to the stairs, Frank looked up into the darkness and listened for any noise coming from his primary target. The blinding flashes returned, so he lit his pipe again, and then step-by-step climbed toward the master bedroom, hugging the wall as he went, so the stairs wouldn’t creak and provide any advance warning, although he wasn’t too concerned about the sleeping couple putting up much of a struggle. # Jazz still played on the clock radio, but discordant free-form improvisation didn’t cause Mrs. Mills to jerk awake–it was her keen sense of smell. She wrinkled her nose and shook her husband. “Calvin, get up. Something’s burning on the stove.” He moaned and replied without turning over. “Why does your imagination go into overdrive the minute I fall asleep? We never cook, so there can’t be anything burning–unless one of the agents decided to surprise us with a Sunday roast.” But then he picked up the scent too. Now a non-smoker, he could still recognize–and briefly crave–burning tobacco, but the familiar aroma was mixed with a sweetness he hadn’t smelled since his undergraduate days at Yale. Now wide awake, Calvin sat straight up in bed, put on his glasses and scanned the room for the source of the odd scent. He stopped at the bedroom door when he came upon a red glow, like a demonic eye, staring back at him. “Who’s there?” He shouted. But his words had barely left his lips before the stranger took three quick strides to the astonished senator’s side, pinned him to the headboard, and sliced a jagged trench just below his distinguished chin. Calvin turned toward his wife with a look of astonishment before sliding down to his pillow; coming to rest in an expanding pool of blood. Judy stared up at the man, trembling, crying. She tried to speak, but nothing came out until one pleading word emerged. “Why?” Frank shrugged. “It’s j-just some-thin’ I g-gotta do.” He moved toward her, and she screamed, “Danny…John,” but no one answered. Frank hated to do this, especially to a sweet old lady, but his orders were clear–no witnesses. As he reached for her, she picked up a silver picture frame from the nightstand and threw it at his head. He ducked and saw the missile shatter against the wall, sending shards of glass flying everywhere. Judy scrambled across her dead husband and ran out the bedroom door screaming. He caught her at the top of the stairs, his strong fingers snapping one of the thin straps of her nightgown, causing the woman to ricochet off the banister, half falling, half tumbling down the steps–collapsing in a heap at the bottom. Taking three stairs at a time, Frank hauled the dazed woman to her feet and held her tightly from behind. His head next to hers, he picked up the faint scent of her lily-of-the-valley perfume. Judy’s eyes opened in terror as he whispered into her ear, “S-S-Sorry ma’am.” With a gloved hand, he drew the knife across the woman’s delicate white throat, simultaneously severing another scream and the carotid artery. He scooped up her crumpled body in his arms, cradling the woman like a small child, and carried her back upstairs-carefully placing her beside her dead husband. He watched her lacy pillowcase turn dark red, the sticky blood making a mess of what used to be her immaculately-styled, mostly gray hair. After wiping his weapon on the bedspread, he put it back in its sheath and knelt down beside Mrs. Mills. He drew close, gently stroked her pale cheek, and wept–such a waste. Shaking off the sadness, Frank picked up his pipe from where he had dropped it during the attack and relit it. The drug, along with a moment of meditation, helped reduce the pounding in his head long enough for him to finish his assigned task. He opened a jewelry box on the dresser, stuffed a handful of rings, bracelets, and necklaces into his jacket pocket and threw the box on the floor. In a quick turn around the bedroom, Frank knocked over a lamp, trashed some books, and for good measure kicked a hole in small TV sitting on a wheeled stand in the corner. Pushing aside the clothes in the closet, he ran his hand along the floor looking for a seam, until he found and removed a small square of Velcroed carpet. Pulling a piece of paper from his pocket, he dialed the in-floor safe combination, opened the heavy metal door, and removed several documents and a banded stack of cash. Frank flipped off the light, bounded down the stairs, and swept up his equipment bag on his way out the door. Producing a cell phone, he hit a pre-programmed number on the pad.
After three rings, a thin male voice answered, “Yes?” “I d-d-done it…like you t-t-told me.” “Good. I’ll send the money to your regular account, Frank.” “I d-don’t d-do this for the m-m-money.” “Whatever.” “Why d-d-did that woman have to d-die?” “Don’t worry about it, Frank. Just go home.” Frank walked to an unlocked gray Ford Taurus station wagon and threw his gear into the backseat. He had parked three blocks away in case any of the neighbors might be watching. Probably not a necessary precaution, because these days neighbors barely spoke, let alone looked out for each other. Nobody had ever cared about him or his sisters. He sighed, climbed in behind the wheel, took another deep drag on his pipe, and drove off into the night.

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Lost Words (and phrases)

I just read an article sent to me by a high school friend that talked about American words and phrases that are no longer around. It occurred to me that us older folks get made fun of a lot for not knowing today’s jargon, but I wondered how many millennials would know what the following words/phrases really mean. See how many you know and in the comment section feel free to add more that you remember!

After while, crocodile

Beehive (hairdo)

Better dead than Red

Better to be pissed off than pissed on

Bib and Tucker

Carbon copy

Does Howdy Doody have a wooden ass?

Don’t forget to pull the chain

Don’t take any wooden nickels

Don’t touch that dial

Drop dead gorgeous

Easier than shooting fish in a barrel

Fedoras

Fiddlesticks

Going like sixty

Funny as a screen door on a submarine

Heavens to Betsy

Gee Whillikers

Heavens to Murgatroyd

More _______ than Carter has liver pills

Holy Cow

Holy Moley

Hung out to dry

Hunky Dory

In like Flynn

Living the life of Riley

Knucklehead

It’s your nickel.

Jalopy

Jeepers Creepers

Jumping Jehoshaphat

Kilroy was here

Knee high to a grasshopper

Knickers

Knock your socks off

Meaner than a junkyard dog

Mimeograph

Moxie

Name your poison

Nincompoop

No atheists in foxholes

Oh, my aching back

Pageboy

Patsy

Payphone

Pedal Pushers.

Peepers

Pill  (as in don’t be a)

Not for all the tea in China

Poodle Skirts

Pshaw

Saddle Shoes

See ya later, alligator

See you in the funny papers

Shortwave

Slicker than snot

Slide Rule

Snipe Hunt

Southpaw

Spats

Specs

Spindel

Straighten up and fly right

Swell

Taken for a ride

The milkman did it

This is a fine kettle of fish

Transistor Radio

Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle

White Bucks

Whoopsie-daisies

You sound like a broken record

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Rich Allan is the author of the novels “Drafted” and “Identity Check”  available on amazon.com. Looking for bloggers who like to review books!

50 States – 50 Countries – Hawaii

Many folks have been lucky enough to visit our 50th state, but we were even luckier to live there for two years on the island of Oahu. Here are a few favorite shots we took and wanted to share of this island(s) paradise. We have so many great shots, I may do more later. (Featured Image is just outside Lahaina on Maui).hawaii Tahiti (3)Tahitian Dancers in the Polynesian Cultural Center show…

DSC00185 (2)Diamond Head on Oahu…

DSC00210 (3)Iolani Palace on Oahu…

DSC01419 (2)Wild peacock and a banana tree in our backyard, Kailua, HI.

DSC00230 (2)Aloha Tower, Honolulu, HI…

DSC00197 (2)State Capitol Building, Honolulu. DSC01469 (2)Byodo-In Temple, Waimea, Oahu…

DSC01552 (2)King Kamehameha Highway headed toward the North Shore, Oahu…

DSC01524 (2)My daughter at Waimea Falls, Oahu…

DSC00225 (2)Early sailing ship, Oahu…

DSC00203 (2)Large banyan tree behind Iolani Palace, Oahu.

DSC02103 (2)Haleiwa Joe’s Haiku Gardens in Kaneohe, Oahu…

More later…ALOHA!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Novel – DRAFTED – Chapter 15

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

 The platoon gathered outside a ten-by-twelve wooden shack, far removed from any inhabited part of the base. The drill instructor held up a rubber gas mask with bug-eyed goggles, a pig’s snout containing two dense filters, and double straps that fit over your head. He explained how the mask protected us from enemy chemical warfare and that it did the Army no favors if we died or passed out and couldn’t fire at the bad guys. It made sense to me.

The training officer told us to put on our masks, and so adorned, we turned an alien army of insect men, waiting uneasily for our turn to test out the weird-looking apparatus. There was one rubber-sealed door to enter the windowless building, and another to exit. The first group of five soldiers entered, and about thirty seconds later came running out, one after the other, mask in hand, with crocodile tears streaming down their faces.

I swallowed hard after they called out Sam, Tex, Steve, Harry and I to go next. We pulled our mask straps tight to assure a firm seal, and then cautiously opened the door.

A single bare bulb in the ceiling and an illuminated exit sign hanging over the back door provided most of the light. The dirt floor hut stood empty except for a small wooden table in the corner that held a raised metal canister full of gas pellets with a burning six-inch candle underneath. Some smoke rose from the candle, but, for the most part, the air looked clear.

Sarge stood in the middle of the room, also wearing a mask. “I want each of you to take a deep breath.” We reluctantly did… and nothing happened. The darn things still worked, even though they were WW II surplus.

Sarge ordered Sam. “Take off your mask.” Sam glanced at us for support, closed his eyes, held his breath, and then removed his mask with his right hand. Sarge said, “Open your eyes and look at me.” Sam squinted, but his eyes still swelled up and the tears began to flow. “What’s your full name, Private?”

“Samuel L. Johnston, drill sergeant”

“Now say your serial number, slowly, so I can understand it.”

“267-00-9999, drill sergeant.” The tears ran like a river now.

Sarge waited another few seconds. “Okay, private, you’re dismissed.”

Sam ran like hell for the back door, bawling like a baby. Sarge followed the same process for Steve and Tex but held Harry and me until last.

Catching us by surprise, Sarge reached out and ripped off our masks before we closed our eyes or held our breath. Harry cried out, a huge mistake because he got a giant gulp of the gas when he inhaled. He started running around like a headless chicken, first bumping into the table, knocking over the candle and tear gas canister, and then ran full speed into Sarge, almost knocking him down.

Sarge grabbed Horowitz by the shoulders. “Stand still, you little shit. What’s your name?”

“You know my name,” bawled Harry.

“Say it, along with your serial number.”

“Harry Oliver Horowitz, 222-47-0000.”

“Next time you have a grenade in your hand, what are you going to do with it?”

“Stuff it down your shorts.”

“Get the hell out my sight, wimpy boy.” He pushed Horowitz out the exit door.

Exposed to the gas for too long, my eyes had almost swelled shut. A burning pain extended from the front of my eyes to the back of my brain. I couldn’t wait, so I yelled, “Eli J. Jones, 256-24-2488,” as I ran toward the door. But Sarge stepped in my way and blocked the exit.

“I’m not done with you yet. I’m sick and tired of your smart-ass remarks and your little fucking tricks. You think I don’t know who’s behind all these stunts?”

“Shoot me or move,” I said, choking.

Sarge took a swing at me. I ducked to the side and then ripped off his gas mask. When he put his hands to his face, I punched him in the stomach and threw my shoulder into his side knocking him off balance. I neatly stepped around him and out the door, not caring if he brought charges against me or not.

Sarge followed me out of the building, also coughing and crying from the gas. Before Sarge could say anything, the instructor came over, took one glance at my face and said, “You’ve been overexposed to tear gas. I’m sending you to the base hospital for treatment.” He then turned back to Wolinski. “Sergeant, I want a full report about this incident on my desk by tomorrow morning.”

“Yes sir,” said Sarge, still glaring at me hiding behind the instructor.

I smiled through the pain. Sarge had just provided me a way to see Nurse Sarah again-maybe not too well at first, but I didn’t care.

****

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Novel – DRAFTED – Chapter 14

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

Our instructor today reminded me of Don Knotts, the nervous deputy on the Andy Griffin Show. “This is a grenade,” said Sgt. Don in a shaky voice. “With an effective killing radius of five-to-ten feet. To activate, you hold this handle down against the base of the grenade with your right hand and pull the ring attached to this pin with your left hand. Once the pin is pulled, the grenade is live, but will not explode until you release the handle, which will pop off and trigger the device. There are an additional twenty seconds before the grenade explodes.”

“You will be going into the grenade pits in groups of three–two trainees and one instructor. You are to lob the grenade over the wall in front of you as far as you can–then duck and cover your head. To throw the grenade, cock your arm like this, next to your ear, and then throw as you would a football. Steel helmets are to remain on at all times. Any questions?”

Horowitz raised his hand. “What happens if you’re left handed?”

Sgt. Don said, “Good question. Hold the grenade with your normal throwing hand in the center of your chest, like this, and then with the opposite hand, reach over and pull the pin.”

Horowitz raised his hand again. “Is the grenade heavy?”

“The grenade only weighs about nine ounces. Any other questions? No? Let’s begin.”

Sgt. Don then divided us into two-man teams. Just my luck, I got partnered with Harry. We entered the first throwing pit, consisting of a timber-lined, U-shaped bunker built into a hill of dirt. Harry stood on the left, and I stood on the right, facing the target. Sarge stood behind us supervising. I gave a short prayer that the instructions had sunk into Harry’s brain.

“Jones, you’re first.” Sarge handed me a grenade. I held the weapon close to my chest, pulled the pin, looked through the small observation window at the target and with my left hand gave the grenade a heave over the five-foot wall. The three of us crouched down, covered our heads, and a few seconds later there was a loud explosion.

“Horowitz, your turn.” We watched in horror as Harry pulled the pin and threw it over the wall, leaving the grenade still in his right hand.

“Private, listen to me,” said Sarge. “Whatever you do don’t release the handle. Do you understand?”

Horowitz whined. “I knew I’d fail. I can’t throw with my right hand.”

“Transfer the grenade to your left hand, but don’t let up the pressure on the handle or the grenade will arm itself.”

Harry carefully transferred the grenade to his left hand, but his sweaty hands slipped off the handle. The three of us followed the handle as it fell in slow motion to the ground.

“THROW THE GRENADE NOW,” yelled Sarge.

Harry panicked, jerked around, and tossed the grenade toward the target. His wobbly pitch almost cleared the top of the wall, but instead bounced backward and landed smack in the middle of the training grenades box sitting at Sarge’s feet.

“RUN,” yelled Sarge, pushing Harry and me out the back of the bunker.

You didn’t need to tell me twice. Pretty sure I broke the world dash record that day while dragging Harry. Sarge kept pace step-for-step. Instructor Don ran next to Sarge, waving his hands in the air, and screaming like a girl, “I don’t want to die.”

Sarge yelled to the men in the other grenade pits to lie on the ground against the wooden walls for protection. The rest of the platoon scattered, trying to run as far away as possible before Harry’s grenade exploded.

We flung ourselves to the ground and covered our heads when we heard the first blast. Immediately after, a second, louder detonation turned pit number one, where we had stood moments before, into a mini-mushroom cloud of dirt, which rained down on us for several seconds. Thank God these practice grenades didn’t contain shrapnel like the real ones, just small explosive charges.

“Jesus Christ, Horowitz,” Sarge erupted. “I’ve been through two wars and never met a soldier as incompetent as you. For the safety of the platoon, you should be shot.” I felt sorry for Harry, but silently agreed, and began checking to see if any vital body parts were missing while trying to make my ears to stop ringing.

Horowitz sat up, his glasses dangling from one ear, wearing the dazed look of a deer caught in the headlights. “What happened?”

“I’ll tell you what happen numb nuts,” said Sarge, in his charming style. “You almost maimed more people in twenty seconds than the Viet Cong does in a week.”

“Sorry, Sarge. I threw the grenade as hard as I could. I told you I’m left handed.”

Wolinski growled, “Get the hell out of my sight before I shoot you.”

Harry walked away with his head hung down to his chest.

Thank God, no one got hurt; even the guys in pit two had their hearing return after an hour. We never did see Instructor Don again. For all I know, he is still running with his hands over his ears. Thus ended the lesson.

****

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Novel – DRAFTED – Chapter 13

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

Today was our first visit to Proficiency Park to test our level of physical fitness by attempting a series of timed tests with a required minimum score necessary to pass and graduate.

The sun was out, raising the temperature a bit, so we left our heavy winter coats behind, wearing only our fatigue shirt, pants, and boots with our long-sleeved one-piece woolen underwear underneath.

According to the entrance sign, Proficiency Park is where the true test is written in steel and blood. How odd…at Ohio State, we used pen and paper.

We unloaded from the transport trucks and gathered in an open meadow next to the park. Sam took his turn to lead us in our daily exercises. He stood on a small, four-by-four, raised platform in front of the platoon shouting instructions and demonstrating proper technique.

I’m not sure what Horowitz thought he was doing, but it didn’t look anything like jumping jacks. He couldn’t get his hands and legs together in the right place at the right time. When God passed out coordination, Harry must have been in some other line. It didn’t help that Sarge kept riding his ass, standing so close that on one of the up cycles, Horowitz accidentally slapped him. At first, I thought Wolinski would kill the little guy, but Sarge backed off and continued yelling at any other trainee who wasn’t doing it right.

After we finished warming up with our stretches, push-ups, and sit-ups, Sarge took us first to the run, dodge, and jump. The course consisted of two hurdles buried in the ground, followed by a four-foot wide ditch, then two more hurdles. The test allowed 21 seconds to run in and out of the first two hurdles, leap the ditch, run in and out of the next two hurdles, turn around and come back in the same manner. Not easy, especially if you happened to be short-legged or heavy-set, like Harry.

Harry tried but never could quite clear that ditch. Even with Sarge shouting at him every step of the way, Horowitz would launch off the edge and come down somewhere in the middle. Most of the time, he would stumble and fall flat on his face.

Next came the monkey bars, like the ones on the playground, except mounted more than seven feet in the air so even the tallest man could hang without his feet touching the ground. Each soldier had thirty seconds to complete as many bars as possible, easy enough to achieve the top score–if you managed to hang onto the cold bars, and if you possessed enough wing span to skip every other rung.

“Climb up the steps and put your right hand on the first bar,” ordered Sarge.

Steve, Harry, Sam and I climbed up into position, side-by-side, and waited for the signal to start.

“Sergeant Wolinski,” whined Horowitz.

“What is it now?”

“I can’t reach the bar.”

“Tex, give Horowitz a boost.” Tex with the help of another soldier lifted Harry up until he got a good grip on the bar.

Sarge yelled, “Ready, set, go,” and we took off swinging ape-style from bar to bar. The three of us reached the end simultaneously, but nearly lost it, when we flipped around and saw Horowitz hanging like a ripe apple still on the first bar, feet dangling and wailing, “Help!”

Next came the low crawl event held in a parallel series of four twenty-yard sandboxes. “First row down on your bellies,” instructed Sarge. “Stay close to the ground, and crawl, alligator-style, to the far end as fast as you can. Do not rise to your knees.” Not too hard to score well, but we dug sand out of our shorts for the next three days.

My favorite was the beast-of-burden test, racing 25 yards, carrying another man piggyback. Of course, Sarge assigned me the biggest, heaviest person in our platoon, but I still scored a time better than the minimum.

The final event in Proficiency Park was the mile run. To get a perfect score on this test required running four laps under six minutes on a quarter-mile track, in clunky army boots. The majority of the guys could run the mile in seven to nine minutes, while some took twelve minutes or more, and then afterward puked their guts out. Horowitz took so long his first try; Sarge gave up on him, loaded us back on the trucks, and we all went to lunch.

We had survived our first visit to Proficiency Park…and if you believed the entrance sign, in six more weeks, because of this wonderful training; there would be turned loose on the world another sixty ultimate fighting machines, ready to defend the constitution and the Playboy Playmate of the Month.

****

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Kindle.Paperback (2017)