Peacemaking: Chapter 1-6

I joined the Marine Corps on what is called the “Buddy System.” The “buddy” I enlisted with was named, Recruit McDougal. He was from Texas. He was a squad leader, and I did not envy him. Recruit McDougal got his a@# handed to him most every day.  When Beelzebub was in a mind to slay, slay he did. One day, he took the Squad Leaders and the Guide, five in all, and made them push a scrub brush around the concrete perimeter of the camp. This took some four or five hours. When I saw Recruit McDougal that night, I thought he was going to die. I say again, I did not envy my “buddy.” My bunkmate, on the other hand, was one of the platoon’s lost causes. He was consistently singled out for quarter-decking. I want to say it was not his fault, but to this day, whenever I think of Recruit Mobile, I see a skinny southerner with snot running down his scabby nose. He spoke with a thick drawl, had boils on his face, and, poor guy, could not finish a three-mile run in any respectable amount of time. By respectable, I mean twenty-eight minutes or less—practically a walking pace for the rest of us. The man could not run, which translated into Recruit Mobile being quarter-decked, which translated into Recruit Peters being quarter-decked, because, as the D.I.’s reasoned, I was his bunkmate—I must have been a sickly southerner, too. Well, I was not and I resented Recruit Mobile for being a sh!#bird. Whenever Beelzebub was in a fit, he would usually find his way to our bunk to ridicule Recruit Mobile.   “What the hell, Mobile? You were three-minutes behind on your run today,” Beelzebub would say, shoving a hand in Mobile’s face. “Recruit Mobile apologizes—,” Mobile would respond, before being abruptly cut off by a coughing fit. “What the hell is wrong with you, Recruit?” Beelzebub would then ask, standing inches away from Mobile’s face bursting with boils, scabs, and snot. “Recruit,” Beelzebub would continue, “Do you have AIDS? Are you a fa*!#$, Recruit?” Mobile’s coughing fit would momentarily subsided, “No, Drill Instructor, I don’t have AIDS.” “Oh, s*!#, but you are a fa!#*$? Well, call the President!” Beelzebub, at this point, would turn his head to me, and then back to Recruit Mobile. “Recruit, get on the quarter-deck.” Mobile would trudge to the front of our squad-bay, and as Beelzebub turned to follow, he would always call out, “You too, Peters. Bunkmates live and die together.” One night, after a particularly bad hazing session, I whispered up to Mobile on the top bunk, “What the hell is wrong with you, man? You’re sick, go to sickbay.” “I can’t,” he said, “I have to finish Recruit Training. My Dad was in ‘Nam. He expects it.” “Well, yeah, sure, you’ll finish, but you’ll just be a few weeks behind. There isn’t anything wrong with allowing yourself to heal up first.” “I hear what you’re saying, but I can’t handle much more of this. If I go to sickbay, then they’ll prolong my training by three maybe four weeks. That sound like something you’d do?” “No. I guess not.” “Well, there you go, then.” We slept. Two weeks later Recruit Mobile dropped. He had bronchitis, red-eye, and a stress-fractured shin. The man was broken. I do not know if he ever finished Recruit Training.

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